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.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, OPENAIR ST GALLEN FESTIVAL, ST GALLEN, SWITZERLAND, 30 JUNE 2018

For the last time on this tour, Claudia Schulzi returns, providing her 6th review for this Project. It's safe to say that I couldn't have completed this without Claudia's help and the fact she's taken time out from her own mammoth touring effort and her own blog to write for me is something I'll be eternally grateful for. There are few people I've met who are more devoted to Depeche Mode than Claudia so her views of the live show are always worth reading. As you'll see, and as many of you are experiencing yourselves, a Depeche festival set offers an entirely different perspective than a Depeche standalone gig set. Thanks so much for this Claudia - see you in Berlin.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Depeche Mode at Openair St. Gallen or "Going Backwards"

Thank you David for the great opportunity to write a review again for your amazing blog. You've done an unbelievable job to organize a reviewer for really every concert of the Global Spirit Tour. And I like the different views of all this devotees from all over the world. This is networking in its best way, wow, I'm impressed. So I'm proud the be a part again of your great work. 

I took a flight on Friday evening to Zurich. The weekend started with 2 and a half hour wait for the plane. I arrived so much later than I thought, I was tired after along working day and the evening with the friends I visited was not as relaxed as I thought it would be. But we spent a wonderful Saturday in the garden of friends, most of the time in the pool and this was a good way to prepare for the Openair in St. Gallen. However, in St. Gallen I stayed in a different hotel than my friends and through strange circumstances I lost them and so I spent the festival alone.

In earlier times, in the 80's, I traveled alone most of the time and sometimes I liked it really much, you are free to go where you want, when you want. The festival was very well organized, you picked up your bracelet at the "Welcome desk" at the St. Gallen main station. It was loaded money on a chip, with which you then could pay everything cashless. Then you took the Shuttlebus to the festival - a huge area with so many huts with different food and drinks. It was really easy to get a beer because nobody has to look for money, you paid with your chip very fast.



I came just in time to see the last few songs of Chvrches. I think a lot of you know them as supporters of Depeche Mode on the Delta Machine tour. The mood was very good, they got a lots of applause. After their set all the fans left the lawn to enter the food and drink area, so it was really easy to get in the fourth row in front of the microphone of Dave, but I decide to wander around while the concert. At the beginning I stood on the right side, very close to the stage, but the mood was not so good there - a typical festival audience. Depeche Mode was only one of many bands for them, so I found a better place on the left site where many people sang and danced to the music. 

Depeche Mode started with Going Backwards. This song is a very good opener, strong music, very good lyrics:

We are not there yet
We have not evolved 
We have no respect
We have lost control 
We're going backwards
Ignoring the realities.

Don't forget, dear devotees, this is my view. I really confess I don't like the festival setlist. There are only two songs left from the new album, only hits, a bit like a carousel ride, up and down. It's No Good, A Pain That I'm Used To but then Precious....  I missed Barrel Of A Gun, one of the best songs of this tour. I know it is not easy to play on festivals and you have to play hits, but they have so many hits yet every time they play the same songs. Basically this meant for me it was a very good decision to stand so far away from the stage. It was time for another beer. 



After World In My Eyes, Dave sang Cover Me with great verve. There was no catwalk, but he danced his moonwalk on the stage and this was a wonderful moment. Martin sang Somebody. This song makes me really sad every time. The lyrics are strange: "Though things like this, make me sick, in a case like this, I'll get away with it."

Dave came back with In Your Room. I love this song, but I'm so bored by the video of Mr. Corbjin and for the festivals it would been better they didn't use the the videos, because everybody was looking at the video and not at Depeche Mode. Depeche Mode are very professional, they did a very good show, Dave smiled very often, but much of the time he is more an actor than a singer. He always makes same moves. I know, he always did, but on this tour he became a parody of himself, a living anachronism. I asked myself if I had become an anachronism as a Depeche Mode fan? Maybe we survived ourselves......"Going backwards"



Everything Counts is always a highlight but this version lacks the impact it had on the Winter tour. Now it was only another hit single of Depeche Mode, not the star of the show like on that leg. The carousel struggled up the mountain with Stripped, then went into freefall with Personal Jesus. Last week I was at the Isle of Wight Festival and was really surprised by this setlist change. Personal Jesus not as the last song? My world broke at this moment, it was such a hard shock. I cannot understand why they do this. As the last song plays, you can dance one last time with everything you have, but  Personal Jesus at this point uses up all your energy, leaving you exhausted to fight through Never Let Me Down Again

I decided to drink another beer while Depeche Mode sang Never Let Me Down Again. I never thought I could do this, I went to buy a beer while that song played but there was no best friend in this moment. I was alone in Switzerland, lost in Switzerland. Depeche Mode came back after a short break with 3 encores: Walking In My Shoes, same situation with the boring video of Mr. Corbijn, then Enjoy The Silence. They changed the setlist! I thank god, because at the Isle of Wight festival it was the last song. They cannot leave the stage when Enjoy The Silence is the last song. I love this song, but it feels like standing in a never ending rain, a rain of tears - it doesn't work as the last song. So „ Just Can't Get Enough is a worthy end for this part of the tour. It is time for this old song. Dave announced it with "We are going back a long time..." We are going backwards? I did not care, I danced happily to this easy listening song, singing every word with Dave.

Depeche Mode and me, anachronistic as we are.

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Thank you Claudia.

Monday, 9 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, COLLISIONI FESTIVAL, BAROLO, ITALY, 2 JULY 2018

For her last show on this tour, Katia Gigliotti returns to review her second show for this project following her Turin review on 11 December. As we'll see, a festival crowd is very different from the usual Depeche crowd, but once again Dave wins them all over. Thank you very much for this superb review Katia and for the great pictures too. It's great to see the blog t-shirts getting out and about!



I do not like festivals. That's a fact. But I do love Depeche Mode, so when I heard about my fave band coming to one of the nicest spots in Piedmont, I couldn't help going.

People have been queuing for two days before and when I arrived in Barolo, after work (somehow I have to earn money to spend for music and football), it was around 5 p.m.  and the small Colbert square was already crowded in the front rows. It was so hot that, to survive, I decided to stay aside, by some trees, to enjoy some shadow, but I wore very high heels, trying to see from an higher perspective: I can assure you it was a physical act of bravery.

I could not work out where to base myself at the festival: where I was, you could breath, but you were continuously punched and pressed by people looking for their way to the bar, to the toilet and to find other friends. That happened not only before the show, but also during the opening act  - Marlene Kuntz, a quite famous indie rock band of the late 90s from the area.  Very good musicians, but I personally have found their music not very interesting; it seemed to me the singer's voice disappeared in the noise of the other instruments.

Katia wearing some exclusive merchandise


But in the front rows, you could not breath, you were packed like sardines in a can, continuously pushing and fighting to keep the position. We were very close to the stage though -  if you stretch your arms you feel can almost touch them with your fingers.

Another thing about festivals, or, at least, festivals in Italy, is the security staff. Their mantra is live and let die: that is, as long as you do not bother me and, instead, bother other people, we are ok with that.

I found the DM fans community one of the most gentle, kind, amiable and I always found good friends in Italy and abroad, devotees are unique and this project is one expression of that (thank you David!). During festivals however, you can find a lot more of rude, unkind and uninterested people, and this affects also the pleasantness of the concert. At the end, that is why I do not like festivals.

Another side effect of festival is the reduced set list: DM started with the usual Revolution intro at 21:15. Dave jacket on, appeared from one side of the stage (smaller stage: no catwalk, no top stage as per other concerts).



Dave was, as usual, so elegant and self-confident from the very beginning: his voice warm and overwhelming, but too much confidence led him to make an error on the first song. No problem, he recovered immediately, dominating the stage, his voice perfection, but he is human after all and I enjoy these small mistakes that break the routine.

Jacket off for the second song, It's No Good, and Barolo is already in flames. Martin looked so pure in his white suit and shining with a nice glitter under his eyes, whilst Fletch caught the audience moving and shaking since the very beginning (sooo cute, I adore him).

After many concerts, and many reviews, the setlist is probably not the most interesting thing to read, but even if you can hardly find a surprise in the show, every gig is different and every song has a slightly different effect on the crowd.

Dave shaking and rotating with the mic stand (I would fall on the ground after the first turn!) on A Pain That I'm Used To", then the sweet Precious led to World in my Eyes. Dave kept going with his usual touching, even if he started songs before his personal sensual show in the show: half of the crowd wish they were the mic stand.

Cover Me is by far the best track on Spirit, and it is incredible how it caught the audience, even without the usual trip on the catwalk.. As my devote friend Emilia says, this music, like the song of the sirens of Ulysses, imprisons you in an ultra-earthly dimension: takes you away, in the Cover me spacecraft, to another galaxy with a pentagram structure.

It is one of the best moment of the show, or at least the one that touched me more: from love to love. After Cover Me, the only Martin moment of the show, one of the most passionate, intense, touching renditions of Somebody I have ever heard. I guess I was not the only one that brought into tears. This song is my religion, it is the best love song ever without ever using the word love a single time.  It was so incredible and all the crowd was so taken, that, coming back on the stage, Dave asked Barolo: "Wasn't that nice?" and then "wasn't that beautiful?" Yes, it was, Dave. Indeed.



To recover from such emotions, here is the wonderful In Your Room (another of my favourites) and oh that video! I love those dancers, the colours. I saw it several times already (this is my 7th and, unfortunately, last date for the Spirit Tour), and I never get bored.

Dave looked very chatty, inspired, sending kisses to the audience. He seemed happy on the stage, like he tasted one of the finest wines in the world, Barolo (no idea if he loves wine, but maybe Fletch and the crew did enjoy it - David, if you haven't yet, you should come here and try).

Time flies and the songs rapidly follow one another: "Everything counts", "Stripped", "Personal Jesus"; the setlist is quite short, with the unavoidable (luckily!) Never Let Me Down Again and the usual wheat field, in the land of vineyards and it is, sadly too early, time for the encore.

Time to appreciate the beautiful video on Walking In My Shoes and then Enjoy the Silence (I still found a guy in the crowd dressed like the king of the video: with such a hot temperature!) to end with the one and only surprise for this leg: an incredible Just can't Get Enough.



I know most DM fans do not like that song so much and maybe neither DM themselves, but I was so impressed by Christian and the band keeping the song so up-to-date with this drum sound, and its impact live has remarkably improved, compared to its first appearance in this tour.

I kept singing and thinking I just can't get enough. And I really can never get enough of Depeche Mode, despite all of this sweat, beer pouring, feet hurting and neck elongation trying to see something over that sea of heads and dozens of mobile phones (we luckily get rid of one old guy using a tablet during the opening act!). I would be ready to do it that again and again, because Depeche Mode are not only a band, they are my religion, they are a way of living, they are a link among fans, that link that seems to have existed forever even if you just met.

Maybe I am not impartial being a fan, but a friend, commenting the show wrote "Only once in my life had I seen an equally seductive frontman: it was another time I had seen Depeche Mode". Would you disagree?

See you another time, promised Dave leaving the stage. I'm counting on it.

A special thanks to Depeche Mode for being what they are, and an incredible thanks to David for letting me be part of the project "Almost Predictable. Almost".


Setlts:Intro Revolution (The Beatles) Going Backwards It's No Good A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont remix version) Precious World in My Eyes Cover Me Somebody In Your Room Everything Counts Stripped Personal Jesus Never Let Me Down Again
Encore: Walking in My Shoes Enjoy the Silence, Just Can't Get Enough

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Thank you Katia

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, VOLT FESTIVAL, SOPRON, HUNGARY, 26 JUNE 2018

As the festival season continues, Depeche Mode's final lap of the Global Spirit Tour continues too. On 26 June, they headlined the Volt Festival in Hungary and Stephan Bobinger was there to review it for the blog. You might recall Stephan's wonderful Nuremberg review from January and once again he has written something I know you will all enjoy. Thank you for this and the great pictures Stephan.




It’s strange. I saw 17 DM concerts in 30 years (1984 – 2014) in total, seeing them much more than I saw other band, yet I am here in Sopron, Hungary for concert number 17 only on my personal Global Spirit Tour with Depeche Mode. But for the first time for me, it’s a Mode concert at a festival – and a special one indeed. 

You may have read my report on the concert in Nuremberg in January 2018 which marked my thirteenth on this tour which was followed by concerts in Vienna, Helsinki and Riga, each special and - like always - really good experiences. They were also my last indoor concerts on this tour. That meant they were all dry and, in the case of Helsinki, even so clean that you could eat from the floor AFTER the concert. As they concerts were indoors, the temperature was always nice and cool too. 

Going to a festival, I expect something different, in summer maybe hot temperatures, maybe a lot of rain or the opposite. The weather forecast for Sopron was 22 degrees (3 days before it was 10 degrees hotter) and no rain at all, or only a bit in the late evening. I went to Sopron by train via Vienna and when I arrived at the station (still sunny) there were the first guys in Mode shirts to be seen. The festival signs in the magenta color of Telekom were everywhere in the nice town. 



A special thing about this festival is that every headliner gets a special designed chair as a present, to sign or paint something on it. And the chair stays afterwards in Sopron in public. The chair of our boys will be (after the festival) in the outdoor area of an ice café/restaurant in the center, next to the chair of Linkin Park (headliner in 2017 and the singer remembered through the festival in spots, r.i.p.). 

There are two type of festivals Depeche Mode are playing to, most are typical festivals with dozens of bands, a few headliners, a lot of very young people (more into fun and drinking) all of which last for about 3 days. Usually the VOLT-Festival is about the same I think, but for one day it was the other type of festival Depeche Mode are playing to. This day, June 26th, was officially Day 0 (Zero!) of the 5-day-festival with day tickets more expensive than for the other four days with other well-known bands like Hurts or Iron Maiden. 

Day 0 was the Depeche Mode day – in many respects. 

A bus shuttle brought me from the station to the festival site. At 3pm there were still not so many people inside, with many people building their tents next to the festival area before going in. About 4 bands were already playing at different stages, most of them Hungarian, and some of them played just to a handful of people. At 4 pm it started pouring - I guess there is a law that on the first day of any festival the floor has to be changed into mud? Well, finally it wasn’t that bad in Sopron and the last of the rain stopped just a quarter of an hour before Depeche Mode entered the main stage. That meant they could even dry the stage floor a bit. 

Three hours before, right opposite to the main stage on the smallest festival stage, a Hungarian DM tribute band called “Das Modell” played a concert, so about 100 Mode fans got a nice warmup with Black Celebration, A Question Of Time, Behind The Wheel and Photographic. Not a good band sadly. If you want to see a really good tribute one I really recommend the Berlin band “Forced to Mode”. But still it was nice and fun, anyway. 



On the main stage there were only two bands on that day. First a Hungarian hiphop band Belga, which I didn’t like but to get a good place I had to “enjoy” them and Depeche Mode entered at 9 pm. 

After 8 pm the whole festival site filled and everybody came to (and for) Depeche Mode. In the end it should have been about 30,000 people there. It was much more like a Mode concert with the people knowing even the Spirit songs (only 2 in the festival setlist with Going Backwards and Cover Me) and the band were received with an enthusiastic welcome. As always, the band played as if they were having a lot of fun and seemed to enjoy that concert. 

There were two big side screens and a bigger one behind the band. So everyone in the back could watch them. The sound was really good for an outdoor concert (at least at my position, centre, maybe row 20 from the stage). 

After 16 concerts I had seen 32 different songs on this tour, so I didn’t expect any new ones until a few days before the concert. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew which setlist they played on their first festival in UK and so I hoped for two personal tour premieres for me: The Things You Said and Just Can’t Get Enough

The concert started as usual with Going Backwards but for my first time with Dave starting singing in the front (I liked that). It’s No Good showed Fletch much more often on the screens than usual (one more like). Barrel Of A Gun is missed in the festival set however. They speed things up however with up with the next song -  A Pain That I’m Used To



Now according to the UK festival, Precious was expected but as a small surprise the band played Useless before Precious. No other song is welcomed so differently in concerts. In Vienna or Riga it was the breakthrough to elevate the mood , here in Sopron it was just nice. World In My Eyes elevated the mood even more again and Cover Me is always one of the highlights on this tour. 

Now, waiting and hoping for the Martin song… YES. The Things You Said. I was lucky to hear/see this song about 30 years ago in Munich, but hell, now it sounds so much more grown up – how could they dismiss it for 30 years? 

In Your Room – a fantastic song – but make sure not to watch the video on the screen but Dave’s performance. After that the Depeche Mode party really gets running and the audience got really wild – and how! Everything Counts better than ever followed by my all time favorite Stripped and next Personal Jesus, no longer a closer on the tour (and that’s right!). About one year ago, I was in the stadium concert in Budapest and the most impressive thing was the 100%-waving audience at Never Let Me Down Again. The Hungarian mode fans are really the best at this and they were again in Sopron. Really fantastic! 

The encore started with Somebody (still my favorite love song) and Walking In My Shoes but then a small (negative) surprise for me when Enjoy The Silence started and I had expected that it would be their last song. But they just changed the sequence to the festival before and finished this fantastic concert with Just Can’t Get Enough (announced by one of the longest speeches of Dave in history: “Thank you very much, than you. We’re going to take you now far back ln time now. A loooong looong time ago.”)  You can love it or hate it but it’s a perfect festival song. 



Which brings me to an interesting but academic question: Which is the perfect closer for a Mode concert? Never Let Me Down Again like on last tour? Personal Jesus like on this tour? Enjoy The Silence like in the Isle Of Wight Festival? Or Just Can’t Get Enough like in Sopron? Or one of the very special closing songs like Goodnight Lovers, Waiting For The Night or Goodbye

Sorry my answer is: Behind the wheel with Route 66

That’s all!? No, not in Sopron that night. The festival continued with live bands and a lot of DJs on the other stages and the longer the night, the more Depeche Mode songs were played. On the biggest stage the DJ even dared to play songs like Here Is The House and Sacred. Also, just 50 metres opposite on another stage, the DJ Black Asteroid mixed live songs from different artists including of course  Depeche Mode. You might remember that he made some official remixes for the band, e.g. on Soothe My Soul

So, it was a really good festival experience with Depeche Mode and it eased the waiting time for my final three stages on this tour in Madrid and Berlin. 

See you (almost) all at the Waldbühne.

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Thank you Stephan

Saturday, 30 June 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, TINDERBOX FESTIVAL, ODENSE, DENMARK, 28 JUNE 2018

The final leg of the Global Spirit Tour is making its way round a series of European festivals and on 28 June they stopped by the Tinderbox festival to headline the Thursday night slot. The review of that gig is by Peter Philipsen who will be better known to many of you as Peter Too, one of the Mod team at the best Depeche site there is -  Home. It's great to have Peter involved in this project and it'll come as no surprise to find that his review is an absolute cracker. Thanks so much for this Peter and for the photos too.



Depeche Mode’s gig at the Tinderbox festival was a triumph. Perhaps not in and of itself, but it’s certainly a symbol of a band who, nearly 40 years into their career, is more successful than ever. Yes, ladies and lads… EVER. Not bad for an “80’s band”, right? There exists in Depeche Mode-lore this romantic notion that the band were at the zenith of their popularity in the late 80s and early 90s, back when they were living the lives of tortured artists to the max and breaking new ground; and that they’ve been “not the same”, “not as good” or “not as popular” since. 

Don’t believe me? Comb through a forum or two - these ideas are actually pretty common, and it’s certainly how they are perceived by the uninitiated. And it is nonsense. Apart from “not the same” - they’re clearly not. The rest though… nonsense.

Allow me, dear fellow fan and reader, to make my rambling, scarcely thought through case.

Depeche Mode’s Tinderbox appearance was a first in more ways than one: It was their first gig in Denmark’s third largest city; it was their first gig on Denmark’s second largest island (of which we’ve got more than 1400), and it was their first festival gig in Denmark. But these things are mere trivial curiosities (I’m being generous here - none of that matters in the slightest). 



No, the “first” that I really want to talk about is that this show marked the first time ever Depeche Mode amassed an attendance of more than 100.000 people during a single tour in this tiny country. Over the course of their three “Global Spirit Tour” shows in Denmark they’ve played to an estimated 102.484 people. And that - in a country of less than 6 million people - is pretty impressive. I’ll go out on a limb here and say that no other band has ever done that*. 

So how does that mean they’re at their most successful ever? Well compare those numbers to the overly romanticised hey-day: Back then the band played to about 27.000 people in Copenhagen… if you add up the totals for the Music For The Masses, Violator and Songs Of Faith And Devotion tours that is. Yup… those tours combined: 27.000 people. That’s 9000 per tour**. 

In fact if you combine the audience totals for the band’s shows in Denmark during the Broken Frame, Construction Time Again, Some Great Reward, Black Celebration, Music For The Masses, World Violation, Devotional, The Singles 86-98 and Exciter tours - all of their 80s, 90s and one of the noughties shows - then it works out at roughly the same attendance in Denmark as during the three “Global Spirit Tour” shows here.

So at least from the perspective of our wonderful little duck pond of a country, Depeche Mode are bigger and more successful than ever. And even if Tinderbox in itself wasn’t all that special (and it wasn’t, but we’re getting to that), I think that’s still cause for celebration.



So let’s talk about the show. This was the first time I’ve seen this revamped, abbreviated festival set. It seems it’s still a work in progress, and the band are still adjusting it, but from what I saw at Tinderbox they have found a very effective festival formula. 

Compared to the previous legs the festival set lacked surprises and it was much shorter - especially compared to the first leg of the tour. Every song - all 15 of them - were singles… and most of them hits to boot. 

For me personally that’s not necessarily a good thing. I like the odd album track and surprise here and there, and this gig offered none of that. I was especially disappointed we didn’t get The Things You Said. On the plus side for me was the re-shuffling of tracks towards the end of the gig. Closing the main set with Personal Jesus and Never Let Me Down Again worked really well, and finishing the encore with Enjoy The Silence and Just Can’t Get Enough”was absolutely ace. 



So for me personally the setlist was a bit of a mixed bag. For a festival audience however this was just what the doctor ordered. It simply worked. 

And the band looked and sounded great - and put in one helluva performance. The live video production seems to have been given the once over, and comes across far better than earlier in the tour, and the absence of the elaborate staging didn’t really take anything away the performance. And the band’s energy was spot on - which I think is impressive 100+ shows into the tour.



*) I’ve got no maths or stats to back that up - and I’m hoping someone out there will check up on this.
**) Did actually do the math on that one. 27.000 divided by 3… wasn’t hard.

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Thanks Peter

Tuesday, 26 June 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, 23 JUNE 2018 - PART 2

For the first time since 2006 and for only the second time ever, Depeche Mode headlined a UK festival last Saturday, topping the bill above the likes of Liam Gallagher and other equally..erm...talented (?) acts. As this was a momentous thing for the band, we have not one but two reviews of the show. The second of these is from long time Depeche fan and long time blog supporter Adele Mitchell whose review and pictures you can read and see below. Thanks very much for the great review Adele.


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

What a weekend! I only bought a day pass for the Saturday as (obviously) my main focus was on seeing Depeche Mode. So, in typical Mitchell fashion, I managed to get absolutely hammered the Friday night before so I inevitably woke up wanting to die! Spending 12hrs in the sun was not something I was looking forward to if I am truly honest but I had serious Marty spotting to do so I sucked it up. 

First up to see was Louise in the Big Top (although shout-out to Rhythm Valley in Electro Love who did some fantastic 80s soul covers) Anyway, Louise was absolutely fantastic, proving that she wasn’t just the token white girl in Eternal as boy can she sing. Also, the male backing dancers all took their tops off, so WIN!

After that we made our way over to the main stage to see Blossoms and James Bay. I have never been to a festival before, so was not quite prepared for the sheer number of people who would be there and whether I would even be able to see the band on stage!! 

As you can see from the photo below, I had reason to be worried





That’s James Bay if you are so interested

Next up was Liam Gallagher (the main reason for a lot of DM fans NOT attending this festival). Even though I will begrudging admit, he did put on a good show, particularly the Oasis numbers. But, yes, his fans were mostly drunken louts who were only there to see him. Hence why, after they had cleared out, I got this much closer for my Marty stalking, they must have been packed in there like sardines!!



Not perfect but at least I could make out the band and was plenty of space around me for a bit of a boogie. 

I attended with a work colleague & his father. Andy is a DM fan too but has not seen them live for many, many years. He knows and understands my absolute adoration for the band and a certain blonde genius (I don’t even apologise for this particular obsession), so he was fairly up on what we could expect. I really didn’t expect there to be much change from the recent North American shows, just a slightly shortened one given the 105min set time. 

The band took to the stage (5 mins late, how tardy boys) and belted out Going Backwards. Dave was prowling the stage and really showing those that didn’t really know the band what he can do. A new one on this tour for me in Policy Of Truth and it sounded fantastic (well apart from Mart being a beat too late on his synth and then struggling to catch up). Precious sounded utterly fantastic, a much rockier guitar and World In My Eyes has Dave & Martin in very high spirits, they really seemed to be enjoying themselves but I was beginning to notice something. No-one around me seemed to be singing along or really interacting with Dave on all his vocal instructions, and I really think this was starting to frustrate him. I guess that is the gamble you take with doing a festival.



Then came the moment I had been waiting for, Martin’s little solo set & my weeks of hoping came true. I got to see The Things You Said and I will admit, I cried. Happy tears but heartfelt ones too, it was absolutely gorgeous. Elation then turned to devastation when WE GOT NO HOME!!!! Yes the crowd would not have done the singalong (blimey, it would have been epic if they had) but I expect, no demand, that this is played at any show I attend and really he should have known this. 

Everything Counts really got the crowd going, brilliant singalong that petered out towards the end, started up in one corner & made its way around everyone only to start up again. I hope the band enjoyed it as much as I did. I was surprised to see Personal Jesus so early in the set but as Dave commented “WAKEY WAKEY” as it really did get the crowd going and Never Let Me Down Again wave looked amazing on the big screens. 



Another break (which I wasn’t expecting) and a beautifully sung Somebody from Martin (too much to have asked for I Want You Now or Home I suppose?) I really don’t think he has sung better than on this tour, but I am extremely biased.

Walking In My Shoes was as awesome as always and then another surprise, Just Can’t Get Enough. I know that this song has its haters but I bloody love it. Really gets everyone going and I think even the band are beginning to enjoy performing it. Fantastic singalong from the crowd, not the best of videos but hopefully you get the gist:



Ending on Enjoy The Silence, I really do think that everyone enjoyed the set and hopefully they picked up some new fans too.

A very long day finally ended for me at 01.30, arriving at my hotel after a 45 minute bus ride totally shattered with my legs and feet aching, but totally wired after such an amazing show. Of course I would do it again in a heartbeat, but if this is the last time I ever see them live, I'm a happy bunny - well apart from no Home!

Everyone else still seeing them on tour, have fun and don’t dance too much.

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Thank you Adele

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, 23 JUNE 2018 - PART 1

Part One of the Isle of Wight Festival special comes from Sue Lawrence, a Depeche Mode fan from Littlehampton in England. Sue was wearing one of this blog's t-shirts for the Depeche set which was very good of her. Two chaps I've met a few times on the tour (hello Mark and Garry) recognised it and went up to her to say hello. What a strange world we live in! Thanks very much for this review Sue. Glad you enjoyed the festival - I wonder if any Louise fans have checked the blog out since then? All pictures are Sue's unless otherwise credited.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I was excited and apprehensive when DM were announced as Saturday headliners. Excited because it was another chance for me to see them on this tour, but apprehensive in case they didn't pull a big crowd, and no-one liked them. Well, in the end it was a SOLD OUT Festival. I'd like to attribute this solely to DM; but more than likely it was the combined popularity of the headliners and the fact that Glastonbury is not on this year. 

This is my 3rd IOW Festival and 5th Global Spirit Tour show. 

To secure a reasonably good FOS position, I found myself amongst fans of Liam Gallagher. He was the warm-up (sorry, couldn't resist!) for Depeche Mode. As expected there was a bit of banter from him with the crowd "well what do you expect me to play to a bunch of Depeche Mode fans? I may as well f*ck off". (Or words to that effect). It felt a bit like being an 'away' fan who accidentally got in with the 'home' crowd at a football match. I pretended I knew all the words, until he finished his set.

To be fair to Liam, I enjoyed his album but his set relied heavily on Oasis songs. There are quite a few comparisons between him and Dave Gahan. Front man turned song-writer and finally having some success in his own right. 

With the help of a couple of DM T-shirt-clad chaps who came to my rescue (thanks lads, if you are reading this), I got my spot near the end of a short and very steep catwalk. 



The usual pre-gig music started and the familiar Jackson Pollock styled screens flickered on and off intermittently, as the band took the stage to the opening of Going Backwards. I had a momentary sick feeling that the screens were going to fail, as they have on a number of occasions on this tour, and I thought I caught a nervous look from Dave as he glanced towards them. But it was all fine. 

The crowd were unusually (for a Depeche show) dressed mainly in Gold. This was the 50th Anniversary IOW Festival and everyone had been asked to help celebrate by wearing Gold on Saturday. The band must have wondered if they were at the right event. 

Dave could have participated in his own small way by wearing his gold boots, but contrarily chose his red ones instead. 

As expected the set-list had been reduced and rearranged, either to satisfy a festival timetable and crowd, or to accommodate a Sky broadcast. So I really did not know what or when to expect it. 

Dave has said that he believes that a show should take the audience on a journey, that there should be highs and lows, dark and shade. This set-list ebbed and flowed, and built slowly and steadily until even the most indifferent bunch of young Liam fans beside me, were dancing wildly to Policy Of Truth and World In My Eyes. 

Things cooled down slightly for Cover Me, The Things You Said (first time for me) and In Your Room. 



Then came the genius run of Everything Counts, Stripped, and Personal Jesus (which had been the show closer for the tour so-far) and, for a brief moment, I thought the set had come to an end. If it had, I think most of the audience would have felt they had got a good show. The sing-a-long and audience participation was fitting for a show-closer. 

But, of course more was yet to come. How could I forget Never Let Me Down Again? This was epic as always, with the ubiquitous arm waving. I remember how that felt the first time I witnessed it. Surely, knowing this would be a cut-down set-list it had to be the end? 

But, I was pretty certain Walking In My Shoes would be played because I had been rudely awakened in my tent at 6:30 in the morning, by the intro booming a mile across the site from Mainstage. A schoolboy error if they were sound checking, given that about 50,000 people were still sleeping off the effects of the previous night. 

After a brief interval, Martin performed Somebody (I'm not a fan and would have preferred Home, if I'm honest). Then Walking In My Shoes which is my personal all-time favourite Depeche song (apart from when it wakes me at 6:30 in the morning, in my tent, at a festival, after a Kasabian show). 

Bloody hell! Just Can't Get Enough! Genius! That was a shock. Love it or hate it. People know it. (Even if it is because of the Churchill Insurance TV advert). It makes people dance and sing. That is what people like to do at festivals. It was like one huge party. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Yet, there was even more to come with Enjoy The Silence. With the crowd fully behind them, they launched into the song with Anton's puzzling animal video showing on the big screen. What the Depeche newbies thought of it I do not know, but the song was a resounding success, and brought the show to a close on a triumphant high. 

The band themselves seemed on good form. Fletch was moving his arms about quite a lot more than usual, Martin was conducting Christian on the drums, Dave was good-naturedly mimicking Fletch's moves with a laugh, and he even pointed the T-shirt cannon at Martin. He was also considerably chattier than normal and took a light-hearted swipe back at Liam "It's been a long day, and now you get to see the best"! 

Perhaps now would have been a good opportunity to roll out People Are People after all these years. I think it would have been well received and lifted the early part of the set. Although in my opinion it was a good crowd-pleasing set-list for a festival.

Leaving the field, I felt proud to be a Mode fan, hearing nothing but positive comments from the audience. 

It was also great to meet Gary and Mark before the show, two Mode fans who spotted me in my Almost Predictable Almost T-shirt and came and introduced themselves. I hope you enjoyed the show lads. 



Finally thank you to David for the Global Spirit Tour Project blog, and for giving me the chance to be a part of it. Thanks also for the T-shirt, and apologies if I was spotted wearing it earlier, bopping away at The Big Top Stage to Louise (of Eternal). 

I write this, sitting in the sun outside my tent, the morning after the show. I feel a little sadness as I think that this may very well have been my final Depeche Mode show. 

Speculation is rife that after the two Berlin shows later this year, the band may call it a day. If that is the case, then I am happy that they went out on a high and that the Doubting Thomas's were silenced.

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Thanks Sue