Tuesday 11 July 2017


Today's review comes courtesy of Brian Doyle from Dublin who spent what seems to have been a wonderful weekend at Bilbao's BBK Festival, one night of which saw Depeche Mode headlining. Brian is a member of the rather wonderful Amalgamated Wonders Of The World whose dark electronic ambient meets drone music you really must check out - https://amalgamatedwondersoftheworld.bandcamp.com/ . Thanks very much to Brian for this great review and thanks as ever to Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook group for letting me grab their pictures for my benefit. 

Pic courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

Arrived in Bilbao Wednesday evening, Depeche scheduled to play Main Stage Thursday night, the first of three nights at Bilbao’s annual music festival, capacity 35,000, 12,000 of which are camping, and has been running since 2006. Taxi from the airport directly to the gates of the Boutique Camping 400 metres at the top of a mountain overlooking the BBK Live Festival and the beautiful Bilbao Valley.

Wednesday night was chats and whisky with some very pleasant festival goers from Tel-Aviv, Tennessee plus two young American Air Force guys, all excited about seeing Depeche Mode for the first time. They quickly organised and officially anointed me DM#1 as I have been to every tour since Black Celebration and I know ALL the words. We bonded & vowed to get close to the stage, enough to see the white of their eyes. Crowned.

Thursday we availed ourselves of the free bus service from the top of the mountain to the city below for a walk around Bilbao and in particular to see the Guggenheim Museum where Jeff Koon’s ‘Puppy’ was on guard outside and watched every morsel we ate for lunch in the glorious warmth of the northern Spanish sun. After a refreshing cold shower and beer back on the top of the mountain we entered the venue around 6pm and found a sweet spot in dappled sunlight under the trees at the rave in the woods where Honey Soundsystem were playing big lazy beats and expectant tripped out sounds. We built sculptures from branches and twigs before heading off to check out Austra, checked out of Austra and had some tasty foods and another beer from the multitude of queueless convenient bars.

Pic courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

I had patrolled the venue earlier that evening to listen for a good position to hear DM from, preferably were we could also see the stage. All stages at the festival are without doubt the loudest I have ever experienced and I did not want my DM with any overspill of noise from other stage. Location location location secured, we waited for the night to fall and just as the last of the rose tinted sky faded to black the band came on. We were one third away from the stage slightly Fletch side. The side screens were out of synch with the sound so I avoided looking at them and focused on the stage. The band were in top form by the third song and the new projections were all fantastic. The set list is infamous to all at this stage but I love each and every moment. I had avoided ALL spoilers so was well surprised. The festival crowd are used to listening to and watching a wide variety of other acts and reacted to every word, beat, wiggle, wave, touch, crotch grab, rabbit, chicken, spaceman and transsexual as you would presume an expectant audience would. Ecstatic.

The set was tight and lean with some exclusions from their regular show as is common at a festival. Highlight for me was perhaps Everything Counts, perfect explosive music for midnight at a festival, plus all the standards updated and well executed. Our five year old son asks me to sing him to sleep with Somebody which I have done all his life. Enjoy The Silence is a reminder of a bout of narcissism I was once proud of. I Feel You is simply an all-time all time live favourite. The songs played tonight from the latest album are pure and honest, even important, and sound as such. Without religion we need all the considered and thoughtful parables one can muster in preparation for ‘the world we live in and life in general’. Depeche Mode deliver, they are possibly the best they have ever sounded in my humble opinion, psychedelic can finally be surely and truly added to Depeche Mode’s amassed collection of genre allocations. My clearest memory of the show, my take home postcard souvenir is of a red and green hungry pig staring at me, staring like I was a rasher, or a rasher lover, I cannot be certain, but he was on to me for sure.

Pic courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group
We scored big time at the rave in the woods just after DM ended and the rest is superstars.

The Avalanches were top fun, Justice had their problems but blew me away regardless, Gus Gus were to die for, and finally, for that first of three nights, The Black Madonna played an acapella version of the almost perfect Cover Me and once again we were floating in space.

Day Two: I know, right!?! After a quiet restful day on a picnic blanket napping under the trees Fleet Foxes at 8pm took us back to a warm and loving Woodstock for a bit, The Killers played their songs, Royal Blood proved they are real royalty and finally just before 2am Trentemoller provided another perfect festival moment with his new show sounding more like The Cure than The Cure do. His band play a blistering tripped out combo of riffs from I Feel You into Personal Jesus with a touch of Talking Heads Once in a Lifetime. Complete. Thick mist descends on the mountain festival and we make our weary but wired way back to Boutique Camping in zero visibility. Final beer and a smoke as warped DJ sounds of Sylvester & Human League waft up the valley. Heaven.

The Mist

Day Three: Awake with Depeche Mode on my mind. Spend the overcast day with Depeche Mode on my mind. WTF just happened!?! How, when and where can I see them again ASAP!?! But the legend that is Brian Wilson in the evening sun distracts me away from DM dreams to actually living the dream, Brian announces “this is the best song I ever wrote” and God Only Knows reminds how privileged we all are with our city skipping country hopping festival tripping lives. This bliss is sustained throughout Andrew Weatherall’s immaculate set and Die Antwoord on the Main Stage at 2am takes me right back to fond memories of early days of rave and first highs with their explosive retro futuristic bombastic act before finally succumbing again to the gospel according to Andrew Weatherall. Amen.

To my travelling companions, my friends –

Thanks KateKate for being my Somebody.

Thanks Caomhan & Thiago for Having Big Fun.


Thanks very much again Brian. Remember to go and check out Amalgamated Wonders Of The World 

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