Friday, 16 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ATLAS ARENA, LODZ, FEBRUARY 9 2018

To review the second of Depeche Mode's three February Polish dates, we welcome Katarzyna Kaluza from Lodz in Poland. It seems that Depeche very generously agreed to tour Poland to celebrate Katarzyna's birthday which was nice of them. As we'll see, Katarzyna went to all three Polish shows and had what can only be described as a wonderful time. Thank you for the great review Katarzyna and for the superb photos too.



I had the pleasure of celebrating my 36th birthday at the three DM concerts in Poland. First in the south in Krakow, then in my hometown Lodz and finally in Gdansk by the sea, in northern Poland. It was another return of the boys from Basildon, to the heart of my country and Europe, that is my native Lodz. They always come back, even though Lodz is not a very attractive city, and the maximum number of concerts can reach only 14,000 people (the arena is too small). However, something attracts them here. 

My prayers were answered and the anticipated moment came. Krakow said good bye to the band and the Spirit plane flew to Lodz Lublinek. 8 February in Poland is Fat Thursday. We eat donuts and other greasy sweets to fall, and later fast to Easter. At the airport, the group was greeted with donuts. Satisfied, they took a snack with them and went to the hotel. I resigned from standing outside the hotel because I do not collect anything special. I love concerts and live music, I've been waiting for that. I saw them all privately and even touched in Krakow (Martin is amazing ...). I will give the autographed cd with the signature of Peter to someone. I have enough memories and for me the most important is that I can pack my DM bag and move into their world at any moment.



9th February. The "hour zero"! The frost outside is not able to stop the fans on the way to the concert. Because I'm short, I had to put on 10cm heels and stay in them for a few hours. Black total look, -8°C and skirt. I thought i'll die...

Polish black souls went to the next arena for a black mass. Again, I had a great view, a little taller, I was standing directly opposite the place occupied by Martin. The church of the followers of the weird religion slowly filled up. Either you love this band from the beginning and you accept everything they offer or you do not understand this subculture and avoid a wide arc. In Poland, Depeche Mode is a subculture, the only one in the world, the big family of "Blacks". Depeche Mode is our unofficial religion.

The lights went out and Douglas McCarthy from BlackLine entered the stage. The earlier Nitzer Ebb project, as well as the current one, are not well known in Europe. The concert in Lodz made me like it. Douglas attracts attention, especially his "cat movements." Depeche Mode definitely has a huge impact on other artists, two guiding characteristic music motifs of DM to hear in what presented The Black Line. A moment of break, stage preparation and the most desirable work. Everyone would like to at least wash the floor that Dave walks on and watch them live for free every two days.

After Hublot's " message" about the revolution in charity, the moment of reflection and resounding Intro from The Beatles. A few thousand sore throats are caused by Depeche Mode! The boys turn up on the stage: God of the written word Martin, Andy, Peter and Christian. The howling of the crowd and enthusiasm reach the roof! The hottest 55 year old in the world appears. Guy in a blue blazer and silver shoes. Ladies and gentlemen, the only and unique King Dave Gahan!



Going Backwards and coluors. I love video projections for every song. "Jackson Pollock" interacts with Depeche Mode. For some, Corbijn's visions may be nonsense, for me they are fantastic. The crowd is crazy from the first note! We sing every song with Gahan and Martin. It's No Good one of my beloved songs. Ecstasy! Ultra drills ears and vibrates in the body. Gahan moves like a snake. Satisfied with the audience says: Good evening Lodz!

Barrel of A Gun flies and Gangsta Gahan raps. He is beautiful in these shows, he loves to be adored by fans. If you want to see several thousand Dave clones, come to a concert in Poland. You will not be disappointed. We have handsome Depeschians stylized perfectly. Skins, chains, we like it. A Pain That I'm Used To and i'm dying .... Genius pieces one by one. Peter joins Martin and gives a show on the guitars. I love rock music. Martin brilliantly riffs. Oh my...how I love such a pain in my ears. All my Useless advice, all my hanging around ... It's getting sad and nostalgic, we're playing with the angel in Precious now. Dave, relaxed and smiling, just pretty this evening, shows us "The world in »his« eyes". A cult piece, a palm gesture that is the hallmark of Depechians in the world and the perverse Dave teasing a woman. Of course, everyone screams - Yes !!! - hearing Will Ya? !!! Wonderful Cover Me. Gahan deserves a musical Oscar for this gem. A song that is special to me, whenever I hear it, I think about only one person who has been in an important place in my life for a year now. I did not even imagine that a man I accidentally met would become so close to me I know, I know, I'm overly dramatic and a Drama Queen, but Dave also behaves sometimes like Diva, so it matches together. Every idol got his own twin fan!



The scene is empty and a wonderful child, Martin Lee also called God, appears. Gorgeous, modest, talented .... The face of  a Cherub, golden curls and a voice like a bell. Insight and Home. The crowd does not want to let Martin off the stage. A long audience applause, Dave dances and introduces friends. Martin jumps up and the smile does not come off his face. This is a soul dance ... and fire still burns, you've got to give love, give love ... we love Martin with all our hearts!

Dave asks in Polish: - Jak tam Łódź? ( How is Łódź?)
- Ingeniously !!!! sounds the answer. 

Depeche Mode plays on our feelings. In Your Room where time stands still...in your room where souls disappear....it plays like a movie of my life, before my eyes. I am strongly associated with this song, it has always been with me and will remain so. My favourite.

Dave is dancing his solo. I love to look at him when he moves. It is a balm for the soul and honey for the eyes. The DM army begins Where's The Revolution. Clenched fists up, and finally a sign of peace and Polish Solidarity (Solidarność). Poles know perfectly well what revolution means. Clash of extremes, from revolution and rebellion, we jump in  talking about "Tons of money", cause Everything Counts in large amounts. What is happening in the arena is difficult to describe. Conductor Dave directs the crowd and all this madness. Everyone wants to see him Stripped down to the boooooneee! But he, our travelling King, letting us Enjoy The Silence. He takes us on a ride with a friend. 



Next - this is the moment! The part of the program we are always waiting for. A few thousand throats shouting: " Never let me down again"! several thousand hands up under Major Gahan's dictation and full departure. Exhausted and wonderfully sweaty, Dave disappears, and the heated crowd soothes Martin. Surprise! I Want You Now, and it gets very romantic. We want him all now, cause we got a love ... Enchanted we try to "Walking in »their« shoes". But it's only A Question of Time for Personal Jesus to unleash the madness and musical orgy in the arena again.

With a few thousand voices and sweaty bodies, I do not want to say goodbye. They squeezed all the juices and all the energy out of us. On the knees, but we want a spank from Gahan again and again. Unfortunately, only Fletch gets a slap in the butt. 

Our happy band say goodbye to us. They played a fantastic concert, from the first to the last minute, 100% from DM for fans and vice versa. Polish fans are faithful and love Depeche Mode. We have our Code of Depeschians and we live according to rules.

Dave hugs Martin. See you next time ....

I have no strength, I'm reaching home and I'm falling on the bed. I lie and the tears of joy are in my eyes. A morning mobilization and  I move to Gdansk for the next meeting with DM. How do I live later, after all of this? 

Thank you Robert R. you inspire me to gain new experiences, this review is dedicated to you.

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Thanks you Katarzyna.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MEDIOLANUM FORUM, MILAN, 29 JANUARY 2018

As we've already learned on this tour, Italian Depeche gigs are the ones we all need to go to if there is another tour in the future. Both Milan nights in January were epic gigs. Luisa Carones previously covered night 1 and I'm delighted that for night 2, Claudia Smith from the wonderful Depeche Mode Italia agreed to write this review. Depeche Mode Italia have been a huge supporter of the blog  - thank you. Claudia has also been suffering from the flu recently. Get well soon Claudia and thank you for this great review and the photos. Enjoy the story of Claudia's day on 29 January....




5.30 am. Walking down the road to the underground station, I can feel the tingle of excitement sting my cheeks. Or is it the icy fog – both, probably. It’s going to be a very long day, today. Half-asleep, coffee-starving, dressed in heavy layers, I’m heading to the unimpressive commercial district of Assago, a small town outside Milan. Despite listening to Depeche Mode since the mid-Eighties, concert-wise it all started for me in 1998 with the Singles Tour. Same venue, now called Mediolanum Forum; same place, my home town Milan. Shoulder to shoulder with my mother, a real hardcore fan and a Martin Gore admirer. Lots of fond memories that I’m going to refresh in a few hours: I’m going to celebrate my fortieth concert with my besties tonight, and I know it’s going to be epic. Depeche Mode has often praised our devoted audience as one of the warmest in the world: fingers crossed we’re going to revive our reputation and set the venue on fire with the passion of 12,000 enthusiasts.



7.00 am. Here I am by the Forum, perfectly in time for the checking of names, and numbers they have written on the back of our hand and printed on nice fan-made cardboard tags that we are proudly displaying around our neck. The Italian organisation of the queue is impressive and very welcomed, especially in a case like this, when madness ends up prevailing. The fans have been gathering under a pedestrian bridge by the venue since yesterday morning, something that I have never witnessed before. My Early Entry queue number is 50, which means that I won’t make it to the first row, but a fantastic second row spot right in front of Martin is still accessible. This is going to be my goal for the night: Martin’s mic stand. Come on, I can do it!



9.00 am. Eggs and bacon, American coffee, smoked salmon, butter, and massive slices of bread: that doesn’t sound like the typical Italian breakfast, I know! I’m even giving Marmite spread a go: I’m definitely going to need heavy fuel to reach my target. I won’t go into too much detail, but these days meeting friends and spending quality time (and food and drinks) with them is a huge part of the whole Depeche Mode experience. I truly believe that I’ve been blessed with the best of mates, and to them goes all my love and gratitude for helping me make this day unforgettable. Roberta, Valentina: thank you girls, you really are the best and I truly mean it! Giorgia, Sabrina, Paul and Conny, and all of the fabulous people I’m having the pleasure to spend some time with today: hopefully some great reward is waiting for us all.

12.00 / 6.00 pm. After hours spent waiting in the cold, damp weather, a good energising meal, and a great number of smiles and hugs shared with people from all over the world, we’re finally allowed inside the old venue. The fog has dissolved together with the fatigue, the excitement is tangible: we’re feeling like race horses anxious for the starting gates to open. The security guys have checked our bags and tickets a couple of times, then organised us into small groups: I’m going to enter the Forum, have a quick look at the standing area – the end of the catwalk is already packed – and then rush to the stage, as close to Martin as I can get.



9.00 pm. By the time Gore’s favourite opening act EMA has left the stage, the venue has filled up nicely. It’s another sold-out show in Milan, the eighth Italian concert of the Global Spirit Tour: quite impressive if you ask me, even though I was certain my city wouldn’t disappoint me. Martin’s setlist is now pumping through the amps, giving us new energy, making everybody clap their hands, cheer and dance. It’s a joyful warm up to what’s coming up in a few minutes: the long-awaited Revolution by The Beatles and then, lights off, the white boot animation will be coming to life on the massive two-stair led screen, and Depeche Mode will be finally joining us on stage! I’m inspecting the right side of the venue to catch the moment when Dave will climb the stairs with a slow, stealthy step. Here he is: his black silhouette is moving sensually while the drips of paint are filling the universe with vivid colours. We’re going backwards in life, some might agree: but tonight the majestic opening track is resounding more powerfully than ever, anticipating an unforgettable show, possibly the best one out of the three Milan gigs. My judgement might be slightly biased though: I’m all eyes for Martin, and he’s standing right in front of me… understand me! I’m probably going to be the only one in the whole arena to watch Martin during Cover Me, while Dave will be elegantly drawing circles in the air on the catwalk, his pensive astronaut alter-ego floating in the sky right behind him. 



The songs are coming in quick succession without a break, time seems to run faster than usual. The band is having a great time: they’re looking very pleased and inspired by the audience response. Fletcher is acting very cool, totally absorbed in his role. There are three very special moments that will stay in my heart forever: the first one is undoubtedly related to In Your Room. This is the Stendhal Syndrome moment for me, when I’m totally and hopelessly mesmerised by the absolute genius of Anton Corbijn. The new video for the amazing album version of the song compliments the music so well that it almost brings me to tears every time I watch it. The disarming beauty of the dancers fills the screen with passion and translates every note and lyric into pure art. Another long-awaited moment happens after A Pain That I’m Used To, a real Italian crowd pleaser that makes the whole standing area jump and sing. It’s the time when the audience can surrender to the obscure splendour of Useless, and Gahan’s velvet voice is singing of perdition and despair. The moment of glory, though, takes place after the end of the main set, when we start demanding I Want You Now, our chant getting infectious, louder and louder. What a joy to discover that Martin had actually planned to perform it! His interpretation is deeply heartfelt and moves the audience to the point that at the end of the song a long and liberating singalong rises from the standing area, leading Martin to return our cheers with one of his adorable child-like smiles. 

11.15 pm. It’s a wrap ladies and gentlemen. The band has just said bye bye to the audience and I’m proudly holding the setlist sheet Jez Webb had taped on the stage floor before the concert started. Heading back home, feeling grateful and content: time to get my strength back before I start making plans for the next shows. See you all there! 


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Thank you Claudia!

Monday, 12 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, TAURON ARENA, KRAKOW, 7 FEBRUARY 2018

Chris Snoddon returns to reviewing duties for this show. His last review for the project was from a sweltering Rome in June. This time round, the weather conditions were somewhat different, so it's no bad thing this was an indoor show. Thanks very much for the review Chris and for the pictures too, all of which belong to Chris unless otherwise credited. Oh, and Chris? Time your beer breaks better...

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Being a bit of a history buff and finding the happenings of WW2 extremely intriguing, I had the Polish city of Krakow listed on my to visit sheet but to date hadn't quite got around to visiting due to previous DM tours in other cities taking up the majority of my travel expenditure.  They also hadn't played Krakow before, so you can imagine my delight when I got a text from my good friend Scott whilst in my Trastevere apartment on the morning of the Stadio Olimpico gig last June, informing me that our Krakow tickets for the Tauron arena were secured. My wife, when told that morning, didn't show the same amount of enthusiasm about me booking a DM trip whilst already on a DM trip but she was again reminded “DM were in my life long before you were so , you'd need to get used to it”. After all she was getting another short break and where better than Krakow with its amazing history.

Fast forward to February 2018 and it was all aboard the plane from Belfast for the flight to Krakow. Arriving late in the evening, it was pretty chilly but didn't feel just as bad as the -7C that the taxi was showing as we were driven to our Hotel. We stayed in view of the magnificent Wawel castle about 20 minutes from the Main square, so getting transport to the gig was pretty easy as there was plenty going on around there. Our trip to the gig was entertaining as a snow shower became quite heavy and this was the cue for our taxi driver to try and drive even faster to get us to the gig with the treacherous road conditions not appearing to bother him in the slightest. We arrived at the gig and were dropped off on the opposite of a very busy road with the magnificent Tauron arena in view.



Built in 2014, the arena boasts Poland's largest LED media facade wrapping around the whole venue. It is pretty spectacular to say the least. Entry to the venue was pretty smooth with ID being shown to match the corresponding tickets which was no issue providing the names matched. That helped to curb scalpers and when inside, apart from a bit of confusion getting wristbands for the area we were to be stood in, the whole atmosphere was pretty relaxed. I found a beer stand and bought a couple of pints prior to finding my standing position ( for those of you who know me this won't come as a surprise) and was again pleasantly surprised at a pint of beer costing only £2.50. I then went and got my spot around half way into the arena slightly to the left of the catwalk. 

Chris (left)
The band came on to a rapturous reception with the now mainstay Going Backwards opening, followed by It's No Good which was gratefully received by the audience. Dave was on top form as he boomed out "Good evening Krakow!" and the Polish crowd responded in kind with their cheers of excitement. Following the path of the previous 3rd leg set list changes, I decided to make a break for the bar when A Pain that I'm Used To was up, which proved to be an epic fail as the keg ran out during my drinks being poured and by the time I'd returned to my original standing spot, I’d managed to miss both Useless and Precious. The consolation to that was that I bumped into Ronni Larson at the bar who many of you may know and managed to get a quick chat and a selfie opportunity with him. 



Back in position World In My Eyes lifted my section of the crowd to fever pitch and Cover Me did little to drop the now ecstatic mood. Every time I see the boys perform this track, it gets better and better for me and it was no different on this occasion, Dave working his magic on the catwalk at the sublime instrumental section. It was now Martin's turn to take the mic with the stunning Insight, although if I had a slight complaint it would be that Peter's Mic was quite loud during this and at times overpowered Mart. Home was its usual crowd roaring success and then In Your Room subtly followed with its (in my opinion) distracting visuals. Where's the Revolution was pretty well received with the crowd timing the clapping to the drum solo at the end very well and then my tour highlight, the thunderous Everything Counts, raised the roof in the arena with shrieks of joy seeming to come from everywhere when the audience realised what it was after the newly added starting electronics. 



A single heavy drum beat finished Everything Counts with Dave shouting “Krakow you really are the best." I thought London was, and Rome, and Dublin, ah well obviously all the crowds must improve with each show, eh Dave lol. Stripped and Enjoy The Silence were their usual brilliant selves and the epic Never Let Me Down Again didn't disappoint as the arms were all waved in sync and captured beautifully on the rear screen for everyone to see. As we know the band exits the stage at this part and Martin returned with the now common place piano version of Strangelove. I had so hoped that he would have slotted I Want You Now in there instead but sadly it wasn't to be. 

Walking In My Shoes carried us towards the finish line with its further mess of an accompanying video and then A Question Of Time maintained the energy until Personal Jesus wrapped things up with a bang. By this stage, I had moved to the exit doors so that I wouldn't be caught up in the usual end of gig stampede and seeing “PJ” from the very rear of the arena from an elevated position showcased the lighting used which I found when I concentrated on it to be pretty spectacular. The lights came on and a quick dash through the now thick lying snow got us into a taxi and back to the main square in Krakow where we all enjoyed a few more drinks and compared the shows we had seen so far on this tour. I had a fantastic time in Krakow and would recommend this city to anyone. The Tauron Arena is a sight to behold and the acoustics from where I was standing were superb. The Polish crowd sang their hearts out and everyone around me appeared to have a great time even though there were a few hostile folk that didn't like it when you returned to your original spot after going for a beer. The band were on top form and its only went and set me off again on the planning stage of my next DM excursion on the Global Spirit Tour.

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Thanks Chris!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BSA, BUDAPEST, 2 FEBRUARY 2018

Cecilia Castro from Buenos Aires is today's reviewer. She has been on something of her own Global Spirit Tour, following Depeche around Europe on the winter leg and the fact she went to both Milan gigs is enough to make me jealous. I imagine the Dave fans among you will feel jealous too when you read this blog and just how close Cecilia got to Mr Gahan.  Like me, Cecilia is also a Depeche Mode Facebook Takeoveree. She did Day 61 and you can check out her posts over on the DM Facebook page. Thanks very much to Cecilia for this great review and for the photos. Enjoy the Buenos Aires show next month! 



Before I start to write, I would like to say sorry because my English is not perfect, but I will try to do my best. The Budapest concert was very special for me.

If you don't know me, my name is Cecilia and I live in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I had the chance to be in the summer leg and now being part of winter leg too. As you know, Argentina is so far away from Europe. It's like 14 hours in a plane or 13.000 kms. Making every trip represents a big effort in money and time. 

This trip was special because my boyfriend had some issues the last week before our trip, so it was only confirmed that we would travel just a day before we were meant to leave.

Cecilia outside the venue

I decided to go to Nuremberg, Bordeaux, Milano (x2), Prague and Budapest. Only having the confirmation that we were travelling just one day before we had planned to leave meant I had only  half of the tickets I needed. I found some amazing people from DM Ticket Exchange Facebook that made everything possible to receive the tickets in the hotels were were staying in (in some places we only stayed 2 days).

The Budapest concert was amazing - it was the last of my 6 concerts. Two days before I had managed to get one Early Entry ticket, but I needed another for my boyfriend. Thanks God I got one 24 hours just before the concert.

Sorry for my extended beginning but I just wanted to tell you how this trip was a real miracle.



At Budapest, when we arrived at the venue at 4 o'clock, the weather was a mess... rain... freezing rain.  When the doors opened, the people started to push and some people fell down, slipping in the water. Once we made the registration, we waited in the coffee shop.  When the doorss to the arena finally opened,  people pushed and started to run. It was a real mess, people crying, shouting, some guys hurt. A disaster.

I remember something similar in Madrid in 2014, but I think this time it was worse because nobody respected anyone else.

After all this, happily I could get a place in the catwalk, just in the middle. Waiting for Dave's appearance. We listened to EMA, as we have heard them in the last 5 concerts.

The concert started 20.45. During the concert we had some very special moments:



-Cover Me: as usual, Dave came onto the catwalk and he held my hand! When he was holding my hand, I couldn't stop telling him "I love you", "i love you", "i love you". I felt other hands on my hand, but Dave was having mine!. 

After that moment we sent "flying kisses" between Dave and I and after that I started to shout and cry. All the effort that I made was worthwhile!!!

-Home: my boyfriend was in the top on the catwalk with the Argentinian flag. If you see the videos, when Martin comes to our side, he sees our flag and he make an amazing face!! Some people around my boyfriend told him "he recognized you!!!!".

It was a great moment, if you have the chance to see the videos, just see that moment because Martin's face was unforgettable.



-Everything Counts: having Dave in the top of the catwalk with his mic, was also an amazing moment. Thanks God in the 6 concerts, I was able to be at the catwalk. This time though I was in front of Dave, seeing his skin and muscles perfectly.

As you know, the setlist had no changes, so you know which songs they played. At the end of the concert I felt so sad because I had to return home and my "real life", but I was so happy because 
this concert was very very special after all we happened before our trip.

I had the chance to meet more amazing people that helped us a lot, and another ones that recognized us from previous tours with the Argentinian flag.

Thanks for give me the chance to tell you about my experience. I will try my best to travel  to see the band once again, but before all this, I am waiting patiently to see them in one month, here in Buenos Aires, after 9 years.

A big hug for everybody.
Cecilia

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Thanks Cecilia!

Monday, 5 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, O2 ARENA, PRAGUE, 31 JANUARY 2018

For the third and final time on this tour. Martin Sernestrand from Gothenburg in Sweden returns to reviewing duties, following up his two Copenhagen reviews with this excellent blog about the Prague show on 31 January. Thank you very much Martin, not only for the review, video and pictures here, but also for all your work on this Project. Enjoy everyone.



It is the third concert on the third leg of the Global Spirit Tour for me. Since the nineties, when I saw the band for the first time, I have not seen any gigs outside Sweden or the Nordic region. But on this tour, I decided to go all the way and visit eight cities (including London, Berlin and Prague).

Martin (far right)

Sadly, Depeche Mode aren't playing more than one gig in Sweden on this tour - something of a disappointment. I mean, our neighbors Denmark has even had three visits, so it is clear that you could at least hope for one more visit to Sweden too. A comparison figure could be that they visited Sweden three times during both Touring The Angel and The Delta Machine Tour and four times during the Tour Of The Universe.

So what's the problem? Is Sweden tired of Depeche Mode? Is Gothenburg and Malmö too far away compared to Copenhagen? Are Depeche Mode dejected from visiting Sweden again after the poor response from the World Tour Premiere at the Friends Arena in May last year. Maybe a bit of each. Of course, I can admit that eight Depeche Mode concerts in one year (it's not even twelve months since the Stockholm concert last year) is enough even for me.



You begin to feel as if you know exactly what's coming. You know that, at least during the third leg, it starts with Going Backwards, It's No Good, Barrel of a Gun, A Pain That's Used To, Useless, Precious, and builds to when World in My Eyes ends. The first part before Cover Me initiates the slightly calmer section with Insight and Home. You know that the highlight of the night is Everything Counts, Stripped, Enjoy the Silence, Never Let Me Down Again and you know that Strangelove is the next song when Martin Gore comes up on stage alone with Peter Gordeno. It's hard to be surprised anymore.

But it's as hard to keep calm. The encore with Walking In My Shoes, A Question Of Time and Personal Jesus is truly amazing. The band sounds tight and Dave Gahan sings perfectly. The audience is deafening, not at least in the chorus. The classics sounds like they should, as do the new songs. Depeche Mode live is a well-oiled machine, which tonight does not fade more than in the beginning of the concert where they lose you a bit.



I can see many concerts without tiring, but I would not mind bidding on some more surprises in the evening. Imagine if Depeche Mode would dust off songs like Lie To Me, Here Is The House, The Things You Said, Sweetest Perfection or The Sun And The Rainfall.







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Thank you Martin.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE. MEDIOLANUM FORUM, MILAN, 27 JANUARY 2018

For this review we welcome back Luisa Carones (@tanisluis) , fresh from her Berlin experience and ready to face the trial of Early Entry in her home city of Milan. As you'll see, Luisa displayed devotion on a level many of us would get no near to and was rewarded both in terms of her place in the queue and by Mr Gahan himself. Thank you to Luisa for the great review and thank you also to Roberta Sotgiu (@RobertaSotgiu) a photographer from Genoa who has provided the pictures. She and Luisa got talking at the gig and Roberta suggested the blog could use her pictures which was very kind. The Depeche Mode family at work!



Where should I start? By telling you that Milan is my hometown and, as such, a DM gig here is a special event for me? Or by apologising for not being as articulate as I would want, as I skipped rest, nights, meals and everything else in normal life, for 4 days in a row, and so my brain is not really functioning? Or simply by stressing that Saturday gig has been the best experience I have had on this tour so far – hence my brain working even less efficiently?

If you have read my previous review, you know that I’ve been to multiple shows on the Global Spirit Tour, and Saturday's concert in Milan was number 14 for me. As you can guess,  the gig in Milan on Monday 29 was number 15, but reviewing that one is someone else’s job, luckily... 

Thus, by now, I have acquired quite a nice amount of experience in preparing that military operation aka queuing for EE; besides, being at home and thus not needing all the logistical support normally required for a woman travelling alone abroad, I could focus on the basics: what time should I start queuing? As I said for Berlin, I knew that German people are crazy and would camp outside venues starting the night before the concert, but I also know my hometown and my fellow citizens too well, so I was ready for something big. And that’s what I got: the queue started not just the night before, but at 9a.m. ON FRIDAY...yup, that means that people, including me, waited outside the arena, in the cold and in the rain, for 36 hours!

The nice thing is Italian fans are very well organized (you wouldn’t expect that, would you?) and the checking of names and numbers at regular times really works well. There is even a fan – and a big shout-out to Nicola here is absolutely required – who prepares wonderful “passes” with numbers and dates of events, each with the title of a different DM song on it. It’s a great souvenir of the evening, one especially foreigners appreciate a lot, and I can barely figure out the amount of time and love he puts into this, for free of course, even for gigs he does not attend. I hope you can appreciate Nicola’s work in the photo of my badge.



As you can see in the photo, I had number 8, which means that I managed to be in the first row and in my perfect spot facing Dave and his nice little moves...And this time it paid off! As you will see...

On Saturday, the Forum was absolutely packed and people were filling their seats well ahead the beginning of the show. Right after EMA had ended with their act, the crowd started chanting and clapping to the rhythm of the DJ set. When the charity video was shown, the arena boomed with thousands of voices singing Where’s The Revolution and when the band appeared in the clip for those 2 seconds, the roar from the audience was almost as if the boys had actually got on stage. I knew my town would not disappoint.



When they did get on stage the party began: we all know that Going Backwards is a very strong opener, but this was the first time I had felt so much energy coming from the crowd, as if everyone’s heart had burst in unison releasing the tension and anticipation they had kept inside. The voices of people singing every single word with Dave filled the place, and it was clear that even the band thoroughly felt that strong reception: Dave was laughing as a child right from the second verse of the song (not very appropriate, though, considering the lyrics...)

That energy and pouring of love kept on building and building throughout the night, and all the guys on stage were clearly pleased, happy, entertained and even moved by what they were getting from the audience, and gave their all to please and move the audience in turn. Barrel Of A Gun, for instance, was so strong and aggressive that, even though it has never been a favourite of mine, I could really feel how deeply Dave lives it, especially in the final bridge when he sings about “the holy one”.

Precious is another example of how the band senses the mood of the crowd. That song has always been a fan favourite in Italy, possibly because it has a melody which suits the Italian ear for music, and Saturday it got the best reaction I’ve heard on the tour: as in response to that, the rendition of the melody and Dave’s flawless vocals produced a magic and moving vibe in a section of the set which normally gets a little overlooked by fans around the world.



Even the usually not-so-sponateous final oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh chorus to Home – let’s face it, Martin often has to work a bit hard to get the people going – this time sounded really unprompted and, of course, it became an ovation when Dave got back on stage and conducted it. We could have gone on for hours, and actually we kept on for a good 3 minutes, even after everyone on stage had stopped. The same happened at the end of Enjoy The Silence, when people erupted in a spontaneous chorus, never heard in other cities, taking up the melody of Matin’s guitar riff for several minutes and with the band silent, happy and almost astonished on stage.

And this leads me to underline the singing and chanting so typical at concerts in Italy. Every word of every song was sung, not only by the hotheads in the first rows, but virtually by every person in the audience, and that sound was so powerful that, at times, it almost blew the roof of the MediolanumForum off. We have all heard crowds all over the world singing the chorus to Enjoy The Silence when Dave asks for it, and we also know that Martin’s backing vocals can still be heard above the voices of the crowd during his section of the chorus. Well, in Milan, for the first time, the sound coming from the audience had such a mighty punch that it overwhelmed Martin’s own voice, and the arena just reasounded with 13000 happy voices....simply amazing.

The same level of sound was kept throughout most of the songs, with Stripped sung at the top of everyone’s lungs as much as any of the fan favourites. Stripped is another song I have often felt gets overlooked at several venues, as though it suffered its positioning in the set and for that reason it sometimes comes across somewhat flat. Well, that was not the case on Saturday: people just kept the flow and level of energy at the top, without missing a bit the whole concert.



And then there are the stadium like chants (Depeche Mode – Depeche Mode in-between songs or po-poro-poro po-poro-poro at the beginning and end of Walking in My Shoes) for which Italian venues are famous. The boys clearly enjoyed that part too: Dave kept laughing all night, Martin was smiling and, surprisingly, looking at people in the eyes, and even Fletch danced more than usual showing off his skilled moves.... Everyone was having a blast and dancing and singing like mad.

The only exception to all that was Cover Me. But do not get me wrong, it was a mindblowing exception. As if by magic, with all that sound and singing, everyone just kept silent all of a sudden: 13000 pair of eyes were simply captured by Dave’s wiry figure in the spotlight and 13000 mouths lip-synced to the song without uttering a sound, enraptured by the sheer beauty of that song, which has clearly reached the status of a DM classic hit by now.

I guess I do not need to get into details of what happened during the most popular crowd pleasers, as I have run out of words and adjectives: I can just repeat myself by saying that everyone danced and sang and screamed and shouted and jumped up and down like crazy. In a word a real and thoroughly entertaining mayhem...with a band so energized by the instinctive reaction of the audience that it just responded in tune. An astounding flow of passion, love and enthusiasm going back and forth between audience and stage.



Where’s The Revolution, though, deserves a few more words. I know that some devotees think that that song has had it by now, and, actually, I felt the same. But on Saturday it sounded absolutely powerful, raw and meaningful – maybe because of the special bond of love and energy I have been trying to describe – with many people in the audience rising their left fists during the chorus, really kind of calling for a revolution.

As for the remaining songs of the usual setlist, I can’t find anything else to add which you do not know already, I just loved every minute of it and I can say – without sounding a patriotic junky, which I am not – that a DM gig in Milan is an out-of-this-world experience.



On a not-so-side note I have to add that standing in the front row has A LOT of bonuses: I could feel part of that living body of passion without being distracted by anything else (as finding room to breathe or to move), I could study the expressions and little gestures of everyone on stage and the way the guys interact with one another, with Dave always playful and in an excellent mood. But, most important, I got the chance to often lock eyes with Mr Gahan and to enjoy his beautiful childlike smile (oops...here I go again with my fangirlish side...). You all know that he always looks for eye-contact with the audience in order to engage everyone, but when it happens to you he just makes you feel like he is singing for you, and for you only, and, geez, that’s positively amazing! 

Then, at the end of the concert, when all five of them got togheter front stage for the final bow, I showed Dave my little banner which just said “thank you”, he aknowledged it and when he came forward to wave the last goodbyes he thanked me, blew a kiss to me and made the heart gesture with his hands: I just melted on the spot and ended up as a puddle....

A pretty nice ending to a great evening, uh?

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Thank you Luisa!

Monday, 29 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ARENA NURNBERGER, NUREMBERG, 21 JANAURY 2018

Not only is this is great review but it's also a Depeche Mode wordsearch! Stephan Bobinger has written this blog all about the Nuremberg gig which will entertain you both by reading it and by hunting for the 55 Depeche song titles hidden throughout it. Not a bad way to get your brain started on a Monday morning. Thank you very much for this Stephan and for the pictures too. All pictures are Stephan's unless otherwise credited (hello to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group).

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

21.01.2018 Nuremberg – I WANT YOU NOW

The concert in Nuremberg was somehow planned as my personal absolute climax of the tour. To understand that I need to talk about some things first:

GOING BACKWARDS…

… to the time when my relation with Depeche Mode started, means going back almost to the start of the band. It was my older brother who started with Speak & Spell and their first concert in Munich when I was just little 15. At the age of 17 in 1984 I went with him to my first Mode concert in Munich, the first sounds of this concert still in my ears: Something to do (and still that happens all the time). 

AND THEN…

… I just missed one tour (1990) in Munich since that time. But I wasn’t that crazy about the band like today. Which means, for centuries I couldn’t even think of travelling for a Depeche Mode concert to another city, country or even continent. Within TOTU tour I went first time to Stuttgart in 2009 because it was the closest concert in the winter leg and then I thought it would be fun the see the band at home in London (O2-Arena). In fact both concerts were fine but still not worth travelling so far.

This changed with Delta Machine, one of their best records for long. With the new songs and the rest of the setlist the Delta Machine Tour 2013/2014 was just perfect for me. So I started after the Munich concert to attend more concerts on the tour (especially Berlin with the DVD recording and two incredible shows in Zürich), in total I finished with six until the end of the tour. And I started to think about going to DM concerts in other countries but on that tour the dates just didn’t fit for me. I was infected just looking for them to…

COME BACK

So when the Global Spirit Tour came closer I started planning and this time it was different. I wanted to go to 6-8 concerts on the tour - at least. Well at the end of 2017 I counted 10, Nuremberg was my third in 2018 with few more to come, and a new highlight with the two final shows in Berlin at the Waldbühne. So at the end of the tour it will be about twenty DM concerts, feeling like a pipeline of concerts and of energy. CRAZY!?! Maybe. Not happiest girl but happiest boy.

When I read David’s “Almost predictable – almost”, I couldn’t stop nodding. Yes, every Mode concert is predictable – almost. And always the same – and so different. The fans are different, the mood, the enthusiasm, the men or women standing or sitting or dancing or singing next to you. Sometimes in negative sense but in most cases very positive. I read some reports here of concerts I have been as well, to some I can agree very well, to some it seems to me that they have attended another concert. But in fact, every review speaks the truth is – for the author.




MILES AWAY…

…from home my first concert on this tour was in May 2017 in Bratislava, a town and country I haven’t been to before (but it’s nice there). As the first concert on the tour it was special to me for sure. Waiting for the sun and the rainfall later (never got so wet in a Mode concert) I was lucky to get as close to Dave as never before (second row besides the catwalk). A dangerous feeling because you want more to soothe your soul, of course. Feeling, the love, itself.

Budapest two days later started with a funny experience like your Personal Jesus when I just made a short stop before the concert at the band hotel when Dave leaving the hotel to the car almost struck me because I was standing close to the (secret) door he came out. The concert itself featured an overwhelming Hungarian audience, with the most fantastic NLMDA waving I’ve ever seen (from my seating place). 

HOME

After attending these two concerts just on my own but not feeling alone, my home concert in Munich in the Olympic stadium was special in another point. For the first time my daughter went with me and some friends who are no Mode fans but they all liked it. Munich audience is not the best in Germany – at least for Depeche Mode. So I expected much more two and three days later from the double concert in Hannover. And you can get right with me. First, I met again Simone, a crazy Mode fan I get to know in Zurich 3 years ago and every Mode related minute with her is just incredible fun. The audience on Sunday in Hannover was just as fantastic as expected or even better. Monday morning we spent taking the breakfast just opposite the band hotel and we were very lucky to meet Fletch and Peter Gordeno when they came out of the hotel for a few minutes, we almost couldn’t breathe. The concert that evening featured the first changes in the setlist on this tour with Martin stopping a song because he forgot the words (Strangelove). 

So, five really good concerts on leg 1. But at that time (in the middle of June) I had no idea of what would be in store for me.

RUSH to ROUTE 66

Fortunately as I work hard, I had one week vacation in the beginning of October, still nothing planned. And I went for more black celebration: I took a flight to the States for two Mode concerts in San Diego and San Francisco. On my way to San Diego, I made a stop at the Passadena stadium in remembrance of the 101 concert, and of course, while sitting behind the wheel I listened to incredible songs they never played since like People Are People or The Things You Said. The concert in San Diego (or Chula Vista) was an experience on its own due to a lot of bad circumstances (it was not a pain I’m used to and I didn’t really suffer well with some health problems and traffic jams as the later reported here before) and the crowd was special on its own as maybe half of the audience was more into meeting friends and family than into the concert itself but everybody was having a good time. 

On my way back to San Francisco, sure with a fly on the windscreen, I stopped, of course in Barstow at the route 66 and had to stay in a motel named the same with painkiller who fail, with me feeling sometimes like a martyr. But I didn’t surrender.

San Francisco or better San Jose was very different to Chula Vista with many more devotees dressed in black (or even wearing a new dress) and a great indoor show. But Dave had more to entertain and motivate the audience than in Germany. 

NOTHING’S IMPOSSIBLE

So, back at the end of November two concerts in Germany were waiting for me, again meeting angel Simone. While Frankfurt was good as expected but no more (the last time on my tour), expectations for Stuttgart were lower as I knew Stuttgart audience from two concerts before as more quiet. I was wrong – totally wrong. Even the band seemed very surprised about the audience, it was more than a party.

The final concert of 2017 for me, Simone and the five guys was in Madrid. I expected a great Spanish audience and was correct. But the German, Italian and Danish people around us at the end of the catwalk (we were first row) were even more crazy. Thank you Madrid and thank you, Dave for your handshake!

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

PERFECT…

…was almost the second concert in Berlin in January. While Simone made 5 amazing concerts in a row I joined her for the two in Berlin and the one in Nuremberg. A fantastic devotee time, which I will keep in my secret garden, with a good concert on Wednesday night and a special one – like full condemnation or eruption – on the Friday night. After driving back to our homes we met again finally on Sunday noon for 

NUREMBERG

I prefer standing places to seating and Golden Circle or Front of Stage to normal standing. In Nuremberg for the first time I had Early Entry (with Simone and Karola). That means you can enter inside before all others and you get some devotee stuff. But: You are not the only one with Early Entry (expect 150-300 on each concert), so if you want to be in the first row, you have to be there earlier than early. 

In Nuremberg I arrived by train from home at about 12.30 and got the number 53. That means 52 devotees can decide about where to stand before you can decide for yourself. It took until 4 in the afternoon until the door opened (only for early entry). While waiting I met a lot of nice people, so they can take a photograph of you, ask what’s your name or you can listen to the stories of old devotees. So, while waiting for the night from inside they were playing Walking In My Shoes for soundcheck or whatever in heavy rotation. At least you now have a clean toilet inside but the organization is still no sweetest perfection. At about 6 one by one can enter the inner arena and choose his place - slowly. Simone and Karola chose first row at the end of the catwalk right side and I joined them (they had a bit lower number than me). Very soon the arena filled and while we at the first or second row were sitting because for the next 90 minutes nothing would happen all the other people next were standing – very close. Maybe I shouldn’t have worn the Cover Me-Shirt?




Like in Berlin the concert hall was very hot, probably Dave wants that for his voice? As the starting time came close, the closer the audience was standing and some were even a bit aggressive, maybe some had a black day? It was a quite explosive mood but as well in the positive sense, so I imagined an audience as good as in Berlin on Friday – and I was right. 

The Nuremberg audience was just incredible and the band realized that very soon. As far as I saw, almost everybody was standing and moving from the first second, and the noise and singing was as loud as in Madrid or Friday in Berlin – sometimes even louder.

I love the new tracks, Going Backwards is perfect to start the concert, Cover Me is now a classic song in itself (please don’t drop it ever), Where’s The Revolution is becoming more and more part of the face of this tour with Dave standing on top at the end of it with his fist extending. Unfortunately they skipped So Much Love in the winter, sorry, but that’s no good. And I still miss at least Martin singing his new songs because like Fail and Eternal very much. 

But as I told you so, a Mode concert is more than singing 20 different songs. Especially when you have seen almost the same show more than ten times. Every show I realize new aspects and details, in Nuremberg e.g. concerning the lights during World In My Eyes which with its new intro is the first highlight followed by Cover Me which brought a real outburst of emotion at the end of the catwalk when Dave appeared and reached out his hand. But this time it was very difficult for all because the distance between the catwalk and the fence was larger than usual. So, I reached Dave in Madrid, but not tonight. 

Martin singing Insight is a real magical moment like Dave often says. And Home got a real classic by the audience singing it for minutes on its own in Nuremberg.

The combination of Where’s The RevolutionWrong Everything CountsStrippedEnjoy The Silence – Never Let Me Down Again is probably is the best they ever created. Unfortunately they skipped Wrong for the winter leg but that makes it even more intense. The Nuremberg crowd singing Everything Counts like it would really count in larger amounts the longer they sing... stunning and leaving Dave confused but happy as well.




For the Encore we all expected the usual songs but the band had a big surprise in store: Martin singing I WANT YOU NOW. Never heard that song live because it was never played in Europe since 1990, the only tour I missed (in 1994 it was played in US the last time ever). And it is such a wonderful tune. Thank you, Martin! I just hope that they will play it again. The crowd was surprised too – listening in devotion.

One last new detail, in the last minute of A Question Of Time Dave throws his microphone stand on the ground (in Berlin on Friday as well, first time on tour?), feeling so much energy in the arena?

Oh well, finally after Personal Jesus the boys say go, Dave leaving the stage stripped to the waist for a final scream of the female fans and everybody having experienced another magic night. 

And I am so glad that the last curtain has not fallen.

By the way, I hope you realized that my report contained 55 Depeche Mode titles which are not part of the standard winter tour setlist. If not, you should go back to the start of this review and find them again!

Goodbye!

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Thank you Stephan!