Another year, another Depeche Mode gig. I ended 2017's gigs in Paris at an exceptional Depeche concert and, last Saturday, found myself in Amsterdam for my first gig of 2018. Surprisingly enough, once again, it was Depeche Mode.
My Paris review answered the "Why do you go and see Depeche Mode" question as best as I could. To many people, seeing multiple gigs on a tour seems crazy, but yet again, the current Depeche Mode live experience proved to be one well worth travelling to see and one well worth seeing numerous times. I was there with my friends John and Andrew and we concentrated on having a good time, having several beers and singing every single word. It was superb.
|Me, John and Andrew - note how both are covering the blog logo. Shoddy.|
The Ziggo Dome is one of the best venues I've been to. The sound in the place was incredible and the whole venue was well organised. It puts apparently purpose built venues like Glasgow's Hyrdo to shame really. Every gig I've seen abroad on this tour (Stockholm, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam) has been a much more enjoyable experience than attending any in Britain. Perhaps it's just that those venues, Dublin aside, are new to me meaning I'm being too harsh on venues at home but the overall I've much preferred these shows to the usual British arena gigs. Even the machines where you bought tokens for the bar were fine in the Ziggo Dome once you worked out what was going on.
The crowd was on great form on Saturday. The early entry DM fans and those who then got as close to the catwalk as they could were gave support band Pumarosa a good reception too. I quite enjoyed them despite the sound issues they had. As soon as they exited the stage, the Black Swarm descended, the arena going from fairly empty to completely full in a matter of minutes. We took that opportunity to hand out the blog's cards to many baffled people. You only realise how Scottish you sound when you speak to non Scots. God knows what people must have thought but most folk took a card or two which was cool even if it was just out of politeness/fear/anything else.
Depeche were on great form throughout the gig. The setlist was the same as in Paris which was no real surprise. I'd at least like to see Martin change his solo songs (Where's the setlist evolution?) but his solo Strangelove meant that my mate Scott got to hear that song for the first time so fair enough. The highlights were the usual highlights - Going Backwards (a strong, brooding opener, their best since Higher Love in 1993), It's No Good, World In My Eyes, Everything Counts and Never Let Me Down Again. Those songs alone make this tour worth seeing.
Cover Me is a song that really feels at home in a Depeche set. Despite its brilliance, you can't imagine that Going Backwards would feature on any future tour and Where's The Revolution already sounds as if it's had enough, but Cover Me should surely remain in any setlists if the band tour again. It has a feel of a classic Depeche song and is as adventurous a track as they've recorded in years with its lengthy instrumental second half. That it's written by Dave is also a plus as he's matched anything Martin's written on Spirit and that's saying something when you think of some of the tracks on the album.
If there are any negatives to be taken from the current live shows, it's definitely the absence of Spirit material. I think dropping So Much Love is a mistake, despite It's No Good being a superb choice for track 2 of the setlist. I don't think anyone misses Poison Heart, especially bar staff at venues who were overwhelmed with customers when it came on, but I really wish the band had been braver and picked, say, Scum for inclusion. Perhaps Martin could have had a go at Fail? Fewer Spirit songs means more Ultra songs though so that's not too bad a compromise.
Pickiness aside, Saturday's show was yet more evidence that Depeche Mode are in their best form in years. The show bursts with energy, the set is nicely balanced and the run of songs from Everything Counts onwards is sensational. I don't think many fans expected this good a tour and it's a pleasure to have seen so many gigs.
That's it for me until Berlin on July 25th. I didn't get to meet as many people as I wanted at the weekend, so I hope there will be a chance to catch up in Berlin. I have a feeling that will be quite a gig and, well, more than a party.