Wednesday, 7 June 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, LONDON STADIUM, 3 JUNE 2017 PART 2

(c) Stuart Cowan
As well as my own review of the London gig, I thought it would be cool to get a view from other fans there on the day, so I asked around my mates and the world of Facebook and came up with these. Thanks to all the contributors for taking the time to write these pieces. Hope you enjoy them - please feel free to leave your own mini reviews in the comments.

Stuart Cowan, Kirkpatrick Durham, Scotland (@kpdcowan)

I feel privileged to have been part of the epic experience that was Depeche Mode at the London Stadium. Following the lead of Mr David McElroy of Almost Predictable...Almost our party merged with thousands upon thousands of t-shirt clad Depeche Mode fans with shirt designs ranging from the early days of Speak and Spell to the latest album Spirit. The weather was good and the scale of the event was overwhelming to say the least. After the security checks, pre-gig beer and food we followed the masses to the gold circle standing in front of the stage.

The Horrors kicked off with a storming set of tracks to get the crowd going but most folks were waiting for the main event. As the stage was cleared there was a universal murmur of excitement. The strains of the Beatles "Revolution" gave way to the instrumental of Where's the Revolution and a backdrop video of walking legs. The band appeared on stage, Dave appearing on a raised walkway against a stunning multi-coloured background to open proceedings with Going Backwards and So Much Love following. Barrel Of A Gun was a welcome return to older material with the addition of lyrics from "The Message" added at the end. A Pain That I'm Used To followed with its dramatic opening notes leaving a lasting impression. Moving on, Corrupt saw some fine guitar work by Martin.

(c) Stuart Cowan

The next track, In Your Room, was one of the main highlights of the show for me. The delivery of the live track is so much better than the original album version. The video backdrop was stunning and worked so well with the song; Simply stunning!!! 

World In My Eyes, with its classic Depeche Mode trademark keyboards was most welcome and Cover Me from Spirit had another fine video in the background, the black and white screens working wonderfully with the skies darkening overhead. A change of pace followed as Martin took a wander with the mic to deliver A Question Of Lust which pleased a significant portion of the fans. Martin continued to impress with another belter of a track, Home with its drums, strings, and Martin's guitar working so well live. At the end of the track the entire audience started to "whoh oh oh oh oh oh, ohhh whoh oh oh oh oh oh ohhh" or something like that. The drama continued with Poison Heart delivered with style and gusto allowing Dave to do some more of his trademark strutting. 

Where's The Revolution came with another fine video backdrop which looked great with Dave reduced to a silhouette, heading back up to the raised platform above the band. Wrong was launched with a long keyboard intro and a strange near seizure inducing computer generated live video of the band. The track worked well and was well received by the crowd. Rain was falling by this point, it was dark adding drama to the atmosphere and spectacle! Everything Counts got to the biggest cheer of the night up to that point. It was incredible to hear the track live and the band appeared to enjoy performing as much as the crowd that helped deliver the closing lyrics. To follow this up with Stripped was fantastic; it's got one of the strongest intros of any Depeche Mode track and gave the crowd another chance to join the band singing the lyrics.

 A return to Violator with Enjoy The Silence raised the crowd singing to a new level. The mid-section of the track saw some manic keyboards and drumming complimented by some awesome Martin Gore guitar work. The video backdrop with animals bathed in red light was astounding and worked perfectly with the track. We then got Never Let Me Down Again, its first chords leading into some of the finest Depeche Mode lyrics ever written. The crowd arm waving was astonishing followed by the t-shirt canon fired by Dave resulting in three happy punters at least. The main part of the show ended at this point with the encore to follow.

(c) Stuart Cowan


Somebody, sang by Martin began the encore. The crowd loved this track, not one of my favourites but I was in the minority! Walking In My Shoes followed with another incredible video, the keyboards, percussion and lyrics all strongly delivered. This was another standout track for me. "Heroes" was sung by Dave with a large black flag as the video backdrop, the crowd responded to this cover well and it was a good choice for one of the closing tracks. I Feel You was kicked off by Martin on guitar leading into a cacophony of sound and lyrics belted out with tremendous energy by Dave. Having always loved this track it was a relief that it had been included in the packed set-list. The evening closed with Personal Jesus which was simply sublime, a great track and a perfect closure to the best concert I've ever seen.

(c) Stuart Cowan

Attending my first stadium gig with my friends was awesome, big thanks to my friend David McElroy for getting such awesome tickets. Despite the terrible events which were unfolding as we left the gig this was an incredible experience. Depeche Mode were on fine form and I look forward to seeing them again as soon as possible! 

(c) Stuart Cowan


Michael Lyons, Craigavon, Northern Ireland

A Sort of Homecoming

Much has been written on social media platforms about the Depeche Mode homecoming concert at London Stadium on Saturday past. It was a pretty unanimous ‘thumbs up’ from the devoted masses who in no small part played a very significant role in what was a sensational night for band and audience alike.

For those around long enough to remember the persistent bad press from print media and radio throughout the 80’s, and for those who may have experienced similar from their peer group maybe at school if you’re a certain age, it was a stunning justification for sticking with the band throughout that time and also for the band themselves confirmation of an acceptance from the home territory that they’re now recognised here as they have been abroad for decades.

There was much to admire on Saturday night. The crowd response to them taking the stage, the atmosphere levels that were maintained even throughout the notoriously difficult ‘daylight’ period, the balance between new songs, old songs, iconic songs and ‘that’ cover version. A great balance is being achieved between the Corbijn film pieces and the ‘live to screen’ projections, via a single large central screen and two side screens, one in portrait orientation and one landscape that allow what’s happening on stage to be taken to all corners of the stadium, giving some joy to those standing and seated at binocular distance. These ‘live’ projections are working superbly with Dave’s animated interactions with the crowd around him being perfectly translated via these screens to everyone regardless of location.

On Saturday I was able to see the show from 2 vantage points. A seat high up on ‘Fletcher’ side overlooking the masses and also from the ‘golden circle’ on the ground floor near to the stage. This exposed a surprising flaw in the design of the show. While in my seat, I couldn’t see the large central screen onto which the Corbijn films were being projected. I couldn’t see any of it. So if I couldn’t see it, it would have been the same for thousands of others, left and right of the stage, hence my decision to hit the floor for a better view. The stage design has that central screen set well back behind those two side screens meaning the infrastructure required to house the side ones severely restricts the viewing angle to the central one, leaving significant numbers of people without a view of what Anton wanted us all to see.

That said, it didn’t seem to spoil the fun for everyone, even those with that restricted view seemed to be enjoying the show as much as anyone else, credit equally to band and audience for dovetailing so well on the night.

My advice though if you’re attending a future show is if standing, get as central as you can to the stage. What you will see there in terms of the visuals and the much upgraded lightshow is significantly different and much more of what Anton had in mind. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any pending changes to the set design in light of this issue. Regardless of where you view it from, I hope you have as good a night as those of us in London had, it was truly memorable.

(c) Stuart Cowan


Jane Cotton, Portsmouth, England (@dizzycurly)

After our Lille adventure I was a little nervous about how London would be - even though it was sold out, would the stadium be filled with those wanting an 80s throwback set? However, London Stadium was rocking - from the intro Revolution to the last roar of Personal Jesus. My highlights were Cover Me, Somebody, "Heroes" & Wrong and the tragic aftermath was a terrible ending to a truly uplifting evening. Yet London proved it has heart, love and spirit and because of this the concert for me was a beacon of hope where I can "picture us in another life, where we're all superstars".


(c) Stuart Cowan

Paul Embleton, Edinburgh, Scotland

Enjoyed the blog David - nice one! I've read a couple reviews now and all were agreed that DM (and Dave in particular) were on top form. Not sure I can add a huge amount - Gahan is clearly a born performer and as he said, music saved him from a lifetime of crime and has allowed him to channel his almost unbelievable energy into mesmerising (and at times quite amusing) performances. I also like the fact that neither Dave nor Martin have forgotten their roots and some of the new stuff like Where's The Revolution reminds me of older tracks that challenge the audience and are a reflection of the political changes we're seeing: a far cry from most vapid music these days. As you noted, I thought the tracklist was excellent and the only song I would have added was People Are People, which is a superb and thought provoking track and sounds bang up to date despite being over 30 years old!

The Almost Predictables featuring me (left) and Paul (3rd from left)


Stephen Lawson, Richmond, North Yorkshire, England (@sal1706)

I was surprised when the tour dates were announced that we were finally getting a stadium show after years of arena gigs. I've been abroad and loved the epic scale of the huge shows. 

Once the band had committed to such a show in Britain, they really had to pull it off - and they did in some style! Great energy, especially from Dave had the crowd joining him from the start and that created a symbiotic relationship that fed both band and audience throughout. 

I would love to hear from the band themselves what they thought, but to me it seemed as though they were especially happy to have such a response from a massive crowd in their own back yard. Here is a band with nothing to prove, except perhaps in their own country which has hardly acknowledged their commercial success, nor more significantly, their artistic achievements. Finally, the band could see that they were truly loved and able to engage not just 15,000 or 20,000 inside an arena, but 3 or 4 times as many in the Olympic Stadium. 

I felt it too, and those around me clearly did. We were part of that with the band, and as someone who has seen them many times, I think Saturday will go down as a significant event in the history of Depeche Mode. It will certainly go down as a significant event in my lifetime.


(c) Stuart Cowan


Kevin May, Bishops Stortford, England (@HALObook)

I read and heard a fair amount in the weeks and months leading up to Depeche Mode's show at the London Stadium that it was a risk for the band to try and pull something off on that scale. Does that sound familiar? 

Fans will remember an American interviewer in the 101 film asking Martin and Fletch as to whether the Pasadena gig was a "risk for this band". It was a risk worth taking, as we all know - it was a triumph, with that memorable night in 1988 going down as one of the most important milestones in their history. 

It's probably a bit of stretch to say that the London Stadium gig was Depeche's "Rose Bowl in the UK" - but it was fairly close. Saturday night in London was our intrepid trio's defining moment in their home country - a reminder (two fingers up, even) to the doubters among both the press and non-believing, so-called music aficionados which they have accrued over the years that, whether the cynics like it or not, the UK has produced yet another one of the biggest bands in the world. 

That Depeche Mode can still crank out music both from the studio and in a live setting that entertains their fans is something that will no doubt be a cause for celebration for as long as the band continue to make records. 

It's perhaps hard for fans outside of the UK to really appreciate the significance of the gig in London. But for those of us here that have been to the gigs (at home and abroad), bought the records and merchandise, followed their every move, even written about Depeche... we know that a gig like that in London, in front of 70,000 people, was a proud moment not only the band but also us as well.

Read Kevin's full review on Halo here http://halotheviolatorbook.com/london-gig-review/


(c) Amanda Stock

Amanda Stock, Chelmsford, Essex, England (@Amandastock1)

I'm Amanda , from Chelmsford and I'm addicted to Depeche Mode. And it's a habit that I never want to break. 

I have seen DM many times since the age of 16 back in 1983 when I saw them for the first time at the Hammersmith Odeon on their Construction Time Again tour. 

I had purchased Golden Circle tickets for last Saturday. I had also been royally ripped off by Viagogo for a £50 booking fee and postage costs but enough about that. I was near the front! This NEVER happens for me - apart from The Barrowlands gig back in March of this year which I was extremely lucky to attend. 

Much has already been written about the energy Depeche Mode have on this Global Spirit tour - particularly Dave who does not stop and always performs as if his life depends on it. The band are on fire - with a superb set list which takes the classic Mode songs back to dancier, more popular versions. Furthermore, there was also one additional bonus - and it was a personal one. 

On Saturday night, I had my 101 moment. 

To recount it now, makes me feel emotional. I can't quite explain it. But during their performance of Everything Counts - a song I hadn't heard live for many years - the heavens opened and the rain fell. It was so warm that it was welcomed.

So I was in a football stadium with nearly 80,000 other people, dancing in the rain to one of the most well-loved and affectionately remembered Mode songs ever. The significance of it being extremely similar to Blasphemous Rumours  being played at the Rosebowl 29 years ago whilst it rained was not lost on me. And I looked up to the sky, closed my eyes and I couldn't quite believe what I was experiencing. 

It was THE highlight of the evening for me, I think in fact, a highlight of the last 34 years of seeing them live. It can't be repeated, much like The Barrowlands can't be repeated. But it can be remembered and treasured. And I will remember it always.


(c) Stuart Cowan


Lynsey Halliday, Wemyss Bay, Scotland

This was to be my first stadium gig of any band ever, so I was a bit nervous in the months running up to it. The wonderful fans at the Home forum gave me lots of encouragement and advice, so thanks to them for that. I sat next to a fan on the flight down and we traveled into London with two fans who were staying at the same hotel as us. It was lovely to meet them. We headed to Stratford mid afternoon to soak up the atmosphere, had a beer, burger and chips in the sun and headed to the stadium about 5pm. We found a spot just behind the golden circle and planted ourselves there. Support act The Horrors sounded dreadful. I'll leave it at that.

Depeche Mode - Absolutely wonderful. They were on top form. Dave was on fire. The setlist is so much better than the last tour. In Your Room (album version), World In My Eyes, A Question Of Lust, Home (with full band), Everything Counts and Stripped are all favourites of mine that I'd never experienced live before. Everything Counts reinvented itself again and it was simply awesome. "Heroes" was very special. Loved it. The setlist may not be full of surprises, but it works, including the Spirit songs. To have Everything Counts, Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again all played in succession - wow! I was singing and dancing to every song and so were most others around me. Amazing atmosphere too. It was so hot and the rain shower came at the right time. It felt almost planned, like it was part of the gig. Dave seemed to enjoy it too. Glad it didn't last longer than 10 minutes though.

My first stadium gig was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed every single minute of it. 10/10.

The photo below shows me and my husband David leaving the stadium. Post gig euphoria!

(c) Lynsey Halliday


Dave Dunton, Leeds, England

This is close to heresy these days, but I’m not really a fan of David Bowie. I recognise his importance, his genius, and the fact that every band I love considers themselves indebted to him, but I’ve never really “got” what Bowie was about. So it was with a certain amount of churlish trepidation that I heard that one of his songs was being covered as part of the encore this tour. Depeche Mode have such an extensive back catalogue, full of songs I would love to hear live but probably never will, that to spend 4-5 minutes singing someone else’s words just seemed a bit of a waste.

We all know that Dave Gahan has long-since completed his metamorphosis from deadpan shoeshuffler of 1981 to his modern incarnation of mic-stand-twirling synth-rock god. He struts, he whoops, he grabs his crotch, and then departs from the stage to let Martin Gore handle the misty-eyed, sensitive stuff.

And so it was a rare and precious delight to hear Dave perform "Heroes". He never puts in less than 110% in his performances, but this was a whole new level, a man in touch with his own hero. He meant this. Gahan’s love for Bowie, the influence of his work, both on an inspirational level and more prosaically as this was the song that convinced the original trio to adopt Gahan as frontman, just shone through. The crowd of people around me were visibly moved, including myself.

It was definitely worth including, and provided a poignant link to the foundation of the band that even something like Photographic on the 2005-6 tour could not have matched.

I think I get Bowie a bit more this week.


(c) Stuart Cowan


David Cartwright, Kettering, England

After the incident at the Ariana Grande concert, I must admit I was a bit apprehensive about travelling to somewhere for a concert. This is by far the biggest concert I have been to. I had visions of 101 in my head and wasn't disappointed!

I love the new album, but like a lot of people, I'm a Violator man! 

At first, I wasn't feeling the atmosphere as I'm used to closed, dark venues like the NEC. Once they started banging out Going Backwards, I was there, in the Pasadena Rose Bowl! Dave knows how to play a crowd and expertly had them eating out of his hand by the time they were into Barrel of A Gun. 'Don't push me coz I'm close to the edge...' 

They kept the crowd alight all the way through, with Martin interlacing a few favourites: A Question of Lust, Home, Somebody...

For me personally, the highlight was Everything Counts. A guy sat near me seemed confused as to what song it may be at first, as were many. Maybe I shouldn't have, but I'd heard it on YouTube from a previous show, so was well into it from the first few bars of the intro.

Overall, up there with the best of DM gigs I've been to (every tour since World Violation). 9/10. (1 point dropped for the performance being a little 'disorganised' at times.

As a closing note, I can say that sadly I heard the news of the terrible events that unfolded in London just as we were leaving. An after show party ticket had been purchased for my wife and I but perhaps wisely, we decided not to go.


(c) London Stadium


Bev Maxey, London, England

I have been a fan of DM for years, since I was about 11 or 12, so as you can imagine I have been to a few gigs in my time ranging from being so close to Martin I can see the sparkly eye shadow (nice shade by the way Mart) to being so far back I haven't seen more than the odd distant waistcoat of Mr Gahan! This tour has been, for me, quite a revelation in that I cannot remember a more interactive, more involved DM for quite a while! 

The intro of Revolution by The Beatles to Anton's visuals has made these gigs something really special for a fan who felt she had seen it all before. Dare I say, I had got a little cynical at what seemed to be a thunderous money machine of previous tours. This one has felt different, I love this album, actually love this album. I liked Delta Machine, hated Sounds of the Universe and thought that the glory days of Violator and Songs Of Faith And Devotion were well and truly behind them, but Spirit has made me realise that, yes Violator and SOFAD are in the past, but DM are now entering quite a new and exciting phase of relevant music. 

Standing in the London Stadium, as soon as Going Backwards started playing, I knew this was going to be special, Dave knows how to play the crowd and his entrance will always bring a huge shout of appreciation. The Dadrap at the end of Barrel Of A Gun, Martin's little mini set of A Question Of Lust, Home and Somebody, a massive highlight of Everything Counts where I thought pretty much everyone in that crowd of over 70,000 (I had heard it was much more than that) was singing along - even the mini rainshower did not dampen our enjoyment. Never Let Me Down Again was, as always breathtaking and Dave's cover of "Heroes" and Personal Jesus ended an amazing evening on a high all added up to an evening that showed the UK media that these 50 something blokes from Basildon can fill a huge stadium as much as any other music act It also showed them that they were more than Just Can't Get Enough, tinkly bop electro pop, Dave's problems with drugs and being written off so many times I have lost count. So for me a 4 1/2 stars out of 5. But why not 5? Come on I'm British, we never over mark even when the gig was amazing.


(c) Almost Predictable Almost

Rachel Blackman, Stockport, England (@g0disadj)


Hi I'm Rachel from Stockport! London was my 3rd gig of the tour & I have to admit I was most excited about meeting friends I'd 'met' through social media, & being inside the Olympic stadium! Was so great to meet fellow fans. 

Being in the Golden Circle certainly made a difference. We had room to move & dance & didn't get jostled. The band are really performing at the top of their game & there was a lot of singing along from the Golden Circle crowd, even to the new tracks. Highlights for me are the intro to A Pain That I'm Used To,  Cover Me (just love DG as a lost spaceman in the film), Martin's tracks & Everything Counts

"Heroes" was especially poignant - I thought of the Brixton lad no longer with us & I thought of the London 2012 Olympics in THIS STADIUM (when my partner Jill & I were willing Mr Bowie to show up & sing it live). Dave & the band really gave it a lovely, peaceful delivery into the stadium & our hearts.

I'm resigned to the fact there are no setlist changes & I suppose seeing Dave have his little fall on stage has made this gig 'unique'. Would love to know what the final headcount turns out to be as the stadium looked pretty chocca!


(c) Almost Predictable Almost


Tim Sowden, Sydney, Australia (@Aussie_DM)

What a memorable night. I flew from Sydney, Australia for this (and two other shows) and it was worth every second.

My first DM live experience. They are even more captivating, energetic and immense as I imagined.

Highlights would be
Going Backwards - simply as it was my first sight of the band that changed everything for me.

Never Let Me Down Again and Everything Counts were also stunning, and while I loved Anton's work, I wasn't sure what the rabbits and pigs were during Enjoy The Silence and it detracted slightly.

The new tracks were brilliant and I love
A Pain That I'm Used To and Wrong, so these were sensational to see live.

My wife was with me - both at the front near the catwalk on right hand side looking at the stage. Early entry was worth the money for us.

She was most moved by
Somebody ... and whenever Dave moved anywhere near us.

Thank you DM for an incredible night and see you in Hannover.

---------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks very much to Stuart, Michael, Jane, Paul, Stephen, Kevin, Amanda, Lynsey, Dave, David, Bev, Rachel and Tim for taking part and writing such a great selection of reviews. I felt London deserved some special treatment and that's what you gave it. 


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