Monday, 30 October 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ROGERS PLACE, EDMONTON, 27 OCTOBER 2017

The final show of the North American leg of the Global Spirit Tour saw the band land at Rogers Place, Edmonton which is where today's reviewer Tracy Anderson comes from. Tracy is a fellow blogger and she runs the site In Search Of Rock Gods which I very much recommend you all visit as it's a treasure trove of musical goodness. As well as writing about rock gods, Tracy also draws them and the wonderful drawing of Mr Gahan below is one of her own. Tracy's magnificent review captures the excitement of seeing Depeche Mode for the very first time and she caught them on the finest of form. All pictures are hers too so don't steal them or we'll come after you. Enjoy.

Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode, Pastel Pencil by Tracy Anderson

Ok, I don’t know what just happened, but something happened that I never imagined could ever happen… I’ve just seen a concert with energy that approached the level of U2 in Dublin levels!!! And it wasn’t even U2… Whaaaaatttt???!!!! 

Now, some of you might be thinking “pffft – what does that even mean? U2 in Dublin level energy???” So let me just say that it is THE bar for concert energy; it’s A levels, Top Gun, the Oscars of praise for concert energy… I’ve tried capturing the magnitude of a U2 in Dublin show in a previous post on my blog here. No energy elsewhere like it. But this came close! 

The funny thing is, that U2 Dublin energy is largely in part due to the connection between the band and Dublin, and the thousands of fans that make the pilgrimage to see them play their hometown, but this concert had no such connection. 

This was Depeche Mode’s Global Spirit Tour in Edmonton… a special night in itself, the last concert of the leg. But, unless there is some mystical relationship between DM and Edmonton that I am unaware of, there is no explanation for this energy other than Depeche Mode are freakin awesome live (they are) and Edmonton loves Depeche Mode (umm, yah, we do!) and all the other stars that make for a great show aligned that night. 

Depeche Mode and Audience Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

Strangely, my section and most of the section next to me sat through almost the whole show, which was weird in itself, because we were in the seats directly to the side of the stage. The band could see us clearly; Martin Gore was positioned right there and Dave Gahan came over often to sing right to us. This proximity would have most crowds on their feet. So, usually, does this type of music… Everyone else that I could see was standing; rocking, screaming, singing, dancing the night away. I’m telling you, the energy was palpable, electric, tingles down your spine! 

It was the perfect symbiotic relationship of band and audience giving and feeding off of each other. Dave is the ultimate performer; he is dramatic, animated, graceful; moving like a dancer, literally (I even literally mean literally here!) spinning in circles so fast and so long that most other people would fall over dizzy or stumble around in that woozy drunken vertigo that we used to purposefully aim for as kids.

Dave Gahan Blue Lavender Ethereal 2 Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017
Though there was very little spoken communication throughout the night from the band (outside of check-ins to ask if we are all having a great time, frequent shout outs of ‘Edmonton,’ and the most sincere thank yous I have ever heard), Dave communicated with the audience through his body. Constantly reaching out to us, holding the mic stand as far out as possible for us to sing, bending over the stage, making eye contact, even holding hands with some lucky fans at the end of the runway stage. If there is an invisible web of cables that send energy, emotion, and life-force from human to human, Dave oozes those cables. He spins that web, reaching out with natural enigmatic charisma to everyone in the audience, drawing us in. And the audience latched on wholeheartedly to those cables and rapid-fired that intensity right back to the band.

Dave Gahan B&W Close Up Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have to tell you the significance of this concert for me. I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since Violator, but I connected so deeply and completely with Songs Of Faith And Devotion. The poetry. The emotion. The honesty. The passion. The darkness. The vampiric soul. It is just one of the most beautiful albums I’ve ever heard and it cemented my devotion (yah, I chose that word :D) to this band.

It came out in 1993, some months before I moved to California, my first major move away from home, where the biggest place I’d ever lived was Edmonton – population 626,999 at the time. When the tour was announced, my friends and I made plans to go see DM in Los Angeles. I’d never seen them live, in fact my concert-going experience was limited to only three shows at the time, and I was so excited at the idea of seeing Depeche Mode live, and going to a big concert in L.A. – a big deal for a small-town girl with a big love of music.

I don’t remember what happened, but I never went. I was crushed. Gutted. Broken-hearted to miss it and the idea of going by myself never even occurred to me back then. I never again had the opportunity to see them live. Until this year, 24 years later, and the Global Spirit Tour is announced with a date in my very city. 

That’s right, twenty-four years later, finally, this is my very first Depeche Mode concert! Twenty-four long long years! (I feel so old right now…) But damn, were they ever worth the wait! I mean, I wish I hadn’t had to wait a quarter of a century to see them (well, that phrase didn’t help with the feeling old thing!), but life is like that. These days, I am at the state in life where I can more actively search for my rock gods and I jump at any chance to see them live. Life is short. Buy the damn concert tickets! So I did.

Dave Gahan Close Up Blue Violet Portrait Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017
The seat I chose was in an area I’ve never sat in before for a concert, the very first section, right next to the side of the stage, row 10, though really only 4 rows up from the stage. It was almost like being on stage! I could see the tour trunks labelled ‘Depeche Mode,’ some guitars, and a whole lot of sound equipment on the floor around this section. The music geek in me, the 17 year old wanna-be sound engineer in me, was freaking out! 

I sat down, sights and sounds invoking thoughts in my mind a mile a minute as my brain tried so hard to catch up with this exquisite sensory overload and the promise of what was to come: Are those stairs leading to the stage where the band might enter from? Do those video cameras mean this night is being filmed?? (I desperately want to go to a show that ends up being the dvd :D); no, there would be more cameras, and likely tracks on the floor, and notification at the arena entry. Oh, I see stairs on the stage! Oh wow, that’s a platform, cool! Hmmm, I suspect with this dead-on perpendicular angle to the stage, I might not be able to see the images on the screen and I know some of them are by Anton Corbjin. That’s ok, I am sooo freaking close to the stage! Hey wait? Is that piece of paper on that trunk the setlist!? Why, yes it is, thank you, zoom lens! 

Depeche Mode Lights Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017.

Ok, settle down, it’s almost time for the opening act – Warpaint. In my determination to be unsullied from information, I’ve heard only two comments to date about this band; one was rave reviews, one was meh… but I can’t wait to hear them. Jeez, there is, like, no one in my section or the next section, is this concert not sold out? Oh god, please let it not be poor attendance in these sections! That would suck for DM to see an empty section so close up! What does that do to a band’s thought process while up on stage!? On the other hand, I’ll be able to go right down to the first row and stand and dance and sing like no one but the band is watching (wait, that’s a terrifying thought!), without worrying about blocking anyone behind me! 

Warpaint are really good! I love their sound, and I hate that I still have to say this and I hate that I have to debate about whether I should say it, whether mentioning this helps or just adds to the problem – but they are an all-female band, not just singing, but playing all the instruments. Why is this still so rare? Lots of female solo-artists, yes; lots of female-fronted bands, sure; a female instrumentalist in a band of guys? Less sure about that. But a full female band? What is it about the music world that either makes females not pick up an instrument in the first place, or makes the industry think they wouldn’t be successful? These women are super talented. Beautiful atmospheric rock. Remarkable soundscapes.

Anyways, I should have known not to worry about attendance, as with so many shows, the audience waltzed in after the opening act. I’m itching with anticipation. Finally, the lights go down. And the sound goes up. Revolution by The Beatles (appropriate choice, I’d say!) plays on the sound system to the expectant roar of the audience, then abruptly stops. 

A repetitive drumming begins. Those feet appear on the screen, tiny, marching in one spot, growing bigger and bigger. Depeche Mode comes on stage to deafening applause and cheers, Martin, right there on our side. Then Dave. 

Dave Gahan and Martin Gore Blue Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017
And that wondrous sound of Going Backwards. Pulsing, beating, pounding. You know, for the longest time, I thought the lyrics said “We are not bigots. We have not evolved” … It was only when I looked it up that I learned the line is “We are not there yet. We have not evolved.” I love this song and its relevance for today’s world. Such a poignant poetic understanding of these times.

I am immediately and utterly floored by Depeche Mode live. This is a band and a sound that was made for live performances. The soundscapes emanating through a proper, super high quality, loud, arena-filling sound system are mind-blowing! All the notes, sounds, thrills that you just cannot hear on the radio or home system. Just wow! 

Dave Gahan and Martin gore Passion Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

So Much Love now. There is just so much grit in this music. I can feel the drums, that deep, rich bass. I feel the vibrations up from the ground, but I can feel it, you know? It moves me. My legs are involuntarily grooving to the beat, my head has a mind of its own (a ha ha, I crack me up!) and is nodding in time. God, I so desperately want to stand up. I keep looking behind me to see if people are standing. If they are already standing, so can I. The guy in front of me jumps up every now and then, but he just pumps his fist in the air, hollers, and then sits down again. Noooo, just stay up! If you stay up, then I can too!

Barrel Of A Gun. Oh god, this song. Dave is deep in the spell of this song, arms out, swinging them side to side, theatrical, swaying. I cannot get over his performance throughout the night. Skipping, dancing, marching, gyrating. Every inch of his body is moving all the time, down to his facial expressions. This is pure showman. I’m sure every cell of him is on fire.

Dave Gahan Close Up Profile Arms Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

Corrupt. In Your Room. World In My Eyes. This show is astonishing! This energy has permeated 
every nook and cranny of this building. This setlist. Edmonton is enthralled tonight! 

Cover Me. Beautiful, haunting song. Heart-breaking. Dave sounds so amazing. Voice of an angel. A dark angel, perhaps. So passionate. Seriously, I cannot get over him live. Why is this my first time seeing them? This might just be another band I need to see multiple shows per tour… Oh man, I need to win the lotto so I can afford this habit!

A Question of Lust. A Question of Lust!! A freaking Question of freaking Lust!!!! This might be my favorite song of theirs… I’m not sure, I mean there’s Judas, and One Caress, and every song from Songs Of Faith And Devotion, Little 15, Personal Jesus, and Wrong, and, well, all the songs! But this song is top five for sure. Martin on vocals. His performance seems shier after the gregariousness of Dave, Martin starts out as close to the back of the stage as the drum kit in his way lets him. He slowly, almost demurely, hesitantly, tip toes closer to the front, gorgeously singing, no theatrics, just voice. What a voice! The audience randomly cries out in appreciation mid song. 


Martin Gore B&W Close Up Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

Home. More Martin, another of my favorite songs. Bass and drums like a heartbeat. Edmonton chanting, clapping, yelling. Martin comes all the way out on the runway. And runs back to main stage to take a bow. God, can this get any better? Dave comes back on stage and Edmonton spontaneously bursts into whoa oh ohs from Home, not letting the song end. Dave encourages us, holding the mic out into the crowd. This audience is knocking my socks off!

Poison Heart. Dave, and the return of the beautiful dramatics. I cannot stop taking pictures! He is poetry in motion. I was half right about the screen – I can see the graphics, they aren’t blocked, but I am so close and so perpendicular to the stage that I can either look at the screen or I can watch Dave and Martin. I can’t really even see the rest of the band when I am watching these two or when I look at the screen, they are in the peripheral either way. So I am choosing to watch Dave. He is hard not to watch even when I try. 

Dave Gahan Mic Stand Close Up Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017
Where’s the Revolution? Damn I love this song! This is a question so many of us are asking daily… This world is, well, going backwards in so many ways, in so many places (yes, I’m talking about Trump and Brexit and the likes) and what are we as a world society doing about it? Where’s the revolution people!? And I don’t mean violence. Where’s the peaceful revolution. This time, when the guy in front of me stands up, I stand up, and I stay standing. I need to move. This music has my soul tonight! Luckily, I am in the first seat, so I am standing mostly in the aisle, trying not to block anyone’s view…

Wrong. Seriously. So many of my favorite songs. The lyrics of this song are so honest. The repetition of ‘wrong’ in each line of the song. The power of the music driving home that honesty, that intensity of feeling you are just wrong, “There's something wrong with me chemically, Something wrong with me inherently, The wrong mix, In the wrong genes…”


Dave Gahan Red Close Up Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017
Everything Counts. And the crowd goes mad! Everyone is on their feet, including my section. Woo hoo! Oh, the bass is jacked up! These drums! Dave is dancing with the mic stand, twirling around like it’s his dance partner. Yelling at the crowd to sing, and we are, top of our lungs, random bursts of screams. Freaking bloody wow!

Stripped. Hot! And again, the crowd singing, clapping, waving, screaming. We are so into this night.

And then, the crowd loses its collective mind. Enjoy the Silence. I have never heard Edmonton sing like this! Dave keeps shouting “Edmonton!” like a metal singer. He is spinning again, spinning and spinning. “Edmonton! Let’s hear you sing!” And boy, we do not disappoint! The synth is wild. My whole section is back on their feet. This is in-freaking-credible! Whoosh! The applause after this song… holy crap… this is utter madness this love, this night, this energy!

Dave Gahan Dancing And Martin Gore Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

Just when you think thing might settle down, a whole new round of screaming begins with the intro notes to Never Let Me Down Again. We cannot contain ourselves any longer. We are still singing like mad, Dave has us waving our arms to and fro with such vigor… And then he pulls out a t-shirt launcher?!?! Lucky fans, whoever caught the stuff! What a finale! The end of the main set and the crowd goes freaking berserk! The band thank us and leave the stage. Most shows, I’ve seen people leave at this point, thinking it really is the end. But not this crowd! We want our encore! 

And then. The encore. The screen gives away the next song: Somebody. I am standing up again. This song… Martin and a piano only. I might love this song more than A Question of Lust. It is probably everyone’s wishlist for their somebody to love. So beautiful, and the crowd is singing again. And screaming. And singing. Every single word. Ahhhh, this song! Edmonton hasn’t quite grasped the mass cell phone flashlight thing yet, there are only a handful of people holding them up, turning the arena into an only slightly starry night.

Martin Gore Red Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

Walking In My Shoes. I’m telling you, Songs Of Faith And Devotion! This album… jees… Dave, strutting, dancing, Elvis posing. Sigh… And then "Heroes." I love this song. Ah, David Bowie, how I miss you! This cover, Dave sings it with such emotion, I just want to cry.

The night wraps up with two of the most intense, crowd pleasing, crowd participating, energetic songs on the list, I Feel You and Personal Jesus. God, I love these songs too! They sound sooooo good live! This encore is the bomb! (That’s my 90s slang for you!). Dave is roaring. This crowd is responding like it’s the beginning of the night, not the end. Like we have all the energy in the world, still. Like we are the Rocks Gods. I can’t believe this night! Tell me again why I have not seen Depeche Mode before now??? 

Dave Gahan B&W Close Up Profile Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour Rogers Place Edmonton Oct 27 2017

And with that, Depeche Mode thank us, hug each other tightly, linger a little bit on the stage, and then they are gone. To be seen next in Europe; November 15 in Dublin. 

I wonder if I can make a trip overseas this winter….

Wow… This post got long! I meant to just summarize the night, but apparently I was inspired… If you made it this far and want to see even more photos from this show, please come visit my Gallery! What a night!

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Thanks very much Tracy!

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for being considerate and thinking of those behind you so you didnt stand up, a lot of people dont think that they are blocking the view of those behind them.

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    1. Its a dilemma. I much prefer standing, jumping etc at concerts. I always think it gives that energy back to the band. I can't imagine being in a rock band and having my audience sitting, I'd think they aren't enjoying themselves. Plus, the music just moves me to stand and dance, and my knees cramp up if I sit to long in those seats (I really am getting old, lol). But I recognize not everyone feels the same as me so I'll try to follow what my section is doing.

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  2. Your art is so good (as is your review)

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  3. Thank you so much!! There's more on my blog (insearchofrockgods.com) if you are into celebrity portraits :D

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  4. As you, I also love Depeche Mode, but you are surely retarded.

    You bought tickets for the seat section and you're wondering why people aren't standing up? Because they don't confuse devotion to the band with obnoxious behaviour by a fan.

    If you want to stand up, dance, all that - buy a standing ticket! That way you get to be with like-minded devotees, and isn't that the point? I just don't understand how you could get this so wrong. Next time, get a standing ticket and spare people your rudeness.

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    1. Wow, what a rude thing to say. Most venues in North America don't have standing tickets. And standing during a concert is not obnoxious behavior.

      I'm 5'1" and blocked by pretty much everyone when they stand, and I just accept it as part of the concert experience.

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  5. Tracy, thank you so much for this AMAZING review. I felt like I was there with you. (Loved the thoughts running through your mind as you waited for the band to come out -- I'm the same way!) Although I've seen Depeche Mode a few times, including the Chicago leg of this tour, it brought back all those intense emotions to read it from your point of view. Well done!

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  6. Brilliant review - thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. You also captured just why DM are a great band!

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  7. I really like you post good blog,Thanks for your sharing.

    แตกใน xxx

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  8. great review. Only just found this. I went to three on this tour, Seattle, Vancouver and Edmondton. Edmonton was the real stand out, there as an extra special atmosphere and the band were in their element. I'm told the acoustics at Edmondton are particuarly good.

    I was at the front for both Seattle and Edmonton, so maybe that played a part. Van' (on the sides, similar sort of posn to where you were at this show) felt a little lack luster.

    This show was one of the best performances since Violation days :)

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