Wednesday, 21 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, COMMERZBANK ARENA, FRANKFURT, 20 JUNE 2017

Today's review is provided by Nikolay Sabev who attended his seventh Global Spirit Tour show last night in Frankfurt. When he's not following Depeche around, he dj's as DJ N:Mode and you can check out hos music here https://soundcloud.com/djnmode . Nikolay's written a superb review of the Frankfurt show and here it is for your enjoyment. Thanks Nikolay. All photos are Nikolay's unless credited otherwise



My concert day started with an early train from Zurich to Frankfurt (also known as Mainhattan) that took about four hours. The heat that I experienced around the Swiss stop of the Global Spirit Tour was following me all along the way to Germany where a few hours before the concert the temperature was 35C – not cool!

I checked-in at my hotel near the Main Station (Hauptbahnhof) at about 13:00, went to see some friends for lunch and headed towards the stadium around 18:00. Frankfurt was my seventh concert on the Global Spirit Tour. I had decided to take a seat for a change, however, I managed to exchange it last minute for a FOS2 one with a girl in front of Commerzbank Arena who had a spare – the view (and energy) was much better so  it was a good decision on my end.

It is difficult to describe a show that was more or less identical with the previous ones I had seen during 2017 (excluding Glasgow as that was a one-off very intimate and unique event). When I say identical, I mean exactly the same setlist each and every night. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in Hannover for Strangelove but I hope Martin will sing it again at some point … maybe during the winter gigs depending on  how the routine is going.

Anyhow … it must be said that the Frankfurt crowd really made the concert a special one. After witnessing a very passive and quiet audience two days ago in Zurich, the one at Commerzbank Arena was on their feet from the beginning – I even looked around during Corrupt and majority of the seated fans were up and dancing – beat that!



Algiers were interesting but not my cup of tea – it seems that my favourite support band so far on the Global Spirit Tour are The Raveonettes. The Atlanta-based guys kicked off playing at 19:30 sharp and played for 30 minutes. The Beatles intro came on at 20:41 and here they were – Depeche Mode making an appearance at a city where they have a very solid following. It was obvious that the crowd would be on top form even before the guys hit the stage as everyone was evidently enjoying the punchy techno selection by Martin. 

As usual (on this tour), the show was flawless. Dave was in a great mood (as always) and the rest were feeling the energy at the venue from start to finish. Fletch requested a fan after the end of So Much Love while Dave was using the towel every few minutes. It is worth mentioning that in my opinion Going Backwards is one of the strongest tour openers they’ve had maybe since Higher Love in 1993 – I really feel this song. So Much Love is also a killer one – it sounds very solid live as well. Barrel Of A Gun sounds better on this tour than the previous one but to be honest, playing BOAG and A Pain That I'm Used To with the same arrangement two tours in a row is a little disappointing (at least to me). Corrupt works surprisingly well live and unlike many other places on this tour, in Frankfurt people were singing along with Dave on this one. 

The new (old) arrangement of In Your Room is providing this classic track with some vital new life that was much needed as since the last few tours people were getting a little tired of it. Next up was World In My Eyes and that is one my highlights on this tour – it just sounds so good live with the new intro and its overall arrangement. I also love the fact that it is just the band + lights with no video projection – very stripped-down performance. As usual, Cover Me ended with a crowd “clap” participation which Dave seemed to really enjoy – maybe because he is on the songwriting credits, who knows.



Martin performed A Question Of Lust and Home (as usual) which both sound great and I kind of understand his decision to keep them on a regular basis. They are two of his most popular solo tracks and Home especially really engages the large crowds / masses they are playing to. However, I would always welcome some new additions to this slot (i.e. Higher Love last tour was incredible).
Poison Heart and Where's The Revolution are not my cup of tea, especially the former – just don’t feel this song at all – I hope they will replace it with something else for the Winter Leg. WTR - I don’t mind too much but it doesn’t seem to work that well live – not sure why. 

Everything Counts and Stripped have been discussed a lot. The new intro of EC is a killer one and the Frankfurt crowd once again exploded once they heard the first notes of the original arrangement. The singalong went well this time (unlike Zurich) and Dave was quite happy (and proud) of it! Stripped is a legendary one – I just love this intro and it gives me goosebumps every time I listen to it – I am very happy they play this one as it is one of my all-time favourites. Last tour, I got lucky to attend the second night in Madrid where they played Stripped for the first (and only) time on the DeMa Tour. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook Group

Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again worked perfectly fine as usual - all audience members clapping and traditionally waving hands during the latter. The video projection for ETS is a weird one but I don’t mind it too much – just trying not to focus on it for longer than few seconds as it doesn’t really develop into something. 

The encore was standard setlist-wise. The crowd loved Somebody and along the traditional LED mobile flash lights, you could see some old-school fans with lighters – loved it! Walking In My Shoes always works well live in my opinion, I’m happy to see it at the encore on this one – it really brings back the energy into the set. I find the video projection interesting – maybe because I lived in Berlin for four years and some of the filmed locations resonate with me. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook Group


After it was dropped in Hannover 2, "Heroes" was brought back both in Zurich and Frankfurt which means it will remain in the main set (at least for a while). I really appreciate that Dave loves Bowie and he really enjoys performing this masterpiece but for me it is still weird to accept that they perform a cover track live. I guess the last time they did that was with Route 66 … long time ago.

The last two songs – I Feel You and Personal Jesus - did their job and every single fan got what they paid for – top class entertainment!

To sum the concert up, it was another flawless show from the band – they seem to be feeling comfortable in their comfort zone and  are definitely not planning to leave it. Well, it seems that (so far) it works perfectly so  there's no room for criticism!

Next stop : Berlin!

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Thanks very much Nikolay - a great review.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, HDI ARENA, HANNOVER, 11 AND 12 JUNE 2017

On June 11 and 12, Depeche Mode performed a first on this tour - two gigs on consecutive nights in the same venue. A special pair of gigs were anticipated, with a focus on night two for the first setlist changes of the tour (if we ignore Martin swapping A Question Of Lust and Home around). To cover these gigs properly, a special reviewer was required - step forward Niggels Uhlenbruch, a Munster based DM fan who, among other things is a music journalist, a DJ, and a contributor to this blog. He's also the driving force behind the campaign to bring Boys Say Go! back into the live set up. Enjoy this review. I know you will.





I'm Taking A Ride With my Best Friends!
Depeche Mode - Global Spirit in Hanover - 11th & 12th June, 2017

tl;dr: Two brilliant nights with Depeche and amazing friends - 'Strangelove' must stay in the set!

Part 1 - Hannover Day 1

I'm taking a ride with my best friends - to Hanover, the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony in the north of Germany! Depeche Mode were the reason for our journey, of course, and that Hanover was the only back to back double date during the summer leg of the 'Global Spirit' tour was the icing on the cake. Will they change the set list on the second night? Of course they will! Maybe a bit. Well, probably not at all! Germany's northerners have a reputation to be a bit reserved and withdrawn, as an audience as well as in life in general. [Hah, a DM pun!] I wasn't familiar with the HDI Arena, and being a little sceptic when it comes to open air concerts in stadiums with often rather dodgy acoustics, and with the usually good but not overly enthusiastic Hanover crowds in mind, I was a bit worried how the experience would be like.

Hannover Day 1 - all smiles before the show (Niggles on right)

Well, no beating about the bush, it was pure MADNESS in the most wonderful sense of the word! There's nothing better than going to a Depeche Mode show with some of your best friends - except going to two Depeche Mode shows in a row with them. ;-) And it was amazing to meet so many fellow devotees, some of them good friends which I unfortunately don't see as often as I'd like to, and some others you simply meet every four years (for certain reasons) and who are pretty delightful people, too. These are the folks which make the exciting spectacle of seeing DM live all the more special! [If I was a teenage girl I'd insert a couple of heart emojis here but I'd never do that! ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ Oops!]

On Sunday we arrived very early at HDI Arena and the stadium was already filling up nicely and looked quite impressive. It was a hot and humid Sunday in Hanover, and while the weather was tolerable outside the stadium the air was really close inside the big bowl. It was still more than hour to go until the support act, Algiers, due onstage, so it was time to say hello to all friends and to socialize a bit. Well, not just a bit - that were quite a lot of hugs and hellos and smiles! And beers, because you need something for all the toasts after all. Pleasantly the organization at the HDI Arena was just perfect, the ways to the bars and the bathrooms (quite important when you frequent the bar frequently) were short and there were even mobile beer vendors searching the Front Of Stage area for potential customers. They soon found out that our group meant big business for them and made sure that they don't lose eye contact with is. That is, until the FOS got so crowded that they got a little scared and left the FOS. Or maybe we just emptied their beer kegs and they called it a day. Who knows?

Hannover Day 1 - beard mode
One thing that I found outrageous, though, was that there people on seats where all they could see was the side of the stage. That is, this "shoe box" surrounding three sides of the stage to protect it from the weather. I had the chance to check out their viewpoint as I had to walk downstairs through their block when returning from the bathrooms. Horrible! Basically those people paid 80 Euros or more just to stare at black plastic tarp, cables and equipment! They couldn't even see the side screens and their only chance to see a band member at all was when Dave or Martin entered the catwalk. Whoever is responsible for selling such shitty seats should be taken to court!

Who sells seats like these!!

Algiers came onstage eventually to start their short set. The British-American band fuse Indie Rock and Post-Punk with Electronica and Gospel and add some gloominess and socially aware lyrics to the mix, and with this mix they are quite a perfect support for the mighty Mode. Unfortunately the sound was dreadful and had a multiple echo from hell. This made me really worried about the sound when they headliner was to hit the stage! However, I found Algiers enjoyable enough despite the dodgy acoustics and had, in good fun, a laugh at Algiers' overly enthusiastic, weirdly super-animated keyboarder who just couldn't stand still and preferred to jump around his keyboard instead of pressing a key for most of the time. If Fletch had a spurious son with Iggy Pop and Joe Cocker, this would be Algiers' keyboarder. But hey, I loved that he was so enthusiastic, so no offense! ;-)


We poured down a few more beers and secured a nice spot about 20 metres from Gore's spot on the stage, and anticipation rose during Gore's famous DJ set to warm up the crowd. The first Mexican waves made their round through the stadium - yep, the crowd is really up for it! Lots of DM tattoos, Dave lookalikes and tour shirts from earlier tours, even including World Violation and Devotional, were to be seen in the FOS crowd, so it was certainly a die-hard fan audience. There were even a few Gore lookalikes, including one wearing a full copy of Martin's all-white Exciter Tour outfit complete with the feathery shoulder. A bit weird, and the poor guy apparently didn't realize that he doesn't look like Gore at all.


When you read the kind of stuff such as this blog, you most probably aren't really avoiding spoilers and rather familiar with all the particulars about DM's current show, right? So I won't bore you with a detailed song-by-song review since you, in all probability, already know that Wrong comes after Where's The Revolution, that the backdrop visual for Going Backwards is very dappled and speckled, during which songs Dave enters the upper tier of the stage aka "Anton's only fancy stage design idea" and so on and so forth. The first night in Hanover was sold out and actually had a really good crowd who got involved in everything. My worries regarding a potentially reserved crowd flew out of the window when the FOS section screamed "there is soooo muuuch loooove in me" at the top of their lungs during the second song. After a few songs it began to rain a little for the first time, and that was rather a most welcome refresher than anything else.

Girls In The Rain Anonymous

As DM made their way through their set the atmosphere in the audience went from really good to really crazy, and Dave particularly seemed to be really into it and was all smiles. I mean, the guy is 55 now and his energy on stage is just amazing and puts singers half as old to shame, not to mention performers of his own age! During Barrel Of A Gun (the third song of the show, as you will certainly know) Dave was already soaked with sweat and giving it all, and he didn't stop at all until the very last sound of the show. At one point he is like a devilish Las Vegas crooner, and in the next he is the dignified elder statesman of Pop. He borrows quite a few moves from the likes of Elvis, Freddy Mercury, Mick Jagger and in his more mischievous moments he mimics Bono from U2 with the tongue firmly in his cheek. And Dave can be quite mischievous and waggish while performing, especially in his "daddy dancing" moments or when he does his already infamous chicken dance. The guy simply went through too much to take himself too seriously. I am old enough to have witnessed the "old" Dave Gahan, which was ironically the young Dave Gahan. In the 1980s and early 1990s he was cool, he was distant, almost kind of robotic - and I really loved that back then. Today he is a different personage as a live performer, and I love this, too!


In the middle of the set it was of course time for Martin to take over the lead, as usual. As the first night in Hanover got the standard set, we were treated with the piano version of A Question Of Lust and the wonderful full-band version of Home, including the long singalong afterwards which worked pretty well. Just like the one after Everything Counts, my personal highlight of the whole show. That new intro and that killer kick-arse-bassline, simply gorgeous! The second half of the show is when everyone is going bananas, anyway, and the string of classic hits is just pure bliss! The only downers, at least for me, come with the encore: As much as I love Walking In my Shoes as a live song, Corbijn's backdrop video really destroys the song for me this time. I get and appreciate the message of the film but it is simply badly executed and way, WAY too distracting from the band's performance. That the camera director decided to show that stupid film on the big side screens instead of the band didn't help much, either. I'm sure people in the back would prefer to watch a close-up of Dave instead! The other fly in the ointment is I Feel You, and it must be the fourth tour in a row where I hoped it might be dropped, eventually. At least DM should do it earlier in the set instead, if they insist on playing it, as the song isn't remotely the great singalong-friendly crowd pleaser as the band seems to think. Anyway, 'Heroes' was great and I love that they do an edited, punchy version of Personal Jesus this time. The long, boring four-minute-jam-from-hell intro from last tour is gone, thankfully!

Hannover Day 1 - "Go home NOW!"

So thanks to PJ the show ended on a high, and now it began to rain quite heavily, which wasn't so refreshing anymore. But the night wasn't over yet, so we walked 15 minutes through the rain to the Infinity club where local promoter Lorenz Macke scheduled Depeche club nights for amazing three days in a row! The aftershow was just as much a grave, dead-serious and cheerless affair as the concert, as you can see in this short undercover footage:




Part Two - Hangover In Hanover 

The next day had a slow start. There's nothing better after a long, wild party night than waking up next to a fair and beautiful woman! Unfortunately I woke up in the room next door, and while I tried to made my way to the kitchen, still feeling like I was on a rollercoaster than walking on plain ground, I encountered a long-haired person in ladies' underwear making snarky remarks about me being drunk and snoring so loud that it might have put the horns of Jericho to shame. Oh well! I just hoped there isn't a tiger in the bathroom! After sipping coffee on the balcony for a mere two hours, I felt ready enough to leave the house for some shopping, getting some food and a nice meet-up with other fans. In the end the shopping part took so long that we headed straight for the HDI Arena but anyway, here we go again! Time for the mighty Mode! 

As a side note, I'm not sure if the promoters did themselves a favour with scheduling a second show in Hanover. The second night wasn't sold out at all, and I've never seen dropping ticket prices so low on the black market. A friend of mine e.g. sold his spare Front of Stage-ticket for just 20 Euros. Only benefit of it all was that the bloody scalpers were screwed, too! Hah!

99 Red Balloons - So Much Love

We arrived at the FOS section when Algiers just started their set and it was time again to say hello to all those crazy, wonderful DM die-hards again. While the FOS section looked just a bit less crowded than the night before, there were whole blocks in the upper tiers where only a handful of people were sitting. Other blocks, however, were completely full. The second night saw a more casual crowd, and obviously more families bringing their kids. Quicker than I thought the playback of Revolution by The Beatles announced the start of the show, and while we were already singing along to it the rest of the crowd seemed to be mildly interested. Yep, there was less excitement in the air compared to last night. A few hundred heart-shaped red balloons during So Much Love, a fan campaign organized by the above-mentioned promoter Lorenz Macke, cheered things up a little, thankfully. However, it became clear that the first half of the 'Global Spirit' set isn't exactly for casual fans. Don't get me wrong, it was a good show once again and I love the set as it is anyway, but at the second night in Hanover I got why some people think that up to Martin's mid-set interlude the show is dragging on a bit. Perhaps DM should throw in another crowd-friendly classic in the first half? In any case, World In My Eyes made the place erupt, eventually, and the song is certainly one of my many highlights of the show. It's simply the best version of the song they've done since Devotional, and that's not just because of the sweet little new intro they prepared this time! The songs has one of the best, most intriguing bass lines in Pop history and while it sounded a bit flat during more recent tours, it absolutely sounds sharp and cutting this time around. Just the way it has to be!

Got one!

The big elephant in the room was of course the question of whether there would be any changes in the set list the second night! Anyone who might have hoped that, for example, Corrupt might be replaced with another song was to be disappointed,  but there's still Martin's set. And indeed he didn't disappoint! The acoustic version of Shake The Disease is probably not the boldest of choices, as we heard it numerous times at previous tours, but we welcomed the song with loud screams, anyway. Even the upper tiers woke up and gave it a "whooohooo, I know this song, whoohoo" and it was good to see that people up in the seats were actually still alive. The singalong after Home died down rather soon and  Poison Heart, another potential candidate for a set list change, went down better than I would have thought. Not that it would have gone down like a storm, as neither did Wrong and, surprisingly, Where's The Revolution, but it wasn't that bad. Everything Counts took care of the job, letting people go mad again, although good portions of the audience seemed not to know what to do with the singalong part and just screamed. It probably took a while but the atmosphere now was great and it felt like a "proper" DM experience. 

Although I'm one of those who's willing to claim that I heard songs like Enjoy The Silence and Never Let me Down Again a few times too often to find them still musically interesting, I have to admit that it was these big hits which I enjoyed the most this night. I already got a little emotional during Stripped and little more emotional during Enjoy The Silence, but hearing the line "I'm taking a ride with my best friend..." absolutely floored me! Simply because I was there with some of my best friends, and while we all have had our individual hardships in life recently, I all the more felt an immense gratefulness to spend these two nights with them in Hanover. There was a little tear of joy in my eyes, admittedly, and I just turned around to give them a big bear hug of love. Unfortunately I almost crushed them!

So what on earth could top this intense, exuberant rush of sappy emotions? Martin doing STRANGELOVE! I'm sure you all know by now Martin's wonderful choice for the first song of the encore, and I can assure you that the piano version of this 1987 classic was pure bliss when you were there in person. That Martin and Peter had to restart the song because Mr Gore mixed up the lyrics just added to the charm of the performance, and Martin apologetically remarked with his typical laughter, that they rehearsed the song only twice. That's one time more than I would have guessed! I can only hope that the guys will give Strangelove another chance, it just sounded great and made people go bonkers in the most wonderful way!



Unfortunately there was also a big downer for us in store: The dropping of 'Heroes'! I was shocked when Walking in My Shoes was directly followed by I Feel You, and everyone around me was! We all wondered after show if 'Heroes' was now discarded for good, which wouldn't have been good at all. Just a few weeks into the tour, 'Heroes' feels like an integral part of the 'Global Spirit', and after all it's not the songs they always play which create the specific feel and character of a tour, it's the new songs and the old ones which they haven't done in a while. Or a cover version which we never got to hear before and which fits perfectly the spirit of the new songs!

Two amazing nights with amazing friends and an amazing band - you couldn't ask for more! Well, apart from doing it all over again - Berlin, here we come! :-D

On a final note you simply have to check out these two links with Dani's brilliant pics from both Hanover shows. She's one of Germany's best concert photographers, her works have been already featured in a number of releases and music magazines, and while she didn't have a photo accreditation for the Hanover gigs and could only bring a small camera, her pictures are still bloody amazing:

Depeche Mode & Algiers live in Hanover, Day 1, by Dani Vorndran:
https://www.black-cat-net.de/galerie/musiklive/konzerte/2672-live-depeche-mode-hannover-11-06-2017

Depeche Mode & Algiers live in Hanover, Day 2, by Dani Vorndran:
https://www.black-cat-net.de/galerie/musiklive/konzerte/2673-live-depeche-mode-hannover-12-06-2017

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Thanks so much Niggels - that's a superb review. It sums up what this tour is about perfectly - a great gig by a great band and hanging out with DM friends from all over the world. I hope everyone loved it.



Friday, 16 June 2017

REVIEW: MARNIE - STRANGE WORDS AND WEIRD WARS


As Depeche Mode take a brief pause on their world tour, I can take a brief pause from the Global Spirit Tour Project to write a review of the new Marnie record Strange Words And Weird Wars. Listening to the album, as I have done many times already, I can't help but think she'd make a fine support act for DM's global trek, firstly given how popular she is among the Black Swarm anyway, but secondly because these songs played live would be a great way to open a Depeche show. Perhaps if they get round to confirming a Glasgow show for later this year? It makes sense Martin and co.

Anyway, to the album. This is  Helen Marnie's second solo release and it is a real treat for fans of electronic pop, building on her wonderful solo debut release Crystal World, adding a new layer of crisp pop to great effect. By now you should all know lead single Alphabet Block which kicks off the album and which I reviewed a while ago (review). As part of that review, I had a quick chat to Helen and asked about the new album and during that she said that the new album was "definitely a pop effort"  and that's apparent throughout. As Alphabet Block and the second single, the magnificent Lost Maps, show though, this is more than a straightforward pop album - it's a beautifully crafted, intriguing gorgeously synth laden album that is surely bound to be looked on as one of this year's finest.



Bloom and G.I.R.L.S follow Alphabet Block, a faultless opening trio, with G.I.R.L.S boasting a chorus that even the dead would dance to, before recent single Electric Youth slows things down a little with its mix of 80's power pop and pure synthpop a real joy. The video (below) reflects those influences and, as I'm a huge fan of an HQFU, it's cool to see Sarah Stanley both in the video and as a key part of Marnie's live set up.



A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and Summer Boys both show off a darker synthpop side and both a re wonderful with Summer Boys sounding like the sort of single Mute would have loved to have released in their early days. The distorted sounding synths on that track are one of those things that, if you're a bit of a synth nerd, are music to your ears. Glorious. The closing track Heartbreak Kid is another standout, containing yet another chorus that's impossible to ignore and impossible to get out of your head.

Like I said earlier, this album is surely going to be considered one of this year's finest. I'm biased of course being a huge Ladytron fan, a Glasgow based blogger who goes on a tad too much about electronic music including of course Depeche Mode and someone who loves Crystal World, but in all honesty, this is a superb album. There's so much incredible music coming out of Glasgow just now but, despite the competition, Marnie has raised the bar. This is an album you don't want to miss.

Strange Words And Weird Wars by Marnie is out now and is available on all the usual digital places. Ignore them though and head to her Bandcamp pages for cd's and a grogeous clear vinyl release. 

Marnie Bandcamp https://helenmarnie.bandcamp.com/
Official site http://helenmarnie.com/

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, OSTRAGEHEGE, DRESDEN, 7 JUNE 2017

Today's review is the second review by Daniel Cassus (@dcassus), following up his excellent Leipzig review from 27 May (http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2017/05/live-review-depeche-mode-festwiese.html). Once again, thanks very much to Daniel for a hugely enjoyable review and the wonderful pictures. Remember kids, don't use them anywhere without asking first.


Welcome to another review by me, Daniel. This time I’ll tell you a little about the show in Dresden. I’ll try to focus on what’s different from my other review.


The Ostragehende is also a big open air field like the Leipzig Festwiese, but the stage faces north, and with the sun setting at 21:16h directly to your right, it’s quite annoying to have to deal with the sun in your face until the first few songs of the main set.

This time I got really early (14h) to the venue, so my waiting agony was double the length it was before. Happily, I got to meet fellow homie (www.depeche-mode.com) Kimmie and her friends which helped pass the time and also helped me learn how the early birds organize themselves in line. We even faced a hail shower in what was to be a perfect sunny sky. At least we got treated to a little bit of the soundcheck of Walking In My Shoes.

Daniel on the left with Troy

I also got to meet my friend Troy who took a challenge to get the same haircut as the guy from the In Your Room video. I took the challenge of buying a €20 fanny/bum pack (below) with the DM “Bratwurst” logo. Hey, it’s still hip to wear one in Germany (check the name ;). Although I gotta say the quality is really cheap for the price.



The Horrors came on stage 17 minutes earlier than expected, to my pleasure, which meant 20:40h was already “Revolution” time!

Something funny happened with the screen right from the intro all the way into Barrel Of A Gn. There was a glitch and some blocks were out of place. Even a part of the Going Bacwards video stayed there throughout So Much Love and part of Barrel of A Gun.


Dave was wearing grey suit with silver boots this time. Fletch seemed to be wearing neon pink runners. Did I see that right? For a main band member, Fletch has been blending with the background a lot.



This time Corrupt didn’t have all that delay effect from Leipzig, but A Question Of Lust had it. These are the small tweaks you get to notice from watching multiple gigs. Or maybe just a different impression from watching the show from the FOS1 this time.

On the other hand, there was a lot of reverb and delay on In Your Room. Dave also messed up a few lines and just offered the mic to the crowd, in his “something went wrong” style. By the way, why won’t Peter play the bass on In Your Room? It’s definitely a very bass-y song and could benefit from his show of hands.

My impression about Cover Me being slowed down in Leipzig was just that, an impression. The first verse was precisely the same as the studio version. And Martin’s guitar was sharper than before. My favorite rendition of the song so far.

From my Leipzig review you can tell I'm becoming less resistant to Peter’s interventions. He is pretty much doing all the backing vocals on Barrel Of A Gun, more than Martin. He’s also singing on "Heroes". And he's finally got to write for the album. If I had the chance, I'd have all six of them autograph my Spirit vinyl: Dave, Martin, Andy, Christian, Peter, Kurt and James Ford. Anton can sign my tour book with a white marker, of course.



I noticed the rain-protected side lasers were missing this time. Here’s a picture of the stage without them:


Other things I finally noticed from up close:
 -  Martin has red Spirit flags sewed onto his blaze
 - It’s Dave’s silhouette you see “drawn” on the waves of the Wrong projection video.
 - The panning effect during the Everything Counts intro and the engine start from Stripped are mind blowing from so close

Christian spiced the intro of Enjoy The Silence a little bit this time. I know this is a stab in the heart of the purist fans. But it gets them going. Christian has said it before he always changes something here and there between each performance. The problem with ETS for me is Martin’s solo which must be the worst he’s ever done.


However, Martin did seem to have fun making a Chuck Berry duck walk during the intro of Never Let Me Down Again. Homage? Fun? Rock n’ roll spirit? We’ll never know for sure. Martin was in a special mood. Before Somebody, he greeted "Dreeeeesdeeeennn" in a very deep funny voice, and finished with a “danke” and his typical laughter.


Leaving the show was much easier because they started to remove the barriers between the sectors during “Heroes”. I know this because I started to move towards the exit around this time. Sorry, I was too kaputt to endure the final 15 minutes (and this encore really isn’t my favorite). However, the main exit was still blocked when the show ended. It’s where their vans were waiting for them. Since they’re not party animals anymore, it’s only a matter of seconds between the final bow on stage and their french exit from the venue. Vans are gone, the way is clear and leaving the Ostragehege wasn’t the chaos it was to leave the Leipzig Festwiese.


All in all, a more comfortable show than Leipzig, and a lot less crowded. Band in great mood. I hope you enjoyed my review as much as I enjoyed being there.


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We certainly did enjoy it Daniel - thanks very much!






Sunday, 11 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, OLYMPIC STADIUM, MUNICH, 9 JUNE 2017

I was incredibly jealous of Robbie Sargent (@korsikoff) when he told me he was off to Munich for the Olympic Stadium gig ads I had an amazing time there in 2014 on the Delta Machine tour. A great stadium, a great crowd and a fantastic city. As you'll read in this excellent review, Robbie seemed to enjoy last week's gig as much as I did. Thanks very much Robbie for the review and the photos.



Munich 2017. The Global Spirit Tour. One of the great Depeche Mode weekends. Great city, great weather, great fans, great show and meeting great new friends. Everything a Depeche experience should be. And more. Here's a bit about my personal experience.

I've been fortunate enough to have seen Depeche play a number of shows spanning almost 30 years. In the UK - from the Music For The Masses tour (about 3,500 fans in Bournemouth) right through to the epic London Stadium show last weekend. Highlights to date have been the Royal Albert Hall show in 2010 and the Crystal Palace gig back in 1993 (I still have the t-shirt for that one). 

My first foreign show was the Stade de France gig on the Tour Of The Universe tour, going back here again for the Delta Machine tour. The less said abut the post F1 show in Abu Dhabi the better. 

Anyway, I've always wanted to see them in Germany, with many a Twitter friend opining on how great shows are in this wonderful country - the frenzied fan base and the band feeding off them being the main reasons. Thankfully, my time came on the Spirit tour, where my experience in London and the comments of others throughout the tour has demonstrated the boys from Basildon are on top, top form. 



Munich really is a fabulous city - even more so on a Depeche Mode day. My wife and I spent the morning of the show in the English Garden, enjoying the sunshine (but not the naked men!), before moving to the city centre where we had some lunch in the Hofbrauhaus. We then headed to the stadium with Chris and Sharon at around 4pm. This is partly what is great about Depeche. Chris and I 'met' on Twitter because of the band and we arranged the same hotel for this weekend. We then spent lots of time together over the course of the weekend and my wife and I have been invited to stay with them ahead of the Manchester show later this year. The Black Swarm are one big happy family. 

The arrival at the Olympic Park started with a beer and then our first mission of the afternoon - get some Depeche Mode beakers. These were not on sale in London, but we knew that the European shows were selling them. Sharon really did get quite concerned we weren't going to find any and almost resorted to paying extortionate money to get one via a ridiculously priced cocktail. Anyway, Chris saw sense and advised her to wait until we got into the stadium itself. After a chaotic queue (more like a scrum) we got through security and ticket checks and found a bar selling beer and DM beakers! We ordered four beers and the lady at the bar couldn't understand why we wanted different design beakers - they cost 2 euros and you'd get your money back if you returned them. Sorry, but that's not the point. We need merch!!!! With Sharon satisfied we had a quick look over the stadium and then headed down to the pitch. 



We were standing in the Front of Stage 2, so not right at the front, but certainly close enough to Gahan et al to get a good view as they wandered onto the stage. The set opener, Going Backwards feeling more potent and delivering more expectation of what is to come than any other opener since Higher Love. Closely followed by So Much Love, these two songs evidence the strength of Spirit - songs that can stand up and be counted with the behemoths that are to follow. 

Then comes my least favourite live performance of the night - Barrel Of A Gun. Now, I'll happily sing along to BOAG at home or in the car, and I won't push fast forward when it lands on my iPod, but I just don't like it live. I just think Dave struggles with it a bit (it is a tough song to sing live), but hey ho, if that's all I've got to cry about the all is well with the world!! We then get the marvellous Jacques Lu Cont remix of A Pain That I'm Used To (with added bonus for the women in the audience of Gordeno taking centre stage!) and a superb Corrupt - a song that delivers oodles of dirt and full on Depeche raunchiness. We can forgive Anton's visuals for the glorious In Your Room (and Dave missing the first few lines and being helped back on track by Martin) and then we get one of my all time favourite Depeche songs - the quite brilliant World In My Eyes. Thankfully, Dave stayed on his feet on this occasion, unlike in London. 

And so we have one of the finest openings to a Depeche Mode show for many a year. 



It doesn't stop there. We're well into the standard setlist (maybe it will be changed for the second night in Hannover?) and so we get the marvellous Cover Me. Dave takes his break and Mr Martin L. Gore takes front of stage with a tender version of A Question Of Lust and a full band Home (funnily enough, for all my praise of the German fanbase, I didn't think the obligatory singalong after was as good as London, six days previously). Dave returns for the 'growing on me' track of the tour, Poison Heart. The summer's political anthem, Where's The Revolution (maybe it just happened with a huge upswing in support for the left of centre Labour Party in the U.K. Election the previous day?) was performed with gusto, although my wife was disappointed that the live version didn't have the same syncopation in the chorus as the single release. Nope, I don't know what she's talking about either. 

Wrong keeps the tempo up, fitting in well with the setlist and then, just like London, the splendid opening to Everything Counts is the signal the rain to start falling. But no matter, the darkness has enveloped the stadium and the crowd takes it up a notch, revelling in an all time Mode classic. Another classic follows, Stripped played out to 80,000 phone lights in the night sky. Stunning, just stunning. 

They keep coming now -  Enjoy the Silence creates a huge wave of emotion and the biggest singalong of the night. As I turned to my wife halfway through what I consider to be the greatest pop song ever written and said 'this just makes me smile', I realised why I love this band so much and will travel miles and spend fortunes on seeing them. I've got goosebumps just writing this sat in Munich airport right now!!

The monster that is Never Let Me Down Again eclipses ETS on this night, in this stadium, with these fans. It's an astonishing 6 minutes of huge stadium rock where the crowd is taken away to another place, arms waving and women on their partners' shoulders trying to get a glimpse of the world's greatest front man belting out lyrics that have stood the test of time. O.M.G. (as my 9 year old daughter would say). O.M.F.G. (as I said). 

Depeche at the end of the rainbow

We know they are coming back for an encore. Martin returns to sing a beautiful version of Somebody and then we get a belting Walking In My Shoes. I'm really not sure about the visuals for this one. The screens (both in landscape mode tonight, contrary to London) just seem to distract from the performance rather than complement it. 

Then comes "Heroes". This splits opinion among us fans, but I think it's really well done. You can tell it means something to Dave hence he gives such a fantastic vocal performance to the point where I feel genuinely touched by it. A wonderful decision to have this on the setlist in my view. 

We end with two classics. To be honest, I'm a bit tired of I Feel You in a live set and would happily drop it for something else, maybe it would be better outside of the encore? And then Personal Jesus. Not much I can add to what has already been said about one of the all time greats. What a way to end the show. And what a show. And then, Dave shouted 'see you next time', much to my relief with more gusto than in London. 

If you haven't seen them in Germany, I urge you do so - everything was up a level from London the week before. And I mean everything. The UK may well be Depeche Mode's home. But it's pretty clear to me that Germany is their spiritual home.

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Thanks very much Robbie. See you in Manchester in November!

Thursday, 8 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, RHEIN ENERGIE STADION, COLOGNE, 5 JUNE 2017

Today's guest reviewer is Alex Ferguson (no not that one) who traveled to Cologne on 5 June after having seen Depeche Mode in London on 3rd June to take in his second Global Spirit Tour show in 3 days. How did Cologne match up to London?  Read on to find out. Thanks very much to Alex for this great review and the pictures accompanying it.



I wanted to get deep under the skin for this concert but did I have the willpower & stamina to last the day out? I admit it was a struggle at times but as they say no pain…

An early flight out of London Stansted didn’t help matters and that was followed by a train and tram trip to reach my destination. On the train in, I spotted some graffiti written on the side of a building, in large letters “HOME”, was this a sign I thought? Nah I concluded, as it was in the wrong colour and more importantly wrong font.

I decided to take the walk to the FC Cologne stadium from the hotel and it was a pleasant suburban district with large parkland along the route. The stadium is quite imposing from the outside, the heat was rising in a sun drenched afternoon, and I settled into the front of stage queue behind some 30 fans ahead of me. I have never seen so many DM t-shirts congregated together so guessed it was a fan forum get together, “Reach out and touch Dave” emblazoned on many…indeed!

Front of stage right queue behind me
I soon got chatting to Julie from Dusseldorf who had become a fan at the age of 8 and turned out to be seasoned to the art of queuing for DM. “Oh yes” she said “you see the same faces all the time at the front”. Just how much these fans spend on travelling, tickets and queuing must be mind-blowing. Anyway we pass a couple of hours chatting Depeche. I asked her where she was hoping to stand and her plan was front row along the catwalk”. Entering the stadium at 5pm I had clocked up a mere two hours of the wait so far and things were starting to cease up and hurt - not a good sign I know.



Once inside and past security, I didn’t quite make front row - but second row along the catwalk with a clear view of the central screen was fine by me. I had completely missed the central screen in London 2 days earlier - mainly due to the speaker positioning and a deep set stage.

I had three jovial ladies in front of me at the barrier who were in good form but the wait inside was a proving a tough slog, standing, sitting and breathing in fumes from chain smokers all around.

I spot Julie further along the catwalk and noticed she had got her front row spot. I gave her the thumbs up and she smiled back in a way that told me she was ok (..but only just), the wait was nearly over.

I had to plug up my ears for the Horrors as they had been too loud and monotonous during the London concert and this made it tolerable.

Really think Depeche should command a decent support act. How about Goldfrapp from the Mute camp? Then Alison could cameo later during the remix version of Halo.

The Horrors complete their set to a loud “hallelujah” from a fan next to me. A few minutes later a roar goes up behind me from the seated areas as the Depeche entourage enter the stadium seating and fans start to clap along to a technician who tests out the drum kit to a desperate beat (Did you spot what I did there? It gets worse I promise).

Earplugs removed, the opener starts up, I get the connection with Beatles Revolution, but this is not convincing, too upbeat for me, we need a moody, angry Mode - how about short version of Scum and go straight for the jugular?

Out from the bat the fans all around are clapping and punching the air to the opening tracks which are a great combination from Spirit.

This is serious Depeche devotion at work here no doubt.



I thought I knew most of the lyrics to the songs but these fans are insane, word perfect. Now I am the first to admit I am not keen on the Germanic slant cover versions of Dave’s voice, so I was fearful of what I was about to encounter but my fears were allayed as the lady next to me belted it out and sounded great too.

Dave paraded the stage in silver glitter shoes tonight swapping from the dashing red ones spotted in London.

I really got into the live version of In Your Room this time - maybe seeing the projected dancing couple helped and the fact it’s always been a classic song for me.

The track capturing attention this tour is Everything Counts and no doubt the reworked intro is excellent and the chorus sends the fans all around me into meltdown. Mid track Dave launches aloft a big stage block on the left of stage and for a split second he looks like he’s lost his balance but thankfully he gets it right (sorry I couldn’t resist).

I also witness the famous chicken walk too from Dave. He really likes all that flapping around, please just give me a dance that I’m used to (apologies again for this one)

Martin’s Somebody is another highlight as the audience duly provide a star filled sky for him all around the stadia.


Earlier in the day sheets were handed down the queue for "Heroes" and of course they appeared aloft at the appropriate time, as Dave took on the said track. I forgive the misquote of the lyrics as it should be forever and ever and hold my sheet aloft for the cause. Dave carries this off well and of course a great personal choice too being the track he auditioned for DM. As it concludes he points to the sky in remembrance of the icon.


Trotting down the catwalk Dave is in full flow beckoning the crowd as he cups his ear. I’m about 8ft from him at this point and the ladies in front of me share some amazing pictures they capture. My phone isn’t the best so I just soak up the view and proximity.


I have mixed feelings on the backdrop screens, some of them too simplistic in design and seem to waste their high definition capabilities. However, I did like the effect when Dave strutted in silhouette across the higher level stage to a backdrop of super furry animals, hang on just a thought, could this be the inspiration for Dave’s chicken dance?



This is a really polished act, vocals amazing, Martin loud and Dave animated. The sound quality is really superb where I was. Cologne certainly feels more compact and intimate than the London concert and the fans were fully engaged from the start.

I am not a huge fan of the big arena concerts but this really was as good as it gets. 

As I leave the arena, I leave behind the three German ladies slumped over the catwalk barrier. They are all emotionally drained and had given it everything they had. They had entertained me along the way and I chuckled at their futile attempts to attract Fletch from behind his keyboard onto the catwalk. My sore limbs reminded me of the pain and suffering I had endured and the long day had taken its toll but the experience was a truly memorable one.



Catch them while you can or on the new winter leg dates that have just been released for UK and Ireland…Believe me, from this insight, the fire still burns.

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Thanks very much Alex.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, TELIA PARKEN, COPENHAGEN, 31 MAY 2017

The guest reviewer for Copenhagen is Martin Senestrand from Gothenburg, Sweden. Martin is a legendary Depeche Mode collector and his youtube videos showing off his collection make for wonderful viewing if you are a person like me. He is also the author of the Swedish language book Depeche Mode In Sweden (http://www.depechemodeisverige.se/), a book that charts Depeche Mode's history in that country and one that is well worth a look. Thanks to Martin for this review and the wonderful photos and video that accompany it.


I traveled with the Öresund train to Copenhagen from Gothenburg at 11:28 and took a walk north through Nørrebrogade to visit the Accord record store.  I didid some shopping and later met my friend Fredrik Wik Clarke and his wife Rhona Clarke at Halifax, on Frederiksborggade. After checking in at Scandic Copenhagen along Vester Søgade, I went to the evening's arena Telia Parken, in the district of Østerbro, to meet up with my friends again. All three of us had Golden Circle Early Entry so we had to get in extra early, just as I had done in Stockholom. In Stockholm, I ended up at the catwalk, but in Copenhagen I got a place on the left of the scene, just below Martin Gore. Perfect!


Old bands that make farewell tours remind you a lot about hypochondriac older relatives who say this is the last year we will have them in life. A few days before the world premiere in Stockholm at Friends Arena, Georg Cederskog of Dagens Nyheter interviewed me and asked how many records and tours I thought remained. I replied that I have the feeling that this may be the last tour and album. The end is close, I'm still stuck to that, but it may take a few years before it actually ends. Depeche Mode has not said anything about that this tour, the Global Spirit Tour, would be their last ever, but the band members are getting older - following their normal release rate, the next album wouldn’t be released until 2021. Many people in the audience maybe didn’t saw the band at Saltlageret In Copenhagen on November 26, 1982, but at least they did not miss the historical moment at Valby Sports Park, August 16, 1986. 



After 37 years of pioneering music, complicated relationships, overdose and internal wear, it's hard to understand how Depeche Mode are still here. They should simply have ended from conflicts, fashion shifts, drugs and unbridled debauchery a long time ago. However, they have returned this year with one of their best records in 15 years, and still sell out venues and major sports venues around the world. Probably, they will also continue to do so in the future as well. Depeche Mode is an arena band of the same caliber as Rolling Stones or U2,  with the difference that they are making music that is still relevant. Crucially,  the concert at Parken is a good concert, better than anyone is entitled to expect from such an old band. But the most inspiring thing about Depeche Mode in 2017 is probably not the music itself, but the thought of all the amazing bands they have paved the way for. I do not know any other band in the same genre that shows a greater musical width than theand the mere existence of the band is evidence almost as if they are still relevant.


Telia Parken has a capacity of 38,050 people. It is Denmark's largest arena and the third largest in the Nordic region, after the Friends Arena in Stockholm and Ullevi in ​​Gothenburg. Perhaps there are a few thousand fewer now considering how the scene stands, but it's completely full and the atmosphere is superb. The sound is also surprisingly good. It's better than in Stockholm on May 5th, where it was not too good at first. I think that the concert overall is better than in Stockholm as well. The Danish press is very positive and Jan Eriksen of the Danish evening magazine BT writes that Depeche Mode delivered a magical evening. He gives the concert six of six stars as a grade. They also get a great review from Ras Bolding from the Danish edition of Gaffa. He writes that this is Depeche Mode’s best concert on Danish soil for many years. This is undoubtedly a huge compliment for a band whose career is tied to internal unrest and personal problems. The conerrt's track list (see setlist sheet below) is the same as at the Friends Arena except that they have moved the songs around a bit -  Home is now played after A Question of Lust instead of the opposite. Once again I’m very pleased when I go back to the hotel through Faelledparken.



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Thanks very much to Martin for that excellent review. Remember to check out his book.