Welcome to the 11th installment of the Global Spirit Tour Project. Today's guest reviewer is a long time Twitter pal of mine, Jane Cotton ( @dizzycurly ). Jane has been in Lille not only for the Depeche gig but also to celebrate her birthday. Make sure you say Happy Birthday to her. It seems she got a great show for a present. Thanks very much for reviewing it Jane.
Thanks also to Bruno Ouvrein for letting me use his superb pictures. Do not steal these or Bruno will track you down and make you say sorry.
"Après Manchester, l'hymne á la vie avec Depeche Mode" - with full credit to Franck Bazin from La Voix Du Nord for this apt headline - Lille's local newspaper emphasised the celebration of life found at the latest Spirit tour gig in France especially after the atrocity back home. Despite a low-key and unobtrusive armed police presence, loyal fans were joyously and defiantly ready to celebrate together.
Scene of the famous Welsh victory over Belgium in the 2016 Euros and one of 34 dates on the European leg of the Global Spirit tour, Lille's Stade Pierre-Mauroy hosted 27,000 Devotees in an electric and emotionally charged set. Myself, hubby Dave and good friend Dickie were buzzing for our latest Mode fix. Outside the ground hundreds celebrated their devotion with singalongs at the bars lining the stadium - shout out to Lee and Maggie fellow Brits abroad - and the merch truck was doing a steady trade - despite the eye-popping prices. Inside, the pulsing pre-intro music hyped the crowd into a clapping, whooping frenzy before the Beatles Revolution signalled the start of the show.
With thunderstorms looming after a day of 30 degree sunshine, the roof had been closed adding to the crescendo of sound and heat which greeted the band. Frontman Dave strutted out along a gangway in front of the main backdrop screen and Going Backwards launched into a set of two halves - the first seemingly for purist Devotees with a loud but more measured response from the crowd - the new political songs from Spirit mingling with angry tirades of furious classics - Barrel of A Gun, with an extra rap from Gahan "Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge". Gordeno then joined Martin and Dave front of stage for A Pain That I'm Used To and we are treated to the first of many triumphant microphone-held-aloft poses from Gahan as the song ends. Corrupt sounded great, Dave is clearly enjoying himself, with teasing side-eyes to camera and picking out swooning fans from the audience - before disdainfully showing the little finger with which he'd crush you. In Your Room followed, sung beautifully with an accompanying balletic backdrop, building to insistent riffs and pounding drum and bass - Christian continues to pound the beats as if his life depends on it. The heat intensifies, Dave's hair is slicked back once again and the first mic spin of the night is followed by Dave conducting a blissful crowd as he pirouettes around the stage with dry ice drifting across the adoring masses. For World in My Eyes the crowd roar and Fletch stands hands aloft, more prominent on the side screens than the Delta Machine Tour and more engaged than I've seen him for a number of gigs. We're treated to a cheeky Dave for this song, his infectious grin showing how much he loves the adoration and the trademark hip wiggle is soon on display. This version is enhanced by Martin's end coda vocals then one of the best songs from Spirit - Cover Me - follows with Dave asking the crowd if we will - of course! The dreamy astronaut sequence is a perfect accompaniment and it does not disappoint, the crowd joyfully joining in with the building beats.
And now for Martin's spotlight - so glad to see most of the crowd stay put, unlike some concerts I've been to, and Martin's voice on A Question of Lust is as good as ever, fully demonstrating why Depeche Mode are such a strong band, the range and depth of his vocals are powerful and heartfelt. The full version of Home, with matching crowd singalong is rousing as well as tender, the meaning behind the lyrics a reminder of sad times past. Poison Heart follows and, for me, it is the only slightly weak point for the set, although dramatic and discordant, this angry break-up anthem jars slightly with its crashing dissonance. The camera phones are back out to film Where's The Revolution and the stomping feet on the screen are met by the chorus chants of the crowd.
Wrong came next, which was another furious rendition psyching the crowd up before the new intro to Everything Counts launched into the final section of the show - definitely music for the masses as the delighted crowd jumped and danced. The noise is incredible. French fans know how to party! A few punters near us started calling for Just Can't Get Enough but I'm personally glad they've rested it - DM are so much more than this over-played if iconic track. Local reviewer Bazin noted how the response intensified after the more familiar anthems kicked in after 40 minutes and this seems fair, although the volume to start with was impressive. If it was even possible the noise increased further for Stripped, with Fletch's offbeat clapping reaching almost demonic levels, and the climax of Enjoy the Silence joined by neon animal images echoing the Precious video of the Delta shows. The crowd frenzy continued with the wheatwave of Never Let Me Down Again which from our lofty view looked as jaw-droppingly brilliant as ever. Our boys didn't let us down - the show was a triumph and you could feel the same reflected in the band members' faces as they left before the encore.
A few moments respite, before Martin's soulful rendition of Somebody, a song which means the world to me as it was the "first dance" my husband and I enjoyed on our wedding day. Then the final few encores - Walking in My Shoes with a poignant transgender video backdrop, then the much-lauded version of Bowie's "Heroes". This was a seminal moment for me - Dave sang it straight, no gurning, no over-singing, just pure unadulterated baritone bliss and it was glorious. A fitting tribute. I Feel You and Personal Jesus and drum rolls and stomping guitar riffs got the crowd whipped up again and we were left spent, exhausted, exhilarated as we streamed out into the rain to cool off and find our own way home. The gig featured on the front page of all 3 local newspapers - a reflection of the high regard in which the band are held in France. And to borrow from Bazin once again - "chanter, Sauter, applaudir, lever les bras au ciel...Vivre" - the crowd were singing, jumping, clapping, raising their arms in the air - LIVING. Perfectly sums up my response to seeing Depeche Mode live. Anton Corbjin has described his photography as "zen" - the definition of which is a relaxed feeling where nothing from outside intrudes. And this also resonates perfectly with me for this concert too. Vive La Mode!
Next up London for a mass UK Devotee meet up and I'm looking forward to the UK arena tour after the North and South American legs - when do we get dates fellas?
I'm sure you all enjoyed that as much as I did - thanks Jane!