Saturday, 21 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, VIEILLES CHARRUES FESTIVAL, CARHAIX-PLOUGER, FRANCE, 19 JULY 2018

The festival season has split fans a bit, with some seeming annoyed at the shortened set and others treating the gigs as a chance to have a Depeche Mode party, enjoying a greatest hits show in unique surroundings. The pictures I've seen of the Vielles Charrues Festival look incredible - great surroundings, what looks like a great crowd and, of course, great music. Christelle Bauchet was at the festival and here's her review. It really captures the feel of the event and it's a really enjoyable blog. Thank you very much Christelle. Thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

About 70,000 people were watching the excellent performance of the band. That was my third gig (after Grand Stade de France and Bercy) on the Global Spirit Tour and the best one in my opinion. 

We, my husband and my daughter of whom it was the first concert, arrived at Carhaix at 2:30pm. It is a very nice Breton village with a lot of Greco-Roman remains like Vorgium aqueduct. 



Thanks to the volunteers, the access to the car park and the concert zone has been very easy. 

I had got the opportunity to be in the front row: marvellous!!! Only six hours and half before the beginning of the show, at the Glenmor stage... Fortunately, the sun was shining! 

My neighbours and I spent our time to talk about Depeche Mode, in a friendly atmosphere, listening, from far away, to the other bands who played on Kerouac stage: Olli & The Bollywood Orchestra (Indian musicians led by a Breton composer), No Land (neo-traditional Celtic music) and Marquis de Sade (Breton rock band). NB: Soulwax, Belgian electro-rock band, played a good music after DM concert. 

9:45pm: the show started. Martin, dressed in white, with silver glitters under his eyes, appeared on stage, followed by Peter, Christian and Fletch; then Dave, the graceful dandy, all smiles! 

A main screen and two side screens enabled everyone to see the band. 



Immediately, we felt that the show will be famous. Indeed, the local press articles described their performance in very glowing terms. 

The set list has been the same for several festivals. As usual, the show began slowly. After Going Backwards, now known by most fans, It’s No Good, A Pain That I’m Used To and Precious have been played; then World In My Eyes sung by Dave in an especially sensual way and Cover Me, Somebody, In Your Room, Everything Counts and Stripped welcomed by the fans. 

Then it came to the famous singles, Personal Jesus, Never Let Me Down Again and the encore, Walking In My Shoes, Enjoy the Silence, Just Can’t Get Enough, which raised the crowd. 

We often saw Martin and Fletch smiling. Martin moved on Walking In My Shoes and Enjoy The Silence! Even Peter seemed to be happy to play. And Dave, this amazing frontman, spinned, shared his energy with the audience and made a little courtsey seeing a fan’s banner that shows respect for his fans. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I think the band had a lot of fun during this concert. Audience was over excited, smiling, singing, dancing, claiming their love for the band. 

DM is a timeless and unique band. Here is a quote from Dave: “If we were like everybody else, we might as well give up and let them do it” and I completely agree. 

Now the show is over. The concert has been so great! Thanks guys for this fantastic tour. We’re waiting patiently for the next album and the next tour but before that, the Global Spirit Tour DVD!

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Thank you Christelle

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MAD COOL FESTIVAL, MADRID, JULY 14 2018

There have been many memorable reviews on this project and one such review was June Tan's of the second night at the Hollywood Bowl last October. When June said that she was heading to Europe this summer and that she wanted to review a gig again I was delighted. Here then is June's review of the Mad Cool festival, a festival with a magical line up. DM and NIN on the same bill? That really would have been incredible. Thanks for this great review picture set June.



I have to admit something. Being a fan of Depeche Mode turned me into a creature of habit. Like clockwork, I’ve been looking forward to a new album release every four years, followed by a tour that would take place between America and Europe (and South America) before the boys take a break and then it’s looking forward to the solo work done by Dave and Mart. And then it’s off to making the next album. And repeat. 

I’ve had zero plans of doing another DM gig once I was done with those Hollywood Bowl shows in October 2017. However, reading up about DM, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age AND Underworld are going to be headlining a festival in Madrid seems too good to be true. After a quick research on how cheap it is to vacation in Spain and before I know it, BOOM I’ve got tickets to see DM for the 8th time (and also the very first time seeing the boys in Europe AND in a music festival no less!)


How was it seeing the boys in a festival setting?

It was…bizarre. Deep cuts like Corrupt, Insight and Judas were not performed. Hearing Precious and Just Can’t Get Enough (both tracks I’ve heard in 2013) is like meeting a friend you have not seen in ages and you are not too sure if there’s anything to talk about (especially JCGE. I’ve probably spent more time laughing and cheering at the track rather than singing it).  




I have to say that ending on JCGE is a really good move because it paves the way for other acts to keep up with the positive vibes amongst the crowd (ironically, the next act that came up was NIN, which is the exact opposite of JCGE and I was pretty devastated after NIN’s set!)

Most people have been asking me this question since the gig: How was it like seeing QOTSA, DM, NIN and Underworld together in under 6 hours? How’s the European crowd in comparison to the ones in America?


Here’s my answer: SUPER.FUCKING.AWESOME. The Spanish pulled out all the stops to make themselves heard by singing and dancing along to every track and melody. No wonder they love touring in Europe because the crowd can get LOUD. Can’t say the same for the Americans unfortunately!

And bonus points for QOTSA and NIN acknowledging DM as their idols during their set! Being in a festival setting also means coming into contact with other fans (which could go either way because I did spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at Arctic Monkeys fangirls). Talking to festival-goers rocking NIN tee shirts and hearing them rave non-stop about their love for DM and how this is the first time they are watching them live makes me realise that the current setlist works perfectly. These people most likely only know Violator, Playing The Angel or Music For the Masses. To bombard them with tracks from Exciter or even Delta Machine is too much. 

Some fans would probably complain about how shallow the setlist it is, but my take is that if you fancy the deeper cuts, you would not attend a festival show in the first place. 

I’m just going to end my piece with a group photo of 5/365 Depeche Mode Facebook Takeoverees that attended Mad Cool Festival. Amazing to see 2 Australians, 1 Spanish, 1 German and 1 Singaporean coming together to celebrate our love for the Mode (also the first time seeing Depeche Mode with a bunch of friends for me). Bring on album #15 and 2021 already!

(From left to right: Michael Russell, Traicy Gensch, Roberto DuenDe, Rose Scasni and me)
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Thank you June.

Friday, 20 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BoK CENTER, TULSA, 29 MAY 2018

Sorry this one is a bit out of sync. My original Tulsa reviewer couldn't provide me with a review in the end so I was looking like missing my first review of the tour. Thankfully, William "Badger" Kelley came to the rescue and offered to step in to review the gig. Thank you for that William! William is a Tulsa based DJ who goes under the name DJ Badger (check out his Facebook page here) and he organised and DJ'd the Tulsa afterparty following the show. His review is a great read, so thank you very much indeed William. Thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures too.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As a longtime Depeche Mode fan and collector, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to see them in concert twelve times: 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009, twice in 2013, twice in 2017, and now, once in 2018, here in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As with many concerts, a lot of my Depeche Mode concert experiences have had something special and memorable about them. The first one, of course, was extra-special; I went to Dallas with a set of five friends, all of us with the "cheap" lawn tickets, and saw DM along with Nitzer Ebb on the World Violation Tour. 1993 gave us the most elaborate stage presentation; 1994 gave us memorably awesome remixes of I Want You Now and A Question of Time.

2009's "Tour of the Universe" was my least favorite Depeche Mode tour; the band decided that the Dallas concert wasn't deserving of either Strangelove or Master and Servant, which they had brought back for that tour for the first time in nineteen years. In 2013, an old estranged friend of mine, with whom I had at one point not spoken for eighteen years after a severe falling-out, traveled from Washington DC so that we could go to the Houston show together and hopefully talk through our differences along the way. Two days later, my wife and I took our then-six-year-old son to Dallas to see Depeche Mode for his first time, and four years after that, we took him again along his five-year-old brother.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

But 2018... well, this was the year that Depeche Mode played in Oklahoma for the first time. For those of you who who are unfamiliar - especially those of you outside of the US - Oklahoma is basically perceived as a bit of a backwoods cultural toilet. Some people think that we still have cowboys and Native Americans waging war on one another, while tumbleweeds blow through our little dirt towns with no indoor plumbing. It's not nearly that bad in reality; Oklahoma, especially in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas, has actually become quite modern.

It had always seemed to be a safe presumption that Depeche Mode would never, ever perform in Oklahoma. They had never done so before, and it had always seemed like a terrible idea due to the demographics. So, when I saw multiple friends on Facebook posting about the Tulsa concert announcement, at first I thought it was probably just an elaborate prank. Then, I clicked one of the event links, and I realized that this was real.

After the prerequisite freakout because the band whose work I'd been collecting since 1987 was actually coming to MY city, I calmed down and realized that as a local DJ and event promoter, I'd better get an afterparty arranged immediately. I wrote to the owner of my favorite Tulsa venue and got her approval to hold a party there on May 29th. I then hastily threw together a preliminary graphic for it and got the event announcement sent out on Facebook. The reality was setting in: *I* had taken the initiative and was now the organizer of Tulsa's afterparty. I scheduled one of the other big DM fans from the Tulsa DJ Scene, Jessy James, to join me behind the decks.

I was so excited about the situation that my skin was practically tingling.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

A bit later on, the day of the presale came. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, my wife and I agreed that since this was such a special concert, and because we had found ourselves in a temporarily fortunate financial situation, we would go ahead and spring for VIP tickets. We managed to get second row seats, on Martin's side of the stage. Over the last twenty-eight years, I had never been anywhere in the "front" section of a Depeche Mode concert.

Thus, as it turned out, this was now going to be an incredibly special concert for numerous reasons.

May 29th finally came around. I knew that we were going to get practically the same set as the two 2017 concerts I'd attended, but with a few little differences that had been introduced in 2018. Frankly, though, I wasn't sure how enthusiastic the band would be. Oklahoma was not exactly a hub of Depeche Mode fandom, and the ticket sales had reportedly not been going well.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club opened the show. I hadn't been familiar with their work over the years, and they did an adequate job, but I wasn't overwhelmed. To this day, if you held a gun to my head and told me that I had to merely hum or even name a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I would be completely screwed.

Finally, after the prerequisite wait, the lights went down and the Beatles' Revolution started up. The house erupted... the screen projection of the marching feet began... and for the first time ever, I was seeing Depeche Mode in the city of my birth.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Once Dave came out on the upper deck of the stage for Going Backwards, it quickly became evident that the band wasn't going to merely limp through the Tulsa show. Dave maintained his standard, nearly-impossible level of energy throughout the evening. Martin was obviously happy and excited. Christian and Peter were ready to go. Fletch was clapping, doing an apparent impersonation of an oscillating fan, and otherwise doing his best to act like he was there for some actual reason - you know, just being, well, Fletch. Tulsa was getting a full-on DM concert.

It's No Good was the first big switch from the 2017 shows, a solid replacement for So Much Love. It was interesting that one Ultra song was followed immediately by another - Barrel Of A Gun, complete with the lines from The Message thrown in towards the end... and then, after A Pain That I'm Used To, we got Useless! Just within the span of four songs, it was like we got a three-song Ultra mini-show.

Then... Precious. Oh, they gave it a wonderful effort, but as with every previous live performance of the song I'd ever seen, I was still unable to fully get into it. The 2017 live arrangement of World In My Eyes was still a major treat, and the audience ate that one up with no issue.

Then, they headed into the mellow section of the show. Cover Me was beautiful; I had originally been bored with the album version, but it had gradually grown on me, and by this point, it felt like one of the highlights of the concert.

Dave left the stage, and Martin came out for his two songs. I was excited, as were many of my friends, that he performed The Things You Said. This had been a widely-reported "big deal" since he had brought it back for this tour for the first time since the "Music for the Masses" tour.

The second song... Oh, Home again. Don't get me wrong - I love Home in and of itself. I'm just bored with hearing it so many times in concert. With so many classics that he could dig out of his bag of tricks, why Martin focuses so consistently on that song still kind of boggles me.

At least the audience was (shockingly!) ready for the post-Home singalong, and the band even seemed a tiny bit surprised that our town's crowd was participating to such a degree. Plus, this track completed the full set of Ultra singles within the course of one concert, so that was kind of cool.

The energy level came back up for In Your Room, with its amazing screen projection of the dancing couple. That song will always have a special meaning (okay, maybe a couple of them) to me, and it was an incredible performance. We headed through Where's the Revolution to finally arrive at the huge chunk of classics that would finish off the show.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The 2017 mix of Everything Counts was still awesome, with its lovely new intro. Stripped was a welcome inclusion, although I really wished that they could have given that one a solid remix treatment at some point over the last thirty years. It's one of my favorites by them, but hearing the same version over and over and over has gotten a tad dry. (On the positive side, at least it wasn't Policy of Truth.)

Aaaaaand then it was time for Anton Corbijn's absolutely senseless barnyard animals show, backed by Enjoy The Silence for some unknown reason. 2017/2018 Enjoy the Silence will rank as having one of the worst screen projections of their career. With a song as spectacular as Enjoy the Silence, one must wonder what the hell Anton was thinking when he threw together such a pile of nonsense. At least the band's performance was great.

This was followed by the closing of the main set with Never Let Me Down Again, and Tulsa performed the "waving wheat" as well as any other city, which I'm sure made Dave quite happy.

I was really hoping that we would get Martin's rendition of Strangelove for the first song of the encore, but I was still very pleased to hear I Want You Now. (Feel free to hate me for this, but I was just glad that it wasn't Somebody yet again.)

Walking in My Shoes was phenomenal as usual - one of my absolute favorites. Next up was another new swap for 2018, the return of A Question of Time. That one has, frankly, gotten a lot creepier over the years, as a fifty-six-year-old Dave sings a song addressed to a hypothetical fifteen-year-old while repeatedly grabbing his own crotch.

The final song of the evening was, of course, Personal Jesus" Was it awesome? Yes. Did the crowd freak the hell out? Of course they did. Did the band bring the proverbial house down? Indeed. Was Fletch's keyboard even turned on at the time? Okay, very likely not, but it doesn't matter, because we all know Fletch is Fletch, and he does whatever Fletch does.

However... there was something very poignant about this particular performance of Personal Jesus. It wasn't something that I expected, and it wasn't something that most of the audience noticed. It wasn't something they were ever meant to notice. When the backing screen images showed the performance from the back, over Christian's drums, way down at the front of the stage, there was a small video screen facing the band... set up like a teleprompter... to help keep Dave on top of the lyrics.

Now, part of me knew that realistically, the band had been performing together for about four decades. Age takes its toll, no matter who you are, and sometimes even the greatest performers will need a little help with the lyrics.

At the same time, standing there with my wife among thousands of others enjoying the final song of the show, I couldn't help but feel a bit melancholy about this discovery. You see, when I first started collecting their work, I was still in high school, and Dave Gahan was about ten years older than I was.

Parts of my brain have still clung tightly to the completely unreasonable and illogical notion that I'm still probably somewhere around 25... but, seeing that little monitor, placed there on the stage to help Dave get the words right, made it very evident that the band had been getting older... and if Dave Gahan had been getting that much older, and if I were still only a decade younger (yeah, I know... probably still a fact), then that would have to mean that I was getting older, too. Ouch.

Overall, it was a brilliant show, and I'm glad that I got to see them from such amazing seats for once in my life. The afterparty went extremely well, with people swarming into my little DJ event from numerous nearby states. It was a wonderful, wonderful night here in the city of Tulsa, and I was extremely lucky to have been able to experience it.

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Thank you William

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, PALEO FESTIVAL, NYON, SWITZERLAND, 17 JULY 2018

For part 2 of the Paleo festival review. we welcome Michael Pinzon for his first solo review. Michael has featured before when he co-wrote the Hamburg review with Claudia Schulzi and Thomas Ostermann so it's great to have him back again with this excellent review. Thank you very much for this Michael and for the pictures too. 



After Zurich on 18.6.17 and St Gallen on 30.6.18, Depeche Mode honours the Swiss for the third time. This time it was at the Paléo Festival, Nyon. 

The Paléo Festival Nyon has been in existence since 1976 and is thus the oldest and also the largest open-air festival in Switzerland. 

It will be held for the 43rd time this year. On six days more than 230,000 music fans meet here for over 250 concerts. And Depeche Mode were here before: They inspired the audience during their "Playing The Angel Tour". 

The Swiss fanclub


The journey to Paléo, about 200 km away, was organized by the Swiss Depeche Mode Fanclub (www.depechemode.ch) with a bus trip. In the bus, my wife Dominique and I, along with many other fans, also met Alexandra Fuchs (Red Goth) and her friend Thomas, with whom we enjoyed the whole concert. 

Michael (left)


The special thing about the "Paléo Nyon" is that it's not just about music. There is also a big culinary variety and a new theme is added every year. This year the theme of the festival was Southern Europe. There were a lot of food stands from the Mediterranean. 



After a refreshment and a walk through the many art installations, we soon had to queue up to get a good place for the concert. 



The great thing about the festivals is that after each gig a large part of the audience move to the toilets and food stalls and half the space in front of the stage emptied. Of course we took this chance to stand only 5-10 meters behind the Front Row center stage. I even fought my way to the Front Row to make a selfie with two colleagues who were already there at 10:00 in the morning. 

After only 45 minutes of waiting, Depeche Mode entered at 10:15 p.m. with a loud scream of catch. and started as usual with Going Backwards. Since we were very close, we could see Dave's facial expressions and facial expressions, Martin, Fletch, Gordeno (Jingling-Bernd) and Eigner (Drumming-Clown) very well. 



Everyone was radiating and obviously had a lot of fun at the concert. Dave was powerful as always, fired up the audience, never let them rest. 



The setlist is no longer a secret, the "Global Spirit Tour" which started with 22 tracks has long since become the "Best-Of Tour" with just 15 songs. With Just Can't Get Enough my 35th concert of this tour ended shortly before midnight. 

After a never ending car ride we arrived home at 04:30 o'clock satisfied and tired. Depeche Mode inspired at the "Paléo Festival Nyon".

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Thanks you Michael

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, PALEO FESTIVAL, NYON, SWITZERLAND, 17 JULY 2018

In the first of a two part Paleo Festival special, we welcome back Luisa Carones who has previously and splendidly covered Berlin and Milan for this project. It's great to have Luisa return once again and, as you'll expect, her review is another excellent read. A special mention too for Going Bankrupt - I think many of us feel that way! Thank you for this Luisa and see you in Berlin next week. Thanks also to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures.


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group


Festivals? 

So, here I am again at a DM gig – or, is it a proper gig? Because, as we all know, DM and Festivals are an over-debated issue in the devotees world. 

I am well aware that many of you are not super happy about our boys being part of a bill with acts sometimes – very often should I say? – DM fans couldn’t care less about. 

And that was my attitude too. As soon as festivals dates started to be announced, I said to myself: “I’m definitely not going to go: too many people who are not real fans, participation will be absolutely rubbish, too much stress, a whole day in the sun, or worse in the rain, listening to boring music, being pushed and trampled on, security levels below zero and, above all, a shortened setlist. No way!”. And I meant it. The only exception would have been Barolo because it’s not far from home, Italian fans are great, and I knew DM would be the only act on the night, simply supported by a short opening act. 

But then, you know, and I mean most of you REALLY know, how the DM bug starts working in your brain... What if it’s the last tour? I know I want to see them again. I am sure I will regret it if I don’t go. And so on. 

And so, from one only festival I was supposed to attend, Nyon is my sixth festival (and last, I promise), my 24th overall concert on this tour, and my new fix with the boys. In a way, I am really glad the tour is coming to an end because, as my friend and co-devotee Roberta said, “We are Going Bankrupt” more than Backwards.... 

Anyway, as I have written in my previous reviews, I always get ready for gigs just as if they were military operations because I want to make the most of the experience, but especially because I want to be as close to the stage as possible (as does much of the female part of the audience – I reckon I know the reason for this, right ladies?). Doing that at a festival is even more demanding because it requires not moving from your spot for hours and hours, with all that that entails... 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The Wait 

Around Europe, for regular gigs, we are used to starting to queue very early before the concert, at least the night before (when it’s not 2 days before, as it happens in Italy and in Germany), giving numbers, following a sort of ritual which, by now, works fairly well – except for the usual drama at the time of doors opening. Well, forget about that at festivals! Which is not that bad, after all. 

Since normal festival goers are not as crazy as the Black Swarm, no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, starts queuing before the opening time. Paléo Festival is a very familiar and laid back event and, at 8.30 am, outside the gates, there were only just 5 or 6 of us hardcore fans, a number which got close to no more that 20/30 by the time the gates were actually opened at 3.30pm. 

Nobody even bothers about giving numbers, and all the normal people working at the venue just looked at us as if we were strange beasts. And maybe they are right: we are a little odd, aren’t we? The good thing though is that Paléo is such an easygoing event that they let us, poor crazy DM fans, in during the morning, just to enjoy the site, provided we exited by midday. I mean, WHAAAT??? Have you ever heard anything like that?! No ticket checking, no security checking, just walk in and look around... And so we went inside the area and we enjoyed the DM crew preparing the stage and sound checking....that was a real treat! 

Besides, the area of the main stage is amazing because it’s a huge field with the shape of a theatre, so everyone from the audience can see the stage perfectly, and I guess the view from the stage is amazing as well, since the artists can see people’s faces, not just an indistinct mob. 

So we stayed there for a while, we laid on the grass, and let the hours pass... sorry guys, I couldn’t resist.... 

Anyway, I went back outside the gates just past midday and it was a smart choice, because that was the only covered area of the site and at 1pm it started pouring. Well, it’s not a real festival if you don’t get a bit of rain, is it? 

Luckily, the rain lasted only half an hour and then the glorious sun was back again with a light breeze blowing from the lake, which dried the ground so that we avoided being in the mud dring the concert. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Pre DM 

When the gates finally opened, there was just a bit of rush, but, with barely 50 people who were not even running to get to the main stage, I could peacefully walk – fast – the 400m to the stage and place myself in my favourite spot: front row, slightly on Dave’s left (and if you have read my reviews from the other gigs, you know why: I won’t go over the matter again, the ladies reading this will understand anyway). 

There were just 2 bands before DM started and I must say they were both pretty good. The first act, starting at 6.00 pm, was Altin Gun, a Turkish-Dutch group which, in my opinion, perfectly represented the folk spirit of a music festival. They sang in Turkish, with a fantastic Oriental flavour, but they also sounded very international, with a hint of a ‘70s vibe, but still very contemporary. I would suggest you check them out. After all, this is the aim of a festival: you get to hear things you didn’t know of. 

The second act was a more traditional rock group, from Iceland, Kaleo, whose lead singer really has a great voice, controlled and educated a bit more, but that is my personal taste. He is really goodlooking: he had his share of teenage fans screaming. Overall, they were good and they made the whole crowd dance, which is always a nice way to spend your time while waiting for the main act. Much better than other festivals I have been to this summer (Liam Gallagher anyone? errm...) 

By the time the second band had finished their set, the place was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was full of excitement. It was finally getting dark and the weather was absolutely perfect. So, it was time for me to plunge into my personal DM trance. 


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

15 songs 

As we know by now, the setlist for the festivals is made up of just 15 songs, but, even though I would love to have Dave singing all night, I have to say that for a festival it is the right amount of time. People have been on site all day, at least the whole afternoon, they have had plenty of music to enjoy, it is a mixed audience, it is often very hot (or, worse it could be raining), so, no one can really complain if the concert does not last 3 hours. And the majority of DM fans are not getting any younger... 

I know that many diehard fans are not happy about the choice of the songs, but I think it is a good setlist for a festival, with a good balance created to engage festival goers who may not be familiar with DM and their music. The first part is perfectly balanced with A Pain That I’m Used To setting the crowd into motion with its fast pace and then the melodic structure of Precious which is a popular tune and which is always well received. I’m not going into World In My Eyes because I do not want to get carried away by talking of certain moves with that damn mic stand, you know. And then the second part is just amazing: hit after hit after hit. 

The Nyon crowd was really participating, they all answered to Dave’s inputs and prompts, even during the first songs which in other dates fell a bit flat. At least that was my impression from up front, where, of course, the most devoted people were. But from what I heard, the reaction was great for every song. And I could see it reflected also in the faces of the band on stage. They looked to be enjoying the show as well. 

By now I know every single move and gesture of everyone on stage, since they tend to repeat what they know works with the audience, so we got the usual stuff, always delivered with utmost skill and craft. It still amazes me that they can look so fresh and on top of their game after so many concerts. 

I can just underline a couple af different things: the Pollock backdrop to Going Backwards is slightly different from the one used throughout the tour (I noticed it had changed at Mad Cool in Madrid, I do not know in any other places), and Dave knelt down during the instrumental part of Everything Counts, when he shouts “Take it boys!”, just before pretending to yawn. So much for the innovations! 

But they are so good, their music is so brillant, that, no matter how many times you have experienced them live, they just blow your mind. Dave’s vocals were absolutely outstanding, he was really focused on delivering a stunning vocal performace, especially before the final rush from Everything Counts on, when, of course, the entertaining aspect takes the upper hand. He introduced variations and subtleties that the attentive fan could notice and appeciate, and, maybe thanks to the place itself, there were moments of sheer emotion. I noticed that especially during Stripped and the chorus of In Your Room, when Dave let the crowd sing “Will I always be here” standing with his open arms: in those moments, the darkness on stage, the spotlight on Dave, the smoke around the scene, and the wind from the lake, created an utterly magical combination: goosebumps. 

Another great moment was, of course, the wheat field: at festivals something astonishing happens. Even normal people take part in the wave, everyone is so involved that they lap up Dave’s commands in a flash and, when the whole floor waving is shown on the big screen, the roar from the audience is absolutely deafening. Last night in Nyon was exactly like that and my hair literally stood up at the back of my neck, even though I have often been part of the wave and I do not usually really get emotional with it. I think this is because festival goers are not used to such scenes and so their reaction is over the top, while we DM fans are really spoilt and we usually just look around to see if our ritual is working fine. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

See You All Some Other Time 

Yes, Dave said that at the end, but I am not going to speculate. I’m sure that if and when they feel like it, they will get together once more and the cycle will start all over again. 

So, all in all, my festival experience was really worth it, at least at smaller festivals, because I got to enjoy different aspects of the DM world. 

Now, it’s time to say goodbye to this wonderful journey which has been the Global Spirit Tour for me. Thank you David for having me on this huge project and I’ll see many of you in Berlin for the final bow. Take care!

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Thank you Luisa

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, OPEN'ER FESTIVAL, GDYNIA, POLAND, 5 JULY 2018

Phew - this was a close one. Every day there is a gig, I post about on Facebook, tagging the reviewer in the photo. After I'd done that for this gig, I was emailed by the reviewer who said he wasn't going and had forgotten to tell me. Ah. Luckily, my Facebook feed then showed my friend Mototaka Fujii had checked in at Gdynia Station ahead of the concert and, two emails later, I had a reviewer. Having met up with Moto a couple of times already on the tour and ahead of us meeting up again next week in Berlin, it's great to have him write a review too and I know you'll all love it. Thank you so much for stepping in Moto and thank you for this superb review, pictures and video. 



To me it all started with yoghurt. 

Whilst waiting for a airport coach to Skavsta airport, which is a 80 minute ride from Stockholm Central I saw Pressbyrån, a local "Seven Eleven" opening its door. Yawning and sleepy I decided to pop down and purchase a drinkable yoghurt before boarding. Living in a nordic country, paying with card is just as natural as breathing - so I had no doubt that it was going to be a quick in&out; get the yoghurt and back quickly to the queue. It was 05:30, half an hour before the departure.

Beep… the display said “Payment not allowed on this card”

“Hm, strange. Maybe I run it too quickly“

Beep… “Payment not allowed on this card”

Cleaning the magnetic area of the card, I said to the cashier again, “that’s weird, could you please run it one more time? It's not expired so it must work.”

Beep… “Payment not allowed on this card”. She asked me if I had cash with me.

“Yes I think I do...”. Taking out the last remaining coins in my wallet, I settled down the deal reluctantly.

Upon leaving the place a horrifying thought came up in my head. Having all packed and ready and you are almost there but travelling with a non-valid card? Even though all was pre-booked and sorted you still need something for transport and eating! Then I suddenly remembered receiving a new card from my bank for a while ago due to possible fraud. T minus 25. Race against the time has began.

The following half an hour was spent on a hell ride of bicycle back & forth. Luckily my flat was 10 minutes away from the station at full speed, so I grabbed my bike and cycled as fast as I could. As if my arse was on fire, I threw the bike away at the door and flown into the house searching for the letter from the bank. Luckily it was left where I last saw it. “This darn thing better work!” - convincing myself I checked the time again. It was 05:45 - 15 minutes until the departure. Missing this will cause another hour of waiting. What if something happens on the road I will definitely miss the plane and ruin the whole trip! Grabbing the bike I set my arse on fire again and headed back to the terminal like a rolling stone. 

A fair number of travellers were already inside the bus by the time I arrived. How ironic, you thought you were among the very first one in the queue and the next moment you are the very last one! 

Finally securing the seat, I felt sweat running down the spine like I was taking a cold shower. “What a brilliant start, this trip is going to be interesting…” 

So it began. The trip to Gdynia, Poland to see Depeche Mode live at Open’er Festival. How scary, things would’ve come out differently had I not been thirsty and popped into Pressbyrån.

After a stressful start the only way was up. I started thinking of the trip, festival, all the fun I had looked forward to. Being a food lover I was eager to try local food. Poland is famous for its dumplings and soup in bread. So there was no way I would leave the country without trying them. 

Then a thought kept coming back. One that has been lingering since the last show I saw in Odense about a week before:

Depeche Mode on a festival tour. More than a year after the start. What is it left to enjoy when they have been touring for so long? What is the focus of the tour now? Would they stick to the standard setlist that they have established on the latest leg (15 songs)? 2 songs from the latest album Spirit. Is it still possible to call it for Global Spirit tour? Would they change a song or two considering that they are given a 105 minute slot? Would Martin sing The Things You Said tonight? 

Following the Home forum for its wonderful real-time setlists as well as fabulous live reviews on Almost Predictable, Almost, it was clear that the chance of any changes was down to 1:100 tonight. Same old? Yup. No more surprises? Nope. Just another gig? Most certainly, yes. For going to see multiple shows you would need to see it with another perspective. Having seen 18 shows in 13 countries on the current tour my mind was therefore set elsewhere. For me it was no longer about the music only but about being “in the moment”; being away from family, enjoying the whole trip, trying local food/culture, and hopefully meeting a few friends I knew. 

So it went. Arriving at Gdynia Główna train station, 8 odd hours later I was starving for food. Having remembered pork dishes being very popular in Poland, I opted for Żeberka, pork ribs at a local restaurant. Slow boiled and well flavoured with grill sauce the meat was incredibly soft and tasty. Simply exquisite! Happy and stuffed I checked in at a youth hostel around the corner. Funny enough, as soon as the receptionist saw me she smiled and without an intro said “you must be Mototaka, here is your room number” I guess being an Asian devotee in Gdynia is like coming across a limited edition of Spirit “red vinyl” on a shop display in a very small town; it’s so obvious… Haha

It's Called A Pork
The festival site was easily accessible by free bus services from Główna, the main train station of Gdynia. A wonderful treat by the organiser, making it easy and trouble-free for the visitors. Within 20 minutes we were left outside the Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport. Further walking down, the massive stage emerged at the end of a huge parking. As with any concerts the sight of a stage is always exciting, enough to make your expectation grow again.

Thanks to the place being an airport, the stages were built on one gigantic catwalk. “Orange main stage” on one end and the other “tent stage” on the other end. The whole runway was like a mile long mall packed with food court and various shops; all from clothing to vinyl, play areas for kids, and plenty of lawn to sit on. It simply offered everything you could ask for to have fun and comfort.


Well on schedule Ørganek, a local band came on playing an edgy & powerful set of rock ’n’ roll. Sounding like a Polish answer to 70’s punk (Ramones) & 90’s alternative rock (Foo Fighters), the response from the fans was loud and positive. The singer was very active on the stage, inviting the audience for singalong. A pity that it was all in sung in Polish and i didn’t understand a single word. All in all every country has local heroes only popular among the locals. I imagine they are like Kent in Sweden, another band that I have followed for many years.

Festivals are about discovering new bands as well. After the loud rock it was time for MØ, a Danish pop diva that I’ve never really checked before. A nice mix of electronic pop and dance music accompanied by an energetic performance, it reminded me of Grimes and Robyn. She stepped off the the stage quite a lot, standing among the audiences and singing with them. What an entertainer and pleasant surprise! Will definitely check her out more.

By the time DM were starting the place was getting packed. I mean literally jammed with 60,000 strong fans. It was so crowded that there was no more space to move around in the area before the stage. Standing on the right side of the soundboard I positioned myself to catch the best sound possible (for those who don't know me, I am Kompakt Mode on Youtube putting out self-filmed material). Martin Gore edited pre-DJ music slowly building up the mood. ”Deeepeche Mode! Deeepche Mode!", inpatient crowd clapping hands shouting for the boys to start. I knew Polish fans are one of the loudest, so being there gave me a total shiver down the spine. What an atmosphere! 

22:00 - VSK’s “Echinopsis” suddenly faded out and The Beatles Revolution kicked in. What an effective way to start the pre-show intro. Still loving it after having heard the same thing so many times before!



The rest is history to me. Again the band was in top form. How they can keep up with this level of intensity night in night out is still beyond imagination and a great mystery to me. Dave looked in a great mood, looking very impressed with the number of people. He screamed “Gdynia!” several times during the show, proving that he really WAS having a great time. The show went on without any lengthy chat between songs. Funny how little they talk after all these years. The only talk-ish moment was the intro to the last number where Dave said “We are going way back in time, you weren’t even alive!”. For this reason I can totally understand why it matters so much for many (including myself) with what Dave says at the end of the show: “See you next time” or “See you some other time”? The former means they would be back again with another album and tour? The latter no more? 

The setlist was indeed the same old one. However, the audience was different to any other that I had seen. They were really loud! Even though I was standing fairly far from the stage you could really see many happy faces enjoying the time with the band. The show ended with Just Can’t Get Enough with an extra singalong. Being a festival I thought it was a ok closing song. A song everyone remembers with the lyrics so easy to remember. Even though long time fans would consider the set to be one of the weakest and predictable in the DM history, I’m hoping it would’ve left some impression on newer generations that may have heard their songs but not really known who was behind it. All in all, that’s what a festival is for - getting to know new bands and checking out who they are. In that term Depeche Mode managed to offer a good selection of tracks. 

PS: At the end of the show Dave said “See you some other time!” Well, I for one hope he meant just for this festival, not necessarily for the next tour and album…




So it was over with the show. 100 minutes of rock solid performance. However the festival was not ending yet. It went on with Massive Attack, true headliner of the evening. Having seen them twice before (1999, 2009) and loved the first 3 albums, my expectation was high. Like I remembered from the last one in Stockholm they played a set of chill-out electronica with hypnotic and organic sounds. The inventor of trip hop? To me they are beyond that. It was extra nice to see them playing instruments like analogue synthesisers to re-create the album sound, but with so much depth and sonical dimension. 

So the festival ended for me. An evening with a well-organised festival that I really didn’t want to leave. Tired but happy I arrived at the hostel almost 4 am so all I needed was to crawl into the bed and get some sleep. 

4 hours later I was up again. Funny how your body works when you are determined for getting something like food… No matter how tired you are, the body wakes up on time and ask for nutrition in exact time of the day. After a quick sandwich and coffee from Zabka, a local convenience store, I checked out the hostel and set my course to Pierogarnia u Dzika in Gdansk. 

Built in the 10th century Gdansk is an old seaport in Poland. Within a few minutes walk from Główny main train station, you are in the middle of the old town surrounded by what look like buildings in Amsterdam. No wonder, it was the Dutch architects who originally designed the entire city in the 16th century, to be rebuilt again in the same style after the destruction in WWII. Pierogarnia u Dzika, the restaurant I checked out was located right in the old city.



Like I had read on Tripadvisor, they came with food quickly, serving first the mushroom soup in bread, Tyskie beer, then the much awaited pierogi. The soup was excellent, what a nice way of eating whilst scratching for the bread pieces inside the bowel and eating it altogether. The pierogi was very tasty and filling as well, topped with crispy bacon and onions which made additional flavour. Even though my feed were killing me after having walked miles at the festival it was totally worth coming! 



So that’s how it went. A short but super-intensive in&out. A Depeche Mode concert in the wonderful city of northern Poland was nothing but a pleasure. If they came back to Poland on the next tour I would certainly do all I can to go back again and try all that the country has to offer and more.

Last but not least below is the entire film that I put together. Those who went to see it - I hope it brings back lots of nice memories. It certainly did to me.



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Thank you Moto!


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MAIN SQUARE FESTIVAL, ARRAS, FRANCE, 7 JULY 2018

Today's review comes from Stephen Lawson from Richmond, North Yorkshire. Stephen has been a long time supporter of this blog from its initial days as something I rambled about on Twitter, so it's really cool to have him review a gig for the Project, following on from his mini review of London Stadium, a gig that seems at least 3 lifetimes ago. As part of his mini tour of Depeche's slightly bigger tour of France, Stephen went to Arras and here's what he thought. A really enjoyable read Stephen - thanks. Thanks too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

For my first overseas DM show (I’m English), I headed to Arras in France. Not last weekend, but way back on 29th 2006 on the Touring the Angel tour.

I have fabulous memories of that gig. The amazing Goldfrapp were support, the small city was gridlocked and it took hours to crawl from the motorway to the city. And it was very hot and sunny.

I think there was a danger that such a great show could perhaps not be repeated 12 years later. It turned out that show wasn’t repeated, and I’m pleased it wasn’t. This was the same city, the same band, but a different experience. The weather was hot again, the traffic was pleasantly far better organised and there was no support as such as this was festival time. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The venue had changed. In 2006 the show was right in the city setting in the ACTUAL Main Square, surrounded by arcaded Flemish style architecture. That had a really magical feel. This time the festival, which has outgrown single shows in the city, is set a little out of the centre in the picturesque area around the citadel. The crowds were big but for once I wasn’t doing that really fast walk/run to get as near to the front as I could. Why? Because there was a World Cup Quarter Final game to watch! Without going into too much detail, it wasn’t hard to find bars showing the game and lots of people were gathered to watch before heading off to the show. For once, that all went rather well and relatively stress free. So my feet were already bouncing as I headed into the festival.

It was a fairly large area and the crowd was big. I couldn’t get that close but was comfortable to have a bit of room, especially in the heat. The other acts were ok and came and went. Even got a few Oasis tracks from Liam which I enjoyed and which got the crowd singing along. On to Depeche Mode. Like most or us, if not all, I would prefer a normal show to a festival but for this leg that’s what we’ve got. The familiar sound of The Beatles announced the imminent arrival onto the festival stage (not the same set up as the previous legs but what appeared a generic festival set up). Now I know this is still Global Spirit, but I don’t think Going Backwards is the right opener for a festival crowd. It’s not recognised and it’s not a song that you “get” on first listen. Having said that, Dave gave it his usual gusto and strutted on with all the familiar moves.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The set list followed what is now familiar and the boys certainly seemed bouncy and energetic. It’s clear they are still enjoying performing even after well over 100 shows! Maybe the football result had something to do with that?

The audience was pretty good for a festival, a bit patchy, but large sections of Devotees were probably in the majority. For the casual fans, there was enough in the performance to entertain and enough familiar tracks. Cover Me is a great song and holds its place well, Somebody is a beautiful track but not what this setlist really needed and it sapped the energy a bit.

The first half of this particular set list isn’t packed with the biggest of hits and for the crowd to really get going the combination of the darkening sky as night settled in, and the opening notes of Everything Counts were the triggers. For me, Everything Counts has been ‘the’ track of this tour, sounding fresh and relevant and getting audiences at every show to bounce up and down and sing along. From then on the audience was carried along and sections of Devotees were not so easy to spot now amongst the crowd. Personal Jesus rocked the arena and the hands were swaying in the familiar field of corn wave as Dave orchestrated the mass participation as Never Let Me Down Again closed the main set. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The encore is pretty punchy for festival goers with the epic Walking in My Shoes and the masterpiece Enjoy the Silence. By now, the band had the audience just where they wanted them and Dave was doing what he does best, getting us to respond to his every command like a puppet master expertly controlling his puppet show. The final track was Just Can't Get Enough, not one I particularly enjoy, but it really does go down well with the festival crowd. I’m not ashamed to admit I was singing along, and whatever the band really think of this song, they certainly performed it like they believed in it. That done, I hauled my sweaty (recently turned 50-year-old) body back to a waiting bed. It was worth the journey - it always is.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Is it a perfect festival setlist? For me a 15 or 16 song set should have packed in some more big hitters and especially in the first half of the set. If the band can throw in Just Can't Get Enough, then surely they can stick in something like Strangelove or Master & Servant early on. But that’s being picky I guess. From Everything Counts on, the set is so energetic and carries the festival crowd along on a wave of collective euphoria when the Devotee numbers swell for an hour or so to include most of the obviously happy crowd. For me, next stop Lollapalooza Paris and I can’t wait to see the best band in the world again as I know just how lucky I am to still be able to enjoy these spiritually lifting experiences, having been a fan since way way back from the time of A Broken Frame.

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Thank you Stephen.