Thursday 27 July 2017


After the cancellation of the Minsk show on 17 July due to Dave's gastroenteritis, there were understandable fears that this huge show in Kiev would also be put off. Thankfully, Dave made a swift recovery and was able to take to the stage in his usual inimitable style. Natalie Gladkaya from Kharkov in Ukraine was there and she was kind enough to write this excellent review for the project. Thanks so much Natalie. The usual thanks are offered too to the Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group - I've been in your photo stash again. 

Courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

The Power of Spirit: A Depeche Mode Show Review – NSK Olympiyskyi, Kiev, Ukraine

Early morning of July 19th in Kiev, the first fans trickling down to NSK Olympiyskyi hold their breath and cross their fingers hoping that they will not witness another Depeche Mode show being cancelled (the previous Delta Machine tour show in February 2014 in then uprising-engulfed Kiev was cancelled for safety reasons), as two nights before Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan was admitted to the hospital resulting in the Minsk show supposedly moved to a yet to be announced later date. Thankfully, in a couple of hours the show is officially confirmed, setting the growing crowd’s spirits to the usual mounting excitement of anticipation.

The anticipation, though, is a bit spoiled as the early entry ticket holders are being held at the gates for an extra hour, with the relentless midsummer sun still high above the horizon at 6 pm, and by the time the doors finally open, the queues to enter the arena stretch far out along the neighbouring streets. Some fans have trouble scanning their tickets, causing the entrances being clogged and increasing the waiting time. 

The Olympiyskyi arena is still unusually underpopulated for a Depeche Mode concert by the time the supporting act – the British-Japanese DJ Maya Jane Coles – begins her set. It doesn’t get much better in the following hour, and the last fans are able to enter the venue only 4 songs into the main show. 

Courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

At 9 pm, 15 minutes past the due time, the Revolution intro by The Beatles fades out, marching feet flick up on the screens, and Depeche Mode – save for one band member – finally hit the stage to a roaring cheer of the crowd. In sync with the opening chords of Going Backwards, the stage explodes in splashes of vibrant colours, and lead singer Dave Gahan emerges on a platform in the far corner of the stage, sporting an equally flashy three-piece suit with a glossy red blazer, sunglasses, and red boots. Judging by the reception, Going Backwards might not have become a fan favourite, but it sets the mood solidly and is followed by another song from the newest album, the lively midtempo So Much Love. Next comes the “twisted, tortured mess” of Barrel Of A Gun, and although it’s the same version as the 1997 single, somehow the song is reinvigorated live, completed with a surprisingly fitting touch-up of a quote from The Message by Grandmaster Flash. 

The show has now gained its momentum. We breeze through the dancing vibes of Jacques Lu Cont’s remix of A Pain That I’m Used To with Peter Gordeno on the bass into the slow and sexy Corrupt, followed by In Your Room in its original album version, not the Zephyr Mix that used to be a show regular in the previous tours. This change is completely justified – with Depeche Mode’s sombre aesthetics, it’s always the darker, the better. 

For the first time this night, the crowd goes really haywire during the tried and trusted World in My Eyes before being exposed to the ethereal magic of cinematic Cover Me, enhanced with the black and white video starring Dave Gahan as a lonely spaceman walking the Earth, reminding us he would probably make a decent actor if he wanted to. 

Courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

At about one-third through the concert Dave takes a break, and Martin Gore takes over the front and center of the stage for a heartfelt acoustic version of A Question of Lust, and the venue promptly goes up in thousands of little phone lights. Gore’s solo spot continues with the full band version of Home and concludes in the familiar “O-o-o-o-o-OH!” chanted by the crowd well after the song is over. 

Dave Gahan is then back to his lead singing duties with the bluesy Poison Heart and tonight’s last song from the new album, and its biggest hit, Where’s The Revolution. The latter receives perhaps the biggest welcome among the new songs since Wrong (which, incidentally, is played next), and fans are seen holding up the signs “Revolution Is Here”. 

To the amusement of the audience, Dave Gahan does a little bit of fooling around and sneaks up on Martin Gore in a horror-movie style walk, blowing an affectionate kiss to the back of Martin’s neck before booming off “Wrong!” in his deep rumbling baritone. The song marks the end of the relative “new era” part of the concert, and the band proceeds to deliver a powerful and very relevant throwback, first with Everything Counts and then with Stripped. After that, it’s a déjà vu gone by in a blur for anyone who has been to a Depeche Mode concert more than once. The only thing that changes about Enjoy the Silence and Never Let Me Down Again over the years is really the screen projections – well, and shooting T-shirts, which somehow manages to be both fun and ruins the moment at the same time (probably not so much for the three lucky fans). Aside for that, all the iconic elements are there, including the cornfield wave and Dave Gahan spreading his arms in a bird-like pose, soaring on the audience’s vibes of admiration.

Courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group
The band says a quick goodbye and rushes off the stage to a very short break before the encore part of the set, which, as most attending the show already know, is longer than usual. There is some time to catch a breath and think about how tight and organic the setlist has been so far, as a one piece carefully put together, not a single song feeling out of place or an odd choice. Of course, there is no such thing as a perfect setlist – everyone wishes they would play something instead of something, and throw that one in there too, but as far as making the songs in a show work together goes, it’s a really smooth ride. 

The encore starts with Martin Gore’s gentle Somebody, then it’s back to Dave Gahan slaying it with Walking In My Shoes. After that comes the biggest surprise of the tour – the beautifully melancholic and modernized rendition of David Bowie’s "Heroes". There’s something truly unique about the moment of a song by a great David being performed by the other great David.

Courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook Group

It’s almost the end of the show, but Dave Gahan proves he still has it, giving a powerful and visceral performance of I Feel You. Time has slowed him down a bit, there’s that, but the amount of physical and vocal energy he puts into the shows every other night is amazing and more than enough to electrify large stadiums. A natural born rock star down to the black eyeliner, at 55 Dave Gahan still swings his hips, does his signature spin-arounds with and without the mic stand, and throws his wiry body in elegant dance moves and weird angular poses somehow with the same air of impeccability.

It’s really impossible for Depeche Mode to call it a night without the one final must on the bill. Personal Jesus comes on, uniting everyone present at the show and is over in what feels just a moment, leaving the crowd both ecstatic from a show they’ve just seen, immediately slightly hungover and wanting more. 

Depeche Mode like to say that they try to put out the best show they possibly can at any given time, and it is probably true. And it’s not only about how big and strong, technically advanced or visually spectacular their shows are. Well into the fourth decade of their music career, the band is as far from being a nostalgic act as ever. Their songs played live, no matter how far back down the catalogue, somehow never really feel dated or out of time. For two hours, Depeche Mode create their own centre of gravity where time flows in a different way, and this is where they exist, always relevant and never completely fitting in the world outside. Having released their best album in twenty years and supporting it with a show of this scale and power, they prove they still live to up to their status of one of the best live acts out, one not to be missed.


What a review! Thanks Natalie.

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