Friday, 20 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ORACLE ARENA, OAKLAND, 10 OCTOBER 2017

For this review we welcome back Kristin Pinnatore who previously reviewed the Santa Barbar show for us (http://almostpredictablealmost1.blogspot.co.uk/2017/10/live-review-depeche-mode-santa-barbara.html) . The Oakland show saw Kristin take her 10 year old daughter Dessa along which is a cool thing to do. I imagine it blew her mind. Another life long Devotee is found! Thanks very much to Kristin for this great review. All pictures are hers except where otherwise credited i.e. I took one from Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

This is the second Spirit review I've written in the wake of an unfolding tragedy here in the American West. On October 2 I saw DM in Santa Barbara, California as details of the what’s being called the worst mass shooting in America’s modern history were just starting to crystallize. I'm still shaken to the core by the events in Las Vegas, and I know so many, many DM fans are, too. 

A week later I was waiting to hear word from my best friend, Nancy, who was stuck behind fire lines that had just exploded in Norther California, turning into the undisputed worst wildfires in Our state’s history. Cell phones, internet, land lines, and electricity failed for her and thousands of others, and our group of friends and family spent a worried night trying to track down all of those we knew. 

We didn't hear from Nancy until mid-day Tuesday (the day of the DM show in Oakland), but it was good news! She was out of the fire zone in the nick of time and on her way for Depeche Mode in Oakland! Road closures, heavy traffic, smoke, etc. etc. - nothing could keep her away from the Black Celebration.

After a grateful reunion Nancy and I, along with my 10-year-old daughter Dessa, headed out for a night on the town. This was to be Dessa’s induction into the Black Swarm and she was as excited as she could be. Seeing DM through her eyes was something I’d been looking forward to for months. Time to put all those hours in the car singing the back catalogue to good use!

We had “Hospitality Package” tickets for this show, which included a pre-show party. As I saw in Santa Barbara, communication between the venue’s security and the tour reps was problematic again in Oakland. There were several entry points at the arena that had access to the pre-party entry plaza, but not all of the security people knew where they were, or even that there were people with early entry at all. We wasted a good amount of time being told by security, “Nobody told us. They’ll radio us when you can go up” (didn’t happen until almost 6 pm for a 5:30 call). I wouldn’t assume that anyone from the tour or the venue or whoever is supposed to help communicate between them reads these reviews, but just in case - please work on your communication at the venues! I keep seeing beleaguered security folks who have been told nothing about the evening’s plans and are completely incapable of putting concert goers in the right place! It’s frustrating for everyone involved.

Now that that’s off my chest, let’s return to the show! The pre-show snacks, music and swag were great fun, and very impressive to a 10-year-old (I didn’t find it half bad either). After our “crowd-free” merchandise shopping (there was a crowd but not a big crowd…), we headed to our seats on the floor. We were able to snag 5th row center during the pre-sale and couldn’t complain at the view! We were able to make some new friends at the pre-show and say hi to old friends, so it was a very welcoming place to be.

L-R: Nancy, Dessa, Kristin


I wanted to be sure to leave enough time to enjoy the pre-show party before Warpaint took the stage so that our little group could really settle in and enjoy them. I’ve loved their sound and will definitely be listening to them more often, and my daughter was grooving along as well. Warpaint definitely has some new converts!

The build up to DM’s appearance was as tension filled and exciting as all the previous reviews have discussed. The difference for me, this time, was the presence of my daughter next to me practically vibrating with excitement, and the only slightly muted calls of my best friend just beyond her. The long awaited moment had finally arrived.




The setlist was no different than it’s been in a long run of North American shows. I’m sure the boys are saving any real surprises for the Hollywood Bowl dates. And yet, the show still felt fresh and exciting at this, my third viewing of it. What’s truly amazing to me is that the men on the stage keep it so energetic and vivid performance after performance. 

The Oakland audience (at least where I was sitting) was really engaged and the sing-alongs were vibrant. Martin went out to the end of the catwalk to lead the masses at the end of Home, though it didn’t extend beyond the end of the song.

The last four songs of the main setlist (Everything Counts, Stripped, Enjoy the Silence, and Never Let Me Down Again) got the biggest response from the arena, of course. I want to go on record as not a fan of the t-shirt gun at the end of NLMDA, though. It feels like a time-filler for Dave, who commands enough attention as it is, and it makes the wheat wave moment of togetherness into something else. Something that feels like a cheapening of the moment. I doubt that was ever the intent, but it feels forced to me.




As always with DM, the end came too soon. Even a five song encore doesn’t go on forever, I’m afraid. The bows were taken and I finally got a decent few shots of Fletch. 

It’s been a wonderful privilege to be a part of this massive effort worldwide, so thank you all! I’m looking forward to reading more reviews here as the Spirit train rolls on towards 2018!




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Thanks Kristin!

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MATTRESS FIRM AMPHITHEATRE, SAN DIEGO, 6 OCTOBER 2017

This venue definitely wins the title of Venue Name Of The Tour - spectacular stuff. Equally spectacular is this review from Rob Rohm from Orange County, California, a man who really knows his Depeche Mode. Rob's review is a great read which I know you'll all enjoy. Thanks very much Rob for the write up, pictures and videos. Thanks too to the by now surely fed up of me stealing things gang at Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group whose pictures I've credited. Don't want to get in trouble.




October 6, 2017 - Mattress Firm Amphitheatre is the name of the venue hosting Depeche Mode on this warm fall night in Chula Vista, California. The name of the venue can cause you to do a double take. Although it's named after one of the largest mattress retailers in the US, it evokes sexual imagery and innuendo more than anything else. What better place for Depeche Mode to perform songs such as Corrupt, In Your Room, World in My Eyes, A Question of Lust, and Stripped. 

Although the venue sufficiently warned fans to get to the amphitheatre early to avoid traffic, it was truly a traffic nightmare getting in to the show. My home is located in Orange County, California. It's about an hour and a half drive south to Mattress Firm without any traffic. The last two miles took more time than that. Unfortunately for us, we trusted the judgment of Google Maps for the quickest route into the venue. It guided us to a back route in with a single lane that was barely moving. The traffic coming in the traditional entrance was heavily bogged down as well but at least they had 3 lanes of cars moving. We made the mistake of having a few drinks at our hotel with friends before we left. We left our hotel at 6:30 for what should have been a thirty-minute drive at the most. After sitting in traffic for over an hour with no end in sight, my wife and her friends suggested that I walk the remainder and meet them inside. They knew I was to review the show for The Global Spirit Tour Project. I didn't want to miss a minute of the action, so I took them up on their offer and walked over a mile to the venue in my Doc Martins (Try Walking in My Shoes! Sorry, couldn't resist).

As I walked up to the venue I heard the opening act Warpaint but by the time I got inside they were done playing. Luckily I had caught them earlier in the week at Martin's hometown gig at the Santa Barbara Bowl. This is my fifth time seeing the band on the Global Spirit tour and 41st show all-time starting back in 1986. I was lucky enough this tour to see them at a private rehearsal with 40 others in Hollywood at S.I.R. Studios in April. They only performed 10 songs for us at the rehearsal but it was there that I first saw the exact 22 song set list that they performed in Chula Vista at the base of Martin Gore's microphone stand.



Once inside the venue, I took a peek at the merchandise booth to see if there were long lines (there were) and if there was anything new. I also checked to make sure they're still selling the cool Master and Servant shirt. I bought souvenirs at their Paris gig in July but haven't bought anything yet from the shows I've caught in the States (Vegas, Santa Barbara, and San Diego). I'm hoping they open a pop-up shop in Los Angeles for the Hollywood Bowl shows as they've done in New York and select shows in Europe.

I grabbed a beer and said hello to a few devotees before heading to my seat. For this show my ticket was third row from the stage on the left side (Martin's side). I texted my wife to check on her whereabouts and they were still slowly making their way to the venue. It was too late, the Beatles' Revolution was playing and they were still stuck in traffic! It was 9pm and the band was taking the stage. 

The Spirit feet march into the show opener Going Backwards with its vibrant backdrop. This timely and relevant song is one of my favorite tracks on Spirit and a perfect way to kick things off. So Much Love and Barrel Of A Gun follow and my wife still hasn't made it into the venue yet! I'm glad to be inside watching but bummed when Peter Gordeno straps on the bass guitar and the band breaks into A Pain That I'm Used To. At the Santa Barbara show, my wife had told me that she really likes that song. It was actually a bit surprising to me that she said that but the version they perform on this tour is definitely one that you can't stop yourself from dancing to. Luckily she shows up mid song and immediately begins dancing and is quite happy with our view.

She is just in time for the Mattress Firm Trilogy: Corrupt, In Your Room, and World In My Eyes. On Corrupt, Dave's performance combines elements of hard rock, marching soldiers, and a sultry rock god all in one



In Your Room is one of my top ten favorite Depeche Mode tracks. Thankfully the band has reverted to playing the album version of the song which is a lot more powerful in my opinion. The song is accompanied by one of Anton's video creations but sitting up close my focus is on the band's performance and not the video.

World In My Eyes completes the Mattress Firm Trilogy with the crowd fully engaged. My wife commented about Dave putting his hands above his head to form the hand gesture shown on the cover of the World In My Eyes single. She mentioned first noticing him doing this in Paris.

Cover Me is accompanied by Anton's video footage used for the single release with Dave walking around Venice Beach in astronaut gear. This one is hard not to pay attention to the video. It's another one of those videos that make you question how much trust they give Anton but it is interesting I suppose.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I missed A Question Of Lust to make a beer run but it sounded great. I am surprised how little Martin's songs have changed this tour. Usually he mixes it up more. We did get to see Judas performed in Paris, but that's been the only set change I've seen in person so far this tour. It is rumored that there will be significant changes during the Hollywood Bowl shows. I'll be at the last 3 shows there. Home sounded great as usual and we actually had a pretty good round of ooohs going after the song was over.

Poison Heart really takes me back to the intimate rehearsal I saw in April. We were standing right in front of Martin during that performance and to watch his guitar work and emotion as he sang the backup vocals was pretty amazing.

Where's The Revolution is the fifth and final song they perform off Spirit. The visuals on this song are great as is the performance. Dave marches up the stairway to the second level stage area with his silhouette in front of socialist imagery provided by Anton.

Wrong and Everything Counts get the remix treatment and are fantastic performances and lead into my all-time favorite song, Stripped. I typically try to avoid filming too much but I did record the complete song for this one. I wanted to have a full clip of Stripped live as it may be one of the songs that gets changed up in Hollywood.



The last two songs before the encore actually elevate the show to the highest points. Besides being the classic powerful Depeche Mode songs that they are, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again are both crowd favorites. The audience interaction is at its best during these two songs and is highlighted by the classic waving of hands during Never Let Me Down Again. At this show Dave does not use the t-shirt cannon during the song.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The encore consisted of five songs as usual starting with Somebody performed by Martin, Walking In My Shoes featuring another Anton Corbijn video, the "Heroes" David Bowie tribute, I Feel You, and Personal Jesus.

I had a fantastic night at the show despite the pain I wasn't used to of getting into the show. I read some negative comments from some fans on social media after the show and I will say this: As with anything in life, your mode (mindset) will go a long way in determining how much you enjoy the show. The band definitely doesn't disappoint. It's amazing to see them perform at such a high level with so much energy and enthusiasm after all these years. I'm proud to say I've been a Devotee since 1985.


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Thanks Rob!

Monday, 9 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY BOWL, SANTA BARBARA, 2 OCTOBER 2017

This review has been provided by Kristin Pinnatore from Fremont, California and in it Kristin gives us the full lowdown on what it's like to see Depeche Mode from as close to the front of the crowd as it's possible to be. I love the effort Kristin went to to get that spot and it's so cool to read about fellow Devotees helping make sure she got what she wanted. Read on and enjoy. All photos are Kristin's unless otherwise stated (i.e. stolen with much thanks from Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group)

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

It’s not every day that we get a chance to cross something off our bucket lists. To be fair, my personal bucket list isn’t even that long - I prefer not to dwell on my own mortality. But if I did maintain a serious bucket list, seeing Depeche Mode from the front row would be at the top of it. Front row center, if I’m being honest (or greedy). The problem is that there’s been virtually no general admission at North American venues for the last several tours, and certainly none near me. Prices for such coveted seats are sold at a ridiculous price in the states, too, and I’m a school teacher with a family. It’s been a dream for a long time, but only that. Dream on.

By pure luck, last spring I had the chance to buy a general admission spot at the legendary Santa Barbara Bowl. And slowly, a plan comes together. With the support of my husband (who isn’t even a huge music fan, let alone a devotee like myself), we plan a 5-hour car trip down the California coast, bringing supplies so I can camp out at the venue the night before the show, hopefully securing the front-of-the-line spot. 

I arrive at the venue at 9 PM the night before the show, stay in the car for an hour and then set up a lawn chair and blankets at the gate. First in line (for rather a long while, I’m afraid). But I’m good at entertaining myself and between a strong internet connection (hurray for Netflix!) and some snacks, I make it until about 2:30 AM before drifting into a light sleep.

When the semis come through the predawn Santa Barbara neighborhood at 5 AM, it’s like the circus has come to town. Ten enormous unmarked long haul trucks and three RV’s maneuver their way through the parking lot as I watch. More fans start to trickle in at about 6 AM as well. We start a numbering system to keep track of the line, because frankly the venue has no idea how they want us to line up. I find out that there is an “early admission general admission” ticket that I do not have, and that anyone with the early admission is getting first crack at the rail. So much for my extreme efforts to be first in line. I miss the olden days, without all the levels of tickets. But despite my disappointment, I’m determined to enjoy being as close as possible to the action.

The people I meet in line are seriously some of the nicest people I’ve ever come into contact with at a live show; in my mind they are “The 6 AM Crew”. Most have been to multiple shows on this tour already and are old hands at getting the best spot possible. I know I’m outclassed in every way here and am resigned to having some heads in my way. Hopefully their owners won’t be tall. It’s not until I get back online at home that I realize how many of these folks I already “know” from the fan sites, reviews, and forums on which I lurk!

The line continues to be a struggle for the venue when there is confusion about the “early admission” and “regular admission” to this so-called “general” admission. It gets sorted, but not until after 5 PM. The early admission folks (maybe 30 people?) are registered, patted down and allowed up The Hill to the stage area.

I’ve heard horror stories about The Hill at the Santa Barbara Bowl. But nothing could have prepared me for it. After I’m finally let through security and begin my climb, I quickly understand why I’ve been told so often about it. You have the choice of either a LOT of stairs, or a STEEP walk up. Either way, I’m in no shape for it, less so because I’m short on sleep. People are passing me and I see any front row hopes I might have entertained dissolving into a wheezing, heaving asthma attack.

By the time I make it to the merch and food area, I’m dizzy and gasping. And because we’re not through yet, there is another flight of stairs to get to the general admission floor. Somehow I make it, and when I turn the corner and see the stage, there are three different groups of people from the 6 AM Crew waving at me to say they’ve saved a spot on the rail for me! 

Seriously, folks. DM people are amazing. I always knew that but now I’m seeing it first hand. I’m shaking with gratitude, excitement, and the adrenaline rush of practically killing myself on the hike. But I am front row center! I simply can’t believe it! I will never be able to say thank you enough!


Because of the hill, I’m still coughing when Warpaint takes the stage. I haven’t had a chance to check them out before and they are a welcome surprise, with an edge that feels appropriately matched to our general expectations of Depeche. The lead singer tells those of us in the pit that we’re very lucky because there haven’t been pits at the North American shows, and I know I feel incredibly fortunate. But there’s also a sense of solemnity in our luck. Less than 24 hours prior, a gunman struck down 58 concert goers in Las Vegas. Many of the folks I’m sharing these first rows with - people I’ve been chatting and comparing DM notes with for hours - have just come from Vegas, where DM played on Saturday night. Some stayed in the same hotel as the gunman. We’re all aware that the targeted victims were doing exactly what we’re doing now - enjoying live music with like-minded folks - and didn’t make it home. 

Though this is sobering, we don’t have time to dwell right now, as the set change is quick and opens the floor up a great deal more. This is good, because without a catwalk (the Bowl is too small for one) I was a little worried about Dave’s ability to fully prowl around. Now there’s clearly more room for the whole band. 

Suddenly the lights drop and the Beatles remind us that we wanted revolution ages ago and we’re still waiting. After a minute the Beatles fade out and the Spirit marching feet appear to the deeply primal beat of Cover Me (Alt Out). The bass is so intense when it arrives that it hits us smack in the throat with a physical punch, eliciting grunts from a number of us, as though we are already getting in touch with our caveman mentality.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The band enters and takes their places, while the screen behind them shifts from marching boots to a colorful Pollack-y background. This is possibly the last time I will pay attention to Anton’s visuals for the evening. I’m seeing this show twice more from further back next week, so I’m going to seize this front row opportunity and pay attention to the men on the stage. When you can see the individual bits of glitter on their arms, you know you’re close and I’m not throwing away my shot.

Dave demands all eyes on him, anyway, because our master of ceremonies is taking the stage on his raised platform. After the first verse of Going Backwards he’s down and on the main stage, literally skipping with malevolent delight at just how much of a mess we’ve made for ourselves. His wrist flips and sassy flouncing announce his disdain for our backwards ways, and his sneers say volumes about exactly how much confidence he has in our ability to fix things. Media photographers are allowed in the front section of the pit for the first three songs, and Dave preens and poses for them, channeling Keith Richards and Elvis, with a smidge of Joel Grey thrown in for good measure. 

When I first saw the setlist I couldn’t really appreciate the build up it creates, but I love it live. I didn’t really understand kicking off with Going Backwards, other than the fact that it’s the opening track on Spirit. On tour, though, it’s a dire warning and a plea that sets the tone for the evening. 

So Much Love isn’t my favorite song off the new album, but it works well as a second live piece. With it’s frenetic pace, it takes the End of Days energy of Going Backwards and gives it a jittery, panicked edge. Dave doesn’t seem completely comfortable with all this love in him - or at least his concert persona doesn’t. He vamps and sneers through it all, almost daring us to believe he could bear to love us.

Dave has a little ballet for the intro to Barrel Of A Gun that he uses throughout the song. Big arm motions and wide steps add to the sense of nihilistic glee that he infuses this song with. He’s still mugging at the cameras and posing provocatively.



Next up is A Pain That I’m Used To, the Jaques LuCont remix. I have to say I’m a fan of this remix. I think it has a drive that the original lacks and the intro is great live. If there’s any song I think DM could drop, though, it’s this one, since they performed it on the Delta tour. It’s a great song and a great version, but it’s the one I’d love to see swapped out.

However, I am thrilled with the inclusion of Corrupt in the Spirit setlist. I love this song and think it’s highly underrated (same goes for In Sympathy and Scum. I make no apologies). It’s the perfect vehicle for Dave to go full-on sleaze mode, pointing to individual crowd members and telling them to their face that he wouldn’t touch them with even his little finger. The rock god persona is complete - now he’s rejecting the fans with “I could have you, but who would want you?” abuse and we eat it up. He’s laughing at us, and at the whole silly set-up. Dave knows the score and he’s letting us in on the joke.

In Your Room builds as it always does, whether you’re listening to it through headphones or live. It’s a no-fail recipe for getting the masses worked up, and the boys pull the marionette strings beautifully. World In My Eyes follows, so this is familiar territory for fans.

Next up, you can tell that Dave enjoys the space to really sing Cover Me, and he sounds great. The appearance of this one on the permanent setlist surprised me, but placed where it is, it’s the perfect transition from Dave to Martin. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Because now here is Martin, to sing us our prayers. It’s not bedtime yet, so the selections are less lullaby and more praise/worship/meditation. A Question Of Lust seems like precisely the right question - all this sex and sarcasm from Dave has led us to a fundamental moment - what are we going to do with all this frenzied energy? Martin thinks he knows. Home is all of us coming back to ourselves - the ultimate goal of meditation - and of course, Martin is at home here in Santa Barbara, too. We’ve all, unexpectedly, found our home in this small bowl in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains.

Home successfully turns into a big singalong, the European-style kind I’ve read about, mainly because a few of the 6 AM Crew have set a mission to make it happen. I’ve never been in the tinderbox of a crowd sing along before and it’s euphoric. I’m “Ohhh-oh-oh-OOOOOOOHHHHH”ing along with the best of them and Dave appears to see what all the fuss is about. He takes his position as gothic band leader and conducts us supplicants in our tune. Big grins all around.

But Good Times Dave isn’t back for long. Next up is a vicious rendition of Poison Heart that drips with scorn. Yes, he’s sure of the poison in our hearts and minds, but it’s with all due respect, so it’s OK. He couldn’t be more done with us, and the crowd laps it up and begs for more.

The placement of Where’s The Revolution in the setlist confused me when I first saw it, too. It seemed awfully late in the show for the first single off a new album. The boys clearly know better than I do, because it arrives at the perfect moment. Up until now the selections have thematically explored power issues in all their myriad forms. Now it’s time to do something about it. Sadly, we’re letting DM down, people - where is that revolution?

Maybe it’s our own fault. Wrong is full of mockery, especially when the lights drop in the middle and Dave shows off his yoga skills by basically folding in half.


The classics return with a one-two punch of Everything Counts and Stripped. Hardcore and casual fans alike are singing along and it’s at the end of Stripped that I have my eye-lock moment with the rock god. It’s discomfiting when the man you’ve gazed at longingly since you were 13 looks back at you. As I told my husband, “When Dave Gahan looks in your eyes, they stay looked into.” In that moment, I’m back in high school. All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, indeed.

We’re in the thick of the hits now and Enjoy The Silence gets the giddy reception it deserves. Christian has his drum solo and even Martin boogies down during the bridge. Dave’s pacing the upper stage and giving a little stage time to the rest of the boys. Fletch, as always, is metaphorically eating a banana.

Never Let Me Down Again is the barn-burner it always is. It’s impossible from where I’m standing to take in the spectacle of the wheat wave arms that the climax of the song always brings, but I know it’s happening. 

The two minutes or so between the band’s exit and their encore is fairly deafening. Then Martin appears and the word Somebody flashes on the screen. This is the song that really made me a devotee. I’d heard some of the band’s other tunes on the radio, but after 13 year old me danced with my crush to Somebody in the high school gym, I was forever in thrall to DM. Martin executes this rendition beautifully. Afterwards, Dave returns to point out his sparkly silver boots while daring us to go Walking In My Shoes.

I’ve been looking forward to “Heroes” since the first time I heard that it was being covered on this tour. More than any of the songs from the Spirit album, I think the “Heroes” cover will most embody this particular concert experience for me. Seeing my musical heroes in this place, in this way - because of the support of my family and new DM fan friends - well, this experience is proof positive that we can all be heroes, just for one day. Shout out again to the 6 AM Crew for making a girl’s dream come true!

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
At this point I’m exhausted but the boys from Basildon still pull out I Feel You and Personal Jesus - and not that version with the painfully slow intro from the Delta tour. No, there’s no dragging this one out - we dive right in and the energy that Dave displays proves that he continues to be a musical force of nature. He’s been going full steam for two hours and on this final song he stomps the stage, throwing his body around, and continuing to take up more room than you’d think his slight frame would.

Before I know it, they’re taking their bows and heading off into the night. The time has flown by and somehow it’s all over! After hugs and thanks and many “See you next times” to the 6 AM Crew , we surge back down the ridiculous hill, and scatter in all directions.

A few random observations: Christian’s live drumming is integrated really well in this setlist. I know DM’s having live drums was a difficulty for some fans, and I can understand the arguments. For me, the driving rhythms tied together the setlist and it’s clear from the interactions that Dave loves having real drums on stage. 

I wasn’t in a good position to report on general sound quality at the Bowl, though I was told it sounded great all around the venue. Up close everything sounded quite good, without any serious proximity distortion.

Dave is clearly, as always, the man to watch. Martin is busy with his guitars and harmonizing, while Fletch is busy in the background being Fletch (I say this with all love to Fletch). Spirit Tour Dave is much more snarly than Delta Tour Dave was. His movements are bigger; he ape-walks the stage and stomps like a man caged. His physicality is truly something to see. 

My tour with the boys continues nearer to home. I’ll be back to report on the Oakland show, so for now - thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next time!


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Thanks Kristin

Sunday, 8 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, STARPLEX PAVILION, DALLAS, 22 SEPTEMBER 2017

The Dallas review comes courtesy of Tara Salt who many of you will know as something of a Depeche superfan. Tara has been to almost as many gigs on this tour as the band have, usually with fellow reviewer Amanda Chaffee. Tara's Dallas review is a great read and, like her, I can't believe people are sitting down during a Depeche Mode gig. That's madness. Thanks to Tara for the write up and for the superb pictures too.



I have been watching Depeche Mode play live in Texas since the Exciter tour. I made a lot of DM friends that tour and I’ve always had a great time going back to see and party with them whenever the band hits town. Earlier this year when tickets went on sale, I had to make the decision to drop Texas from the list of shows I planned to see because the VIP Front Row package ended up being over twice the cost of the last tour. So why am I writing this review of the recent Dallas show? Because Irma got in the way you see..

In the second week of September, I sat at my desk in my office carefully monitoring the hurricane situation in Florida. Things got worse and eventually, the Tampa DM show was cancelled. I spent two hours on the phone cancelling the Florida hotels, concert tickets and flights and rerouting all of our plans to Texas. I felt an odd mix of upset and excitement but I was just relieved to have our new plans in place. Through Ticketmaster, we were still able to buy front and third row so this pleased me a lot. I do like to see the band up close. I’m a self admitted front-row-aholic, just because it’s such a drastically different way of experiencing the show. David makes it hard to be further back because he’s really awesome about playing around with and giving attention to fans he recognizes throughout the show.



Prior to attending the Dallas concert, we set off to a pre-show dinner that was set up for all of the Texas fans at a Mexican restaurant. It was wonderful to walk in and see the Texas DM crew all in one spot. We got to hug, talk, and catch up with each other. We then headed off to the venue. A good friend of mine, Erik, dropped us off as he went to find parking. Amanda, Joanna and I set off across the beautifully lit up parking lot towards the venue entrance. The sun was setting, painting a brilliant pink sky. The Ferris wheel in the background just made it all look so peaceful. 



The Dallas crowd took a while to warm up. They seemed to open up and really enjoy the show by Cover Me. Amanda and I were third row on Martin’s side and were horrified to see a large swathe of people sitting down in the first two rows. Some even left mid way through the show and never came back! On the bright side, this just made it easier for David to see us and so the singalongs commenced. The best was during Poison Heart where David held out the microphone to us and we sang mightily together for a verse. I have really enjoyed these moments throughout the tour. I have to mention that the heat that night was pretty intense so that might have explained the less ardent crowd. I was happy to see the enthusiasm really step up for the last half of the show. In North America, the singalongs after Home haven’t worked well. Only Toronto, Montreal and the second night of New York managed to get it done right. Having said that, the North American crowds seem to particularly adore and respond to Everything Counts. The Dallas crowd responded very well to the song that night and sang for a long time after the band had finished. It’s by far one of my favourite song versions on this tour and it was great to have such enthusiasm about it from the crowd that night. 



It is important to note that on the day of the Dallas show, Depeche Mode released their own version of "Heroes" as a Highline video session to commemorate its 40th anniversary. Bowie, having given the band so much inspiration over the years, is celebrated with a gorgeous rendition of the song included on their setlist every night. It’s been a joy to watch David sing this as he is right in his element and pretty much smiles throughout the entire song. David usually interacts with the crowd during "Heroes" but in Dallas he kept largely to himself, perhaps because of the momentous day. It made this performance of the song more personal, intimate and moving. Peter also comes down from his keyboards and joins Martin on guitar so it’s a fantastic emotional song to watch live with everyone so involved and up front. The band seemed in good spirits that night and gave it their all and the crowd responded in kind. I was happy to have made it to one of my “hometown” shows since the Texas fans are always a fun crowd to be a part of. It made my tenth concert of the tour definitely memorable.

See you next time Dallas!



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Thank you Tara

Friday, 6 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, T-MOBILE ARENA, LAS VEGAS, 30 SEPTEMBER 2017

Tragically, this is the third review in this project that is written with a senseless massacre as its backdrop. As with the London attack in June on the night Depeche played the Olympic Stadium, the Devotee masses were close to unspeakable events costing tens of people their lives. In Las Vegas, concert goers lost their lives needlessly and horribly -  concert goers just like us, just like the Depeche fans who were at the T-Mobile Arena the night before and, tragically, the Ariana Grande fans who died in Manchester. To have one such event over any year is horrible, to have two beyond belief. I guess writing a blog that deals with a set of events over a year is going to be affected by external factors, but this blog's connection to people all over the world who are all connected by music really does make these events stand out as stark reminders of the random tragedies that can affect us all. Mercifully, none of the Depeche fans who traveled to the Las Vegas show were caught up in events there. That may be a trivial concern when weighed against the loss of innocent lives and it's probably irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, but I felt I had to mention it. Apologies if this is a clumsy intro to what is a wonderfully written and poignant review, but I couldn't not say something.

Anyway, Mads Kruse says all the above better than I can in this review. He sums up the joy of a Depeche Mode gig perfectly, as he would have done anyway, but reflects on what happened the next day too. Thanks very much for this Mads. On a different note, it's nice to have Mads join the ranks of Liverpool FC fans reviewing gigs for this project, following me and Chris Snoddon. I think that makes it Liverpool 3 Man Utd 2 in terms of reviewers. Just as it should be ;)




This review has been very difficult for me to write, and I've started over countless times. Because, how do you even begin to describe going from the wonderful emotional high after the DM show in Vegas, and then less than 24 hours later, seeing people killed and injured at another concert in the same city, worrying about the safety and whereabouts of friends in the area.

I guess I'm still in a state of disbelief that this even happened, as it seems so surreal that someone can come up with such a calculated and evil plan and go through with it, with no regard to the consequences. Destroying hundreds of lives of people just there to celebrate music.

We are indeed going backwards, watching men die in real time...but Martin Gore: We DO feel something inside.

However, the review of the show must go on, so we'll rewind to Saturday evening, when everything is still innocent and happy.

I had been looking forward to the Vegas show since it was announced, as I always have DM-visits to Sin City on my "Must Go"-list.

For some reason, they've always shied away from the arenas there, picking small intimate venues with GA, like The Joint at Hard Rock Hotel and The Pearl at Palms (excluding their first Vegas show in 1994 at the Aladdin Theater, holding 7,500).

So although they bowed down to the almighty dollar for The Global Spirit Tour and booked T-Mobile Arena seating approximately 15,000 people, I still had high hopes for an excellent show.


Mads at the Arena

Approaching the arena, you see the humongous LCD marquee outside over the main entrance displaying the DM Global Spirit Tour Poster, and if that wasn’t getting you into the right mood, the surrounding area called The Park, with plenty of selections of "hydration" and live music would.

We arrived and entered early, as we had VIP tickets, so we didn't see the crowds assemble, but I can imagine it was pretty entertaining outside. 

After the VIP reception, we found our seats, and watched the opening act Warpaint.

Since I was at the Salt Lake City show, I'd already seen them, and I insisted on my wife and two other friends should sit down and see them, because I think they're great.

You could see a lot of head bobbing among the crowd already seated, even is they weren't exactly watching the four girls play.

The arena fills up, and Beatles' Revolution starts playing.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of that opening, so I'm happy when the boots starts marching to the beat of Cover Me, and we can get on with the show.

Set list is no longer a surprise, and there's no need to go through the songs one by one, so instead, I'll list a couple of observations from my (somewhat inebriated) memory of the show.




First of all, I was there with a DM virgin, so I was keeping a close eye on him and his reaction. 

I could tell from the first cord, that he was blown away by the sound quality and the clarity of Dave's vocal.

I remember from Salt Lake City, how I was surprised too, after having watched so many muddled YouTube videos, where it sometimes sounded like Dave was out of tune. Not live. Dave was spot on!



My friend was stomping at So Much Love, confused during A Barrel Of A Gun, feeling the sex in Corrupt and grooving with the Jacques Lu Cont's remix version of A Pain That I'm Used To. Add the opener Going Backwards, and DM had in just five songs already shown him a glimpse of their wide range.

From where we were seated, 5th row center stage, the crowd energy was superb. Lots of fans were surrounding us. There were lots of singing and dancing. The heavy price tag of the tickets was happily forgotten.

After the beautiful Cover Me and while waiting for Martin to sing his first two songs, a guy somewhere behind me immediately gained unlimited street cred by shouting for Boys Say Go. I responded with my request for The Sun And The Rainfall, surprisingly to no avail.




After Martin finished Home there were sporadic attempts for the sing-along, but Dave has already accepted it ain't worth it in the States, so he just thanks Martin and introduces Peter, Christian and Fletch. Too bad, because it's really a magic moment when it works.

Next follows my restroom break. Poison Heart does nothing for me, so it gives me a chance to unload and refill. That usually brings me back in my seat in time for Where's The Revolution, giving me a couple of songs to get ready for the show to go in over drive.

I don't know who's responsible for the new intro to Everything Counts, maybe musical director Kerry Hopwood? But whoever it is, he or she deserves a medal.

It's amazing and right down my alley. Imagine if they went straight into Get The Balance Right after the grabbing hands sing along is over. They could totally do it when Dave signals to Christian to start hitting the bass drum during the sing along.

Sorry, I went off on a tangent there. Back to the show.



It's funny how Dave and Peter during Everything Counts almost heckle Martin before Martin's first keyboard part comes up. He has messed that up a couple of times on the tour, so now, they almost freeze, while staring intensely at him, waiting to see if he gets it right. Then everyone laughs.

The arena is jumping (from my vantage point, anyway) through Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again. What a way to end the main set, but I could definitely do without the shirt gun. It's taking too much away from the most iconic and sacred Depeche Mode moment/ritual.





Before the encore, the arena lit up with cell phone lights. Appropriate for what Martin was to deliver next. Somebody always goes down incredibly well in the States considering it is a ballad sung at a large arena show.

I think they could easily swap "Heroes" and Walking In My Shoes, and get a better flow in the encore, but that's just me.

Personal Jesus is the perfect end to a great show. The crowd hopes for more, but it's "See You Next Time", and the lights come on.

My virgin friend took his time as we left the arena, and I had asked him what his overall thoughts were on the show and the band.

After being in deep thought for a while, he came up with the following nugget: "No one else plays music like this. I don't really know how else to describe it".

I just nodded, and smiled. He got Depeched.

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Thanks Mads.

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, AMERICAN AIRLINES ARENA, MIAMI, 15 SEPTEMBER 2017

For this review we welcome back Amanda Chaffee of the And Then blog whose Dave towel catching exploits you will call recall from the Montreal review earlier in this series. After seeing the Tampa gig cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, there were fears that Miami would not go ahead but, thankfully for Depeche fans, the show went on. Here is what Amanda thought of it. I'd like to thank her for the great write up and the superb pictures. You can see the full set here - click


After the last-minute cancellation of the Tampa show due to Hurricane Irma, fans were on tenterhooks waiting to find out if Miami would go on. I was staying with a friend in New York who would be heading to Miami to visit family regardless of whether there was a show, and I desperately needed to find out whether I should book straight to Nashville or stay in New York. The prospect of hoteling alone in either city for $200-300US a night was daunting. Mercifully, the band and venue confirmed Miami would go on two days before the show, so I played Hotwire roulette and made my way down. 

There seemed to be disagreement among fans on whether this show should go on, and I wondered if the turnout would be affected by people unable to return in time after evacuating. My fears were unfounded – devotees of South Florida turned out, and the arena was full. Despite this, the crowd was not the most exuberant that I have seen. Perhaps given the events of the previous week, people were already worn out. 



Some people to the left of me left their seats midshow, and were gone for several songs. One man sat in his chair on his phone for some slower tracks. Mind you this is front row, directly in front of Martin Gore himself. Rude! At least this meant I got to dance with my friend Mike and his wife for a couple of songs, after they scooted into the empty spaces... 

Depeche cranked out the standard set list, and as I’ve seen with several of the less bonkers crowds, people didn’t quite warm up until Cover Me. There was an interesting moment at the beginning of Wrong where Martin and Dave were lurking in the dark. Something made Dave laugh and the mic caught it from a distance. It echoed a bit and added an additional spooky layer to the song’s creeping intro. The band seemed in good spirits in general, with Dave slapping Fletch on the ass at one point near the end of the show. However, the energy of Toronto/MontrĂ©al (excellent crowds) and New York (Dave giddy in his home town) versus Miami was notable. It’s a perfect example of how the crowd can take the band from a great show to an electrifying one. 



I think one of the most memorable moments came just after the lights went up. Mike and I were chatting and given set lists by a crew member. A fan who had been in the center section saw us with them. She said, “Where did you get such a treasure??” with incredibly genuine, wide-eyed wonder. We told her the crew had given it to us. She went back to her friends and we kept talking. She came back through to exit the arena, and Mike casually handed her his copy. She was in utter disbelief – so much so that she clasped her hand to her mouth and started crying, while giving Mike a huge hug. She was so grateful for a memento of a show that was clearly very special to her. This act of kindness and her pure reaction to it made me reflect on my journey thus far – this tour, and as a fan. I remembered the days when I would have been that girl, awed by something my friends and I see as fairly common these days, due to our experiences. The brain works in odd ways to create new plateaus of normality. Things that were once awe-inspiring become common place – maybe taken for granted – and the once completely unimaginable is somehow miraculously achievable, even if rare. 



Experiences like this are a reminder that we should be grateful for every opportunity we have to just experience this wonderful band of brothers throwing themselves into their work on stage every other night. Setlists, rare tracks, front row, guitar picks, going backstage, winning meet and greets, sing alongs with Dave... all of those “extras" are icing on the cake. Amazing – sometimes addicting – icing on the cake. Given the state of the world, and the band’s history, being able to see Depeche Mode perform at all is still a treasure in itself. Other fans are not so lucky. And if we're real – one day, we won’t be either. I’m writing this weeks after the initial show (sorry, David!), with 14 ‘Spirit’ shows complete, and I'm still not bored. I am incredibly grateful, happy and looking forward to the rest of my home gigs as DM closes out California

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Thanks again Amanda

Thursday, 5 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, AK-CHIN PAVILION, PHOENIX, 27 SEPTEMBER 2017

Today's review is provided by Sara Lauder from Sierra Madre, California who is a fellow Depeche Mode Facebook takeoveree - check out day 181 for Sara's posts. Her review of the Phoenix gig on 27 September is a cracking read which I know you'll all love. Like me, I imagine you'll be instantly jealous when you read the phrase "6th row tickets" and the word "Rosebowl" in the same sentence! Also, Sara solves the mystery of why this venue is called the AK-Chin Pavilion which was something that was puzzling me. Thanks very much to Sara for the review and for the wonderful photographs.



Disclaimer: I am writing this “review” as follow up to my diary “review” almost 30 years ago at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when I was 15 years old. 

In an attempt to have no spoilers of this tour by looking at no fb posts or photos, or when live feed pops up automatically it’s plugging ears and eyes tightly shut “lalalalalalalala, I can’t hear it.” Having never written a review of a concert....and after a couple glasses of wine....here goes.....I’m gonna be off the cuff, totally non-formal and just write as if it was my diary entry and hope you enjoy it. 

Reverse and then Fast forward: June 18th, 1988 at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena ----> September 27th, 2017 at Ak Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ.

Side note: Ak Chin you ask? The venue is sponsored by the Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak-Chin) Indian Reservation located 37 miles south of Phoenix.

1988- my brother stood in line at Music + early in the morning to buy tickets to the Rose Bowl concert and they had some sort of drawing for the order of tickets sold. He was lucky number one and we ended up with 6th row tickets.

2017- Innovative marketing approaches for tickets sales was impressive to me as my degree is in advertising and I appreciated the creativity. Yet, that bit me in the ass as I bought a couple CDs and shamelessly posted to Facebook in an effort for people to sign up and bump me up further in the virtual line. I really didn’t like competing against my friends and eventually gave up but was still 60ish in “line”. Ticket buying took on a whole new level of adrenaline and nervousness. On the morning of presales, Ticketmaster failed and my presale code didn’t work so we opted for Phoenix in a desperate attempt for good seats. And that we had! 12th row or so. 

June 18, 1988:

“The Depeche Mode Concert!! The concert was so rad! I can't explain it! The Wire was OK, Thomas Dolby was weird, OMD was awesome and Depeche Mode was SO cool! 

The lead signer Dave Gahan threw his shirt over by us and Chris almost got it! It was fun though! But Shelley couldn't go! Between the groups there was a BIG trash & food fight! It was funny! Oh well, better go! 

September 30th 2017:

I saw Depeche Mode in Phoenix!!! So rad. 



The DM concert momentum and excitement escalated from Europe but I could not click but rather scroll furiously in attempt to avoid as I wanted as many surprises as possible. Spoilers were even more challenging to avoid when DM reached NYC, Madison Square Garden. They slowly traveled West as friends posted and I avoided successfullyish, “Well if you ever plan to motor west, just take my way it's the highway that's the best”. It almost felt like that -- Route 66ish.

As typical, the day before...this sums it up on my Fakebook (<----not a typo) post: “Every three years or so I feel unusually, physically different-- loss of appetite, nervous, drop things, chew my inner cheeks, give up on nice fingernails, fumble words, and just a unique feeling like nothing else. The common factor- this all occurs the day before (and day of) my first Depeche Mode concert of the tour. And although, I never use acronyms, I guess I do when I'm seeing Depeche Mode in Phoenix TOMORROW!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!! And so far, only a few set list spoilers. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” 

Finally! My turn! Correction. OUR turn, my first road trip with my boyfriend (Martin - not Gore) and his/our friend, Steve. We started out at 6 fucking 30 AM from the Pasadena area with a pit stop and a bit of dusty off-roading in a 4-door sedan to buy a date palm in Indio. 

I had trepidation about the Phoenix crowd as a few friends who follow them on tour for 15+ concerts opted out of that location. I asked why and they said the crowd was blah on the last tour. I have scaled back on my multiple shows this tour (and overseas experiences in London) and have a new experience of seeing my first concert of the tour with Martin and Steve for their first DM concert. Even more perfect, Becca came into our row 12 (row G) with her full beer attending solo. So I was the meat in the sandwich of DM concert newbies with feelings of excitement of their first experience yet nervousness that the set list will measure up for fairweather DM enthusiasts. Steve has a tragic story in the 80s of a botched attempt taking a limo (with a bit of debauchery) to a Depeche Mode concert yet arriving late only to see the last 10 minutes of the final encore. Finally seeing DM live in Phoenix from the opening song to the final encore was “some great reward” for him. 



The height of adrenaline for me at Depeche Mode concerts is the build up of Martin Gore’s electronica selections for pre-concert music between the opening act and the moment we all covet. Most might not notice the intensity building with a misty stage and beats building up in loudness and energy. It’s an amazing f’ing build up, get the F back from the toilets, get your drinks, and be ready and as the music intensifies it gets you (well me at least) from sitting to gyrating, heart pumping and hugging your neighbors, jumping in anticipation knowing at any minute you will see their silhouettes entering the stage. 

So the graphics started.....the Revolution cartoon boots walking and they opened with a new song, Going Backwards, which fit for the coming days. A nice selection of songs to begin with for us Devotees, but my newbies and others around me didn’t seem recognize anything until the 9th song, A Question of Lust sorta maybe. I heard chatters from a group of women behind me, “when are they gonna play (I don’t recall) but thought it eluded to “something we know.” But Martin (reminder- not Gore) was getting into the rhythm of A Pain That I’m Used To and said it was an instantaneously catchy song. And Becca to my left (her first DM concert) was howling like a wolf throughout the show, “Owww, owwwww, owww, ow, ooooowwwww”! I love the different cheer styles scattered in the crowd around me. Also loved what I always hope for, <5’5” people in front of me. And on this day, I got just that and had a perfect view of the stage all night. 

And finally...Home. Beautiful song. Beautiful lyrics. Beautiful voice. Beautifully performed. But I noticed the absence of the Home chant and quietly sang it myself anyway knowing I couldn’t pull off a crowd participation on my own. “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh--OOOOh (high note)! Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh--OOOOh (low note)!” Repeat until Dave Gahan cuts the loud crowd off. My concern about the setlist was confirmed for those seeking the DM 80s band who are known for People Are People and Just Can’t Get Enough and were hoping for a 2 hour set of all the well-known hits...and I get it. I looked behind me to a sea of blue seats. The enthusiastic women sitting behind me had disappeared before the encores. Not only them, but half of the 13th row behind me had left, all before the most popular Depeche Mode songs concluded the show. WTF? 



Those well-known hits came in the encores and it was surely a crowd pleaser. Despite the early exit of those behind us, this Phoenix crowd actually never let me down with the arm waving, sing-a-longs, iphone “lighters”, encore break cheering and most standing around us. My Martin noted that from all the concerts he has been to (Devo to X to Englebert Humperdink) this is the most audience participation he has ever experienced. 

This “review” wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Missy (a beloved and generous Devotee) who unexpectedly, tragically left us earlier this year. At the last tour she gifted her handcrafted DM necklaces to anyone who wanted one with a package of donation cards (which we collaborated on) for another Devotee, Carl who passed away while tornado researching. During World in My Eyes I clutched the two Missy necklaces I was wearing and a chill/goose bumps ran up from toes to head. We miss her and there’s definitely a void but her friends and I concur that she is here in Spirit at every show on the tour in the front row...and why not....maybe even sitting on their laps backstage. MissingMissy. 

My highlights: the screen projection with 3/4 screen walking plank, odd animal graphics, avant-garde videos, nice venue, great seats, amazing energy from Dave Gahan, surprisingly better crowd than expected, reuniting with a DM friend (Hi Kimberly), my first and one of two Depeche Mode shows this tour, extended trip to Phoenix and my newbie sandwich to the left and especially the right. Next up.....Hollyweird Bowl!

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Thanks very much Sara