Tuesday, 26 June 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL, 23 JUNE 2018 - PART 1

Part One of the Isle of Wight Festival special comes from Sue Lawrence, a Depeche Mode fan from Littlehampton in England. Sue was wearing one of this blog's t-shirts for the Depeche set which was very good of her. Two chaps I've met a few times on the tour (hello Mark and Garry) recognised it and went up to her to say hello. What a strange world we live in! Thanks very much for this review Sue. Glad you enjoyed the festival - I wonder if any Louise fans have checked the blog out since then? All pictures are Sue's unless otherwise credited.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I was excited and apprehensive when DM were announced as Saturday headliners. Excited because it was another chance for me to see them on this tour, but apprehensive in case they didn't pull a big crowd, and no-one liked them. Well, in the end it was a SOLD OUT Festival. I'd like to attribute this solely to DM; but more than likely it was the combined popularity of the headliners and the fact that Glastonbury is not on this year. 

This is my 3rd IOW Festival and 5th Global Spirit Tour show. 

To secure a reasonably good FOS position, I found myself amongst fans of Liam Gallagher. He was the warm-up (sorry, couldn't resist!) for Depeche Mode. As expected there was a bit of banter from him with the crowd "well what do you expect me to play to a bunch of Depeche Mode fans? I may as well f*ck off". (Or words to that effect). It felt a bit like being an 'away' fan who accidentally got in with the 'home' crowd at a football match. I pretended I knew all the words, until he finished his set.

To be fair to Liam, I enjoyed his album but his set relied heavily on Oasis songs. There are quite a few comparisons between him and Dave Gahan. Front man turned song-writer and finally having some success in his own right. 

With the help of a couple of DM T-shirt-clad chaps who came to my rescue (thanks lads, if you are reading this), I got my spot near the end of a short and very steep catwalk. 



The usual pre-gig music started and the familiar Jackson Pollock styled screens flickered on and off intermittently, as the band took the stage to the opening of Going Backwards. I had a momentary sick feeling that the screens were going to fail, as they have on a number of occasions on this tour, and I thought I caught a nervous look from Dave as he glanced towards them. But it was all fine. 

The crowd were unusually (for a Depeche show) dressed mainly in Gold. This was the 50th Anniversary IOW Festival and everyone had been asked to help celebrate by wearing Gold on Saturday. The band must have wondered if they were at the right event. 

Dave could have participated in his own small way by wearing his gold boots, but contrarily chose his red ones instead. 

As expected the set-list had been reduced and rearranged, either to satisfy a festival timetable and crowd, or to accommodate a Sky broadcast. So I really did not know what or when to expect it. 

Dave has said that he believes that a show should take the audience on a journey, that there should be highs and lows, dark and shade. This set-list ebbed and flowed, and built slowly and steadily until even the most indifferent bunch of young Liam fans beside me, were dancing wildly to Policy Of Truth and World In My Eyes. 

Things cooled down slightly for Cover Me, The Things You Said (first time for me) and In Your Room. 



Then came the genius run of Everything Counts, Stripped, and Personal Jesus (which had been the show closer for the tour so-far) and, for a brief moment, I thought the set had come to an end. If it had, I think most of the audience would have felt they had got a good show. The sing-a-long and audience participation was fitting for a show-closer. 

But, of course more was yet to come. How could I forget Never Let Me Down Again? This was epic as always, with the ubiquitous arm waving. I remember how that felt the first time I witnessed it. Surely, knowing this would be a cut-down set-list it had to be the end? 

But, I was pretty certain Walking In My Shoes would be played because I had been rudely awakened in my tent at 6:30 in the morning, by the intro booming a mile across the site from Mainstage. A schoolboy error if they were sound checking, given that about 50,000 people were still sleeping off the effects of the previous night. 

After a brief interval, Martin performed Somebody (I'm not a fan and would have preferred Home, if I'm honest). Then Walking In My Shoes which is my personal all-time favourite Depeche song (apart from when it wakes me at 6:30 in the morning, in my tent, at a festival, after a Kasabian show). 

Bloody hell! Just Can't Get Enough! Genius! That was a shock. Love it or hate it. People know it. (Even if it is because of the Churchill Insurance TV advert). It makes people dance and sing. That is what people like to do at festivals. It was like one huge party. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Yet, there was even more to come with Enjoy The Silence. With the crowd fully behind them, they launched into the song with Anton's puzzling animal video showing on the big screen. What the Depeche newbies thought of it I do not know, but the song was a resounding success, and brought the show to a close on a triumphant high. 

The band themselves seemed on good form. Fletch was moving his arms about quite a lot more than usual, Martin was conducting Christian on the drums, Dave was good-naturedly mimicking Fletch's moves with a laugh, and he even pointed the T-shirt cannon at Martin. He was also considerably chattier than normal and took a light-hearted swipe back at Liam "It's been a long day, and now you get to see the best"! 

Perhaps now would have been a good opportunity to roll out People Are People after all these years. I think it would have been well received and lifted the early part of the set. Although in my opinion it was a good crowd-pleasing set-list for a festival.

Leaving the field, I felt proud to be a Mode fan, hearing nothing but positive comments from the audience. 

It was also great to meet Gary and Mark before the show, two Mode fans who spotted me in my Almost Predictable Almost T-shirt and came and introduced themselves. I hope you enjoyed the show lads. 



Finally thank you to David for the Global Spirit Tour Project blog, and for giving me the chance to be a part of it. Thanks also for the T-shirt, and apologies if I was spotted wearing it earlier, bopping away at The Big Top Stage to Louise (of Eternal). 

I write this, sitting in the sun outside my tent, the morning after the show. I feel a little sadness as I think that this may very well have been my final Depeche Mode show. 

Speculation is rife that after the two Berlin shows later this year, the band may call it a day. If that is the case, then I am happy that they went out on a high and that the Doubting Thomas's were silenced.

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Thanks Sue

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