Thursday, 14 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MOHEGAN SUN ARENA, UNCASVILLE, 1 SEPTEMBER 2017

Today's review comes courtesy of blog contributor, Home moderator, much traveled Devotee and all round good chap Sean Salo. It seems a long time since I met up with Sean in Stockholm for gig number one on the tour and now he's back on home turf, seeing the band at various venues around America. This venue is one of those odd casino based venues that British fans like me can't get our heads round. For example, if Depeche played any of the casinos here in Glasgow, their career would definitely have taken a distinctly odd turn. It's different in America of course, and so, when it came to reporting on the Uncasville (no - I'd never heard of it before this tour either) show, there was only one man for the job. As you'd expect, this is a great read - thanks Sean for that and for all the cool pictures. 



Depeche Mode fans have created community around the experience of seeing the band live. Oftentimes, seeing old friends who share a passion for the band is as much a part of the experience of DM live as seeing the band play. This factor tends to be heightened when the band plays at destination cities or venues, that attract groups of hardcore fans outside of the immediate locals. Las Vegas, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, and…Uncasville?

Casinos shows have become a reality of the band’s North American itineraries, but this was the first time the band played at the Mohegan Sun Casino, let alone in the state of Connecticut. The venue’s equidistant location between New York and Boston makes it a draw from both metropolitan areas. This was also the closest show to the latter since the Tour of the Universe, so it provided the only chance for New Englanders to see the band on their own turf.



Arriving at the casino, digital signs alerted patrons of that night’s show at the arena. The gleaming, mirrored glass tower stands like a monolith piercing the rural surroundings. The casino itself doesn’t feel like cosmopolitan Vegas, but is largely filled with retirees. The Black Swarm stands in stark contrast to the blue-haired clientele. 



I’d purchased the “Hospitality Package” tickets, which – in addition to front of floor tickets – included a pre-show reception, early access to merch stands, a messenger-style bag, and a venue-specific tour lanyard. The reception was held in the casino’s Cabaret Theatre, where a rotation of DM singles was being played for the few dozens of us in the large room. I’ll admit that my friend Craig and I had eaten before the reception, but we each received a couple of drink tickets, and we partook. Having gone to the first show of the band’s official tour itinerary in Stockholm, and having done the VIP experience there, I’ll say that this one left a lot to be desired in comparison. The mood was far less of a party atmosphere and more of a cold reception with little-to-no interaction between fans and the VIP staff. 

"But I need to drink more than...well...one drink"

From the reception, we went into the venue. I was thrilled with the tickets we had, which were on the stage right side of the venue, just 4 rows from Martin. For this tour, this will have been the closest I’ll experience the show, and I’m glad we chose the premium seats. Though I brought in a point-and-shoot camera, I was close enough that my iPhone 7+ photos were sufficiently good for the experience. I generally inform those around me at shows that I plan to be on my feet the whole time and loud, but that was not an anomaly in this section. Those of us who paid to be this close were there to worship and testify at the church of Gore, Gahan and Fletcher.



Much has already been written about the show, whose setlists have varied minimally, so I won’t be breaking new ground here. But the show opener of Going Backwards sets the tone for the first part of the generally mid-tempo set. Dave appears along the full stage riser in front of giant screens, almost being enveloped by the pixels, merging man with technology, in some ways in contrast to the seemingly organic primary and bold color blobs of the background and the rocky, guitar-forward mix of the live version of the song. The colorful backdrop leads to much starker Anton Corbijn video backdrop for So Much Love, a track that picks up the energy level quite a bit for those who haven’t studied the album like we devotees have. The band clearly take themselves with a grain of salt, as seen in the black-and-white film, showing them standing generally still in front of a chain link fence, but with lots of the attitude Corbijn’s art direction for the band has used to help define the last 30 years of their brand. With resolution so high on these stage-dominating screens, the band on the stage gets to take a bit of a breather from theatrics while the band on screen is larger than life. I will say that in some ways, the screens might be used a bit too much overall, almost like a crutch in this tour. But with videos as stunning as these, including the aforementioned So Much Love, Cover Me, In Your Room and Walking in My Shoes, they might be forgiven.



For a transient casino audience, Connecticut surprised me with enthusiasm. It’s tough to say whether I would’ve felt this way had my seats been in the upper deck, but from my vantage point, the crowd was eating it up once the revised intro to World in My Eyes gives way to the bass-heavy crowd-pleaser.

In the era of having everything spoiled by social media and message boards, it’s great to see fans genuinely excited when they realize they’re hearing fan faves like A Question of Lust and Everything Counts, but the "Heroes" cover is the one that I hadn’t expected to still surprise fans live, as it’s been documented so proficiently. While some feel the version lacks teeth, I think the audiences have responded to it with great respect and fervor at each show I’ve experienced.



There are songs that many of us can live without hearing again in a live setting. Stripped will never be one of those, and I’ll fight you to the death if you imply it is. I am not a fan of the snowy static background used as the band plays the BC-era game changer that set a new sonic tone for the band, but there cannot be a poor version of Stripped. The laws of nature, physics, math and the universe prohibit it. Just pure bliss.

The main set’s closer of NLMDA had floor the 10,000-capacity arena vibrating, and had many fans breaking the DM commandment of “Thou shalt not wheat wave until the Lord, thy Gahan, instructs you”, but that’s not an issue specific to any one audience. The Swarm is eager.



The intoxication of seeing the band (and my general intoxication) made my choice to have booked a room at the hotel a very wise one. And this worked out well, with various clans of us gathering to reminisce about the show the show, gush over our favorite moments, moan over others, and reconnect as we do about once every four years.


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Thanks Sean.



Wednesday, 13 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK, 11 SEPTEMBER 2017

Madison Square Garden part 2's reviewer is Jamie Highland from California who made the pilgrimage to New York to catch both nights of Depeche Mode's shows there and to have quite a party. Why not eh? That's what I'd have done. Jamie's written a superb take on the gig for us which you're all sure to enjoy. Watch out for his next report from night 1 of the Hollywood Bowl shows next month - thanks Jamie! All pics are from my usual source - Depeche Mode Classic Photos& Videos Group on Facebook. Thanks to them too.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
So, where to begin... Truth be told I only kinda fly 3,000 miles to see dM in New York. The main reason I fly out is to see my buddy Sean Salo, whom I met on the Exciter Tour and have been good friends ever since. Don't get me wrong dM is my favorite band but I've seen them a million times, I don't get to see my buddy that much. With that said, let's start. 

So night one was the standard set list so for Night 2 we were expecting a different Mart song and that was it. I don't know if the band are too old to remember more than 20 songs per tour now or they're just f**ing lazy. You decide. 

At the pre show meet up there were some pretty solid rumors floating around that Dave had been rehearsing a new song. Not Spirit new, tour new. This got our hopes up, but then we quickly got stressed because what if the new song is Policy of Truth? Sean nearly passed out at the thought. After we got him a paper bag to breathe into he was fine. Sean Salo HATES Policy of Truth (APA - it's true. He does. Madness). It's a running joke with pretty much everyone that knows him. I'm not a fan either but my Policy of Truth is World In My Eyes (APA: More madness!). I know this is an unpopular opinion, I'm not sorry, I HATE that song. More on that later.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

So we get to the Garden, hopeful. We make our way to our seats and we are about 10 rows back directly in front of Martin which of course is good because we are going to try to do something later, so in front of Mart is a good position. 

So the lights go down and Revolution starts. The crowd is pretty loud. Much better than Night 1. Band comes out and they launch into Going Backwards and it's pretty solid. I think this song has gotten better live over time but it just doesn't match the album version. But it's a great way to start. 

I'm now exited to hear So Much Love because the accompanying video is hilarious. Like, I could not get over how funny the visual was for that song Night 1. Anton at his best. They start playing and I'm like, this isn't So Much Love. This. This. No..... please god NO!!!!!!! I look at Sean. You can see the disbelief on his face. Mother F***ing Policy Of Truth...

There is only one thing to do in this situation. I say to Sean, "Beer". We leave... while we're getting beer we are commiserating about why they need to pull this song out for every damn tour. Somehow they work it in. Do they secretly hate us? Jesus, come on already. 

Dave says no - Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

So we head back for Barrel Of A Gun and look, this song isn't great live, never has been. It just goes nowhere. Please retire it. Next up is APTIUT and it's pretty good. It's the first time in the show they get out of 2nd gear so it's welcome. Now onto Corrupt and it sounds great. I'd rather hear Lie To Me, but yeah, not gonna happen. It's tight and right and it sounds really good. 

Next is IYR, they're back to the album version. This so does nothing to help the tempo of the show but the video is creepy & beautiful & amazing. You really kinda lose the song because the video just sucks you in. Anton really has some hits this year. This one is up there. 

And then... ugh... I'm trying to keep this review as positive as humanly possible, and it gets super positive, trust me! But WIME... the first time I heard this song was when Richard Blade was given the okay to play it about 3 weeks before Violator was released. I was working at Disneyland at the time and he kept saying, I'm playing the new lead dM track at 6pm! So a couple minutes to 6 I ran down stairs to the tunnel under Coke Terrace in Tomorrow Land. We had a radio there and as I stood in that cramped, dark corner it began to play and I was like okay. And then a minute later I was like does this song go anywhere? Answer: It does not.  

I know, if you're reading this, you probably like WIME. Most people do and I say you are all crazy, because that song S.U.C.K.S. 

So after that cochlear water boarding it's Cover Me... Dave's absolute gem of a song and my fav track off the new album... the simplicity and that last half. F**k me is brilliant. Again, the visual is just... wait for it... out of this world. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Mart's turn. Night 1 was AQOL and it was my fav song of the night. The entire Garden sang it. Was awesome. 

When Judas started playing it took me a second. It was nice to hear again. A little to plunky (is that a word?) on the piano and it had a weird, I don't know, vibe, to it? But over all it was good. And we live for set list changes!

Next up was Home. I think we can all agree the full band version is the way to go. We hear Home a lot but you know what? It's a great song, and it's super fun to sign along too. From my first breeeeaaaaaaaaathhhh! Amirite? So this is when Sean & I try to get the Garden to do something they only do in Europe. Sing the Oh Oh Oh Ohhhhhh... Oh Oh Oh Ohhhhhh... We tried it the first night and failed miserably. But tonight we started earlier and really belted it out and wouldn't you know we had a decent contingent of Euro's in the rows ahead of us, recipe for magic. So we are Oh Oh Oh Ohing Non-Stop and super loud and then our friends up front joined in and then it happened. I started to hear it behind me and then from the other side of the cat walk. Before you know it, the entire arena is Oh Oh Oh Ohing. This is happening, IN AMERICA! Dave walks out and is smiling at Mart, whom is also smiling and Dave extends the microphone where? That's right, TO OUR section. We started that! Thanks for the recognition! Mission mother f****ing accomplished. 

So we are so excited we talk through about half of Poison Heart and let's face it, does it matter? I mean I feel like there are a couple of great things in that song, but they don't work together. It's kind of a mess. AnywayzzZ.....

Where's The Revolution!?! 

Well I'm not sure. It's a good song but it does not have the umph live I think they were going for. Personal Jesus it is not, but I enjoyed the song. I like it fine. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

WRONG! I never in a million years would have thought, "gee, I can't wait for Wrong!" But for whatever reason it works. It works well. It sounds dirty and sexy and tight. It's where the set list really starts. And then...

Whaa Whaa Whaa

Whaa Whaa Whaa

Chills... This song works in all of its incarnations, for one reason. Everything Counts is a masterpiece. Everything about this song works. It's genius and this version is crazy good. Goes over like a storm... Now that was 2 great songs in a row and I know what's coming up... my favorite song of all time. Stripped. Let me here that ignition boys.

But no! What blasphemy is this!?!? You know it's truly amazing how many thoughts can go through your brain in 3 or 4 seconds. First I was like, I'm going to punch someone in the face right now and then I thought, but jail sucks and I don't get to NY that often. And then I heard it, and Sean and I looked at each other and you could see the anger and sadness transform into... F**K YES! Black Celebration! 

There are only a few songs that can replace Stripped and I'm ok with. BC is one. And the fact that they haven't played it this tour and it was back to its original beat. OH MY GOD. Was AWESOME. I was so happy I started tearing up. WTF is that about!? I've never cried at a concert. Ever. I'd argue I sill haven't cried, just teared up. I have no idea why it hit me so hard. Maybe it's just because BC is my fav ever record and basically anything from it just stabs me in the heart. In the best way. The show could have ended there. Would have been satisfied. 

Photo by Glyn Tookey and Michael Lyons - courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

So after that ETS & NLMDA go off like any other show. They are obviously both great songs and their fun to sing. Nothing crazy happens, you now the drill. End set. 

So out walks Mart. Hmm, there's no Somebody Flag up of the screen. That's great news! And boom... Pain. Strangelove shows up again, and it honestly sounded its best tonight. Again, one of their most fun songs to sing live. Was pretty great. 

That set up Walking In My Shoes well... strong version. Crowd loves it, powerful visual. Powerful. Again, Anton, well done. 

Next up was "HEROES" and before they start Dave announces that this for all the heroes on 9/11. It was unexpected and kinda blew us all away. The fact that it was 9/11 and we knew we were going to the show all day was bittersweet. I can tell you that there were a lot of wet eyes during that song. Was amazing.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

And then they play I Feel You. I'm not going to waste time typing my feelings about this song. Let's just say this song pisses me the f**k off. 

And lastly PJ, classic. That guitar, the reach outs. PJ never bothers me. It's a great song, the energy is just great and it's a fine finisher. 

Well there it is, sorry it was late but I was trying to squeeze the last bit of enjoyment out of NYC. I'm writing this review from Newark Airport waiting to go back to SoCal.

Sorry I wasn't funnier but the hangover is REAL. Will see you all again, in Hollywood, Night 1.

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Thanks Jamie!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, VERIZON CENTRE, WASHINGTON D.C, 7 SEPTEMBER 2017

Sangeeta Rao returns to reviewing duties, following her Detroit review from the 27 August gig. Being the Depeche superfan she is, one gig was never going to be enough for Sangeeta, so hot on the heels of Detroit, she took in a hometown gig in Washington D.C. and that was always going to be a good thing. Read this and delve into Sangeeta's world - it's DM all the way! Thanks to Sangeeta for the photos too. They're all hers so do not nick them. Enjoy!



Washington, DC – September 7, 2017

I was especially excited about the Washington, DC show for three reasons: 1) This was the FIRST time in since the Some Great Reward Tour that they were playing in the actual District of Columbia. Every single tour since then, they played a venue out of the District, in either Maryland or Virginia, otherwise known as the DMV (District, Maryland, Virginia) area. Those venues are a challenge to travel to if you live in Maryland and have to travel to Virginia and vice versa, and during rush hour! I wanted to make sure, so I researched every single tour, and DM opened the North American Some Great Reward Tour on March 14, 1985. It was also their FIRST DC show!! 2) This was the show that I had spent $$$ ($350 for 6th row to be exact) for amazing seats. 3) Most importantly, many of my friends wanted to join me (some new to DM) and experience what the fuss was all about. One of my friends said “If you’re going to a DM show, you have to go with Sangeeta”. LOL, sounds about right!



About one week prior, practically every friend came out of the woodwork and said that they wanted to see DM with me. I received a barrage of texts, facebook messages/tags “Are you going to the show on Thursday?” I usually responded with “Is the sky blue?” Seriously, what a dumb question. I had discussed it with several friends, and about 10 friends confirmed. I got a few more to go, so the final number was 16. If I had known in advance that many friends expressed such interest, I would have booked a suite for the venue! But it was too late because I had 6th row seats with my friend Blanca, and we were NOT about to give those up. This was also special for Blanca because it would be her first time up close to the band. I think my biggest achievement of getting tickets was for my sister, Harita and Scott, her husband. It was HER who gave me an Enjoy the Silence cassette single in 1990, and I was HOOKED. So since 1993, I’ve been seeing DM at every tour, but she never joined me. 

I sell wine and spirits to restaurants, hotels, and bars for a living. I happened to stop by at one of my accounts to hand deliver an invitation to our upcoming portfolio tasting. While I’m having a drink at the bar, I see Andrew Fletcher. I came by and said hello, and we had a few pleasantries. He didn’t seem that interested in talking , so I let him be. Honestly, I would have been happier to see Mart or Peter, and this was my 5th time meeting Fletch, so no biggie. I did meet his son, which is a whole other story. It’s safe to say that whatever story you’ve heard about him is most likely what I experienced. 



On the evening of the concert, all of us headed to a new rooftop bar for a pre-show happy hour, and I was SO happy to see all of my friends come out for the show. We arrive at the Verizon Centre, now called Capitol One Arena, and our 6th row seats aren’t really 6th row because there was a large walkway gap between the 5th and 6th, so it was approximately the 10th row. I was not too pleased that I paid that much, but whatever…no time to be angry because my favorite band was about to hit the stage. I was about to see everything I had seen in my previous shows but up close. We were on stage left right by Martin. The venue capacity is approximately 20k but with floor seats, I’m guessing it was 21k. Looked like a sold out crowd, and I was so happy that this was happening in the city that’s been my home for the past 12 years. The band arrives on stage, and like in any city, the crowd goes wild. As we all know, two songs in, Dave shouts “Good Evening [insert city here]!”. This time he said “Washington, DC” and in previous tours, it was always “Washington”. Depeche Mode was finally back in the District of Columbia and not some suburb an hour away.



A few songs into the show, my friend Carrie who had traveled from New York, was seated in the first tier section in the last row. She made it to the front row of the tier, and it was parallel with the stage. I came to check it out, and it was much better than our “6th row” seats. We moved over, and it was far more amazing! I had so much more room that I could head bang to I Feel You, my favourite live song.



It was the same setlist as usual, but I could tell that the band, especially Dave and Mart were happy to be in a big arena in DC, very different from previous DC shows. When they left for the encore, the entire venue turned on their flash light on their phones, and Martin said “Wow”. I guess it wasn’t done in other cities. 

After the show was over, we scored the setlist from one of the roadies. Being that I’ve been to SO MANY DM shows, and this was Blanca’s first time this close to the band, I gifted her the setlist. I’ve met every single band member several times, and I’ve been front row on more than one occasion. This was a moment for my friend, and I let her enjoy it. Also, I’m so happy that my sister FINALLY came to the show…after all these years! I was a happy devotee not only for being so close but because so many of my friends joined, as well as my sister. I was waiting for the night, and it was a night to remember.

Sangeeta (right)


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Thanks Sangeeta! 

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, AIR CANADA CENTRE, TORONTO, 3 SEPTEMBER 2017

During a Depeche tour, it's easy to see the Black Swarm as a gang of Depeche Mode obsessives with room in their lives for Depeche Mode and no-one else. There are other bands out there though, and fans of those bands are fans of DM too. One such fan (that clumsy intro had to get somewhere eventually) is Ryan J who runs the Nine Inch Nails live archive which you can find here - click - and who you must also follow on Twitter @ninlive . His site is an absolute treasure trove on Nine Inch Nails material and is a must visit. If you like Matthew Wolfe's DM Live Wiki , you'll love this too. Anyway, back to Depeche and Toronto specifically. Ryan is having a mini DM tour of his own and I was delighted that he agreed to review this gig. Enjoy his wonderful review and live snippet. Thanks as ever to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook group for putting up with my thieving. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
I’ve been fortunate enough to take a nice vacation around the Great Lakes region to see Depeche Mode for this tour. Up to this point, I have seen them in Clarkston, Chicago and now Toronto. Following this date, I will see them at Madison Square Garden for their two nights at the iconic venue (I already saw night 1, it was awesome). I have been a fan of the Mode since I was born, thanks to my dad, and was able to see the show with him in Chicago with my brother. But now lets get to the Toronto show. I arrived in the afternoon for the small 4 hour jaunt up to Toronto from Detroit and was ready for the show. The setlists had been the same the previous two nights of the tour I had seen and I had still not looked at any of the previous setlists from Europe, just so if there were any wrinkles, I would be surprised.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I had seats on the side of the stage, and for me, I would be taping the show (for all who don’t know me, I run the Nine Inch Nails live archive and have been recording concerts as a hobby since I was 12 years old) so I did not need to see the visuals as I had seen them the two previous nights. Not to mention, this would really help with capturing the best sound. So I was in the lower bowl all the way on the last row, but my vantage was still good for the whole stage.

I love that Martin picks some techno to warm up the venue after Warpaint (who have been awesome on this tour btw, great group!) and the ACC was PACKED. I know it was a sold out show, but I’ve been told that Toronto brings it in terms of Mode fans. They did not disappoint. Toronto was loud all night. Up there with Chicago a few nights prior. I spoke with the fans around me, and you can tell that people in Toronto were passionate about the band. I have family in Toronto, so any time I go up there you can see at record stores and around town that there is a big following of Depeche. Probably the biggest in Canada, no doubt.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The lights went down at 8:45 and the show started with Going Backwards into So Much Love per usual. Now I have to say, just like Delta Machine, the new tracks translated well live for the ones they used. They fit right in with the old tracks that they have been using on the tour and they didn’t feel out of place. Spirit is definitely one of my favorite albums post-Wilder, for sure, especially because the songs translate so well to the live show. Just so I’m not rattling off the whole set of what they played (you can see it below), it has been the same setlist that has been played on the whole tour. I can see why they would do this, especially for time constraints and the lighting/timing for the show. Barrel Of A Gun is always a favorite of mine, and I love the bridge at the end that Dave does. Not sure where that comes from, but it’s a nice switchup for the song. (APA - Dave's singing a bit from The Message by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five).

The classic In Your Room album version is so nice to hear instead of the Zephyr Remix. I do like the ‘rock band’ feel of the band nowadays, but sometimes I really do miss the backing tracks and synth setups. This brings it back a little bit. Although, I am a “younger” Depeche fan, I still like when they go back to their roots/classic sound. Speaking of sound, ACC sounded GREAT! I just want to say that whomever is mixing Depeche this time around has it dialed in! The bass at these shows are incredible. I’ve always touted Kraftwerk as having the massive bass, but this show rivals it. Especially Christian’s kick-drum. Right before intermission where Martin comes out to do a few songs, I have to say that Cover Me is one of my favorite songs that they play out of this set. The visuals, the lyrics, all just are emotionally epic. I am looking forward to the remix album that is coming out and I am hoping that Recondite and Dixon’s remixes will be on some sort of release of this single (as I didn’t see it on the vinyl).

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Then to start the second half of the set, Poison Heart has to be my second favorite track of the new ones they play live. I was really bummed when I heard they wouldn’t be playing it earlier this year. So when it was in the set, I was stoked. Real raw and bluesy. Dave’s songwriting has come a long way from his first album he put out and you have to give him credit. To my surprise, they have been playing Wrong for this tour, as SOTU is not rated highly by me at all and is the only album I don’t own of theirs. But it sounded so great in Toronto. The fat synth notes were so apparent in the mix that it vibrated your chest cavity. The chemistry between Martin and Dave up on stage could really be seen during this and you can see they are genuinely having a good time up on stage which is awesome to see, especially after all these years. Stripped also sounded amazing and I took my earplugs out for this one just to see how loud the arena actually was. As the first two shows I saw were amphitheaters, there was no place for the sound to go and the crowd was insane. So loud, especially as they started to play the ‘hits.’ It reminded me of some of the older tapes I have heard from Toronto at CNE and Skydome during the Devotional Tour. I can only imagine what it was like to be there during those shows. What I love about the old tracks is that they don’t have these long bridges in the middle anymore. Depeche just comes out and plays the tracks and you get more songs.

Best part of the show was the encore. 30 minutes of encore tracks, you can beat that! Covering "Heroes" is such a cool track to play of Bowie’s and their version rocks. Peter Gordeno is such a talented musician, dude can literally play anything and I remember him just rocking out to this song on the bass. This was also the first show I saw the catwalk and during Personal Jesus Dave was running all over the stage. Felt like watching the recordings I have from 1990 all over again! lol. Depeche is up there in age, but they still bring it live. The band is tight, and the music is faultless. True perfection when you go see them live. This is why they are one of my all time favorite bands and even though the setlists are still the same, I would see the show multiple times on one tour. because it doesn’t matter how many times you see the same songs, the music speaks to you, and you remember the good/bad times that these songs helped you through. Not to mention, seeing them play for 2hrs and 15 minutes is the longest they’ve played in North America, ever.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As I write this, I’ll be heading to MSG for their final night. But Toronto was a spectacular show because of the fans and how well the set was executed. Not to mention the tape sounds pretty good. :) Each show has been unique, but sometimes the journey of getting to the show is what makes it so special and the train ride through Ontario is very pleasant if you ever make a trip from Toronto to Detroit. Anyways, enough ramblings from me. Thanks for the opportunity to write for this project and I hope to see the Mode back “on the road” in the near future.


Pre-Show/Intro
Going Backwards
So Much Love
Barrel of a Gun
A Pain That I’m Used To
Corrupt
In Your Room
World In My Eyes
Cover Me
A Question of Lust
Home
Poison Heart
Where’s The Revolution?
Wrong
Everything Counts
Stripped
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again
Somebody
Walking In My Shoes
Heroes (David Bowie)
I Feel You
Personal Jesus

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Thanks so much Ryan.

Monday, 11 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MADISON SQUARE GARDEN, NEW YORK 9 SEPTEMBER 2017

I'd originally planned to try to get to one of the Madison Square Garden shows on this tour but that proved impossible. It's a gig that many people travel from far and wide to attend and one of those people is Michael Lyons from Belfast, a man who has seen Depeche more times than many of us could dream of. Michael is in New York for both shows and happily for me, he asked to review the first night. As expected, it's a great review and it features the views of Messrs Gore and Fletcher. Look out for two more reviews from Michael on this tour from Dublin and Mexico City. Thanks Michael. All photos here are  Glyn Tookey and Michael's so don't steal them. 


PART 1

This will be an interesting show tonight for me for a number of reasons, not least because I've never really had a desire to travel to see the band in the United States before, but also, the opportunity to go to New York and Madison Square Garden was too good to turn down. The reason I've never been fussed on a US trip is my built on impression of the American crowd being more reserved than the European equivalent and the all seated shows. I've never seen a Depeche show where the ground floor is all seated. Given I was drawn into the Depeche thing in 1984 by the electric atmosphere in the crowd, the idea of a more reserved audience, in seats with all that personal space...well let's seeif tonight, will it live up to those very mild expectations or will it surprise me and be better than that? I'm looking forward to the iconic venue and to see the spirit show indoors with all my European summer shows having been outdoors in the sun and the rainfall (hello Berlin). I arrived on Friday evening closely followed from London by Glyn Tookey aka 'Spooks' to join the early arrival from Dublin of Holby city crew of Dr. Kevin Devlin and his good lady Dr. Julie Anna Rankin. So breakfast has been had and now we're off to catch the mighty Manchester United play away at Stoke City before getting ready for the other main even tonight. The weather is sunny, a comfortable 20 degrees and I'll send an update later hopefully with a picture or two.


PART 2

So we arrived at MSG around 6pm, collected our tickets and had a look at the merchandise stall. Some new items in there that weren't on the European leg so that was nice. The staff at MSG were very welcoming, lots of smiles and 'welcome to the garden' and 'have a great night' greetings. We were lucky to have friends and family accreditation for the show and a very smart New York branded laminate which will be a cherished souvenir. We made our way to the backstage hospitality area and met up with some friends, had a beer before making our way to our seats located just at the end of the catwalk. 


The newly refurbished MSG looked gorgeous and every bit the iconic venue we'd hoped for. My previously mentioned low expectations from a crowd noise and participation point of view were soon dispelled when the band took to the stage to a terrific roar from what looked like a very non-typical Depeche Mode crows compared to what I'd normally see in Europe. No evidence of the black swarm and lots of very well dressed, very affluent looking New Yorkers. The first thing that struck me was the sound, just so much better, more powerful and engaging indoors than out. And before long we got to see for the first time how good the light show really is, again something that doesn't always work well outdoors. Right from the off, Dave seemed to relish his adopted home town night out, the usual animated facial gestures along with the now polished showman routine was being delivered to perfection once again. 


I won't bore you with this song and that, we all know what the setlist is, some highlights however for me were the moments when he gestured for the house lights to come on, lighting up the audience and exposing the scale and beauty of the venue, moments that also bring massive noise from the floor. Musically the epic crescendo that is Cover Me takes the audience away into space with their spaceman for a brief moment, a fantastic part of the show. 



Everything Counts had an extended singalong and it almost felt like a star trek type transportation back to the Rosebowl, one of a few quite nostalgic moments I felt. Another was the roar that greeted World In My Eyes It was unlike anything heard all night. The Americans are different than the Europeans in that respect, the affection for those 88/90 era songs which are really are given a welcome beyond all others. 



A nice look to the sky and a kiss blown to heaven by Dave finished off the brilliant Depeche cover version of "Heroes" and, all in all, I was pleasantly surprised as to how atmospheric and engaged the audience were, given everyone had a seat. Different than Europe yes but not disappointing at all.



There was a large aftershow party hosted by the band afterwards where Dave made an appearance, chaperoned by Jennifer who held his hand throughout! Martin and Fletch were on good form, Martin keen to have it confirmed that it was a quiet crowd, something that we couldn't really agree with on but interesting. He said that the energy they get from the crowd does vary from show to show and does have an impact on how they feel about it during and afterwards. So it's a sightseeing day today for us, before returning again on Monday for the 2nd night. After last night, very much looking forward to it, obviously very happy to have made the journey.

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Thanks Michael!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, DTE ENERGY MUSIC THEATRE, DETROIT, 27 AUGUST 2017

Today's review is provided by Sangeeta Rao from Washington DC and she is seemingly currently on a mission to see Depeche Mode as many times as she can on this tour. For example, as I type I've just been looking at her videos from last night's Madison Square Garden gig. It's starting to make me rather jealous. Anyway, this review of the Detroit gig is a cracker - enjoy and thanks Sangeeta.




Detroit, August 27, 2017 – Sangeeta Rao

It was one month prior on Sunday, July 30th, and I was at home doing the usual Sunday evening activities such as laundry and gearing up for Game of Thrones that night. I see that my friend Shannon from Miami is calling me on the phone ; (she and I used to be roommates when we lived in New York). After pleasantries, she proposes an idea. 

“Since I’m going to be out of town when Depeche comes to Miami, how do you feel about going to Detroit?” 

I respond “What’s in Detroit?” 

“Depeche is playing there, and I can get a cheap ticket to Detroit. Looks like concert tickets are still available. I’ve been wanting to go there since they’re kind of going through a renaissance and becoming a foodie city”. 

“Well, I am already going to a few shows; I can’t justify another one”. 

“Come on Sangeeta! We always see DM together, and I will feel terrible if I miss this tour!” 

I, then of course look at my calendar, and it just so happens that I’m free that weekend. I am in Baltimore on Friday, August 25 for a sales meeting, and conveniently, the cheapest flights to Detroit are from Baltimore. Short of the version of the story….I’m easily persuaded. We book our flights. She buys the concert tickets, and I book the hotel. Andy crazily my flight was cheaper than the damn concert ticket!! 



We plan to meet Keri, a mutual friend who used to live in New York and who was also attending the show. Her first show was Music for the Masses, and Shannon’s was World Violation. We arrive at DTE Energy Music Theatre a little late, and DM has already started playing!! I’m hauling ass walking like a mad woman to get to our seats! This was the first show that I could actually see something because I could barely see anything in London at the Olympic Stadium, so I didn’t want to miss the intro. We had decent seats, dead center in the middle section; the venue was an outdoor amphitheater with a lawn. The venue was packed, and there was not a speck of green on the lawn. The capacity is about 16k. I’m so excited at this point because I can actually see and not have to watch it on a big screen! This was my first US show on this tour, so of course, I’m very much hoping for a setlist change. They sounded great, and Dave was really into it! You don’t often hear Dave say something about cities on tour, other than “Good Evening [insert city]!” and usually Berlin, since they’re the Black Swarm and Germans LOVE their DM! That’s another story for another time, LOL!

However, he kept saying the city name, and at the end of a song (forgot which), he said “DETROIT, YOU’RE THE BEST!!” I have never heard him say that about any city over the 25 years I’ve been seeing them live. 



As the night progresses, I look over to my right, and I see a father and his son. The boy was approximately 8-10 years old, and this kid was rocking and banging his head as if he was at a heavy metal concert. He was motioning his hands as if he was playing the drums. I was so happy to see this kid having the time of his life and enjoying a great show. It made me smile. 



Unfortunately, there were no setlist changes…shocking <<< sarcasm. It IS a great setlist indeed, but it’s safe to say that every song exclusive of the new ones, the majority of us fans have heard live already. I really felt it was The Singles Tour plus Spirit. Corrupt is a fave of mine, but I’m not sure it works so well live. I’m not going to go into setlist details since it’s barely changed throughout this tour. 

Overall, it was a wonderful night with perfect weather! I’m glad Shannon got to see them, and it was great to see Keri again. 

Side note: As much as I wanted to post pics on facebook that night, I tried to avoid it because it was the SAME night as the Game of Thrones finale. I didn’t want to read/see any spoilers!

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Thanks Sangeeta!

Saturday, 9 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BELL CENTRE, MONTREAL, 5 SEPTEMBER 2017

This review sums up exactly why I started doing this project last May. I wanted to capture the essence of a Depeche Mode tour, not only so that fans could revel in reading about fellow Devotees' experiences but also so that people who aren't hardcore fans could get an idea of what following the band around for a tour means to people. Amanda Chaffeee who runs the superb And Then blog, is the perfect person to tell the type of story I want people to tell and this review is one you are all going to love. Fans of Dave - get ready to get jealous towards the end....



As I write this, I'm sitting on my plane, and then in a taxi, on my way to New York. Where do I even start to process such an incredible night? Montreal was my second show of the North American leg, with the same setlist as my first show in Montreal. I thought Toronto was a fantastic show, but Montreal was even better. 

The VIP pre-show experience was slightly different than Toronto. Where Toronto had catered curry chicken, rice and stir fry veggies, Montreal had snacks and appetizers. Popcorn, veggie chips, sliders shrimp spring rolls, etc. available in a nice, small restaurant/bar setting. The "Spirit" photo backdrop was conveniently placed in the middle of the room for photo ops. Curiously, the bar allowed us to redeem our drink tickets for basic cocktails, instead of just wine and beer like previous VIP experiences. Score! My friends and I definitely took advantage of the rum and cokes! 



The show was packed, and security provided all the front row ticket-holders with purple wristbands – then enforced them. Anyone without one was kicked out of the area between us and our seats, so we had lots of room to dance and jump around. 

When the lights went down and the band began their entrance, the sheer volume of the crowd's cheers took me a bit by surprise. This was an arena ready to party. The band, hot off the heels of an electric crowd in Toronto, was also in high spirits. Dave was in a cheerful and cheeky mood – a couple times he buzzed his hands over Martin's head as he ran by, like a child playing imaginary airplanes. He even goofed off with Fletch, bouncing around and gesturing in front of his keyboards trying to make him laugh.

Amanda gets into the Spirit of things (sorry)

For the first few songs I kept thinking just how incredibly lucky I was and amazing it was to be so close to the band. The stage was slightly lower and we had more centred seats, so there was a greater feeling of intimacy than Toronto. Of course, Dave found his favourite fans along the ranks in front row and gave them lots of love, singing select lines from Corrupt, Walking in My Shoes (WIMS) and others just to them. During the Detroit and Toronto shows, Dave picked out my friend, Tara, in the crowd and extended the mic stand as far as he could to sing the last lines of WIMS and Enjoy The Silence. He did the same in Montreal, inviting those of us next to her to share the love. We made funny faces at each other during Never Let Me Down Again (NLMDA), and there were also his classic finger points and crotch grabs, saying hello to various others in the crowd. But the focus wasn't just on us – as always, he carefully balanced his performance, making sure his energy could be felt from the front row to the very last, highest seat in the arena.



We couldn't resist the pulsing beats of So Much Love and A Pain That I'm Used To, which turned us into hyper jumping beans. Unfortunately most people in the North American crowds aren't as into jumping and dancing, so we were our own little cyclone of fun. That's not to say the crowd was tame – quite the opposite. Cheers for the opening lines of WIME we're deafening. Fans responded well to the audience participation for songs like So Much Love, Cover Me, and Poison Heart, which I wasn't sure would take off here as well as Europe. 

Martin's performances were as strong as ever, with him starting out serenely in the middle of the stage, and breaking out into his hops, skips and cross-stage dashes for Home. The crowd started out quiet but quickly picked up on the sing-a-long after the song, after hearing hundreds of others. I could hear the audience singing every word of A Question Of Lust at nearly the same volume as Martin, which was impressive.



The sound was great for most of the show, but the bass in I Feel You was so low and loud that I could feel it vibrating my innards, and my arm hairs felt like they were blowing in the wind! I had to plug my ears. No idea what happened there but it was disturbingly loud.

During most of last half of the show, I was fanning myself with a paper hand fan (Dragonball Z merch, like a proper nerd) because I couldn't stop sweating. My heat tolerance has been crap for the last few months for medical reasons, and with all the dancing I was sweating like crazy. I kept thinking to myself if the band could see me, if they wondered why there was this dork in front row with a fan. Was it that hot down there? I wondered, “How funny would it be if Dave noticed and threw me his towel?" But I never thought he actually would! He swung it around over his head as he does, walking around the stage, then stopped in the center and bent back, lobbing it upward with a soft arc over the pit, right into my hands. Sweet!!

Amanda and towel

Throughout the performance, I kept returning to this feeling of gratefulness and awe, taking internal pause while my external presence was anything but. Watching this band consistently pour their souls into shows, continue to make emotionally moving music, and share themselves with an ugly and sometimes ungrateful world – 37 years of blood, sweat and tears for us. How lucky are we that we're all here to celebrate the best music in the world together? To be able to escape the hellscape of real life for just a few hours, and let all our feelings and energies out like some sort of existential exorcism? Six shows in, "Heroes" still makes me cry, and I have to fight it on Walking In My Shoes, Home, Poison Heart and Cover Me (I frequently lose). I've seen DM 28 times now over five tours, and when people ask me how I could possibly be interested in seeing the same band more than once in the same tour, this is why. While the intensity may change, that magic never goes away, and no two shows are exactly the same. 

Hours after the show, a convergence of circumstances lead to us meeting Dave, but it wasn't just a random run-in... he approached us because he recognised us, especially Tara – whom he called his "singing girl” and gave a big hug. He chatted with us for a good 10-15 minutes, like we were old friends. Nobody asked for pictures and autographs – we didn't even think of it. It was just a natural, genuine conversation. He seems larger than life on stage, and at times we tend to see the members of DM as god-like. However, one to one he exuded nothing but calm and friendliness. His energy was exactly as I remember him when we met the first time, 10 years ago next month. I am so incredibly fortunate to have done either. Dave isn't just the singer of Depeche Mode to me – he's an inspiration and someone I deeply admire on a number of levels.



As we look on to our upcoming shows in North America, we are staring into the eye of Hurricane Irma. It will make landfall Sunday, three days before the Tampa show. There's a real threat the Florida shows may not happen, but I am still feeling incredibly grateful for the experiences I have had this tour so far, and Montreal was certainly one of the most memorable. I hope for the people of Florida that by some miracle, the hurricane damage is less than expected, and maybe they can have some reprieve with their heroes... just for one day. Stay safe out there, Floridian fans, and I hope to see you soon for a review of the Miami show!

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Thanks Amanda!