Today's review is provided by Sara Lauder from Sierra Madre, California who is a fellow Depeche Mode Facebook takeoveree - check out day 181 for Sara's posts. Her review of the Phoenix gig on 27 September is a cracking read which I know you'll all love. Like me, I imagine you'll be instantly jealous when you read the phrase "6th row tickets" and the word "Rosebowl" in the same sentence! Also, Sara solves the mystery of why this venue is called the AK-Chin Pavilion which was something that was puzzling me. Thanks very much to Sara for the review and for the wonderful photographs.
Disclaimer: I am writing this “review” as follow up to my diary “review” almost 30 years ago at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when I was 15 years old.
In an attempt to have no spoilers of this tour by looking at no fb posts or photos, or when live feed pops up automatically it’s plugging ears and eyes tightly shut “lalalalalalalala, I can’t hear it.” Having never written a review of a concert....and after a couple glasses of wine....here goes.....I’m gonna be off the cuff, totally non-formal and just write as if it was my diary entry and hope you enjoy it.
Reverse and then Fast forward: June 18th, 1988 at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena ----> September 27th, 2017 at Ak Chin Pavilion, Phoenix, AZ.
Side note: Ak Chin you ask? The venue is sponsored by the Ak Chin Indian Community of the Maricopa (Ak-Chin) Indian Reservation located 37 miles south of Phoenix.
1988- my brother stood in line at Music + early in the morning to buy tickets to the Rose Bowl concert and they had some sort of drawing for the order of tickets sold. He was lucky number one and we ended up with 6th row tickets.
2017- Innovative marketing approaches for tickets sales was impressive to me as my degree is in advertising and I appreciated the creativity. Yet, that bit me in the ass as I bought a couple CDs and shamelessly posted to Facebook in an effort for people to sign up and bump me up further in the virtual line. I really didn’t like competing against my friends and eventually gave up but was still 60ish in “line”. Ticket buying took on a whole new level of adrenaline and nervousness. On the morning of presales, Ticketmaster failed and my presale code didn’t work so we opted for Phoenix in a desperate attempt for good seats. And that we had! 12th row or so.
June 18, 1988:
“The Depeche Mode Concert!! The concert was so rad! I can't explain it! The Wire was OK, Thomas Dolby was weird, OMD was awesome and Depeche Mode was SO cool!
The lead signer Dave Gahan threw his shirt over by us and Chris almost got it! It was fun though! But Shelley couldn't go! Between the groups there was a BIG trash & food fight! It was funny! Oh well, better go!
September 30th 2017:
I saw Depeche Mode in Phoenix!!! So rad.
The DM concert momentum and excitement escalated from Europe but I could not click but rather scroll furiously in attempt to avoid as I wanted as many surprises as possible. Spoilers were even more challenging to avoid when DM reached NYC, Madison Square Garden. They slowly traveled West as friends posted and I avoided successfullyish, “Well if you ever plan to motor west, just take my way it's the highway that's the best”. It almost felt like that -- Route 66ish.
As typical, the day before...this sums it up on my Fakebook (<----not a typo) post: “Every three years or so I feel unusually, physically different-- loss of appetite, nervous, drop things, chew my inner cheeks, give up on nice fingernails, fumble words, and just a unique feeling like nothing else. The common factor- this all occurs the day before (and day of) my first Depeche Mode concert of the tour. And although, I never use acronyms, I guess I do when I'm seeing Depeche Mode in Phoenix TOMORROW!!!!! OMG!!!!!!!!! And so far, only a few set list spoilers. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Finally! My turn! Correction. OUR turn, my first road trip with my boyfriend (Martin - not Gore) and his/our friend, Steve. We started out at 6 fucking 30 AM from the Pasadena area with a pit stop and a bit of dusty off-roading in a 4-door sedan to buy a date palm in Indio.
I had trepidation about the Phoenix crowd as a few friends who follow them on tour for 15+ concerts opted out of that location. I asked why and they said the crowd was blah on the last tour. I have scaled back on my multiple shows this tour (and overseas experiences in London) and have a new experience of seeing my first concert of the tour with Martin and Steve for their first DM concert. Even more perfect, Becca came into our row 12 (row G) with her full beer attending solo. So I was the meat in the sandwich of DM concert newbies with feelings of excitement of their first experience yet nervousness that the set list will measure up for fairweather DM enthusiasts. Steve has a tragic story in the 80s of a botched attempt taking a limo (with a bit of debauchery) to a Depeche Mode concert yet arriving late only to see the last 10 minutes of the final encore. Finally seeing DM live in Phoenix from the opening song to the final encore was “some great reward” for him.
The height of adrenaline for me at Depeche Mode concerts is the build up of Martin Gore’s electronica selections for pre-concert music between the opening act and the moment we all covet. Most might not notice the intensity building with a misty stage and beats building up in loudness and energy. It’s an amazing f’ing build up, get the F back from the toilets, get your drinks, and be ready and as the music intensifies it gets you (well me at least) from sitting to gyrating, heart pumping and hugging your neighbors, jumping in anticipation knowing at any minute you will see their silhouettes entering the stage.
So the graphics started.....the Revolution cartoon boots walking and they opened with a new song, Going Backwards, which fit for the coming days. A nice selection of songs to begin with for us Devotees, but my newbies and others around me didn’t seem recognize anything until the 9th song, A Question of Lust sorta maybe. I heard chatters from a group of women behind me, “when are they gonna play (I don’t recall) but thought it eluded to “something we know.” But Martin (reminder- not Gore) was getting into the rhythm of A Pain That I’m Used To and said it was an instantaneously catchy song. And Becca to my left (her first DM concert) was howling like a wolf throughout the show, “Owww, owwwww, owww, ow, ooooowwwww”! I love the different cheer styles scattered in the crowd around me. Also loved what I always hope for, <5’5” people in front of me. And on this day, I got just that and had a perfect view of the stage all night.
And finally...Home. Beautiful song. Beautiful lyrics. Beautiful voice. Beautifully performed. But I noticed the absence of the Home chant and quietly sang it myself anyway knowing I couldn’t pull off a crowd participation on my own. “Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh--OOOOh (high note)! Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh--OOOOh (low note)!” Repeat until Dave Gahan cuts the loud crowd off. My concern about the setlist was confirmed for those seeking the DM 80s band who are known for People Are People and Just Can’t Get Enough and were hoping for a 2 hour set of all the well-known hits...and I get it. I looked behind me to a sea of blue seats. The enthusiastic women sitting behind me had disappeared before the encores. Not only them, but half of the 13th row behind me had left, all before the most popular Depeche Mode songs concluded the show. WTF?
Those well-known hits came in the encores and it was surely a crowd pleaser. Despite the early exit of those behind us, this Phoenix crowd actually never let me down with the arm waving, sing-a-longs, iphone “lighters”, encore break cheering and most standing around us. My Martin noted that from all the concerts he has been to (Devo to X to Englebert Humperdink) this is the most audience participation he has ever experienced.
This “review” wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Missy (a beloved and generous Devotee) who unexpectedly, tragically left us earlier this year. At the last tour she gifted her handcrafted DM necklaces to anyone who wanted one with a package of donation cards (which we collaborated on) for another Devotee, Carl who passed away while tornado researching. During World in My Eyes I clutched the two Missy necklaces I was wearing and a chill/goose bumps ran up from toes to head. We miss her and there’s definitely a void but her friends and I concur that she is here in Spirit at every show on the tour in the front row...and why not....maybe even sitting on their laps backstage. MissingMissy.
My highlights: the screen projection with 3/4 screen walking plank, odd animal graphics, avant-garde videos, nice venue, great seats, amazing energy from Dave Gahan, surprisingly better crowd than expected, reuniting with a DM friend (Hi Kimberly), my first and one of two Depeche Mode shows this tour, extended trip to Phoenix and my newbie sandwich to the left and especially the right. Next up.....Hollyweird Bowl!
Thanks very much Sara