Thursday, 26 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, WALDBUHNE, BERLIN, 25 JULY 2018

It's time for the final review of The Global Spirit Tour Project. When I started this I had no idea what it would involve, how many people want want to write blogs for it and how big it could get. At the time I type this (2pm on 26 July having just got back to Glasgow from Berlin), there have been a total of 625,463 individual views of the reviews and that frankly blows my mind. Thank you very much to every single one of the reviewers who are all absolute heroes, thanks to everyone who has helped promote the articles and thank you to you for reading. Here then is the final review. Part 135 of the Global Spirit Tour Project is a review of the last concert on the Global Spirit Tour at the Waldbuhne in Berlin and it's written by me.

Photo by Stuart Cowan

I'm back home after three days in Berlin where I saw both Depeche Mode concerts at the Waldbuhne. It seems appropriate that the band ended the tour there given their links to the city and the size of their German fanbase, so to say I was eagerly anticipating the concerts would be something of an understatement. Kevin May has covered night one already so I'll say nothing more about that gig other than to say Kevin's review is spot on. 

Onto last night then. I'd never been to the Waldbuhne before and I was amazed at how stunning a venue it is. The setting is incredible and the sound is perfect. I was travelling with my walking blog adverts Paul, Stuart and John and they were equally amazed at the venue. It is truly a magical place. We wanted to make sure of two things last night  - a good seat but, more importantly, a seat in shade. We're Scottish so the insane heat of Berlin was something very, very new to us. We survived the queue and got ourselves set up for the night to the left hand side of the stage.

L-R: Paul, me, Stuart and John. 
Every time that a Depeche Mode tour ends, the inevitable "the band are stopping after this" rumours circulate. I remember someone confidently telling me that the band were splitting up after the Tour Of The Universe for example. Was last night's concert the last time we will see Depeche Mode play live? I don't know and, beyond the band and their inner circle, no-one else knows either. The thought that this was to be their last show, a thought inspired by many more people than normal saying that was the case, was certainly on the minds of the crowd last night however. While there was certainly an air of celebration, that was flavoured with a sense of sadness in case this was it. I know I felt that way. If last night was their last ever show, then they ended on a spectacular high.

From the off the band were on top form. Going Backwards boomed across the Waldbuhne, setting the tone for the evening. While So Much Love had had a welcome return on Monday, It's No Good returned as the second track last night and absolutely thumped out of the speakers. You hear a song like that or like the titanic version of Stripped that came later in the set in this setting and you just know that this venue was made for Depeche Mode. The opening synth line of Stripped last night is possibly one of the greatest musical experiences of my life. It was breathtaking -  hearing that, watching the stage as the sun finally set and dusk fell, every single hair on every body in there standing on end, the entire crowd in a trance. 

In other words, I quite enjoyed Stripped last night.



I'm not going to labour the whole "is it over" thing, but there were points last night where the combination of that thought, the emotion of the whole event anyway and the overpriced beer in the bewildering selection of Depeche cups got me a little emotional. During World In My Eyes, the importance of that song and Depeche Mode to me dawned on me. I suddenly thought that this could be the last time I ever saw it played live and it was a really odd moment. I will admit to getting a few tears in my eyes at that point but so what? You want music to inspire emotion in you. You want it to move you. That's what Depeche Mode have always done for me as long as I have been a fan and last night was no different. I imagine 22,000 other people in the crowd felt the same at many points last night.

The setlist was interesting. I don't think anyone saw Poison Heart returning to any concert any time soon, but there it was. It does work in a huge venue with the "woah-oh-oh" part still sounding huge but it slowed things down a bit. Where's The Revolution had that affect too sadly but they are minor quibbles - everything else was spot on and the band played one of the best concerts I have ever seen them play.

Cover Me and Everything Counts were both magnificent. The singalong at the end of Everything Counts seemed like it would never end as everyone of us sung ourselves hoarse. Personal Jesus seemed to have an extra air of menace to it and Enjoy The Silence, my favourite song of all time, was just magical. The return of "Heroes" was nice too given the city we were in, and I though Dave delivered it magnificently. In London last June it transfixed the entire Olympic Stadium and it did that again last night in the Waldbuhne. Dave ended the song by saying "That one's for you Dave" pointing skyward as he did so. A lovely moment.

The version of Never Let Me Down Again last night was one of the loudest and most sinister versions I've heard on this tour. A towering electro-beast played at a volume that could flatten a city. Outrageoulsy good. During that song, I turned into one of those people that live streams gigs on Facebook. I know it's annoying but I felt I had to capture it. Suspend your disgust at the phone fuckwittery, ignore the fact my hand keeps "hilariously" appearing in the shot and enjoy the song for yourself:





Martin made my night by bringing back The Things You Said. I had never seen that song played live and it was just perfect. Again, I seemed to get something in my eye at that point. His other two tracks, Insight and I Want You Now were gorgeous too with I Want You Now having an epic singalong at the end. The absence of Home was a surprise but his three tracks were all wonderful. 

The night ended with the most recent surprise addition to the setlist, a surprisingly rousing and actually bloody enjoyable Just Can't Get Enough. There was a slight delay between the end of Personal Jesus and the start of Just Can't Get Enough and you wondered what was going to come next. At these points you always hope for Lie To Me or Rush or insert name of fan favourite, but the choice of Just Can't Get Enough was a good one. As with I Want You Now, it ended with a mass singalong, with both the band and the audience reluctant to stop. All good things must end though and Dave wrapped it up. As he did he shouted "That's all folks!" before the much analysed "We'll see you all some other time" followed. Cue speculation for the masses.

It genuinely was a stunning gig last night and it ended what has been an epic tour on a high. No-one left the venue feeling shortchanged, no-one left feeling flat. Everyone left on a high, buzzing after yet another incredible performance by this incredible band.

Depeche Mode and Waldbuhne are made for each other. See you some other time I hope - I'll keep my 2021 diary clear just in case.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

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And with that, The Global Spirit Tour Project is over. All 130 gigs have been reveiwed by fans and we've had a few specials too. The effort everyone has put into them has been incredible and I can't believe that people have given up their time to indulge this bizarre plan of mine. I have loved every second of it. To everyone who has been involved, thank you very much and I hope everyone enjoys reading and re-reading the reviews in the future.

What am I going to do with my time now?


LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, WALDBUHNE, BERLIN, 23 JULY 2018

Throughout this project I've not asked anyone to review a specific gig as I didn't want to put pressure on people or ruin the show for them by making them feel they had to take notes etc. I made an exception to that rule however for this show as I really wanted Kevin May to review it. Not only are his reviews always excellent (this is his third for this blog) but, as Kevin wrote the second review of this thing for the Amsterdam show, him covering this show would given the whole project a nice shape. I asked and much to my delight Kevin said yes. Here's his review then and I know you'll love it. Thank you very much Kevin for the review, the pictures and for saying yes.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

This review, perhaps rather cheekily, is written with the benefit of having a few days to both absorb the gig and knowing what took place at the final show in Berlin two days later (thanks, David, for the breathing space). 

It makes sense, in a way, to have waited - so much emphasis has been placed on these last two dates as some kind of overall event on the tour, so neither can be taken in isolation. 

This, therefore, is a review of the first show, with a nod towards the Wednesday night extravaganza, written by David. 

***** 

Observers of the Global Spirit Tour specifically and Depeche Mode’s career generally will know that the closing months, weeks and days of a tour is a combination of excitement and concerns. 

Excitement because it’s the last time that thousands of fans will get to see the band and, equally, concerns because it’s the last time that thousands of fans will get to these the band. See what I did there... 

The four-year period of mourning that comes with such an occurrence is only heightened with each album and tour, as the band get older and creep up, ever to closer, to their sixties. 

This time it’s more acute: the length of the tour, the celebratory nature of many of the shows, even the recent change in Dave Gahan’s farewell at the end of each gig - elements that have conspired to give many fans the idea that this is finally it. Or at least there is going to be a change to four-year cycle. 

It’s with all that conjecture in mind that I head to Berlin, unable to see both shows due to work and family commitments but with a sense of relief that I have a ticket for the first night. 

Interestingly, despite the downbeat speculation littering the forums and fan pages over the last few months, there is no sense of foreboding in the air in Berlin. 

On the contrary, in fact - perhaps a sign that the introduction and widespread use of social media has often only served to amplify the noise that surrounds a band of Depeche Mode’s size. 

There are, in other words, thousands of fans who simply love going to see their band and have little time for the speculation. 

Such a lack of doom and gloom is very welcome, feeling slightly worried before flying out that fans may treat the two nights as some kind of sad goodbye, rather than a party to commemorate a 38-year career. 

(c) Kevin May

Indeed, there is a particular feeling in the air throughout the time that I am in Berlin. 

The day before the show, Sunday, for example, after wandering through the Tiergarten and listening to the extraordinary and massive Carillon tower (it has 68 bells, each connected to a keyboard some 42 metres feet high), a man and his partner stand beside me, decked in Depeche t-shirts. 

I hear the man say: “I reckon Martin would love a go on that!” – they both chuckle to one another, see me smile, too, and then nod knowingly and say: “Enjoy the gigs!”. 

Other moments include seeing a family, with fairly young children, all clad in black, climbing out of a van with Depeche flags and other paraphernalia on it. They’re all laughing and jostling around, messing about, on the morning of the gig, clearly excited about what lay ahead. 

The vibe is everywhere – let’s have a (black) celebration, not a funeral. 

The word on the street is that “free seating” ticket holders (i.e. general entry) have a good chance of getting into the first block behind the standing area if they 1) arrive early, as there are only a limited number allowed in, and 2) head for a specific entrance gate. 

With warm wine and beer (it’s a sweltering mid-afternoon) in bags, we head to the venue and find ourselves in a queue with several hundred other fans. We’re in the heart of the so-called Black Swarm.

(c) Kevin May

Strangely enough, this brief period of waiting is when the mood turns slightly low-key – the chants that were springing up as happy fans arrived from the various u-bahn and s-bahn stations have now stopped. 

It’s not a stony silence – just a contemplative and more hushed tone in the conversations between friends and loved ones. 

Once the gates open, the high spirits and high jinks return. The chanting resumes, the venue fills extremely quickly and early (it’s still only 5.30pm), the party atmosphere returns. 

I have probably not experienced the energy from a crowd as those filling the steep sides of the Waldbuhne since the Royal Albert Hall in 2010 or the Crystal Palace gig of 1993. 

It’s an extraordinary, perhaps slightly unworldly, feeling to be a part of it – something that the naysers will snort at but deep down will know that there are very few moments when a collection of people can create such an uplifting environment. 

And this is two hours before show time. 

DAF, the support act, do a solid job in the early-evening dusk but I would suspect many members of the audience would be hard pressed to see the German band’s presence as no more than mildly tasty hors d’oeuvres ahead of the main course. 

It’s a shame, but probably to be expected. 



There are a few factors about the night that will ensure anyone who attended the gig (or Wednesday’s climax) will remember it for a long time. 

But it’s not the set-list. All but two of the songs – Strangelove and A Question Of Time – were played at the first show that I saw, in Amsterdam, in May 2017. 

It’s not particularly the interactions onstage (they still outwardly appear to be enjoying themselves and one another a lot, 15 months in), or the always strong connection between the band – in particular, Dave - and the crowd. 

Nor is it the near-perfect delivery of the material (apart from Dave’s slip-up on the opener, Going Backwards), in part probably knowing that Anton Corbijn and crew are in town to shoot the final two gigs. 

Instead, consider elements such as the Waldbuhne location - it’s extraordinary, and should be a template for outdoor venues across Europe, rather than often lifeless stadiums and arenas that change their brand name every few years. 

Also, consider the energy of the crowd – creating enough goodwill and, dare I say it, love and adoration for their band, to ensure the intensity only increases as each song comes and goes. 

This isn’t the festival crowds of the previous month or so – this is a crowd that cheers the start of each song with the same gusto as the previous one, rather than waiting for recognisable tracks. It must be a relief, somewhat, to be back in front of a “home crowd”. 

Finally, consider that the party atmosphere that has been building for days and in the hours ahead of the show’s start has continued. 

It’s almost as if the crowd suspects that this may be their last chance to experience the thrill of a Depeche Mode show, so they demand the highest standards of themselves in terms for providing an atmosphere that will then be felt by the band. 

Some (myself included) have lamented the inclusion of I Feel You since, well, 1993 – yet tonight, for some reason, it doesn’t annoy me so much, if at all. 

We forgive the boys on this one occasion. 

The crowd welcomes back the wonderfully seedy Corrupt, also the best live version of Wrong that the band have ever created.



Cover Me has become one of the strongest moments in a set for any new song in the last 20 years, and even the criminally bare version of Strangelove seems to work. 

Still, one aspect of the Depeche Mode live experience that often gets overlooked is how sometimes the predictability works in a show’s favour. 

For example, at end of Home, the entire crowd know when to sing unaccompanied (unlike in New York City a few weeks back) but they also know that this is the moment that it’s likely that Dave will lead a rendition of “Happy Birthday” in the direction of the 57-year-old, Martin Gore. It starts in a section of the crowd in front of me before Dave even comes on-stage. These fans know what to do. 

It’s the familiarity with knowing that certain moves, lyrics, crowd chants, expressions, etc, are what make people feel good about themselves, which is therefore at the heart of the Depeche Mode experience. 

There is a collective jump in the crowd when the first thumping bars of World In My Eyes strike out, followed later in the song by the finger silhouettes of spectacles. 

The audience knows the exact moment when to carry on the final refrains of Everything Counts, or start the wheat field arm-waving display during Never Let Me Down Again (it is particularly jaw-dropping in a bowl-like venue like the Waldbuhne). 

These aren’t guilty pleasures, nor are they things to be scoffed at – there’s something to be said for thousands of people simply enjoying themselves, letting go and absorbing the energy that an experience can create. 

As Personal Jesus comes to a close, and the now continually cryptic “we’ll see you some other time” rings out, there is no obvious sadness still that this could be one of the band’s last ever shows. 

There is a group of four people, two rows in front of me, hugging and crying – not through sorrow but I can hear them saying (they are British) what an amazing time they’ve had. 

The crowd moves up to the top of the Waldbuhne, and many people look back down towards the bottom of the bowl, perhaps their own moment of reflection that it may be a last glimpse of a Depeche Mode stage. 

But then, as the audience drifts away to the various public transport areas, pockets of chants are heard everywhere – Home, Enjoy The Silence and, perhaps most beautifully, a gentle but long recital of the closing backing vocal of Waiting For The Night. 

Sometimes, words are very unnecessary... 

This is what Depeche Mode do/did to people. I guess we’ll find out how to end that sentence some other time. 

Footnote: 

It was somewhat (perhaps unintentionally) poetic that David asked me to review the penultimate show of the tour, with the blogmeister himself taking on the final gig – he started the ball rolling on this mammoth project at the opener in Stockholm, and then I penned the review of the second show in Amsterdam. Our respective reviews have book-ended the entire project! 

As someone who has edited newspapers, magazines and now online publications, I know about the tireless work that goes on behind the scenes to produce a body of work that readers will find valuable and enjoy reading. 

It goes without saying that without his unbounded enthusiasm for the project and passion for Depeche Mode, this series of reviews of EVERY SINGLE SHOW on the tour (just let that sink in for a moment) would have never happened. 

He’s edited every piece, been unfailingly polite with everyone who has contributed, and I’m sure has had a few hair-raising, frustrating and exhausting moments along the way. That’s what happens when you take on a project of this size. 

I am thrilled and honoured to have been involved with it. 

As this was the last review written by one of his contributors, I would like to – if my comrades will allow it – thank David on behalf of us all, for organising, hosting and connecting us, and for being an all-round top fella. 

Cheers. Kev and the Gang 

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Thank you Kevin

Sunday, 22 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, LOLLAPALOOZA PARIS, PARIS, 21 JULY 2018

The third last review of this at one point seemingly impossible project comes from Henno Taams who I really have to thank for getting this to me less than 24 hours after the gig so that I could publish it before Berlin. Thank you for that Henno and for this great review and pictures. Given the other bands you list as being favourites of yours, I'm pretty sure we'll bump into each other at a gig in the future!




Saturday, 21 July 2018 

9:50 PM 

A 4 part review of DM's performance at Lollapalooza Paris 


So we meet again. Last time I saw Depeche Mode it was on a freezing cold winter night in January, but today it sweltering, so hot in fact you can feel the sweat running down your back, just like the first time i saw them in Lille's Stade Pierre Mauroy just over a year ago. 

With most bands that sheer sense of excitement when you see them for the first time slowly fades away, unlike Depeche Mode for me, who together with Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Rammstein and Arcade Fire make up my top 5 live bands I've ever seen, and that's well over a hundred and sixty odd of them. Unique to them is the excitement i felt the first time remains, if not becomes even more. 



Same old, same old... 


Depeche Mode, together with Rammstein are the only bands in my top 5 live bands who have, on their latest tour, stuck to roughly the same set every night. This can be seen as either a good thing or a bad thing. 

Unlike Rammstein, DM's show doesn't use so many special effects that limit any unpredictabilities in the setlist, and also given the ridiculous amount of great songs DM has written it's slightly disappointing even they don't mix them up. Personally i would love to hear some songs from Exciter, some more Playing The AngelSounds Of The Universe or heck, even Delta Machine




Almost Predictable, almost... 

However the setlist they do play, as predictable as it may be, still feels very well put together. The lack of spontaneity is completely made up by the performance these lads put on every night. Though the set is predictable, the extent to which it comes from the stage is not. 

Having read some reviews by the French press here and there about their recent stint of French festivals, I was slightly worried. Quite a few wrote about Dave sounding tired, the band being slightly disconnected from the festival crowd, which could be explained by their lack of festival performances in the last few years. 

But at their final headlining slot of the tour ap my worries slowly faded away as the band picked up steam during Going Backwards, one of my favourite tracks of the new album together with Eternal and Poison Heart. Dave voice sounded like a well oiled machine, as if it was the first show of the tour not the 128th show. 




It also struck me Dave was feeling rather talkative, addressing the crowd after almost every song, unlike Amsterdam on January 13th of this year, where he wouldn't go any further than an obligatory "Good evening Amsterdam!" a single "Well thank you very much!" and "Have a good night!" as if he really wanted us to know he loves us before the band disappearing again, for God knows how long it will be this time. 

Never Let Me Down Again... 

Festivals always feel different from their own shows in a closed setting, festivals come with a certain amount of uncertainty, as we experienced earlier in the the day with one of my favourite new, up and coming bands. 

Nothing But Thieves were the unlucky ones today. They saw their set almost cut in half due to technical difficulties out of their control. For a band like them (I love them very much) they don't deserve to have to put up with that shit. 

Now don't get me wrong, I love festivals and I try to fit as many into my jam packed travel schedule as I can. But the unpredictability of technology when 5 to 7 bands play on the same stage every day can become a real nuisance. 

Not everyone gets a sound check, resulting in quite a few shows with their audio levels all messed up. But Depeche Mode seemed not to have that problem, when I saw them for the first time in Lille I was worried about the audio, as closed roofed concrete stadiums are notorious for terrible audio, as was the case with the support that day. The Horrors sounded like horror. 




But surprisingly as soon as DM came on the audio was near perfect. As was the case last night. A near perfect mix, the bass could have been turned up a little and the drums were a bit too loud but apart from that flawless. 

Yes it was very loud but a song like Never Let Me Down Again has to be loud to transfer al the vigour and energy that it contains. Now we all know the field of wreaths gimmick that comes with it, and even after seeing it so many times it never fails to amaze me. Definitely a highlight if not my favourite moment of the show, there is a certain energy and connection between the band and the crowd during that Song that can't be explained in a mere single blog post, moreover, I need to head back to the festival again as there's plenty more good music coming up, but Depeche Mode, they never let me down. 


Just can't get enough... 

There's a reason why live music is always so invigorating that once you get to experience it, there's this instant feeling of fulfilment, but also another feeling of emptiness that needs filling. We music lovers all know it we need more, we always need more. So as the Global Spirit Tour head to its final halt in the wonderful Waldb├╝hne in Berlin, having seen Rammstein there in 2016, it's truly one of the most beautiful venues, this feeling of emptiness slowly starts to kick in. 

2 more shows until the band goes of on a well deserved holiday after what has been one of the longest tours they've ever done, they'll leave us fulfilled, but still yearning for more. As music lovers we all know, we just can't get enough, and to close out my review with another quote by Dave I'd like to say goodbye and thanks for having me. 

"Well thank you Paris, We'll see you some other time!"


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Thank you Henno

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MUSILAC FESTIVAL, AIX-LES-BAINS, FRANCE, 12 JULY 2018

Surely Depeche Mode have set a record for the number of French festivals played by one band on one tour this year? France has done very well in terms of having Depeche concerts this summer - well done France. Our reviewers today are a father and daughter duo. Helena Wirth, who is a fellow Depeche Mode Facebook Takeoveree is acting as translator for her Dad, Jean-Francois, who attended the gig.That's a first for the Project and that is rather cool. Thank you Mr Wirth for the review and thank you Helena for translating. Thanks too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group


Musilac is a young and growing festival. The place is beautiful and the two stages meet the moutains near the Aix les Bains lake. Depeche Mode is the biggest name of the day on Thursday July 12th. Many people are attending, approximately 30 000 people are waiting to see the trio. After The Stranglers and the intro Revolution from The Beatles, Depeche Mode arrives. As soon as Going Backwards begins, you can no longer move in the audience (and I am 30 meters away from the stage) and when the concert ends, I feel like I have to push through the crowd to get out. 

It’s No Good starts and Dave has already taken off his jacket, he is sweaty but happy to be here. "Good evening Aix les Bains " is quite funny to hear, Dave sounds not sure of the pronounciation ! A Pain That I’m Used To comes soon after and the crowd dances a little, but it’s not the usual DM crowd. I’m singing along as loud as I can and a few people follow but not much where I am. Near the stage, the crowd is electric.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Precious is the next song and Dave asks for hand clapping. World In My Eyes is stimulating the audience and Dave and Martin’s chemistry is heart-warming. The night falls on these mountains when Cover Me starts, a very soothing song. Then Martin sings  Somebody and I’m sad that we didn’t have The Things You Said (I've not heard that live since Paris Bercy in 1987) but the setlist is obviously much shorter because of the festival. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Dave returns on stage to In Your Room and its superb video. Then the audience becomes ecstatic with Everything Counts, Stripped, Personal Jesus (the whole crowds outbirst of joy to this one) and Never Let Me Down Again under the stars. It’s also noteworthy that Dave didn’t use the t-shirt shotgun this time. 

Encore comes with Walking In My Shoes and it gives more energy to the crowd. Dave has changed clothes, from the black to the red jacket. Enjoy The Silence makes the audience raise their arms. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Just Can’t Get Enough marks its return in festivals and Dave can’t get enough of making the audience sing along with him. It’s been 14 months since the band tours and they still look happy to be here by giving us a perfect show. I wish we heard Useless, as I loved that in the winter leg. 

The next morning, the local paper Le Dauphin├ę chose Depeche Mode as their front cover…

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Thank you Helena and Mr Wirth!

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BEAUREGARD FESTIVAL, HEROUVILLE-ST-CLAIR, FRANCE, 9 JULY 2018

If this review doesn't put you in the mood for seeing Depeche at a festival, I don't know what will. Benjamin Ubu from weirdsound.net returns to the Global Spirit Tour Project to review the Beauregard Festival for us and his enthusiasm tells us just how good a show it was. Thanks very much for this Benji and thank you for the pictures too. All other pictures are taken from Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The festival of Beauregard celebrated its tenth anniversary last weekend in Normandy! A splendid occasion to spend four days to listen to good music, to discover new groups, and to do a bit of tourism in this beautiful region. The festival favours quality over quantity, so one can have all the time in the mornings to go for a walk on the beaches, to visit some high historical sites or to find a good restaurant! And contrary to popular belief in July in Normandy, I always find the weather to be very sunny! 

Alright, I can now feel how much you’re bored! “When will he finally speak about Depeche Mode???” It is the subject of your interest, I suppose? The group will treat us by closing the last day of the festival with its performance. It’s hard to wish for more for a fan like me, since I’ve already seen them four times in hardly a year! So! I will tell you about this beautiful evening of July 9th, and hope that you will like it… 



We arrive at 5pm on the site of the festival, and we move directly towards the barriers in front of the largest stage. The group will play at 9:30, but the first ranks are already filled! I firmly grab the barrier in the forefront, decided not to move a toe during… the four and half hours which will the waiting will last… 

When one loves, one does not calculate! 

As usual for a concert of Depeche Mode, the public is composed of young people and older people, coming from all backgrounds. I start a chat with two people there, and one of them has to learn obviously much about DM… poor guy, I give him a lecture on the discography of the group. A bit of our conversation: 

I: Do you believe in God? 

My new friend: No, why? 

I: When the concert’s over, you will! 

The organizers of the festival have lined up two other groups before Depeche Mode: Concrete Knives and Girls in Hawaii. The youngsters of Concrete Knives proved to be a very good musical discovery, I invite you to listen to them! I am less of a fan of the Belgians of Girls in Hawaii. You be the judge! 

It is now 9pm, and never were we so ready to welcome Depeche Mode on the stage! An army of technicians proceed to the final preparations. A look over my shoulder, and I can see the pit is quite full! And then two kids try to pass in front of me: fatal mistake! 

I: hey ho kids, stay behind! 

The kids: but we can hardly see from here… 

I: you should have arrived early or eaten more soup when you were children (we French say that). 

Now parents need to interfere: 

Parents: Is there not any space between yourself and the bareer? 

I: No truly, and it’s baking hot, I’m stuck to it: sorry, really… 



Don’t you think that I am heartless! But here we’re talking about a place in the forefront for Depeche Mode… the light fades, and as it has been the case on the Spirit tour, the show starts with the voices of the Beatles, prior to the arrival of DM!! Dave Gahan greets the crowd, and begins with on Going Backwards:  I am now with the angels! In order to raise still the temperature a little, the band continues with It's No Good, one of my favorite songs. Alone in the world, my eyes in the eyes of Dave Gahan, the Earth could stop turning, I don’t care… 

For this show is in open air, the group went for a purified decoration, “a simple” giant screen. I am glad to see them in these conditions, focused on the essential, the music, and of course on the voices of Dave and Martin. Now it’s time for A Pain That I' m Used To, and immediately after the splendid song Precious… I listen to this song almost every day on my way to work; from now on I will even have the image of Depeche Mode singing it two meters away from me! 



It was expected, here it is! World In My Eyes! In concert, it always proves a nice song, and the public responds at once. Next song is Cover Me, with the video of Dave as a cosmonaut projected on the screen. I much appreciate this title, undoubtedly the most beautiful on the Spirit album. Small interlude where Dave leaves the scene… You smart reader, you understood what was going to follow! Martin Gore gives us Somebody: the change of mood is immediate and the audience is carried away by the soft voice of Martin. After having thanked the talented composer and guitarist of DM, Dave Gahan is back to business, and takes us again with In Your Room. 

At this point of the concert, I am already delighted, but that is where the group decides to switch to the “Best Of” mode! After the usual introduction, Everything Countz! The pit blazes up and sings the song from beginning to end. The light decreases, a note is heard, the experts have already recognized the beginning of Stripped… emotional moment for me! I adore this song. The two songs which follow send me to Paradise: Personal Jesus, which the crowd joins in chorus, and the impossible to drop Never Let Me Down Again



Depeche Mode tries to fool us with the “Alright, bye! it was nice to see you, see you soon!” bad joke, but I don’t believe that story, I truly believe that this goodbye was a false track before the encores! Ah ah! You can’t deceive me like that! As for most concerts on the Spirit tour, the band kept the heavy numbers for the end, I mean the very heavy ones for the last three songs. As of the first images of the video, the public is filled with enthusiasm, here Walking In My Shoes… then the masterpiece, immortal, cult, brilliant, the monument, the legend: Enjoy The Silence!!! Once that one’s over, which does remain to hope for? Just Can't Get Enough

However, the music does finish, and these Sirs come to grace us with their presence one last time before they leave… the celebration has lasted one hour and a half, and time flown quite too quickly! I stay a moment before the stage as the crowd leaves to enjoy still, a few moments, the atmosphere of the place, in order to recall it and to be able to tell this story to my children in a few years. On the way back home, I avoid speaking about the concert. As in love, there are not words strong enough to describe what I experienced. But I will leave the last word to Depeche Mode, which, on this topic, is expressed much better than me: 


Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm 
Enjoy the silence

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Thank you Benjamin

Saturday, 21 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, VIEILLES CHARRUES FESTIVAL, CARHAIX-PLOUGER, FRANCE, 19 JULY 2018

The festival season has split fans a bit, with some seeming annoyed at the shortened set and others treating the gigs as a chance to have a Depeche Mode party, enjoying a greatest hits show in unique surroundings. The pictures I've seen of the Vielles Charrues Festival look incredible - great surroundings, what looks like a great crowd and, of course, great music. Christelle Bauchet was at the festival and here's her review. It really captures the feel of the event and it's a really enjoyable blog. Thank you very much Christelle. Thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

About 70,000 people were watching the excellent performance of the band. That was my third gig (after Grand Stade de France and Bercy) on the Global Spirit Tour and the best one in my opinion. 

We, my husband and my daughter of whom it was the first concert, arrived at Carhaix at 2:30pm. It is a very nice Breton village with a lot of Greco-Roman remains like Vorgium aqueduct. 



Thanks to the volunteers, the access to the car park and the concert zone has been very easy. 

I had got the opportunity to be in the front row: marvellous!!! Only six hours and half before the beginning of the show, at the Glenmor stage... Fortunately, the sun was shining! 

My neighbours and I spent our time to talk about Depeche Mode, in a friendly atmosphere, listening, from far away, to the other bands who played on Kerouac stage: Olli & The Bollywood Orchestra (Indian musicians led by a Breton composer), No Land (neo-traditional Celtic music) and Marquis de Sade (Breton rock band). NB: Soulwax, Belgian electro-rock band, played a good music after DM concert. 

9:45pm: the show started. Martin, dressed in white, with silver glitters under his eyes, appeared on stage, followed by Peter, Christian and Fletch; then Dave, the graceful dandy, all smiles! 

A main screen and two side screens enabled everyone to see the band. 



Immediately, we felt that the show will be famous. Indeed, the local press articles described their performance in very glowing terms. 

The set list has been the same for several festivals. As usual, the show began slowly. After Going Backwards, now known by most fans, It’s No Good, A Pain That I’m Used To and Precious have been played; then World In My Eyes sung by Dave in an especially sensual way and Cover Me, Somebody, In Your Room, Everything Counts and Stripped welcomed by the fans. 

Then it came to the famous singles, Personal Jesus, Never Let Me Down Again and the encore, Walking In My Shoes, Enjoy the Silence, Just Can’t Get Enough, which raised the crowd. 

We often saw Martin and Fletch smiling. Martin moved on Walking In My Shoes and Enjoy The Silence! Even Peter seemed to be happy to play. And Dave, this amazing frontman, spinned, shared his energy with the audience and made a little courtsey seeing a fan’s banner that shows respect for his fans. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I think the band had a lot of fun during this concert. Audience was over excited, smiling, singing, dancing, claiming their love for the band. 

DM is a timeless and unique band. Here is a quote from Dave: “If we were like everybody else, we might as well give up and let them do it” and I completely agree. 

Now the show is over. The concert has been so great! Thanks guys for this fantastic tour. We’re waiting patiently for the next album and the next tour but before that, the Global Spirit Tour DVD!

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Thank you Christelle

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MAD COOL FESTIVAL, MADRID, JULY 14 2018

There have been many memorable reviews on this project and one such review was June Tan's of the second night at the Hollywood Bowl last October. When June said that she was heading to Europe this summer and that she wanted to review a gig again I was delighted. Here then is June's review of the Mad Cool festival, a festival with a magical line up. DM and NIN on the same bill? That really would have been incredible. Thanks for this great review picture set June.



I have to admit something. Being a fan of Depeche Mode turned me into a creature of habit. Like clockwork, I’ve been looking forward to a new album release every four years, followed by a tour that would take place between America and Europe (and South America) before the boys take a break and then it’s looking forward to the solo work done by Dave and Mart. And then it’s off to making the next album. And repeat. 

I’ve had zero plans of doing another DM gig once I was done with those Hollywood Bowl shows in October 2017. However, reading up about DM, Nine Inch Nails, Queens of the Stone Age AND Underworld are going to be headlining a festival in Madrid seems too good to be true. After a quick research on how cheap it is to vacation in Spain and before I know it, BOOM I’ve got tickets to see DM for the 8th time (and also the very first time seeing the boys in Europe AND in a music festival no less!)


How was it seeing the boys in a festival setting?

It was…bizarre. Deep cuts like Corrupt, Insight and Judas were not performed. Hearing Precious and Just Can’t Get Enough (both tracks I’ve heard in 2013) is like meeting a friend you have not seen in ages and you are not too sure if there’s anything to talk about (especially JCGE. I’ve probably spent more time laughing and cheering at the track rather than singing it).  




I have to say that ending on JCGE is a really good move because it paves the way for other acts to keep up with the positive vibes amongst the crowd (ironically, the next act that came up was NIN, which is the exact opposite of JCGE and I was pretty devastated after NIN’s set!)

Most people have been asking me this question since the gig: How was it like seeing QOTSA, DM, NIN and Underworld together in under 6 hours? How’s the European crowd in comparison to the ones in America?


Here’s my answer: SUPER.FUCKING.AWESOME. The Spanish pulled out all the stops to make themselves heard by singing and dancing along to every track and melody. No wonder they love touring in Europe because the crowd can get LOUD. Can’t say the same for the Americans unfortunately!

And bonus points for QOTSA and NIN acknowledging DM as their idols during their set! Being in a festival setting also means coming into contact with other fans (which could go either way because I did spend a lot of time rolling my eyes at Arctic Monkeys fangirls). Talking to festival-goers rocking NIN tee shirts and hearing them rave non-stop about their love for DM and how this is the first time they are watching them live makes me realise that the current setlist works perfectly. These people most likely only know Violator, Playing The Angel or Music For the Masses. To bombard them with tracks from Exciter or even Delta Machine is too much. 

Some fans would probably complain about how shallow the setlist it is, but my take is that if you fancy the deeper cuts, you would not attend a festival show in the first place. 

I’m just going to end my piece with a group photo of 5/365 Depeche Mode Facebook Takeoverees that attended Mad Cool Festival. Amazing to see 2 Australians, 1 Spanish, 1 German and 1 Singaporean coming together to celebrate our love for the Mode (also the first time seeing Depeche Mode with a bunch of friends for me). Bring on album #15 and 2021 already!

(From left to right: Michael Russell, Traicy Gensch, Roberto DuenDe, Rose Scasni and me)
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Thank you June.

Friday, 20 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BoK CENTER, TULSA, 29 MAY 2018

Sorry this one is a bit out of sync. My original Tulsa reviewer couldn't provide me with a review in the end so I was looking like missing my first review of the tour. Thankfully, William "Badger" Kelley came to the rescue and offered to step in to review the gig. Thank you for that William! William is a Tulsa based DJ who goes under the name DJ Badger (check out his Facebook page here) and he organised and DJ'd the Tulsa afterparty following the show. His review is a great read, so thank you very much indeed William. Thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures too.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As a longtime Depeche Mode fan and collector, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to see them in concert twelve times: 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009, twice in 2013, twice in 2017, and now, once in 2018, here in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As with many concerts, a lot of my Depeche Mode concert experiences have had something special and memorable about them. The first one, of course, was extra-special; I went to Dallas with a set of five friends, all of us with the "cheap" lawn tickets, and saw DM along with Nitzer Ebb on the World Violation Tour. 1993 gave us the most elaborate stage presentation; 1994 gave us memorably awesome remixes of I Want You Now and A Question of Time.

2009's "Tour of the Universe" was my least favorite Depeche Mode tour; the band decided that the Dallas concert wasn't deserving of either Strangelove or Master and Servant, which they had brought back for that tour for the first time in nineteen years. In 2013, an old estranged friend of mine, with whom I had at one point not spoken for eighteen years after a severe falling-out, traveled from Washington DC so that we could go to the Houston show together and hopefully talk through our differences along the way. Two days later, my wife and I took our then-six-year-old son to Dallas to see Depeche Mode for his first time, and four years after that, we took him again along his five-year-old brother.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

But 2018... well, this was the year that Depeche Mode played in Oklahoma for the first time. For those of you who who are unfamiliar - especially those of you outside of the US - Oklahoma is basically perceived as a bit of a backwoods cultural toilet. Some people think that we still have cowboys and Native Americans waging war on one another, while tumbleweeds blow through our little dirt towns with no indoor plumbing. It's not nearly that bad in reality; Oklahoma, especially in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas, has actually become quite modern.

It had always seemed to be a safe presumption that Depeche Mode would never, ever perform in Oklahoma. They had never done so before, and it had always seemed like a terrible idea due to the demographics. So, when I saw multiple friends on Facebook posting about the Tulsa concert announcement, at first I thought it was probably just an elaborate prank. Then, I clicked one of the event links, and I realized that this was real.

After the prerequisite freakout because the band whose work I'd been collecting since 1987 was actually coming to MY city, I calmed down and realized that as a local DJ and event promoter, I'd better get an afterparty arranged immediately. I wrote to the owner of my favorite Tulsa venue and got her approval to hold a party there on May 29th. I then hastily threw together a preliminary graphic for it and got the event announcement sent out on Facebook. The reality was setting in: *I* had taken the initiative and was now the organizer of Tulsa's afterparty. I scheduled one of the other big DM fans from the Tulsa DJ Scene, Jessy James, to join me behind the decks.

I was so excited about the situation that my skin was practically tingling.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

A bit later on, the day of the presale came. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, my wife and I agreed that since this was such a special concert, and because we had found ourselves in a temporarily fortunate financial situation, we would go ahead and spring for VIP tickets. We managed to get second row seats, on Martin's side of the stage. Over the last twenty-eight years, I had never been anywhere in the "front" section of a Depeche Mode concert.

Thus, as it turned out, this was now going to be an incredibly special concert for numerous reasons.

May 29th finally came around. I knew that we were going to get practically the same set as the two 2017 concerts I'd attended, but with a few little differences that had been introduced in 2018. Frankly, though, I wasn't sure how enthusiastic the band would be. Oklahoma was not exactly a hub of Depeche Mode fandom, and the ticket sales had reportedly not been going well.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club opened the show. I hadn't been familiar with their work over the years, and they did an adequate job, but I wasn't overwhelmed. To this day, if you held a gun to my head and told me that I had to merely hum or even name a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I would be completely screwed.

Finally, after the prerequisite wait, the lights went down and the Beatles' Revolution started up. The house erupted... the screen projection of the marching feet began... and for the first time ever, I was seeing Depeche Mode in the city of my birth.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Once Dave came out on the upper deck of the stage for Going Backwards, it quickly became evident that the band wasn't going to merely limp through the Tulsa show. Dave maintained his standard, nearly-impossible level of energy throughout the evening. Martin was obviously happy and excited. Christian and Peter were ready to go. Fletch was clapping, doing an apparent impersonation of an oscillating fan, and otherwise doing his best to act like he was there for some actual reason - you know, just being, well, Fletch. Tulsa was getting a full-on DM concert.

It's No Good was the first big switch from the 2017 shows, a solid replacement for So Much Love. It was interesting that one Ultra song was followed immediately by another - Barrel Of A Gun, complete with the lines from The Message thrown in towards the end... and then, after A Pain That I'm Used To, we got Useless! Just within the span of four songs, it was like we got a three-song Ultra mini-show.

Then... Precious. Oh, they gave it a wonderful effort, but as with every previous live performance of the song I'd ever seen, I was still unable to fully get into it. The 2017 live arrangement of World In My Eyes was still a major treat, and the audience ate that one up with no issue.

Then, they headed into the mellow section of the show. Cover Me was beautiful; I had originally been bored with the album version, but it had gradually grown on me, and by this point, it felt like one of the highlights of the concert.

Dave left the stage, and Martin came out for his two songs. I was excited, as were many of my friends, that he performed The Things You Said. This had been a widely-reported "big deal" since he had brought it back for this tour for the first time since the "Music for the Masses" tour.

The second song... Oh, Home again. Don't get me wrong - I love Home in and of itself. I'm just bored with hearing it so many times in concert. With so many classics that he could dig out of his bag of tricks, why Martin focuses so consistently on that song still kind of boggles me.

At least the audience was (shockingly!) ready for the post-Home singalong, and the band even seemed a tiny bit surprised that our town's crowd was participating to such a degree. Plus, this track completed the full set of Ultra singles within the course of one concert, so that was kind of cool.

The energy level came back up for In Your Room, with its amazing screen projection of the dancing couple. That song will always have a special meaning (okay, maybe a couple of them) to me, and it was an incredible performance. We headed through Where's the Revolution to finally arrive at the huge chunk of classics that would finish off the show.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The 2017 mix of Everything Counts was still awesome, with its lovely new intro. Stripped was a welcome inclusion, although I really wished that they could have given that one a solid remix treatment at some point over the last thirty years. It's one of my favorites by them, but hearing the same version over and over and over has gotten a tad dry. (On the positive side, at least it wasn't Policy of Truth.)

Aaaaaand then it was time for Anton Corbijn's absolutely senseless barnyard animals show, backed by Enjoy The Silence for some unknown reason. 2017/2018 Enjoy the Silence will rank as having one of the worst screen projections of their career. With a song as spectacular as Enjoy the Silence, one must wonder what the hell Anton was thinking when he threw together such a pile of nonsense. At least the band's performance was great.

This was followed by the closing of the main set with Never Let Me Down Again, and Tulsa performed the "waving wheat" as well as any other city, which I'm sure made Dave quite happy.

I was really hoping that we would get Martin's rendition of Strangelove for the first song of the encore, but I was still very pleased to hear I Want You Now. (Feel free to hate me for this, but I was just glad that it wasn't Somebody yet again.)

Walking in My Shoes was phenomenal as usual - one of my absolute favorites. Next up was another new swap for 2018, the return of A Question of Time. That one has, frankly, gotten a lot creepier over the years, as a fifty-six-year-old Dave sings a song addressed to a hypothetical fifteen-year-old while repeatedly grabbing his own crotch.

The final song of the evening was, of course, Personal Jesus" Was it awesome? Yes. Did the crowd freak the hell out? Of course they did. Did the band bring the proverbial house down? Indeed. Was Fletch's keyboard even turned on at the time? Okay, very likely not, but it doesn't matter, because we all know Fletch is Fletch, and he does whatever Fletch does.

However... there was something very poignant about this particular performance of Personal Jesus. It wasn't something that I expected, and it wasn't something that most of the audience noticed. It wasn't something they were ever meant to notice. When the backing screen images showed the performance from the back, over Christian's drums, way down at the front of the stage, there was a small video screen facing the band... set up like a teleprompter... to help keep Dave on top of the lyrics.

Now, part of me knew that realistically, the band had been performing together for about four decades. Age takes its toll, no matter who you are, and sometimes even the greatest performers will need a little help with the lyrics.

At the same time, standing there with my wife among thousands of others enjoying the final song of the show, I couldn't help but feel a bit melancholy about this discovery. You see, when I first started collecting their work, I was still in high school, and Dave Gahan was about ten years older than I was.

Parts of my brain have still clung tightly to the completely unreasonable and illogical notion that I'm still probably somewhere around 25... but, seeing that little monitor, placed there on the stage to help Dave get the words right, made it very evident that the band had been getting older... and if Dave Gahan had been getting that much older, and if I were still only a decade younger (yeah, I know... probably still a fact), then that would have to mean that I was getting older, too. Ouch.

Overall, it was a brilliant show, and I'm glad that I got to see them from such amazing seats for once in my life. The afterparty went extremely well, with people swarming into my little DJ event from numerous nearby states. It was a wonderful, wonderful night here in the city of Tulsa, and I was extremely lucky to have been able to experience it.

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Thank you William