Tuesday, 12 September 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, AIR CANADA CENTRE, TORONTO, 3 SEPTEMBER 2017

During a Depeche tour, it's easy to see the Black Swarm as a gang of Depeche Mode obsessives with room in their lives for Depeche Mode and no-one else. There are other bands out there though, and fans of those bands are fans of DM too. One such fan (that clumsy intro had to get somewhere eventually) is Ryan J who runs the Nine Inch Nails live archive which you can find here - click - and who you must also follow on Twitter @ninlive . His site is an absolute treasure trove on Nine Inch Nails material and is a must visit. If you like Matthew Wolfe's DM Live Wiki , you'll love this too. Anyway, back to Depeche and Toronto specifically. Ryan is having a mini DM tour of his own and I was delighted that he agreed to review this gig. Enjoy his wonderful review and live snippet. Thanks as ever to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook group for putting up with my thieving. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
I’ve been fortunate enough to take a nice vacation around the Great Lakes region to see Depeche Mode for this tour. Up to this point, I have seen them in Clarkston, Chicago and now Toronto. Following this date, I will see them at Madison Square Garden for their two nights at the iconic venue (I already saw night 1, it was awesome). I have been a fan of the Mode since I was born, thanks to my dad, and was able to see the show with him in Chicago with my brother. But now lets get to the Toronto show. I arrived in the afternoon for the small 4 hour jaunt up to Toronto from Detroit and was ready for the show. The setlists had been the same the previous two nights of the tour I had seen and I had still not looked at any of the previous setlists from Europe, just so if there were any wrinkles, I would be surprised.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I had seats on the side of the stage, and for me, I would be taping the show (for all who don’t know me, I run the Nine Inch Nails live archive and have been recording concerts as a hobby since I was 12 years old) so I did not need to see the visuals as I had seen them the two previous nights. Not to mention, this would really help with capturing the best sound. So I was in the lower bowl all the way on the last row, but my vantage was still good for the whole stage.

I love that Martin picks some techno to warm up the venue after Warpaint (who have been awesome on this tour btw, great group!) and the ACC was PACKED. I know it was a sold out show, but I’ve been told that Toronto brings it in terms of Mode fans. They did not disappoint. Toronto was loud all night. Up there with Chicago a few nights prior. I spoke with the fans around me, and you can tell that people in Toronto were passionate about the band. I have family in Toronto, so any time I go up there you can see at record stores and around town that there is a big following of Depeche. Probably the biggest in Canada, no doubt.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The lights went down at 8:45 and the show started with Going Backwards into So Much Love per usual. Now I have to say, just like Delta Machine, the new tracks translated well live for the ones they used. They fit right in with the old tracks that they have been using on the tour and they didn’t feel out of place. Spirit is definitely one of my favorite albums post-Wilder, for sure, especially because the songs translate so well to the live show. Just so I’m not rattling off the whole set of what they played (you can see it below), it has been the same setlist that has been played on the whole tour. I can see why they would do this, especially for time constraints and the lighting/timing for the show. Barrel Of A Gun is always a favorite of mine, and I love the bridge at the end that Dave does. Not sure where that comes from, but it’s a nice switchup for the song. (APA - Dave's singing a bit from The Message by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five).

The classic In Your Room album version is so nice to hear instead of the Zephyr Remix. I do like the ‘rock band’ feel of the band nowadays, but sometimes I really do miss the backing tracks and synth setups. This brings it back a little bit. Although, I am a “younger” Depeche fan, I still like when they go back to their roots/classic sound. Speaking of sound, ACC sounded GREAT! I just want to say that whomever is mixing Depeche this time around has it dialed in! The bass at these shows are incredible. I’ve always touted Kraftwerk as having the massive bass, but this show rivals it. Especially Christian’s kick-drum. Right before intermission where Martin comes out to do a few songs, I have to say that Cover Me is one of my favorite songs that they play out of this set. The visuals, the lyrics, all just are emotionally epic. I am looking forward to the remix album that is coming out and I am hoping that Recondite and Dixon’s remixes will be on some sort of release of this single (as I didn’t see it on the vinyl).

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Then to start the second half of the set, Poison Heart has to be my second favorite track of the new ones they play live. I was really bummed when I heard they wouldn’t be playing it earlier this year. So when it was in the set, I was stoked. Real raw and bluesy. Dave’s songwriting has come a long way from his first album he put out and you have to give him credit. To my surprise, they have been playing Wrong for this tour, as SOTU is not rated highly by me at all and is the only album I don’t own of theirs. But it sounded so great in Toronto. The fat synth notes were so apparent in the mix that it vibrated your chest cavity. The chemistry between Martin and Dave up on stage could really be seen during this and you can see they are genuinely having a good time up on stage which is awesome to see, especially after all these years. Stripped also sounded amazing and I took my earplugs out for this one just to see how loud the arena actually was. As the first two shows I saw were amphitheaters, there was no place for the sound to go and the crowd was insane. So loud, especially as they started to play the ‘hits.’ It reminded me of some of the older tapes I have heard from Toronto at CNE and Skydome during the Devotional Tour. I can only imagine what it was like to be there during those shows. What I love about the old tracks is that they don’t have these long bridges in the middle anymore. Depeche just comes out and plays the tracks and you get more songs.

Best part of the show was the encore. 30 minutes of encore tracks, you can beat that! Covering "Heroes" is such a cool track to play of Bowie’s and their version rocks. Peter Gordeno is such a talented musician, dude can literally play anything and I remember him just rocking out to this song on the bass. This was also the first show I saw the catwalk and during Personal Jesus Dave was running all over the stage. Felt like watching the recordings I have from 1990 all over again! lol. Depeche is up there in age, but they still bring it live. The band is tight, and the music is faultless. True perfection when you go see them live. This is why they are one of my all time favorite bands and even though the setlists are still the same, I would see the show multiple times on one tour. because it doesn’t matter how many times you see the same songs, the music speaks to you, and you remember the good/bad times that these songs helped you through. Not to mention, seeing them play for 2hrs and 15 minutes is the longest they’ve played in North America, ever.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As I write this, I’ll be heading to MSG for their final night. But Toronto was a spectacular show because of the fans and how well the set was executed. Not to mention the tape sounds pretty good. :) Each show has been unique, but sometimes the journey of getting to the show is what makes it so special and the train ride through Ontario is very pleasant if you ever make a trip from Toronto to Detroit. Anyways, enough ramblings from me. Thanks for the opportunity to write for this project and I hope to see the Mode back “on the road” in the near future.


Pre-Show/Intro
Going Backwards
So Much Love
Barrel of a Gun
A Pain That I’m Used To
Corrupt
In Your Room
World In My Eyes
Cover Me
A Question of Lust
Home
Poison Heart
Where’s The Revolution?
Wrong
Everything Counts
Stripped
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again
Somebody
Walking In My Shoes
Heroes (David Bowie)
I Feel You
Personal Jesus

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Thanks so much Ryan.

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