As we've already learned on this tour, Italian Depeche gigs are the ones we all need to go to if there is another tour in the future. Both Milan nights in January were epic gigs. Luisa Carones previously covered night 1 and I'm delighted that for night 2, Claudia Smith from the wonderful Depeche Mode Italia agreed to write this review. Depeche Mode Italia have been a huge supporter of the blog - thank you. Claudia has also been suffering from the flu recently. Get well soon Claudia and thank you for this great review and the photos. Enjoy the story of Claudia's day on 29 January....
5.30 am. Walking down the road to the underground station, I can feel the tingle of excitement sting my cheeks. Or is it the icy fog – both, probably. It’s going to be a very long day, today. Half-asleep, coffee-starving, dressed in heavy layers, I’m heading to the unimpressive commercial district of Assago, a small town outside Milan. Despite listening to Depeche Mode since the mid-Eighties, concert-wise it all started for me in 1998 with the Singles Tour. Same venue, now called Mediolanum Forum; same place, my home town Milan. Shoulder to shoulder with my mother, a real hardcore fan and a Martin Gore admirer. Lots of fond memories that I’m going to refresh in a few hours: I’m going to celebrate my fortieth concert with my besties tonight, and I know it’s going to be epic. Depeche Mode has often praised our devoted audience as one of the warmest in the world: fingers crossed we’re going to revive our reputation and set the venue on fire with the passion of 12,000 enthusiasts.
7.00 am. Here I am by the Forum, perfectly in time for the checking of names, and numbers they have written on the back of our hand and printed on nice fan-made cardboard tags that we are proudly displaying around our neck. The Italian organisation of the queue is impressive and very welcomed, especially in a case like this, when madness ends up prevailing. The fans have been gathering under a pedestrian bridge by the venue since yesterday morning, something that I have never witnessed before. My Early Entry queue number is 50, which means that I won’t make it to the first row, but a fantastic second row spot right in front of Martin is still accessible. This is going to be my goal for the night: Martin’s mic stand. Come on, I can do it!
9.00 am. Eggs and bacon, American coffee, smoked salmon, butter, and massive slices of bread: that doesn’t sound like the typical Italian breakfast, I know! I’m even giving Marmite spread a go: I’m definitely going to need heavy fuel to reach my target. I won’t go into too much detail, but these days meeting friends and spending quality time (and food and drinks) with them is a huge part of the whole Depeche Mode experience. I truly believe that I’ve been blessed with the best of mates, and to them goes all my love and gratitude for helping me make this day unforgettable. Roberta, Valentina: thank you girls, you really are the best and I truly mean it! Giorgia, Sabrina, Paul and Conny, and all of the fabulous people I’m having the pleasure to spend some time with today: hopefully some great reward is waiting for us all.
12.00 / 6.00 pm. After hours spent waiting in the cold, damp weather, a good energising meal, and a great number of smiles and hugs shared with people from all over the world, we’re finally allowed inside the old venue. The fog has dissolved together with the fatigue, the excitement is tangible: we’re feeling like race horses anxious for the starting gates to open. The security guys have checked our bags and tickets a couple of times, then organised us into small groups: I’m going to enter the Forum, have a quick look at the standing area – the end of the catwalk is already packed – and then rush to the stage, as close to Martin as I can get.
9.00 pm. By the time Gore’s favourite opening act EMA has left the stage, the venue has filled up nicely. It’s another sold-out show in Milan, the eighth Italian concert of the Global Spirit Tour: quite impressive if you ask me, even though I was certain my city wouldn’t disappoint me. Martin’s setlist is now pumping through the amps, giving us new energy, making everybody clap their hands, cheer and dance. It’s a joyful warm up to what’s coming up in a few minutes: the long-awaited Revolution by The Beatles and then, lights off, the white boot animation will be coming to life on the massive two-stair led screen, and Depeche Mode will be finally joining us on stage! I’m inspecting the right side of the venue to catch the moment when Dave will climb the stairs with a slow, stealthy step. Here he is: his black silhouette is moving sensually while the drips of paint are filling the universe with vivid colours. We’re going backwards in life, some might agree: but tonight the majestic opening track is resounding more powerfully than ever, anticipating an unforgettable show, possibly the best one out of the three Milan gigs. My judgement might be slightly biased though: I’m all eyes for Martin, and he’s standing right in front of me… understand me! I’m probably going to be the only one in the whole arena to watch Martin during Cover Me, while Dave will be elegantly drawing circles in the air on the catwalk, his pensive astronaut alter-ego floating in the sky right behind him.
The songs are coming in quick succession without a break, time seems to run faster than usual. The band is having a great time: they’re looking very pleased and inspired by the audience response. Fletcher is acting very cool, totally absorbed in his role. There are three very special moments that will stay in my heart forever: the first one is undoubtedly related to In Your Room. This is the Stendhal Syndrome moment for me, when I’m totally and hopelessly mesmerised by the absolute genius of Anton Corbijn. The new video for the amazing album version of the song compliments the music so well that it almost brings me to tears every time I watch it. The disarming beauty of the dancers fills the screen with passion and translates every note and lyric into pure art. Another long-awaited moment happens after A Pain That I’m Used To, a real Italian crowd pleaser that makes the whole standing area jump and sing. It’s the time when the audience can surrender to the obscure splendour of Useless, and Gahan’s velvet voice is singing of perdition and despair. The moment of glory, though, takes place after the end of the main set, when we start demanding I Want You Now, our chant getting infectious, louder and louder. What a joy to discover that Martin had actually planned to perform it! His interpretation is deeply heartfelt and moves the audience to the point that at the end of the song a long and liberating singalong rises from the standing area, leading Martin to return our cheers with one of his adorable child-like smiles.
11.15 pm. It’s a wrap ladies and gentlemen. The band has just said bye bye to the audience and I’m proudly holding the setlist sheet Jez Webb had taped on the stage floor before the concert started. Heading back home, feeling grateful and content: time to get my strength back before I start making plans for the next shows. See you all there!
Thank you Claudia!