Saturday, 2 December 2017


Back in June, long time friend of this blog Niggels Uhlenbruch wrote a special review of both nights in Hannover (click) which is one of my favourite reviews of this project. Niggels has helped fill some gaps for me too by seeking reviewers on  home of the hardcore German fanbase, so I was really pleased when he said he'd write another review and here it is. As you'd expect it's a great read and marks this blog's first mention of Wolverhampton. Thanks very much Niggels and, you've guessed it, thanks very much too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for all pictures.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I'm taking a ride - in Mannheim!
Depeche Mode - Global Spirit in Mannheim, Germany - November 30th, 2017

There's something special about Mannheim when it comes to Depeche Mode shows. Which is surprising, as Mannheim isn't exactly Berlin or London. Rather like Wolverhampton, Bradford or Luton. You really wonder why Mannheim, out of all places? But in 2001 DM played the final show of the Exciter tour here, and ole Martin did World Full of Nothing for the first time since 1990 as an extra encore song - extra as in "one more song", not just replacing another one! Mannheim 2001 was in general a marvelous gig with a brilliant, die-hard crowd. The Touring The Angel stop here was great too, and in 2009 Mannheim was the place where World In My Eyes and Sister Of Night made their tour debuts and the rare Dressed In Black came on top of that. Pretty exciting stuff! At least for nerdy, trainspotting DM maniacs like me - and you! Since you're reading this blog you must also suffer from at least a mild form of Depeche Mode mania, right? So just admit it! ;-)

So what would be the specials or little surprises we would get in Mannheim this tour? A significant set list change? Even another rare cut making its tour debut? Dave doing a brand new chicken dance move? Gordeno eventually getting rid of the mad cat which apparently walks over his keyboard during the middle part of  Enjoy The Silence? Or Fletch tripping over a cable because he didn't get the balance right?

Soon we would know but first were a few pre-show beers with some friends, and then some more beers with more friends. A pretty cool thing about the SAP Arena in Mannheim is that it has a restaurant inside the same building, which even has a separate doorway directly to the arena. No queuing in the cold and in the rain, and although the restaurant has a bit the vibe of a staff canteen, it is still a great place to meet friends and have a few drinks. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
When the doors of the arena opened we rushed to get some Front Of Stage wristbands but to our surprise there was no separated Front of Stage area! We got a yellow wristband to enter and exit the general admission floor as we like but that was kinda pointless. The last few times Mannheim definitely had an FOS area segregated by barriers, even though there were no FOS tickets to purchase. It was a "first come, first served" principle, that's why we were so eager to enter the arena asap. But since there was no FOS and we didn't feel like standing for another 90 minutes we simply went back to the restaurant to have another beer. Or two. ;-)

We went downstairs again when the support act Re-TROS from China [sic!] had started their show. I really like them, they remind me of a mix between Underworld and Krautrock with some Indie Rock flavour. It seemed like I was almost the only one who actually cared for them, the rest of the audience was busy chatting with friends, buying merch or drinks and people gave a polite but reluctant applause between songs. There were not many chances to applaud, as Re-TROS' songs tend to be pretty long and easily hit the 10-minute mark, so they just performed three songs. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Much earlier than expected (that is, not the usual 8:45 p.m.!) Revolution by the Beatles rang out and the lights were dimmed. So it all began again, my sixth show of the tour and my 88th DM show in total. After the intro the colorful backdrop appeared on the screen and black & red clad Dave appeared in front of the screen. I am sure you are all familiar with the proceedings, Going Backwards kicked off the show followed by a powerful It's No Good. I still don't understand why they dropped So Much Love, next to Cover Me the best live song from Spirit, and it always got a good reception at the shows I attended. Oh my! However, Dave simply sounded fantastic and was absolutely into it, it makes you really wonder how he manages to do that night after night over months! 

With the indoor shows of the winter leg the big side screens are gone now, which is a pity. On the other hand the video crew makes much more use of the split screen behind the band, most obviously with new cover artwork stills during Home and World In My Eyes (which Dave surprisingly dedicated to Mr Andy Fletcher in Mannheim) but also by displaying live footage of the band more often and for a weird but cool cascading, endless frame-in-frame effect during Everything Counts. This, in particular, looked damn gorgeous! It is nice to see the show evolving and the light and video crew adding new ideas!

"Cheers Dave" -  Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As I mentioned above, Mannheim has always been a curious place for little surprises in Depeche's shows, and when Martin stepped forward for his mid-show solo spot he delivered! The piano version of Sister Of Night resounded, the first time since Hollywood Bowl for the band and for me the first time in about eight years. Definitely one of the night's highlights, probably the highlight, although for me personally it was unfortunately a little ruined by someone who simply couldn't stop talking and babbling. Just shut up when Gore sings! ;-) Home'followed, of course, and the Mannheim crowd remembered that it has a reputation to lose and delivered a sweet, long singalong after the song was finished.

In Your Room was next, and it became quickly clear that the new spot in the set list does a lot of favors to this song. When the band played it in the first half of the set last summer it somehow disrupted the flow of the set. Now it is where it belongs and the song seemed to be much more intense than before and was a great build-up for the second, hit-filled half of the show. I would have loved to hear Halo as another surprise now, just like they did in Dublin. It is a mystery why they performed it only once this tour. Come on, boys, bring it back! In Mannheim they did Stripped again instead, and since it is one of my all-time faves (and just sounded great!) I don't habe too much to complain about. Anyway, give Halo another chance, PLEASE! Simply drop the tedious Precious in favor of it, as we've heard Precious umpteen times already, anyway.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The run of show-stoppers from Everything Counts to Never Let me Down Again, whose "aggro" part seemed almost to shatter the building, raised the party level to maximum, and then Martin presented us another treat as the first song of the encore: Judas! Another sweet live rendition, although the crowd singalong at the end only worked after Dave prompted it. 

Walking In My Shoes is one of my all-time favorite live songs, and even though the version they do this tour with the new intro is brilliant, the Mannheim gig reminded me that the pleasure is kinda tainted because of yet another crappy Corbijn video. Back in the day the crowds always went nuts when the signature piano riff kicked in, this tour too many people are just silently staring at the screen, paralyzed by the filmic equivalent of a car accident you can't stop staring at. I've said it many times and will say it again: I like the idea behind it but this little flick is simply not well done! It looks as if Corbijn filmed it with his crappy iPhone, the editing is lacklustre, it is too bright and, most importantly, it is waaaayyy too distracting! It's like trying to watch the classic 'Death in Venice' and next to the screen is a juggling clown under a bright spotlight - ruins the experience a little, right? ;-)

Or maybe that's just me.

While I'm sure that Told You So would be an awesome build-up for Personal Jesus (hehe), A QuestionOof Time' does the trick perfectly, too. Aside from being a great uptempo song anyway, AQOT has another advantage this tour: IT'S NOT BLOODY I FEEL YOU! *g* As you may know, AQOT replaced IFY with the start of the 3rd leg of this tour, and the vast majority of the fan base seems to hail and revel in this most welcome move! I Feel You or not, AQOT definitely rocked the house and gave the encores some extra energy. Great addition to the setlist! As usual, Personal Jesus finished the show and gave everyone a last chance to scream and sing at the top of their lungs.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

At the end of the day it was a great show with a band still into it and enjoying what they do seven months into the tour. The crowd would have made any other city proud, although it might have been even louder and wilder during the band's earlier stops here. In the end the night kept all promises, in general I just don't get why Depeche Mode dropped So Much Love, Wrong and the Bowie cover "Heroes", which were all key songs of the previous legs. A bit more Spirit material and less songs we hear every tour anyway would do the set favors and I'm sure also the more casual fans would love it, too. And bring back Halo please - just in case I didn't mention that yet! ;-)

Going Backwards
It's No Good
Barrel Of A Gun
A Pain That I'm Used To
World In My Eyes
Cover Me
Sister Of Night* (acoustic)
In Your Room
Where's The Revolution
Everything Counts
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again
Judas* (acoustic)
Walking In My Shoes
A Question of Time
Personal Jesus


Thanks very much Niggels. Check out his DJ page on Facebook by the way -

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