Phew - this was a close one. Every day there is a gig, I post about on Facebook, tagging the reviewer in the photo. After I'd done that for this gig, I was emailed by the reviewer who said he wasn't going and had forgotten to tell me. Ah. Luckily, my Facebook feed then showed my friend Mototaka Fujii had checked in at Gdynia Station ahead of the concert and, two emails later, I had a reviewer. Having met up with Moto a couple of times already on the tour and ahead of us meeting up again next week in Berlin, it's great to have him write a review too and I know you'll all love it. Thank you so much for stepping in Moto and thank you for this superb review, pictures and video.
To me it all started with yoghurt.
Whilst waiting for a airport coach to Skavsta airport, which is a 80 minute ride from Stockholm Central I saw Pressbyrån, a local "Seven Eleven" opening its door. Yawning and sleepy I decided to pop down and purchase a drinkable yoghurt before boarding. Living in a nordic country, paying with card is just as natural as breathing - so I had no doubt that it was going to be a quick in&out; get the yoghurt and back quickly to the queue. It was 05:30, half an hour before the departure.
Beep… the display said “Payment not allowed on this card”
“Hm, strange. Maybe I run it too quickly“
Beep… “Payment not allowed on this card”
Cleaning the magnetic area of the card, I said to the cashier again, “that’s weird, could you please run it one more time? It's not expired so it must work.”
Beep… “Payment not allowed on this card”. She asked me if I had cash with me.
“Yes I think I do...”. Taking out the last remaining coins in my wallet, I settled down the deal reluctantly.
Upon leaving the place a horrifying thought came up in my head. Having all packed and ready and you are almost there but travelling with a non-valid card? Even though all was pre-booked and sorted you still need something for transport and eating! Then I suddenly remembered receiving a new card from my bank for a while ago due to possible fraud. T minus 25. Race against the time has began.
The following half an hour was spent on a hell ride of bicycle back & forth. Luckily my flat was 10 minutes away from the station at full speed, so I grabbed my bike and cycled as fast as I could. As if my arse was on fire, I threw the bike away at the door and flown into the house searching for the letter from the bank. Luckily it was left where I last saw it. “This darn thing better work!” - convincing myself I checked the time again. It was 05:45 - 15 minutes until the departure. Missing this will cause another hour of waiting. What if something happens on the road I will definitely miss the plane and ruin the whole trip! Grabbing the bike I set my arse on fire again and headed back to the terminal like a rolling stone.
A fair number of travellers were already inside the bus by the time I arrived. How ironic, you thought you were among the very first one in the queue and the next moment you are the very last one!
Finally securing the seat, I felt sweat running down the spine like I was taking a cold shower. “What a brilliant start, this trip is going to be interesting…”
So it began. The trip to Gdynia, Poland to see Depeche Mode live at Open’er Festival. How scary, things would’ve come out differently had I not been thirsty and popped into Pressbyrån.
After a stressful start the only way was up. I started thinking of the trip, festival, all the fun I had looked forward to. Being a food lover I was eager to try local food. Poland is famous for its dumplings and soup in bread. So there was no way I would leave the country without trying them.
Then a thought kept coming back. One that has been lingering since the last show I saw in Odense about a week before:
Depeche Mode on a festival tour. More than a year after the start. What is it left to enjoy when they have been touring for so long? What is the focus of the tour now? Would they stick to the standard setlist that they have established on the latest leg (15 songs)? 2 songs from the latest album Spirit. Is it still possible to call it for Global Spirit tour? Would they change a song or two considering that they are given a 105 minute slot? Would Martin sing The Things You Said tonight?
Following the Home forum for its wonderful real-time setlists as well as fabulous live reviews on Almost Predictable, Almost, it was clear that the chance of any changes was down to 1:100 tonight. Same old? Yup. No more surprises? Nope. Just another gig? Most certainly, yes. For going to see multiple shows you would need to see it with another perspective. Having seen 18 shows in 13 countries on the current tour my mind was therefore set elsewhere. For me it was no longer about the music only but about being “in the moment”; being away from family, enjoying the whole trip, trying local food/culture, and hopefully meeting a few friends I knew.
So it went. Arriving at Gdynia Główna train station, 8 odd hours later I was starving for food. Having remembered pork dishes being very popular in Poland, I opted for Żeberka, pork ribs at a local restaurant. Slow boiled and well flavoured with grill sauce the meat was incredibly soft and tasty. Simply exquisite! Happy and stuffed I checked in at a youth hostel around the corner. Funny enough, as soon as the receptionist saw me she smiled and without an intro said “you must be Mototaka, here is your room number” I guess being an Asian devotee in Gdynia is like coming across a limited edition of Spirit “red vinyl” on a shop display in a very small town; it’s so obvious… Haha
|It's Called A Pork|
The festival site was easily accessible by free bus services from Główna, the main train station of Gdynia. A wonderful treat by the organiser, making it easy and trouble-free for the visitors. Within 20 minutes we were left outside the Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport. Further walking down, the massive stage emerged at the end of a huge parking. As with any concerts the sight of a stage is always exciting, enough to make your expectation grow again.
Thanks to the place being an airport, the stages were built on one gigantic catwalk. “Orange main stage” on one end and the other “tent stage” on the other end. The whole runway was like a mile long mall packed with food court and various shops; all from clothing to vinyl, play areas for kids, and plenty of lawn to sit on. It simply offered everything you could ask for to have fun and comfort.
Well on schedule Ørganek, a local band came on playing an edgy & powerful set of rock ’n’ roll. Sounding like a Polish answer to 70’s punk (Ramones) & 90’s alternative rock (Foo Fighters), the response from the fans was loud and positive. The singer was very active on the stage, inviting the audience for singalong. A pity that it was all in sung in Polish and i didn’t understand a single word. All in all every country has local heroes only popular among the locals. I imagine they are like Kent in Sweden, another band that I have followed for many years.
Festivals are about discovering new bands as well. After the loud rock it was time for MØ, a Danish pop diva that I’ve never really checked before. A nice mix of electronic pop and dance music accompanied by an energetic performance, it reminded me of Grimes and Robyn. She stepped off the the stage quite a lot, standing among the audiences and singing with them. What an entertainer and pleasant surprise! Will definitely check her out more.
By the time DM were starting the place was getting packed. I mean literally jammed with 60,000 strong fans. It was so crowded that there was no more space to move around in the area before the stage. Standing on the right side of the soundboard I positioned myself to catch the best sound possible (for those who don't know me, I am Kompakt Mode on Youtube putting out self-filmed material). Martin Gore edited pre-DJ music slowly building up the mood. ”Deeepeche Mode! Deeepche Mode!", inpatient crowd clapping hands shouting for the boys to start. I knew Polish fans are one of the loudest, so being there gave me a total shiver down the spine. What an atmosphere!
22:00 - VSK’s “Echinopsis” suddenly faded out and The Beatles Revolution kicked in. What an effective way to start the pre-show intro. Still loving it after having heard the same thing so many times before!
The rest is history to me. Again the band was in top form. How they can keep up with this level of intensity night in night out is still beyond imagination and a great mystery to me. Dave looked in a great mood, looking very impressed with the number of people. He screamed “Gdynia!” several times during the show, proving that he really WAS having a great time. The show went on without any lengthy chat between songs. Funny how little they talk after all these years. The only talk-ish moment was the intro to the last number where Dave said “We are going way back in time, you weren’t even alive!”. For this reason I can totally understand why it matters so much for many (including myself) with what Dave says at the end of the show: “See you next time” or “See you some other time”? The former means they would be back again with another album and tour? The latter no more?
The setlist was indeed the same old one. However, the audience was different to any other that I had seen. They were really loud! Even though I was standing fairly far from the stage you could really see many happy faces enjoying the time with the band. The show ended with Just Can’t Get Enough with an extra singalong. Being a festival I thought it was a ok closing song. A song everyone remembers with the lyrics so easy to remember. Even though long time fans would consider the set to be one of the weakest and predictable in the DM history, I’m hoping it would’ve left some impression on newer generations that may have heard their songs but not really known who was behind it. All in all, that’s what a festival is for - getting to know new bands and checking out who they are. In that term Depeche Mode managed to offer a good selection of tracks.
PS: At the end of the show Dave said “See you some other time!” Well, I for one hope he meant just for this festival, not necessarily for the next tour and album…
So it was over with the show. 100 minutes of rock solid performance. However the festival was not ending yet. It went on with Massive Attack, true headliner of the evening. Having seen them twice before (1999, 2009) and loved the first 3 albums, my expectation was high. Like I remembered from the last one in Stockholm they played a set of chill-out electronica with hypnotic and organic sounds. The inventor of trip hop? To me they are beyond that. It was extra nice to see them playing instruments like analogue synthesisers to re-create the album sound, but with so much depth and sonical dimension.
So the festival ended for me. An evening with a well-organised festival that I really didn’t want to leave. Tired but happy I arrived at the hostel almost 4 am so all I needed was to crawl into the bed and get some sleep.
4 hours later I was up again. Funny how your body works when you are determined for getting something like food… No matter how tired you are, the body wakes up on time and ask for nutrition in exact time of the day. After a quick sandwich and coffee from Zabka, a local convenience store, I checked out the hostel and set my course to Pierogarnia u Dzika in Gdansk.
Built in the 10th century Gdansk is an old seaport in Poland. Within a few minutes walk from Główny main train station, you are in the middle of the old town surrounded by what look like buildings in Amsterdam. No wonder, it was the Dutch architects who originally designed the entire city in the 16th century, to be rebuilt again in the same style after the destruction in WWII. Pierogarnia u Dzika, the restaurant I checked out was located right in the old city.
Like I had read on Tripadvisor, they came with food quickly, serving first the mushroom soup in bread, Tyskie beer, then the much awaited pierogi. The soup was excellent, what a nice way of eating whilst scratching for the bread pieces inside the bowel and eating it altogether. The pierogi was very tasty and filling as well, topped with crispy bacon and onions which made additional flavour. Even though my feed were killing me after having walked miles at the festival it was totally worth coming!
So that’s how it went. A short but super-intensive in&out. A Depeche Mode concert in the wonderful city of northern Poland was nothing but a pleasure. If they came back to Poland on the next tour I would certainly do all I can to go back again and try all that the country has to offer and more.
Last but not least below is the entire film that I put together. Those who went to see it - I hope it brings back lots of nice memories. It certainly did to me.
Thank you Moto!