Berlin is one of those cities that most if not all Depeche fans want to see the band play live in. The band's link to the city, the German crowd, the fact that Berlin is a wonderful place - all these add up to make a DM Berlin gig a must see. Luisa Carones (@tanisluis) was one of the lucky gig goers on Wednesday night and this is her review. A lifelong Depeche fan, Luisa only saw the band live for the first time on this tour and she's made the most of it. It's a great read and one you'll really enjoy. Thank you to Luisa and thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for use of the pictures.
|Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group|
So guys, here I am trying to put into intelligible words for you what I felt – and what I normally feel, for that matter – at a DM gig.
Ever since I – purely on a whim at the back of a VERY black day - answered David’s call over the net for reviewing some uncovered winter leg dates, I have been thinking about what I could possibly write which might be of any interest and which hasn’t been written about this tour yet. Pretty much a hard task, considering that, unlike many of the reviewers here, I’m not such a music expert. I see myself as an average DM fan (well, maybe not that average, as you’ll find out), by now every devotee on the planet knows everything there is to know about every gig and, on top of that, English is not even my language. So, I’ve just decided to have a go and try to convey what goes through my mind and soul at a gig and in preparation for it. Hope you enjoy.
But first things first, I must confess that I have a – VERY – soft spot for Mr Gahan – yeah, who would have thought it, right? – so I apologise in advance if I get a bit carried away on that subject.
The Global Spirit Tour
My first memory of a DM song is Master And Servant, which in 1984 won me over for its melody, industrial sound, the outstanding warm deep voice of a young baby-faced lad and, yes, its lyrics – I was a naughty girl, wasn’t I?.... Thus, as you can imagine, I’m a pretty old fan. I even remember seeing the boys by chance at Milan Linate airport in (I guess) 1986, with no one else taking notice of them....but, because life is strange and takes you to diverse directions, for many different reasons I have never been able to see the band live until this tour. So you can imagine my anticipation for something I had been waiting to do for 30 odd years. For this tour I was determined to resume my teenage years habit of going to multiple gigs and of doing it alone.
I know it may sound strange to many of you, but going to concerts on my own is my favourite way of enjoying such a special event. I simply love being part of a crowd only united by the same enormous amount of love for what is going on on the stage: I do not want anyone to comment, to talk to me during the concert or to even try to understand and put into words what is happening. I just take in every second of the pure energy flowing from the stage to the audience and back. I do not even take photos, such is my level of involvement in the music and the performance. After all, as “someone” said, we are kind of odd, we just do not fit in with “normal” people, right? So, alone I went, and now that I’m old enough I can choose the best venues I want to attend without asking for anyone’s permission.
As we all know, Berlin is a special place for DM and, having been to Paris, London, Frankfurt, Barcelona, Madrid and Amsterdam (and, of course, most Italian cities), Berlin was still missing to my list, so I set out for this 5-day jaunt to the German capital.
I knew it was going to be tough because of the weather and the German fans: yep, I’m the kind of fan with EE tickets who starts queuing up very early, and in January it can get f**ing cold...and it just happened that on Wednesday it was positively freezing: a cold breeze and hours of snow could discourage less devoted fans. But, oh no, not the German Black Swarm! At gigs in Germany there's always the same group of loyal people who defy any weather condition and start queuing up at the EE gate the NIGHT BEFORE the concert. They are probably hardened by the hell of a weather they normally get, while I'm used to more forgiving climate or, simply, I'm well past the age of spending nights out in the cold like that, so, when I got to the Mercedez-Benz Arena at 7 a.m. (7 in-the-bloody-morning!) I was number 34, which is not bad, though no chance of making it to the front row.
Then the long wait starts, but, as many of you know, that is all part of the fun of going to DM gigs. In the queue you get to meet up with many people you saw at previous gigs – actually we are more or less always the same crazy bunch – you chat with people from all over the world and we share our experiences and emotions. DM fans are just great!
During the day the queue is generally quiet and relaxed, but, as the time of doors opening approaches, you can really sense the anticipation and the thrill going through the crowd. Up to that moment we are normal, civilised adults, almost making friends with one another. When security checks start and the doors are about to open however, everyone starts looking at their neighbours as impostors and competitors for the best spot in the pit: no more friends. I would say sharks ready to fight.... I am really glad that security reasons nowadays do not allow running and pushing that much.
As I hinted at above, I have my own preference concerning the band, unfortunately that preference happens to be shared with another hundred women of all ages in the queue, and that’s where the real cat fight begins! Anyway, I think you all guessed which is MY perfect spot in the pit....yeah, that’s right!!! I’ve been incredibly lucky – and strong-willed, and resilient – in the winter leg. I have been standing up front centre stage at many venues, sometimes even first row, generally second or third. I have however always succeeded in standing right opposite Dave’s mic stand, and the ladies here know too well what that means. This time I got to second row, slightly to Dave's left. Luckily I’m quite tall – many on this blog have underlined that tall people seem to concentrate in unusual high percentages at DM gigs, dammit! – and most of the time I can manage to get a great view of the proceedings.
My 2+ Hours Of Bliss
OK, I might be overreacting a bit here, but, actually, every time for me the concert itself is like suspending reality, just let everything go and have a blast. This time around I entered the venue with mixed feelings: in Frankfurt the German audience had felt a bit flat – at least to my Italian sensibility – but I also hoped that Berlin would deliver a different atmosphere. And it did.
As I said, I’m not a music critic so I won’t take you through each song – besides you know the setlist by heart. I just would like you to feel the atmosphere and the emotions of the night.
As soon as the usual charity video was over, the crowd got into a frenzy: the floor audience started to launch into Mexican waves while everyone in the seats was clapping to the rhythm of the DJ set music. This even before the Beatles introduction had started and with the arena still lit. When the lights went off and the familiar boots appeared on the screen, the roar from the audience was stadium like, only to grow even louder when the band walked on stage, turning into thunder when Dave, unexpectedly, stopped for a brief moment at the left of the stage, his back to the audience, his right hand up in the victory gesture, before getting up to the elevated catwalk. That fleeting moment told me that Mr Gahan was in for a serious performance. I know he always delivers, I know he has such a great charisma that no one in the audience can take their eyes off of him for a second, but, maybe because of the special meaning of Berlin, last night his vocal performance was extraordinary. He was extremely focused throughout: in the verses of Useless he hit some amazingly deep baritone - almost bass-like - notes I had never heard him hit before: my soul is still vibrating with that sound. He harmonized the “engine’s humming” lines of Where's The Revolution in a different key, once more his awesome deep silky baritone, which made my ears dancing with joy. I had never witnessed a more consistent and high quality vocal performance, especially in the first half of the set, which, sometimes, just flows by as an intro to the hits part of the gig.
Another vocal highlight for me was In Your Room. That song builds and builds live in a way that the studio version does not, and it also gives Dave the chance to delight us ladies with his mic stand pole dance, which is always received with enthusiastic screams by the female part of the audience. The same must be said of course for World In My Eyes with his repeated suggestive hand gestures and hips movements we lust after (err...ok, I am getting carried away here...). Ahem... getting back to the general atmosphere of the gig, besides the usual crowd pleasers of the second half of the set, the audience, and your reviewer, went nuts for A Pain That I'm Used To and A Question of Time, during which the whole first four or five rows jumped up and down like mad: simply cathartic!
The usual closing to Personal Jesus left everybody exhausted but happy and wanting more.
So, that’s it. As always, the experience is so overwhelmingly magical that I forget the hundreds of times in the queue I said this would be the last time I’m doing such things, that I’m too old for queuing up at night outside concert venues, that I’m too tired and too cold, etc. etc. and I’m ready and eagerly waiting for my next fix (by the way, that will be tomorrow, hoping for the usual slight changes of the setlist on second shows in the same city). I’m almost appalled at the idea that this tour is coming to an end because I know I will sorely miss feeling “my senses to overflow” like this...
On reading back, I realise that I will probably come across sligthly fangirlish and completely addicted. Yeah, I know, but DM do this, you see.
Thank you Luisa!