I was incredibly jealous of Robbie Sargent (@korsikoff) when he told me he was off to Munich for the Olympic Stadium gig ads I had an amazing time there in 2014 on the Delta Machine tour. A great stadium, a great crowd and a fantastic city. As you'll read in this excellent review, Robbie seemed to enjoy last week's gig as much as I did. Thanks very much Robbie for the review and the photos.
Munich 2017. The Global Spirit Tour. One of the great Depeche Mode weekends. Great city, great weather, great fans, great show and meeting great new friends. Everything a Depeche experience should be. And more. Here's a bit about my personal experience.
I've been fortunate enough to have seen Depeche play a number of shows spanning almost 30 years. In the UK - from the Music For The Masses tour (about 3,500 fans in Bournemouth) right through to the epic London Stadium show last weekend. Highlights to date have been the Royal Albert Hall show in 2010 and the Crystal Palace gig back in 1993 (I still have the t-shirt for that one).
My first foreign show was the Stade de France gig on the Tour Of The Universe tour, going back here again for the Delta Machine tour. The less said abut the post F1 show in Abu Dhabi the better.
Anyway, I've always wanted to see them in Germany, with many a Twitter friend opining on how great shows are in this wonderful country - the frenzied fan base and the band feeding off them being the main reasons. Thankfully, my time came on the Spirit tour, where my experience in London and the comments of others throughout the tour has demonstrated the boys from Basildon are on top, top form.
Munich really is a fabulous city - even more so on a Depeche Mode day. My wife and I spent the morning of the show in the English Garden, enjoying the sunshine (but not the naked men!), before moving to the city centre where we had some lunch in the Hofbrauhaus. We then headed to the stadium with Chris and Sharon at around 4pm. This is partly what is great about Depeche. Chris and I 'met' on Twitter because of the band and we arranged the same hotel for this weekend. We then spent lots of time together over the course of the weekend and my wife and I have been invited to stay with them ahead of the Manchester show later this year. The Black Swarm are one big happy family.
The arrival at the Olympic Park started with a beer and then our first mission of the afternoon - get some Depeche Mode beakers. These were not on sale in London, but we knew that the European shows were selling them. Sharon really did get quite concerned we weren't going to find any and almost resorted to paying extortionate money to get one via a ridiculously priced cocktail. Anyway, Chris saw sense and advised her to wait until we got into the stadium itself. After a chaotic queue (more like a scrum) we got through security and ticket checks and found a bar selling beer and DM beakers! We ordered four beers and the lady at the bar couldn't understand why we wanted different design beakers - they cost 2 euros and you'd get your money back if you returned them. Sorry, but that's not the point. We need merch!!!! With Sharon satisfied we had a quick look over the stadium and then headed down to the pitch.
We were standing in the Front of Stage 2, so not right at the front, but certainly close enough to Gahan et al to get a good view as they wandered onto the stage. The set opener, Going Backwards feeling more potent and delivering more expectation of what is to come than any other opener since Higher Love. Closely followed by So Much Love, these two songs evidence the strength of Spirit - songs that can stand up and be counted with the behemoths that are to follow.
Then comes my least favourite live performance of the night - Barrel Of A Gun. Now, I'll happily sing along to BOAG at home or in the car, and I won't push fast forward when it lands on my iPod, but I just don't like it live. I just think Dave struggles with it a bit (it is a tough song to sing live), but hey ho, if that's all I've got to cry about the all is well with the world!! We then get the marvellous Jacques Lu Cont remix of A Pain That I'm Used To (with added bonus for the women in the audience of Gordeno taking centre stage!) and a superb Corrupt - a song that delivers oodles of dirt and full on Depeche raunchiness. We can forgive Anton's visuals for the glorious In Your Room (and Dave missing the first few lines and being helped back on track by Martin) and then we get one of my all time favourite Depeche songs - the quite brilliant World In My Eyes. Thankfully, Dave stayed on his feet on this occasion, unlike in London.
And so we have one of the finest openings to a Depeche Mode show for many a year.
It doesn't stop there. We're well into the standard setlist (maybe it will be changed for the second night in Hannover?) and so we get the marvellous Cover Me. Dave takes his break and Mr Martin L. Gore takes front of stage with a tender version of A Question Of Lust and a full band Home (funnily enough, for all my praise of the German fanbase, I didn't think the obligatory singalong after was as good as London, six days previously). Dave returns for the 'growing on me' track of the tour, Poison Heart. The summer's political anthem, Where's The Revolution (maybe it just happened with a huge upswing in support for the left of centre Labour Party in the U.K. Election the previous day?) was performed with gusto, although my wife was disappointed that the live version didn't have the same syncopation in the chorus as the single release. Nope, I don't know what she's talking about either.
Wrong keeps the tempo up, fitting in well with the setlist and then, just like London, the splendid opening to Everything Counts is the signal the rain to start falling. But no matter, the darkness has enveloped the stadium and the crowd takes it up a notch, revelling in an all time Mode classic. Another classic follows, Stripped played out to 80,000 phone lights in the night sky. Stunning, just stunning.
They keep coming now - Enjoy the Silence creates a huge wave of emotion and the biggest singalong of the night. As I turned to my wife halfway through what I consider to be the greatest pop song ever written and said 'this just makes me smile', I realised why I love this band so much and will travel miles and spend fortunes on seeing them. I've got goosebumps just writing this sat in Munich airport right now!!
The monster that is Never Let Me Down Again eclipses ETS on this night, in this stadium, with these fans. It's an astonishing 6 minutes of huge stadium rock where the crowd is taken away to another place, arms waving and women on their partners' shoulders trying to get a glimpse of the world's greatest front man belting out lyrics that have stood the test of time. O.M.G. (as my 9 year old daughter would say). O.M.F.G. (as I said).
|Depeche at the end of the rainbow|
We know they are coming back for an encore. Martin returns to sing a beautiful version of Somebody and then we get a belting Walking In My Shoes. I'm really not sure about the visuals for this one. The screens (both in landscape mode tonight, contrary to London) just seem to distract from the performance rather than complement it.
Then comes "Heroes". This splits opinion among us fans, but I think it's really well done. You can tell it means something to Dave hence he gives such a fantastic vocal performance to the point where I feel genuinely touched by it. A wonderful decision to have this on the setlist in my view.
We end with two classics. To be honest, I'm a bit tired of I Feel You in a live set and would happily drop it for something else, maybe it would be better outside of the encore? And then Personal Jesus. Not much I can add to what has already been said about one of the all time greats. What a way to end the show. And what a show. And then, Dave shouted 'see you next time', much to my relief with more gusto than in London.
If you haven't seen them in Germany, I urge you do so - everything was up a level from London the week before. And I mean everything. The UK may well be Depeche Mode's home. But it's pretty clear to me that Germany is their spiritual home.
Thanks very much Robbie. See you in Manchester in November!