This review has been written by Jan Cvengros, a long time friend of mine on the wonderful Home forum. We've had a few technical issues hence the Zurich review appearing later in the running order here, but it's been worth waiting for. Thanks very much to Jan for the great review and pictures - enjoy everyone.
I love the gigs taking place in the city, where I currently live. You do not have to bother with the flight and the hotel. You just take the tram and in 20 minutes you are at the venue. The weather on Sunday June 18 was just great. Maybe more than enough. Cloudless sky, searing sun and queueing in black clothes are certainly a killer combination. But not for me. I took shorts, white shirt and a cap but the devotion (or obsession?) of some Depeche Mode fans still keeps me astonished. Black attire was everywhere and I even spotted some leather jackets (temperature certainly reached at least 35 °C). I came to the venue just before noon and got my number from an Italian girl, who was there since 6 AM. Being number 11 seemed fine to me. The queueing passed actually quite fast, I met a couple of old friends and got to know some new people. It was great to meet Claudia (Miss Kaleid) from Milan and Glyn (Spooks) from Geneva again. Hard to believe, but 8 years ago, the three of us and Giacomo (Last Violator) made a car trip from Zurich to Luxembourg for the warm up gig of the Tour of the Universe.
As the gig is pretty much same everywhere, I would like to write a bit more about other aspects of the concert. Glyn had an early entrance ticket, which he still had to pick up at 1 PM. We came to the Live Nation stand just before one and Glyn got his number from German fans, who actually spend the night in front of the stadium. Well, so you pay 200 Euro or so to be first in the venue, yet you still spend the whole day and night to be even “more first”. Hmmmmm, what comes next?
But there is other thing I wanted to point out. Glyn got number 36 and he was one of the last ones that came there on time to really secure the front row spot (i.e. die-hard fans creating a great atmosphere in the front section). There were altogether 200 EE-tickets available and the remaining owners of the tickets actually came as late as possible. As they had to pass our gate on their way from the Live Nation stand to their entrance to the stadium, it was easy to recognize their shining Early-Entrance badges hanging on their necks. Most of them passed just before the entrance time and they looked, hmm let me think, just not to offend anybody, they looked like someone, who has nothing to do with Depeche Mode but can easily afford expensive tickets. And that is what I truly loath about the current ticket policy.
|Approximately 200 of the Early Entry Ticket holders just before entering the stadium|
The whole event was perfectly organized and I know what I’m talking about as the organization in Bratislava a few weeks earlier was a massive catastrophe as the crowd dashed towards the front section without any security or ticket check. In Zurich we just had no choice. Enter slowly, pass the security and walk toward the front section. I love the Letzigrund stadium, which is not a massive building as it is buried in the ground. That means that when you enter the venue from the street, you find yourself actually at the top tiers and you have to walk downstairs to get to the standing area. A rather unexpected thing happened right after we got in. The entrance was at the side of the stage, so I thought, it will be a short run. Well, the security sent us to the other end of the venue to take the stairs down to the pitch and then back to the stage again. It was a decent distance and not very fair to those, who did not expect any sporting event. When I hit the front section as the first from our gate, the early entry folks were already there centered mostly in front of Dave’s mic, at the end of the catwalk and in the corner in front of Fletch. Yet there were some free spots on the catwalk. I chose the right side somewhere in the middle of the catwalk.
The sun kept on shining also inside of the venue but the time passed pretty fast. I certainly belong to biggest critics of any warm-up bands and I never truly understood, what is the point of sending a band with a club experience to a stadium gig, where they get completely lost. Over the years I can hardly think of a band at the DM gig that would make the waiting for DM enjoyable. So naturally, I had the worst expectations also in Zurich, but Algiers had some good tunes and a couple of good tracks. They could just cut the lengthy instrumental parts and the man at the keyboard/bass should get his limbs under control but otherwise it was pretty good.
The final half an hour before Depeche Mode pretty much suggested what to expect during the gig. The crowd was quiet and reserved, enjoying the drinks and chatting. It is just not in the nature of the local people to create an atmosphere similar to those in Italy or Eastern Europe. An atmosphere, that is so important for the overall experience at the Depeche Mode concert. After living in this country for some time now, I would say it’s like the Swiss people think: I have paid for the ticket, you make the show. Don’t expect anything from me. It’s not my job.
|Finally! The band is on stage|
There was an uproar as the band entered the stage and there was a reaction from the crowd every time Dave suggested, that he can’t hear anything. But otherwise the audience was very reserved, including the front section. First I thought, it might be just me, but various fans in different areas expressed the same opinion. This was obvious during the sing-alongs on Home or Everything Counts. The miserable efforts faded before they even properly started. Despite that, Dave was in great shape giving his best and he tried really hard to motivate the audience. He did his usual show repeating the now well-rehearsed set of events (going to the catwalk on the same songs, going to the screen on the same songs, going to Christian’s kit on the same songs …). Depeche worked like a well-oiled machine and it only screeched once as the trio at the keyboard (well just one of them, guess which one) screwed a simple tune at the end of Everything Counts. Even Dave noticed that and send an ironic comment to the band from the catwalk. You can see it in this video starting at 5:50 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1LPb7LJKK58.
|On the catwalk|
My overall impression compared to the gig in Bratislava did not change much. The setlist works fine, the highlight remains the second part of the gig after Martin’s two-track intermezzo. For me it was not Personal Jesus, Enjoy the Silence or Never Let Me Down Again but Wrong and Everything Counts, which create together an incredibly powerful combo. I also still feel that the encore just does not work well. Martin’s slow track, a disturbing and distracting projection on Walking in My Shoes, a non-Depeche track, exploding-drums-remix of I Feel You and a compulsory Personal Jesus just did not manage to crown the concert. And if you missed it in the previous sentence, I want to emphasize again that Christian’s fight with the drums was unusually loud and pretty unbearable. We could hardly hear Dave’s singing. Please get rid of that song.
The concert and the whole day passed incredibly fast. And it was a great day with beautiful weather and the greatest band in the world. However, the older I am, the less urge I feel to go to other gigs just for sake of going to more gigs. It might be the missing element of surprise at DM shows that is responsible for my lack of excitement. Or maybe the age. But when the band comes back to Europe in the autumn, you can be sure I will not miss them.