Monday, 15 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ZIGGO DOME, AMSTERDAM, 13 JANUARY 2018




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.


LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BARCLAYCARD ARENA, HAMBURG, 11 JANUARY 2018

This whole project relies entirely on people being kind enough to help me out by taking time out of their otherwise busy lives to write reviews and it's something that I'm beyond grateful for. The original reviewer for this gig Natalie Gladkaya was sadly unwell and couldn't make the Hamburg show - hope you feel better soon Natalie. I had to find a replacement and it wasn't until the gig had basically started that I got not one but three: Claudia Schulzi, Thomas Ostermann and Michael Pinzon. Thomas messaged me on Facebook and said the three of them could cover the gig and that was superb news. Happily I got to meet them in Amsterdam at the weekend to say thanks. The review is a wonderful read. Thanks so much to Claudia, Thomas and Michael for stepping in at the last minute, for the review and for the pictures too.





The world we live in and live Hamburg - review by Thomas Ostermann, Michael Pinzon and Claudia Schulzi

The tour started again two days ago in Copenhagen and we all are happy to meet up again in Hamburg. Ohst and me we met the first time in 2001 and we met Michael the first time on the Delta Machine tour.

Sometimes the chemistry works and we three are like the Stooges.

We were almost in the arena, as we read, that David didn't have a reviewer for the Hamburg concert and we decided  to takeover David's blog for Hamburg.

So here we are in the train to Amsterdam with the first wine of the day and start to write this blog.



Hamburg was always a good Depeche Mode location. They recorded the genius video there, "The World We Live In And Live In Hamburg" on December 14, 1984.

Schulzi was there, she saw Depeche Mode including this concert 9 times, Thomas 5 concerts, Michael 3.

Now is time to answer some questions. We are only allowed one sentence answers.

Depeche Mode:

Thomas: What can I say?

Michael: Oh Shit!

Schulzi: Can't live without them


Dave Gahan:

Thomas: strongest man of the universe

Michael: best ramp pig of the world, in German we say Rampensau

Schulzi: love of my life


Martin Lee Gore:

Thomas: „Spielf├╝hrer“

Michael: Martin, my genius

Schulzi: he wrote the soundtrack of my life but I have a split relationship to him, a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Fletch:

Thomas: my personal highlight of this tour

Michael: my secret hero

Schulzi: the one and only



Peter Gordeno:

Thomas: are you kidding me?

Michael: unfortunately he is in

Claudia: who?


Christian Eigner:

Thomas: Trommelkasper

Michael: I like him

Schulzi: Mr. Fletcher shook out hands in Torino in the band hotel, Mr. Eigner didn't want to do a picture with us there, that's all I have to say about him


Hamburg:

Thomas: The fishmarket, "Schlagermove", friends and very good concerts of Depeche Mode

Michael: Elphi, Manja, miniature wonderland

Schulzi: lived there a year, not my mentality, but always good concerts of Depeche Mode




Barclaycard Arena:

Thomas: best organisation of the whole tour

Michael: best organisation ever

Schulzi: well organized arena, such a good FOS area, good sound


Audience in Hamburg:

Thomas: not like the Hesse, but quite good

Michael: very good

Schulzi: I'm a bit surprised, we could walk to row 5 after the first five songs


Best Song Of The Evening:

Thomas: Everything Counts

Michael: Cover Me

Schulzi: Personal Jesus


Worst Song Of The Evening:

Thomas: Precious

Michael: Barrel Of A Gun

Schulzi: Precious



Going Backwards:

Thomas: great opener

Michael: I love it

Schulzi: Mr. Gahan comes on the stage, best moment


Cover Me:

Thomas: highlight

Michael: my secret highlight

Schulzi: what a performance, show all what Mr. Gahan can do. Best frontman of the world for ever and ever.


Home:

Thomas: thank you for bringing me here

Michael: for showing me home

Schulzi: for singing these tears



Everything Counts:

Thomas: I love this song from the first moment I heard it. 1983 my brother played a self recorded tape, altough he hates Depeche Mode

Michael: I was surprised that they play this song again, my highlight

Schulzi: my hymn


Special moments of the evening:

Dave greeted the fans twice, after Barrel Of A Gun the first time and again after World In My Eyes. Very funny moment as he said it again: Good evening Hambuuuurg!

World In My Eyes : the screening was longer than normal.

Dave was in an unbelievable mood, he smiled the whole evening.

As they left the stage Dave clapped Andy's ass. The mood was very good on stage.

In total conclusion a very very good concert, a great comeback.

After the concert we were on the Aftershow Party in the Markthalle with DJ Niggels.

We all are happy to be on tour again and looking forward to this wonderful year with Depeche Mode.

Only one hour ago from Amsterdam we looking forward to meet you, David.... almost predictable.



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Thanks very, very much Claudia, Thomas and Michael

Thursday, 11 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ROYAL ARENA, COPENHAGEN, 9 JANUARY 2018

For the first gig of 2018, it's great to welcome Martin Sernestrand back to reviewing duties. Martin covered the first Copengahen gig of the tour back in May and I was delighted when he said he'd be travelling from Gothenburg to Copenhagen once again in January and asked if he could review this gig. Many of you will know Martin from his stunning Depeche Mode collection and others will know him from his book Deepche Mode In Sweden - see http://www.depechemodeisverige.se. Go and check out the book as it's well worth a read. Thanks very much to Martin for this review and for the superb pictures too. 



It does not take many minutes for the synthpop icons Depeche Mode to prove their greatness. Going Backwards launches the evening and the year's first concert on the Global Spirit Tour. Led by the sympathetic front figure of Dave Gahan, the group immediately show all of us, who have been wise enough to travel to the Danish capital this Tuesday, that they are hungry for more. To get the singer's smiley look smiling at me already in the first track is amazing. I'm getting both glad and a little bit embarrassed.



The setlist looks the same as last time I saw them in December, but that is nothing that worries me remarkably nor is it anything that interferes with the overall experience. The nostalgia bomb towards the end is absolutely wonderful. 



Everything Counts begins some magic minutes, as after that Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again are played at a furious pace before Dave Gahan, with a happy facial expression leads the group to the end, ploughing through the usual set.




Cheerfully, of course, when Martin Gore climbs on stage alone with Peter Gordeno, he sings an acoustic version of Strangelove before Walking in My Shoes, A Question of Time and Personal Jesus ends the encore. 

However, I can not let go of the idea that they could have become even more elaborate in the selection of songs - especially in the first half of the set. To a great extent, David Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher continue to make a fresh alternative to other old 80's bands. But one question remains: when Depeche Mode's song material is so strong, why does the band strive to repeat the same old songs as they have done over the last 15 years. 



Somewhat unexpectedly, however, the band is not playing I Feel You. What is even more surprising is that they do not replace it with any other old track. Anyway that is not important - what is important is that Depeche Mode rarely gets better than this.

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Thank you Martin!