A Brief Band History

How, where (and why?) did it all begin? Find out below.

Chapter One - 1994: Congratulations, It's a Rock Band, Mrs This
Chapter Two - 1994: Taking Off - the Sheraton Airport Hotel
Chapter Three - 1994/1995: Minutes of the AGMs, by Neil
Chapter Four - 1995-2004: Comings, Goings and a Few Gigs
Chapter Five - 2004: Ten Years, T-Shirts and Time for Reflection
Chapter Six - 2005: The Renaissance ('la Rebirth', in French)
Chapter Seven - 2016: Sans Phil ("Right", Said Fred)
Chapter One - 1994: Congratulations, It's a Rock Band, Mrs This

The birth:

Your author was not present at the birth, was certainly not involved in the conception, and was blissfully ignorant of the period of labour in between. He is, however, reliably informed that the whole process was accompanied by the appropriate quantities of blood, sweat, tears, joy, apprehension and anaesthesia, which are usually present at such a momentous occasion, as the fledgling 'Take This' was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world.

The whole thing took place in 1994. Exact dates are not mentioned in order to protect the innocent and to avoid giving the impression of any semblance of factual accuracy in this account. England and Scotland had failed to qualify for the World Cup Finals, and the gaping hole which this had created led to three Scotsmen and two Englishmen setting in motion a chain of events which would change, if not history, at least the chords to several well-known songs.

Musicians and sportsmen make strange bedfellows - ask any musical or sporty bedfellow and he or she will confirm this. Indeed, it is rare for any individual to excel both in a sport and in the art of creating music. You will not find any such individuals here either. But Fate had brought together these five young men as members of Belgium's oldest amateur football club, the Royal Brussels British Football Club (look it up, if you don't believe me: www.rbbfc.org), and Fate was about to intervene again to form what would later become Belgiums's oldest covers band (if it wasn't already!).

Football's gain, music's loss?
And so it was that these five unremarkable cloggers sought to complement their sporting inadequacies with an attempt at extending their limited talents to the musical arena. At least two of the five had played in bands many years before. This should have helped matters, at least in the allocation of instruments to the band members, but the two in question had long since forgotten which instruments they had previously played in their respective groups. By a process of error and error (a variant of the more conventional process of 'trial and error'), musical duties were distributed as follows:

Pete - guitar and vocals
Ken - guitar and vocals
Kenny - keyboards and vocals
Phil - bass guitar
Neil - drums

What's in a name?
Choosing a name for a band is sometimes more difficult than getting the instruments to sound good. Take This was an exception. Some say that it still is. But 1994 was the year of the 'boy bands' and the hard work of establishing a successful name formula had already been done. Thus, rejecting the suggestions of 'Lowlife', 'Backpassage Boys', 'New Kids on the Blink', 'BO Zone' and, conversely and more fragrantly, 'The Old Spice Boys', our 'boys' settled on 'Take This' ..., 'Take That' ... 'This' ..., whichever one wasn't already in use. And they stuck an exclamation mark on the end! Unlike your author, it would appear ...

How do you do this 'band' thing, then?
Having found a name, Take This now had to find some musical instruments and a place to rehearse. Fortunately, one of the boys, Ken (name changed to protect his identity - it was actually Kenny), worked in just such a place. History will record that the Music Room of the International School of Brussels (the USB - abbreviated name changed to protect its identity) provided Take This with its first rehearsal studio and several 'loaned' instruments and amplifiers. It was all above board based, as it was, on the provision of two cans of Jupiler per 'session' to the security guard who was on duty the evenings in question.

After what seemed like hundreds of such sessions, but was actually only 150, Take This had amassed a repertoire of seven songs. The band was now ready to go on the road, to tour, to rock and roll, to wibble and wobble, to sway and swagger - hey, this was it! Just the small matter of a venue and an audience and they would be on their way. And so they would be, as you will read in Chapter Two.

Chapter Two - 1994: Taking Off - the Sheraton Airport Hotel

You're 'avin' a larf!

They were having a laugh, all five of them. It was great fun! And their fellow footballers at the RBBFC were smiling too. Because, there was NO WAY that these boys would have the courage, or the shame, or the vindictiveness to inflict their noise on the ears of the public. Bets were, no doubt, made to this effect. Knowing smiles were passed between those who had dared our intrepid musicians to get it together. In short, the world was not ready for Take This.

So what, then, was all this equipment doing at the Sheraton Airport Hotel on that fateful evening in 1994 (exact date withheld - you know the drill!)? An impressive array of guitars, amplifiers, keyboards and drums, some looking old, some new and some borrowed, greeted the hungry footballers as they entered the hotel restaurant on the occasion of their Annual Dinner. In addition, a sound system big enough to fill the Albert Hall (the one in chaussée de Wavre, not London) loomed ominously on either side of the stage.

Was the unthinkable going to happen? Would the doubters be silenced, the mockers muted and the knockers knackered (you're not here for your literary edification!)? As the audience sipped early-evening aperitifs in anticipation, on the empty stage LEDs flashed and flickered, amplifier valves glowed dimly on standby, drum skins beat imperceptibly to the rhythm of the background music, guitar strings vibrated in silent sympathy and piano keys twitched in ghostly harmony. What was I saying about literary edification?

Practice makes perfect a bit better:
To be fair to the sceptics on the night, they were not aware of the 150 rehearsals which had brought Take This to the musical level it had now reached (although 'reaching' usually implies an upward motion, except when meaning 'to vomit', but you're not here for your literary edification). Indeed, many of those who made up Take This' first audience were blissfully unaware that any of the five had any musical pretensions whatsoever. Even Pete, Phil, Kenny, Neil and Ken were having their doubts! But they had learned seven songs, had brought them along and knew how to use them!

Why are we waiting?
I'll tell you why you're waiting: because these events are interminable! No matter how rapidly you can throw your profiteroles down your throat on top of your steak, chips, prawn cocktail, sparkling wine and Maes Pils, it doesn't make the evening go any more quickly! And the reason? The speeches. Footballers thank not only their mums, dads, brothers, sisters and assorted animals, but all of their team mates as well! By name! And sorry to burst your bubble, but we've ALL scored an overhead kick from 60 metres in the final second of the game so we don't need your blow-by-blow account of how YOU did it!

Eventually, though, the speeches were over, the coffee cups cleared away and the last "siddown" a forgotten echo. The scene was set. Take This was ready to perform, only a few weeks (or, more relevantly for you, one-and-a-half chapters) after its birth.

The gig:
At this point, the details become a bit hazy. The general consensus, to this very day is that, after a few nervous notes, the boys were brilliant! The encores never stopped coming and the band played 21 songs in all! Some say that they simply repeated the seven songs in their repertoire twice each, but word has it that, so different was each new version from the last, that you would never have thought that they were the same song. Which makes an impressive 21-song tally from a seven-song base.

The talented and very patient sound engineers made a recording of the band. Look out for this in later chapters, where the tape will probably be dug up. Aside from that, there is little left to commemorate the event, although someone did manage to take a bootleg picture of the gig (click here for the photo). OK, so that photo was designed to protect the innocent, unlike the one you'll find if you click here!

Expanding the repertoire - the signing of the 'clé de Verre Accord':
In spite of having miraculously produced 21 distinct-sounding songs from a repertoire of seven, it was decided that this rather small base should be extended to 20 (which, by deduction, would equate to a Take This set list of 60). The first Take This AGM took place in August 1994 at the clé de Verre in Genval. Neil recounts the proceedings of the meeting which would lead to agreement on a new repertoire as part of the 'clé de Verre Accord'. Check it out here.

On the up, but one down already:
So the 1994 RBBFC Annual Dinner was the launchpad for Take This. Later in the same year the band would make its first appearance in front of a 'neutral' audience in Kitty O'Shea's (although most of the audience were from RBBFC and, therefore, not neutral, but totally scathing of the band!). Later on, the White Horse (now the Grapevine, I think, on Place du Luxembourg) saw the band manage to squeeze off two songs before the police arrived to close the place down because of the noise (during a song by The Police, as it happens).

However, at the end of 1994, tragedy struck. Founder-member, singer-guitarist, whisky-swilling Ken broke the news that he would be leaving Brussels and, therefore, the band. It is true to say that this news, which would surely spell the end of Take This, was met with incredulity, sadness and the odd sigh of relief in the vicinities of the Sheraton, Kitty's and the White Horse.

Worse was still to come. Two of the RBBFC elders, Pricey and Shielsy (names accurate to protect the identity of anyone with the same name as the false names I could have used) knew a singer-guitarist who was looking for a band. Thus, in early 1995, Trevor was introduced, auditioned and accepted on the grounds that he had the same guitar amplifier as Ken and was also the proud owner of a guitar which tuned itself!

What next?
Losing a founder-member was a cruel blow, and Take This will always be hugely grateful to Ken for the crucial part he played in putting together the project which became Take This. As we leave Chapter Two, we are still not quite sure what will become of the band. To continue or not to continue, that was the question. The answer can be found in the second part of Chapter Three and the hilarious, if totally accurate, account of the second Take This AGM, as recorded by Neil. In any case, the existence of Chapters Four to Six should give you a clue as to the answer!

Chapter Three - 1994/5: Minutes of the Take This AGMs, by Neil

First meeting held 30th August 1994, La clé de Verre, Genval

Present:

Pete (vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, harmonica),
Kenny (vocals, keyboards),
Ken (vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar)
Phil (bass guitar),
Neil (drums)

The meeting started late after 21:30. Excuses were given but were roundly disbelieved. As there was no agenda, five people talked about subjects which interested them at the time. After a couple of rounds of strong beer, the meeting convinced itself that it had put in a good performance at the Sheraton, and that it could do it again. Positive comments were received from the floor on this issue.

Pete called the meeting to order, underlining the fact that, to go forward, the band, hereinafter referred to as "Take This" (TT) would need at least 20 numbers which it could perform to Sheraton standard (SS). A list was to be put together and Neil was appointed scribe. Suggestions were put forward from all parties. Kenny was notably restrained in his early proposals citing acute hunger as the reason.

A sausage was duly purchased, and normal decision-making power was restored. Obviously much invigorated by the sausage, Kenny informed the meeting that the Music Room at the USB (abbreviation changed, etc, etc) would still be available. This announcement was greeted with general acclaim.

After another two rounds of drinks, and now after the hour of midnight, the draft list was finished, a process made less simple by the fact that the pen had to be regularly dipped in beer in order to function. The meeting duly noted that numbers such as "Apache" and "Waterloo Sunset" had not received sufficient support in order to make the final cut. General disappointment was then registered.

After another round of beer, enthusiasm for the project was increasing. Phil brought out his ace in the hole, informing the meeting that he intended to buy a guitar. After a brief scuffle, order was restored and votes were cast on the finalised list of 20 Greatest Hits. The list was duly pronounced and found to be good. It included all the numbers that could be thought of as appropriate but excluded anything by the Kinks. Thus the official "clé de Verre Accord" List of 20 came into existence. We could have published the list of songs, compiled all those years ago, but it would be easier for you just to turn up at a Take This gig, where you'll find that most of the original 20 are still on the set list!

Ken and Phil both believed that TT should go public. Pete noted that, to do this, a lot of work and time was needed and there would be consequences. Most important of these was the need to use the USB for performance and not unstructured practice. Private sub-sessions were arranged and record collections were to be looted in order to make a tape of the List of 20. Members of TT were not to be seen together in public and no comments were to be given to the press.

The clé de Verre Accord was duly signed. The rest, as they say, is as good as the change.

Second meeting held 23rd June 1995, somewhere in La Hulpe

Present:

Pierre/Pete (vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, harmonica),
Kenny (vocals, keyboards),
Phil (bass, drubbing the sound engineers),
Neil (percussion, drums, anything that makes a lot of noise),
Viviane (supporter of the band, wife of Pete, mother of one),
Josiane (the other supporter of the band, full-time wife of Phil),
Brian (reluctant Briard and part-time – sadly now departed - dog).

Absent:

Trevor (vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, drubbing the audience),
Ken (all of the above),
Alain and Michel (sound engineers with better things to do on Fridays).

Viviane opened the meeting by asking what everyone was doing round at her house. She claimed she was going to put the baby to bed and watch TV. Neil then raised a point of order saying that, as there was nothing in the band constitution PREVENTING an official Take This meeting at Viviane's house, and as we were all there anyway, the constitution of the band provided that that was where the meeting should be. This motion was almost unanimously carried.

The meeting then progressed to the next agenda item, which was in fact the lack of an agenda. It was agreed that, as the band couldn’t stick either to an agenda or to a running order anyway, none was needed, and the meeting talked about matters which were jointly and severally of interest to them at the time. This state of affairs continued until Phil proposed it was time to go home. As we had finished the second set and there were no encores, the motion was seconded by Kenny who claimed he was moving the following day.

The following issues were discussed:

The US Tour:
Agreed to be a resounding success; the only action item is to Pete, who has to draft a letter of complaint to BA on behalf of Lawrence Welsh and the Clydebank Temperance Society.

Revelations:
In the new spirit of openness and Glasnost, the likeable guy we had all previously known as "Pete" unexpectedly revealed to the meeting that his real name was in fact "Pierre", and that he was really a Chef. His brilliant guitar playing was in fact mimed and could be traced back to the days when as a child prodigy he played Mozart’s "Requiem" on percussion and Jaw Harp. He unfortunately swallowed the Jaw Harp, hence the tight harmonies and sexy chords.

The group were, not surprisingly, gob-smacked. However, the idea of changing the band name to the "Petards", to add a bit of zip and a Euro dimension, was seriously worrying Pierre. Actually, unknown to the non-French speakers, because his initials were still PT, both Pete and Pierre were horrified at the prospect of the band changing its name to "PT and the Petards".

Origins:
Viviane confirmed that this was true and that Pierre had spent the early part of his life as a yak in bell-bottoms, at least when he wasn't fighting for the French Third Armoured Division somewhere in Poland. The group conceded that every man should have an outside interest until Viviane produced photographic evidence of Pierre's previous life in Tibet, Poland, and Namur. Here she let it slip that both Pierre and Pete had a THIRD name. In her family Pete and Pierre were both known as "ca". Luckily for anyone who was now getting confused by all of this, she added that he was generally known as "Jimmy".

Phil stepped in quickly to stifle rumours that Take This had been had. He explained that all great artists were to some degree schizophrenic, and that as far as he was concerned Pete could be whoever he wanted to be either on stage or off, just so long as he wasn't too many people at once simply because, on small stages, he knew that Pierre suffered from claustrophobia.

Structures:
Kenny was much concerned by these revelations. He took the news that Elkie Brooks recorded "Pearl's a Singer" like the solid defender he really is ... and keyboard player. He told the meeting that he too could play the piano standing up and that was the real reason he left the stool behind at the last gig. The others waited aghast, expecting Kenny to reveal that his real name was "Pearl". Phil informed the meeting that we were even on stools as we were +1 stool up after playing "Kleptomania" at the Euro School gig.

Neil then revealed that his real name was Neil, and he had never played drums before in his life. Everyone agreed immediately and no vote was needed. He informed the group of the ghastly truth that his idol Chris Rea was in fact Welsh and his real name was Dhai.

As confessions were now flowing thick and fast Phil told the group that he had played bass semi-professionally. After various rumblings, the proposal was accepted with the amendment that the word "played" should be replaced with the word "drunk". This was then carried unanimously.

Capabilities:
Josiane and Viviane, not to mention Pete, Pierre, Jimmy and Ca, then served up a really brilliant BBQ. Unfortunately for the band it was served with a rather delicious red wine, which went down very well. The wine probably helped boost everyone's view of the band's capabilities. Truly any outfit that has played The White Horse, The Rock Palace and Rick's Boat has got to be on the way up. Down would be impossible. Furtive glances were exchanged when Kenny accepted Pierre's challenge to listen to the band tape. Never one to back down, Jimmy duly sent Brian out to the garden to dig up the tape. The tape was put on the deck and the deck set in motion.

Phil, even from his slumped position in the chair, could only curse his bad luck at being seated close to the speakers. Having heard the tape before, Brian went back out to the garden and hasn't been seen since. Obviously Kenny had either nerves of steel, or difficulties drying out after Kitty's. He pronounced it good, a view which caught on like wild fire and was now shared by everyone. Josiane and Viviane even said they had a favourite: needless to say "Man Eater". Wild euphoria was now taking over and the volume was turned right up to gas mark 3.

Futures:
It was unanimously held (Brian abstaining) that Take This are a great band. Indeed there was widespread acceptance of the view that the song endings are absolutely brilliant. Those last 3 bars are excellent. The preceding 509 bars were not discussed, but there was a general commitment to improve them.

Kenny's ability to use the new midi keyboard and his strict adherence to musical arrangements were applauded, and Phil's bass solos were compared favourably with those both of Jack and of Lennie Bruce. Neil's drumming was acclaimed as being a major advance. Small problems of tempo, arrangement and number of beats to the bar were thrown aside. The band in fact congratulated itself on its musical ability to adapt to Neil's inimitable style, even to the point of compensating for missing beats, or Status Quo rhythms during reggae numbers. Neil was generally acclaimed as possibly ahead of his time and certainly ahead of the number the band were actually playing at the time. Pete thanked Neil on behalf of the band for his contribution to upping the tempo mid-way through numbers. Until this revelation he had not believed that a fret board could serve as an advanced cheese-grater for fingers.

Ends:
Whatever happens Take This did not end at Kitty O'Shea's. Pete will continue to search for those magical guitar breaks and the patience to go on, Trevor will continue to search for a higher level of expression and musical excellence, Phil looks forward to his first vocal, Neil will look for a metronome and Kenny will look for something to tell the wife.

Read on in Chapter Four.

Chapter Four - 1995-2004: Comings, Goings and a Few Gigs

A long time:

Ten years is a long time, and the period from 1995 to 2004 was no exception (except for 2000, which didn't seem to last quite as long, for some reason). Regular readers (and some irregular ones) will remember that the band had survived the loss of Ken and decided to carry on with Trevor. This worked pretty well, with the lead vocals being split between Pete, Kenny and Trevor, the main criterion for this division of labour being which of them could remember more than half of the words to the song in question.

This combination also gave rise to the potentially impressive concept of three-part vocal 'harmony'. In reality it gave rise to the concept of three people (or four or five, if Pierre and/or Jimmy joined in) singing different notes at the same time. But the viewing and listening public appreciated it - increasingly, as it turned out, as the evening wore on and beer was consumed. We may never know if the lads sang more in tune the drunker they got or whether the audience's ears grew more tolerant.

Comings and goings:
Just when things were ticking along harmoniously (or 'multi-vocally'), in March 1996 Neil was tragically unavailable for a gig. Take This needed a stand-in drummer, and presto (or, at least, allegro)! In a parallel universe (Genval), before fleeing the country, Ken had befriended a local, in his local, known as 'Le Boozer' (the 'local', as in the place, was known as 'Le Boozer', although the name could equally have applied to the person). Boule, as he was, and still is, known was a talented musician who was very well known in Belgian (and even international) music circles. Like many people from small countries, Boule had an ongoing love affair with Scotland and had seized upon Ken's Scottish accent before literally seizing him by the scruff of the neck and dragging him off to his apartment to view his impressive collection of guitars.

However, it was as a drummer that Boule would first make his mark with Take This. Once Ken had made Boule's existence known to the band 'from beyond the grave' (or wherever Ken was living at the time), it was agreed that Boule would stand in for the absent Neil. On the night of the gig, having received the set list half an hour before, Boule did admirably. Of course, being a professional musician, he had some difficulties dropping down a level, but he managed it.

As a result of this situation, and only a handful of gigs later, Neil left the country, claiming that it was for work reasons. It later turned out to be true that Neil had been whisked away to Washington (alliterally!), where he would attempt to begin a Take This US franchise, but those with a romantic soul prefer to think of it as the last, desperate act of a jilted lover at the end of a beautiful love affair. But then romantics should get real, shouldn't they? Anyway, those who like nice photos may decide not to click here.

Another founder-member had bitten the dust. The Take This of today owes Neil a lot. It was clear that his friendship and humour would be missed, as would his beats. Of course, now he's back in Brussels and is a regular visitor to Take This gigs, so pat him on the back next time you see him and thank him for his part in this story.

Boule would go on to play with the band for eight years, as drummer, vocalist, acoustic guitarist in a series of 'unplugged' gigs, 'keyboard-drummer', using a midi controller to trigger the pads of a drum machine in venues where a real drum kit was either too big or too loud, and sound engineer and producer of the Take This Medley. Boule improved the musical capabilities and professionalism immeasurably during his tenure, and we are grateful to him. He remains an excellent, if misunderstood, musician, an all-round decent bloke and a good friend. Give him a pat on the back too!

An embarrassment of drummers ...
Not in the sense of an embarrassing incident, but in the sense of an 'embarrassment of riches'. Having started his life with Take This as a stand-in drummer, Boule was 'stood in for' on several occasions, by some excellent drummers. In descending order of appearances were Michel (before he became our current drummer), Geoff and Marcus. Many bands find drummers hard to come by in Brussels, but Take This were lucky enough to have them coming out of their ears!

... a dearth of keyboard players:
It seemed that the band's founder-members were dropping like flies, but the biggest fly of the lot was about to come down. In 1999 (year guessed to avoid the need for extensive research), Kenny proclaimed that he had been doing some serious thinking. Once the other band members had stopped laughing and had picked themselves up from the ground, they heard the gut-wrenching news that Kenny had realised that he had to make a decision about his football, the band and his family life. He simply didn't have enough time for all three. The choice was obvious to Kenny, and he broke the news to the rest of the band. Finally, however, they persuaded Kenny that he should not abandon his young family, and that maybe it would be better to leave the band. Kenny reluctantly agreed.

As luck would have it, not long after this decision, Kenny left Belgium to set up a piano and football school in the UK. In 2001, Kenny rejoined Take This for one last gig before leaving the country. In this way, he became the only musician in history to play his comeback and farewell gigs at the same time! As with the other founder-members, Kenny's contribution to the early years was massive. His rapport with the audience (or, at least, half of it) was legendary. He will be particularly remembered for his 'a cappella' renditions of a variety of pub songs and Scottish ditties during power cuts (and, hence, unusable electric instruments) or simply whenever the mood took him. Thanks, Kenny! It was great fun! Kenny can be seen in the old photos section. He is the tall one.

Andrew:
About the same time as Kenny's comeback/leaving gig, Take This were in protracted negotiations with a high-profile replacement. Andrew was the proud owner of bags of keyboard talent, a good voice (which would bode well for the 'close harmony' which, in rehearsals, was getting quite close to harmony indeed!) and a rare song-writing gift. Unfortunately, he was last in the queue when they handed out organisational skills. Thus, in the few gigs that Andrew performed with the band, he was usually a bit late or, in one famous case, was early but turned up at the wrong venue! Sadly, Andrew also fell victim to the keyboard-player disease of family commitments and left the band within the year. Nevertheless, Take This had taken another musical step forward and had gained a dear friend. Click here to see Andrew in action.

A few gigs:
Take This probably played close to 200 gigs during this period. The locations were varied and often illustrious: from the pubs of Brussels, Leuven, Gent, Antwerp and many more, to such delights as the Residence of HE British Ambassador (see Client List). The band has always been treated wonderfully well, fed and watered and invited to join in the fun. We have eaten some spectacularly good food (can you tell?) which prompted Boule once to coin the phrase: "Take This - on joue mal mais on mange bien!".

So that's 1995-2004 in a nutshell. Don't miss the next instalment in Chapter Five.

Chapter Five - 2004: Ten Years, T-Shirts and Time for Reflection

Been there, done that ...

Do you remember the expression "been there, done that, bought the T-shirt"? No? Neither do I, but I couldn't think how else to begin this chapter! There was something in the air in 2004, a bitter-sweet feeling of incredible achievement and fatigue. Incredibly, we had 'been there' and 'done that', but had we 'bought the T-shirt'? And what does that last sentence mean? Why did I write it? Couldn't I think of something better? And why am I asking YOU?

As a reminder (as much for my benefit as for yours!), in 2004 Take This consisted of founder-members Pete (guitar, vocals) and Phil (bass), nine-year-old (in band terms) Trevor (guitar, vocals) and eight-year-old Boule (drums, vocals). 2004 was to be a big year - much bigger, in fact, than we had imagined.

The bright side:
The bright side was very bright indeed! To stay together for that length of time requires something special, and Take This was just that (if you see what I mean). The gigs kept rolling in, the lads enjoyed a laugh together, and we were happy to proclaim to all that we were in our tenth year. It was decided that the Tenth Anniversary should be celebrated in some way. The following plan of action was hatched:

1. Anniversary T-shirts should be produced.
2. A CD should be recorded.
3. A huge party should be organised reuniting, where possible, former band members. This would be funded by Take This in an attempt to give back to the fans something in return for the fantastic support they had afforded us over the years.

Bought the T-shirt?10 Years T-shirt
Graphic designer that he is, Pete began work on the T-shirts. Phil and Pete sought sponsors to help cover the cost in return for having their logos on the T-shirts. They found three: Kitty O'Shea's, Thomas Stapleton Irish Pub Leuven and Celtic Ireland. Take This would like to express its sincerest thanks to Kitty O'Shea's and Thomas Stapleton for their contributions. The band would also like to thank Celtic Ireland but, unfortunately, we cannot, because they forgot to pay us the money they promised and are still consistently forgetting to reply to our polite reminders! Ignore their logo when looking at the anniversary T-shirts.

Pete's endeavour gave rise to the logo and the T-shirt was duly completed.

Heard the CD?
At the same time as the graphic/sponsorship work was going on, the band pooled their creative juices in trying to come up with a selection of songs suitable for a CD. I should have mentioned that, since the famous band tape of 1995 (which the late Brian is believed to have buried again), Take This had recorded a CD of several of their covers in the studio some time in the late-1990s. The result could best be described as 'enthusiastic'! But I digress. It was decided that the 2004 CD would be a single medley of snippets from a few numbers from our repertoire. After several iterations, the final compilation was arrived at. Boule generously gave us free time in his studio and the thing was completed in the summer of 2004. You can see and hear it on the Vids page.

Enjoy the party?
If you answered "yes" to this question, you are lying, because it never happened! Although we proudly announced our 10-year tenure (see what we did there?) at every gig we played in 2004, we never got around to doing 'The Big One'. In order to understand why, you'll have to come over to 'The Dark Side'.

The Dark Side:
Oh. It's you. Welcome.

The dark side wasn't so dark as all that, but a feeling of unease had crept into the band. The lads were going through the motions. The repertoire had hardly changed in the last few years. Since Kenny had left, and after the cameo appearance of Andrew, there had been very little use of three-part vocal 'harmony' in the band, except for occasional vocal contributions from Boule. Trevor and Pete missed those harmonies (nothing new there, then!). They also found that the burden of lead vocals was stifling their expression on guitar (yeah, right!). They were all bored.

In August 2004, Boule and Take This parted company by mutual consent. An emergency meeting of the three remaining members was called. The tone was serious. Gone were the mirth and hilarity of the band's earlier 'AGMs'. Gone was the optimism. Fortunately, the beer was still present. Unfortunately, Neil was not there to record the minutes of the meeting, so the details may never be known. You can, however, read about the outcome in Chapter Six.

Chapter Six - 2005: The Renaissance ('la Rebirth', in French)

Bonnet de douche:

English is a very rich language. It is so rich, in fact, that we can afford to lend words to our lexically impoverished neighbours. Of course, the French word for 'renaissance' is not 'la rebirth' - I just made that up! No, the French have borrowed OUR word. This is one of many examples. Listen carefully to the French language and you will hear people wishing each other 'bon appétit' and 'bon voyage' in much the same way as we do. These are common examples of French using English words. Less common would be 'cul-de-sac', which you will see on signs for dead-end streets all over Britain. The French have borrowed this compound word but its meaning has been lost in the French version and they usually pronounce it incorrectly.

French is not the only language which borrows our words. 'Schadenfreude' is frequently heard in the German language. Honestly, their misfortune at having such an inadequate vocabulary makes me want to laugh out loud! I've heard more linguistic variety in one of our kindergartens! We gave the Russians our 'Glasnost', the Indians our 'bungalows' and the Scandinavians our 'Ombudsman'. The Italians have adopted the word 'ciao' which was originally used only by irritating, pretentious Brits. And examples of our wonderful English cuisine have been imported into countries all over the world (e.g. paella, goulash, pizza, crème brûlée). Where would the world be without us (and why do people dislike us?)?

Basta! Let's move on.

Roll call and back to basics:
As we end 2004, Michel has filled the drummer vacancy left by Boule's departure. This is great news for Take This and the early signs are that Michel's capabilities and work ethic will be a major boost in refreshing the repertoire and tightening up the performances. With Michel reproducing the drum parts from the original songs beat for beat, the other three musicians decided to go 'back to basics' and listen carefully again to the originals, which they had not done, in some cases, for many years. The result was frightening - if you play a song wrong for long enough, you can believe that you're playing it right. That is what we had been doing and it was quite an eye (and ear) opener for all of us!

Bloke down the pub:
Michel's arrival had addressed one or two of the band's 'malaises' but, unless we could persuade him or Phil to step up to the microphone, we would still be only a two-part vocal band. Add to that the fact that Trevor and Pete had long been imitating certain keyboard parts on their guitars, and you would arrive at the same conclusion as we did: we needed a singing keyboard player.

Efforts were made and advertisements placed, but things did not look promising. At the same time, the band reflected on the logistical implications of adding keyboards - more space and extra amplification needed. Perhaps it would be better to find a dedicated lead singer? But it was well known that this beast is hard to find and probably impossible in Brussels.

So we found two. The first to audition was a friend who had sung in bands when he was younger. He performed a few songs capably but Trevor and Phil were concerned because he was Scottish and would upset the English domination of the band. The other problem was that his Christian name was Jimmy and his surname Kenny. Clearly, this would be confusing what with the whole Pierre/Jimmy thing and the old Ken/Kenny connection. Jim Kenny was thus thanked but 'no-thank-you'd'.

Then there was this bloke down the pub. It was a chance encounter, but one which would change the course of Take This forever. Trevor was enjoying one of his rare visits to the hostelry in question when he happened upon a long-lost Dutch friend, Jacqueline. Accompanying her was some besuited fellow sipping a diet coke (the Jameson was still on the bar!). He was introduced as Henk and pleasantries were exchanged. Trevor and Jacqueline not being able to think of anything to talk about, the subject of the band was raised. Henk intimated that he may be looking for a band and an audition date was set. The moral to this story is: if you don't have anything important to say, just shut up and maybe something good will come of it!

The audition took place in Trevor's apartment one evening. Pete and Trevor provided the accompaniment on acoustic guitars while Phil, who had been on one of those long 'business' lunches, provided loud percussion on a dining-room chair. Henk impressed with his power and accuracy (Trevor's neighbours still talk about that evening with fondness). The only real question related to Henk's versatility - how would he handle the variety of material in the repertoire? This was soon answered when, having been invited to Henk's birthday party, Trevor, Pete and Phil were treated to Henk singing several mellow numbers accompanied beautifully by John on guitar. The doubts were allayed, the deal was struck and the stage was set.

Onwards and upwards:
The arrival of Michel and Henk began something of a chain reaction. Musically the improvement was immediate. Members of the audience would remark how much better the lead vocals were than before. In reply to the question "who used to be the lead singer?", Trevor and Pete would spare the embarrassment of the person concerned by not revealing that they had shared that honour between them (they would just answer that it had been Phil).

The second effect was that the band took to a more structured pattern of rehearsal, which improved the music and allowed for the introduction of new songs (well, 'new' to us, anyway). It became clear that, apathy aside, one of the major reasons why it used to take a long time to learn new songs was the requirement to memorise the lyrics (or, in Pete's case, make up alternative ones). This requirement now passed from Trevor and Pete to Henk, who seemed to have no problem at all with lyrics! To hear him sing these days, you would think he had them written down in front of him!

With the burden of lead vocals removed, Phil Trevor and Pete were able to work on more intricate guitar arrangements. The addition of backing vocals now became a joy rather than a chore. Phil reworked a lot of his bass lines and Michel just did what Michel does best and played the drums. Rehearsal (not the favourite pastime of the guitarists!) became a pleasure. On stage, the musical interplay blossomed and the visual impact of the band was heightened by Henk's interaction with Trevor and Pete (who became known as 'Les Mandolines') and with Phil and Michel ('Les Percu Boys', bien entendu!).

Put your money where your mouth is:
These improvements gave rise to a reappraisal of the band's equipment, both individually and collectively. Band members invested in new instruments, amplifiers and effects. A new PA system was bought and the system of fixed (i.e. either on or off) lighting was replaced by two powerful light units which are controllable via a footswitch. The old systems had given outstanding service for close to 10 years, but the new gear was a huge leap forward. Check out the Tech section for details. The investment programme was supplemented by some very generous gifts of miscellaneous musical equipment by Henk and his family.

Spreading the word:
We have been somewhat fortunate over the years that word of mouth, coupled with significant 'telesales' work by Phil, has kept the Take This gig diary fairly well filled. But Henk brought with him a marketing strategy to ensure that this continues to be the case and that we can attempt to reach a wider audience. He came up with the idea of the web site which Trevor then implemented. Check it out at www.takethis-live.eu. Henk also visualised the concept of a 'community' built around the web site and the gigs. Pretentious, nous? Not at all. Hey, we all like to have fun and meet new people and we think that live music provides the formula to do just that. Our aim is to get bigger and better, so why not join us for the ride and let's see where it takes us all?

If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around ...
... of course it makes a sound, you silly existentialist! But what we do would mean nothing without you, the audience. Some of you will have been to see us already. Thank you. We hope you will come again. Some of you will not have seen us yet. Why not give it a try? Maybe you would like to book us. Please let us know. Or maybe you would like to contact us with suggestions for songs, for the web site, or something else. Please feel free to join in. We are here for your entertainment.

At the end of the day ...
... it gets dark. But Take This is a bright spot in the lives of all of its current members and, we hope, in the lives of those who come to see us. What we are today is a result of an evolutionary process of nearly 20 years which has enjoyed massive contributions from many people. For their part in our continued enjoyment, Take This would like to thank, Oscars style: former band members Neil, Kenny, Ken, Boule and Andrew; stand-in drummers Michel (well, he used to be), Geoff, Marcus, Thierry and, most recently, Roger; the stand-in guitarist, whose name I've forgotten; sound engineers Pat, Alain, Michel, Steve and anyone else who has mixed us; photographers Juro, Bob, Zoltan, Paul, Judit, Mia and anyone else who has taken, or provided, photos for the web site; the long-suffering wives, girlfriends and children; anyone who has ever carried a piece of our equipment (except during its theft); publicans Philip, Gerry, John, Bo, Greg and Ollie for giving us regular work; anyone who has ever booked us, been to see us or visited the web site; and, last and therefore least, anyone I have forgotten! We love what we do and we love the fact that you enjoy it. Thank you!

Chapter Seven - 2016: Sans Phil ("Right", Said Fred)

Will you love us when we get older?
Too late! It happened! But, if you thought we'd been asleep since 2005, you would have been partially mistaken. Gigs came and went - fewer and farther between than in the past, due to financial constraints for the private stuff, noise problems on the pub circuit, and age-related illnesses incurred by band members - but Take This rocked and rolled on. Highlights from 2005 to 2015 were:

1. We learnt, on average, half a new song per year (not easy, learning half a song!).
2. Michel bought about 20 new drum kits.
3. Henk and Trevor experimented with in-ear monitoring, thereby isolating them further from the rest of the band! Thankfully they are now back in the out-of-ear monitoring fold ('foldback', you could say).
4. Trevor tried to introduce wireless ('sans fil') in-ear monitoring by employing bluetooth technology. One word: latency! That is, you hear the word 'one' while you're uttering the word 'two' in the hackneyed sentence 'one, two'. Ever wondered about lip sync when watching a DVD with bluetooth headphones?
5. Phil bought a new bass amp about the size of a credit card (with his credit card).
6. Pete bought a new guitar, a 'Luke' (in a parallel universe, Luke bought a 'Pete').
7. We were blessed with a dedicated sound engineer for a few years. Pat, an accomplished musician with an excellent ear for sound, was a huge help in honing our mix before the lure of Dublin proved greater than the prospect of being deafened (and occasionally blinded) by the Take This kilowatts.
8. Henk and Trevor went to see a band featuring the irrepressible Marty, the evergreen Greg, Sven the drummer and some bassist called Fred. Fred, who had seen Take This play, offered his services as replacement bassist for Take This, should Phil ever leave. Nice offer, but it'll never happen.

And then there were four ... and soon five again:
It happened! Phil announced his retirement, with effect from the end of 2015. The band would be destined to continue 'sans Phil'. It is incredible to think that Phil spent 21 years with Take This!

To call it a bombshell would be an understatement, but Phil's reasons for leaving were understandable and all good things come to an end. Take This will not, however, come to an end, and we have taken Fred up on his offer of being our new bassist. You have big (Phil) shoes to fill, Fred, but we're sure you will do a great job!

Phil - a tribute:
It is both easy and difficult to put into words what Phil has done for Take This. Easy because Phil was a founder-member (only Pete remains with that distinction) and worked tirelessly behind the scenes to secure gigs and maintain the band's equipment (he was the only band member to bring a screwdriver to gigs, and we all knew that we could turn to him when we needed items from his toolkit); difficult because, on a musical and personal level, Phil brought a uniqueness which is hard to define. Phil made Take This what it is today. And drummers (we've had a few - a bit like regrets, really) who have played with us over the years have always commented on how good Phil's playing is.

The laws of symmetry and consistency dictate that Fred's details will replace Phil's on this web site. But Phil will not be removed from our hearts or minds. It is a fitting testimony that Phil encouraged us to continue playing with a new bassist and we know that he will come and see us at future gigs. We look forward to it. And we have a few repairs that we hope he'll carry out!

Fred - a welcome:
While we're sad that Phil will no longer grace the Take This rhythm section, we are looking forward to a fresh chapter (although don't expect a new chapter on this page for a while!) with Fred, our new bassist. Fred will bring his own personality to the band and will also add a new country of origin (Luxembourg) to our ranks. Now I'm off to look up the Luxembourgish for 'screwdriver'!