Because it's my blog and I can do what I want (and because I'm keen to get the LA reviews out to you lovely people), Kristin's Night 1 reviewed is follwed here by Lluvia Arras' review of Night 3 at the Bowl on 16th October. This wonderful review is full of the things I wanted to try and get across in this project - basically, it sums up the sheer joy of seeing Depeche Mode. Thanks so much to Lluvia for this and for the videos and photographs that accompany it. It's a marvellous read and I know you'll all love it.
The Lowest Lows, The Highest Highs: a Depeche Mode Story
I can’t start this review of the Hollywood Bowl night #3 show without first detailing the rollercoaster of events that occurred on this day. At 4AM, I was abruptly awoken by my husband, Alex, the panic in his voice causing me to shoot out of bed like a lightning bolt. “Love, someone stole my work van!” My husband works in commercial plumbing, which means his company vehicle contains expensive equipment, tools of his trade, many of which are from his personal collection — expensive stuff. After settling my shaking hands, I asked a stream of questions and attempted to calm him down, before breaking into tears myself at the terrible feeling of being violated and then having him calm me down. When finally the police report was completed and we had our coffee in hand, I had one more thought: Depeche Mode.
I could see the anger and disappointment in my husband’s eyes, so I felt selfish asking him but I had to. “Love, are you still okay to go to the Depeche Mode concert with me tonight?” After all of his heartache, I was still concerned about a concert. What a jerk! But, DM fans reading this, I know you understand.
I had recently read Linda Dorland’s review of the Nashville Depeche Mode show and was both floored and inspired. Although I’d agreed to do this review months ago, I felt terribly nervous and unworthy. Her review was so genuine, so real. Minutes after reading her piece, I decided to give in and upgrade our seats for floor seats, because how could I possibly do a review from nosebleeds after reading such a badass review?
Alex replied slowly. “I can’t. I’ll ruin the show for you. I won’t have fun. I’ll be a wet mop. Just go without me. I feel like shit.”
I felt my world shatter. He’s my partner, my soul, my everything. But how could I blame him? His very livelihood had just been stolen from him, from our very front yard! Yes, everything is insured and will be recuperated, but the feeling of someone stealing from your home is sickening. I was so angry at the scumbags who did this and hurt that Alex didn’t feel up to it, but I understood.
My best friend and Depeche Mode partner in crime, Kristina, had just given birth to twin boys a few days prior. My DM sister and #1 DM Takeoveree Jenna was on the East Coast. There was only one other person I could think of — Tanya, another Depeche sister, we’ve seen DM together since the Exciter tour — but she has a 7-month-old daughter and her husband had just broken his arm a week prior, so she has her hands full. A storm of self-doubt engulfed me. How selfish was I to be asking a new mom to join me to a concert on a Monday night? I’m a mother myself, and my boys have sports practices and tutoring on Mondays, which we’d cancelled in preparation for the show. I began to wonder if my Depeche Mode obsession had gone too far and considered selling these once-in-a-lifetime tickets.
As all of these thoughts started drowning me and weighing me down, I was listening to a Depeche Mode Spirit Tour setlist on Spotify. When the playlist had ended, The Sun & The Rainfall — my favorite DM song of all time — came on. I felt a sense of calm, a sense of purpose. In a flurry of texts, I told Tanya the whole story and asked if she’d be my date. I could see the three dots bubbling as she was typing, then finally her reply came: “I’d be honored, Lluvia! OMG! Of course! We’ll find a sitter. Thank you for thinking of me!” I haven’t cried happy tears like that in quite some time. My 4-year-old son asked, “Mommy, why are you laughing and crying hard?” “I’m happy, is all,” I told him, through snorts and snot. I sent Tanya a teary video, thanking her and got ready for work (dressed in black, of course).
I still felt heartache for my husband, but I also felt happiness to have such loving friends. I felt love for my Depeche Mode family and a mad rush of excitement and anticipation to see our boys on stage. So, my review begins…
Depeche Mode, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, Night 3, October 16, 2017
Sometimes the stars and planets align to make things just right. Tanya and I parked easily at the Hollywood Bowl lot. No hassle, no fuss — a feat in itself. The crowd on this gorgeous Los Angeles Monday night consisted of teenagers to 60-somethings and every age in between. But what they all had in common — beside being dressed in the requisite black — was they were all excited to be there.
I couldn’t quite remember exactly how close my upgraded seats would be, or if there was a pit in front of our seats. I’d had nosebleed seats for the previous Saturday Hollywood Bowl show and couldn’t quite see the front area set-up, so you can imagine our disbelief when we were escorted to the very middle of stage 7th row — no pit of people standing in front of us, just a mere six rows. We caught the tail end of Warpaint’s set, hearing “New Song” and “Disco//very,” and my hands were shaking at the fact that in just a few minutes we were going to see Depeche Fucking Mode so close up! I asked Tanya to pinch me.
As a Los Angeles native, I’ve been to the Hollywood Bowl many times for other shows. The iconic shell-shaped stage has been the backdrop of some of my favorite artists but never for Depeche Mode, my favorite band of all time. As we waited for DM to come on stage, I tried taking video of the stage, but we were too close for the whole view to fit on the screen. I felt my heart beat faster, my hands were shaking and we took a picture of our exclusive stamped hands as proof that we were this close! As soon as the Beatles’ Revolution blared on the speakers, we were on our feet screaming, whistling, and clapping, arms outstretched – a rally call for our boys to hurry, to bless us with their presence.
The whole concert was epic, but I want to focus on the moments that really stood out to me. First, It’s No Good. I wasn’t expecting them to play it, and it’s one of the songs on my “if Depeche Mode plays this song I’ll die right there” list. As fellow Takeoveree June Tan put it when she posted the video of this song: “The moment 17,000-ish people (me included) collectively lost their minds.” I started recording the song but had to stop to savor the moment, scream my head off, and sing every lyric — because I’m that fan.
Dave Gahan’s confident strut and his outstretched arms as he began belting out our sweet It’s No Good was divine. I was laughing-smiling-dancing-singing-almost-crying — all in a moment. Tanya and I sung to each other and to Dave and to the fans around us. It was beautiful. I captured snippets of it on my phone, but missing a single moment was too much to bare.
|Lluvia gets photographic|
There was a point between songs when Dave stopped for a moment and said, “Los Angeles, you are the best.” The roar of my fellow Angelenos could be felt under our feet. It was as if we were hearing what every child wants to hear a parent say: “You’re my favorite.” I don’t know if he says that to every city (I didn’t hear him say it at the Vegas or Berlin shows earlier this year), but it felt genuine and I felt a rush of emotion. My lips swelled and my chest hurt, then as I looked to the upper left side of the stage, my eyes welled with tears as I spotted the U.S. and California flags. Our country and the world have been through so much this past year…
My first DM show this tour was the June 22 show at the Berlin Olympic Stadium and, I’ll admit, I didn’t yet know all the words to the songs on the Spirit album. But on this Los Angeles night almost four months later, the songs were a part of me. Cover Me is etched in my soul as my favorite song on the album. I’d like to bow down to the brilliant Anton Corbijn for always delivering with his stunning art direction on videos, logos, graphics, stage design, photography and pretty much everything visual. During the projection for Cover Me, a spacesuited Dave looked so beautiful and sad that all I wanted to do was hold him. (Then again, when do I not want to hold him?) The combination of the visual and audio experience of Cover Me enveloped me in so much love for Dave, Martin, Andy, Peter, Christian, that starman David Bowie, and for my husband, as Dave sang:
“Way up here with the Northern lights
Beyond you and me
I dreamt of us in another life
One we've never reached
You know we're sinking
We could fade away
I'm not going down
I sent a mental thought to Alex: This song reminds me of us and all we’ve been through in 14 years together.
When he and I had seen Depeche perform in Las Vegas on September 30th, we’d held hands so tight during the whole song. We had stayed at the Mandalay Bay and left just a few hours before the horrific shooting there. The day after that horrific event, this song lingered in my mind, taking on new meaning. We’ve got so much to do here still, I thought. We’ve got too much to live for.
As if that hurricane of emotion weren’t enough, the instrumental during this song is when Dave came out into the crowd on a long concrete wall. Just a few feet behind us, he stopped and proceeded to sway so lovingly. Our jaws dropped. As I tried to keep from fainting, I managed to capture this moment on video. It felt so close, so far, so everything. Even after Dave had passed through the crowd, his presence lingered. I’m happy I caught the fans behind us and their look of amazement. “No way! Dude! That was incredible! He was right here!” The joy in all of our hearts was palpable. It was pure elation.
And then the concert segued into an unexpected performance by Martin: an acoustic of Insight with Peter Gordeno on piano and backup vocals. It still gives me goosebumps when I watch the performance on my phone, which I captured for your viewing pleasure. The lyrics to this song in themselves are enough to make you break down, but to see and experience Martin perform it live filled my heart to near bursting. When Martin lingered on “You’ve gotta give love, you’ve gotta give love, you’ve gotta give love…” I felt his message. In this world, in the state our world is in, what greater thing is there than to GIVE LOVE? Martin and Peter sang this part of the chorus with such loving force and intensity, coaxing us to be better, to love hard, to be love. (The performance was so good, there’s even a video trending of Ricky Martin in full rapture singing this part of the song, loud and clear!
What amazes me about Depeche Mode is their longevity, their relevance, their guts. What grit it must take to keep doing this. We take so much, we demand so much of them. But they keep delivering every single time. I believe their concerts are like a drug. Devotees know what I mean when I describe it this way. After the show, my head was reeling with the adrenaline and the rush of it all. The day after, I awoke to a text from Tanya: “I’m still in the clouds.” Sure, our boys are just humans, like you and I. But what is it that keeps them going? Is it us? Our love? Our need for them to deliver?
They know we’ll always be here. Always.
Some quick observations:
Wrong: Dave’s skipping, crawling and spider-like moves are the right amount of theater and drama for a night like this.
Everything Counts: the crowd vibe was electric.
Stripped: the intro that kills every time. EVERY time.
Never Let Me Down Again: HANDS! Need I say more?
Shake the Disease was another of Martin’s beautiful surprises for us that evening. My videos are patchy, I wasn’t sure if I should record it or just let it envelop me. My best friend & soul sister, Kristina, she couldn’t be here, it’s my first tour ever seeing them without her. Shake the Disease is her favorite song, it’s THE song, she wanted to hear live. I thought of her and held her and her newborn baby twins in my soul that evening, just wishing she could be there to witness this moment. There were moments during the song where I wanted to close my eyes and sing along, but I dared not miss a second.
Walking in My Shoes: my favorite video graphics
Replacing the David Bowie “Heroes” cover with Black Celebration was a pleasant change, particularly since this was my fourth time seeing them this tour. (No offense to my beloved Bowie.) Side note: I’d given my original tickets to a devotee, Abraham, whose “if they play this song I’ll die right there song” was “Black Celebration. It’s as if they played it just for him.
I Feel You: The intensity of the drums on the setlist’s most hard-rocking song was so intense that Christian Eigner’s drumming had us feeling our hearts beating out of our bodies. I was transformed to the first time I really listened to the drumwork of John Bonham of Led Zeppelin as a teenager on my Walkman. The drums, the drums, the drums on Immigrant Song made my heart beat so fast, just as it did at the Bowl. At one point, Tanya placed her hand on my chest and I said, “I know, I know, my heart!” she couldn’t hear me, we laughed, we were in a trance.
I’ll end with this: I’m satisfied. I’m placated. I’m in awe. I’m in love. This show was enough to fill me for years. Thank you, Depeche Mode. Thank you, Martin Gore, David Gahan, Andy Fletcher, Peter Gordeno, Christian Eigner. Thank you to my husband for always supporting my DM-related adventures and obsessions. Thank you to dear friend & DM sister Tanya for sharing this special evening with me. I felt like I’d died and gone to Depeche Mode heaven.
Video of DM bowing at the end of the show:
Superb! Thanks Lluvia.
Superb! Thanks Lluvia.