Friday, 20 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, PALEO FESTIVAL, NYON, SWITZERLAND, 17 JULY 2018

In the first of a two part Paleo Festival special, we welcome back Luisa Carones who has previously and splendidly covered Berlin and Milan for this project. It's great to have Luisa return once again and, as you'll expect, her review is another excellent read. A special mention too for Going Bankrupt - I think many of us feel that way! Thank you for this Luisa and see you in Berlin next week. Thanks also to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures.


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group


Festivals? 

So, here I am again at a DM gig – or, is it a proper gig? Because, as we all know, DM and Festivals are an over-debated issue in the devotees world. 

I am well aware that many of you are not super happy about our boys being part of a bill with acts sometimes – very often should I say? – DM fans couldn’t care less about. 

And that was my attitude too. As soon as festivals dates started to be announced, I said to myself: “I’m definitely not going to go: too many people who are not real fans, participation will be absolutely rubbish, too much stress, a whole day in the sun, or worse in the rain, listening to boring music, being pushed and trampled on, security levels below zero and, above all, a shortened setlist. No way!”. And I meant it. The only exception would have been Barolo because it’s not far from home, Italian fans are great, and I knew DM would be the only act on the night, simply supported by a short opening act. 

But then, you know, and I mean most of you REALLY know, how the DM bug starts working in your brain... What if it’s the last tour? I know I want to see them again. I am sure I will regret it if I don’t go. And so on. 

And so, from one only festival I was supposed to attend, Nyon is my sixth festival (and last, I promise), my 24th overall concert on this tour, and my new fix with the boys. In a way, I am really glad the tour is coming to an end because, as my friend and co-devotee Roberta said, “We are Going Bankrupt” more than Backwards.... 

Anyway, as I have written in my previous reviews, I always get ready for gigs just as if they were military operations because I want to make the most of the experience, but especially because I want to be as close to the stage as possible (as does much of the female part of the audience – I reckon I know the reason for this, right ladies?). Doing that at a festival is even more demanding because it requires not moving from your spot for hours and hours, with all that that entails... 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The Wait 

Around Europe, for regular gigs, we are used to starting to queue very early before the concert, at least the night before (when it’s not 2 days before, as it happens in Italy and in Germany), giving numbers, following a sort of ritual which, by now, works fairly well – except for the usual drama at the time of doors opening. Well, forget about that at festivals! Which is not that bad, after all. 

Since normal festival goers are not as crazy as the Black Swarm, no one, and I mean absolutely NO ONE, starts queuing before the opening time. Paléo Festival is a very familiar and laid back event and, at 8.30 am, outside the gates, there were only just 5 or 6 of us hardcore fans, a number which got close to no more that 20/30 by the time the gates were actually opened at 3.30pm. 

Nobody even bothers about giving numbers, and all the normal people working at the venue just looked at us as if we were strange beasts. And maybe they are right: we are a little odd, aren’t we? The good thing though is that Paléo is such an easygoing event that they let us, poor crazy DM fans, in during the morning, just to enjoy the site, provided we exited by midday. I mean, WHAAAT??? Have you ever heard anything like that?! No ticket checking, no security checking, just walk in and look around... And so we went inside the area and we enjoyed the DM crew preparing the stage and sound checking....that was a real treat! 

Besides, the area of the main stage is amazing because it’s a huge field with the shape of a theatre, so everyone from the audience can see the stage perfectly, and I guess the view from the stage is amazing as well, since the artists can see people’s faces, not just an indistinct mob. 

So we stayed there for a while, we laid on the grass, and let the hours pass... sorry guys, I couldn’t resist.... 

Anyway, I went back outside the gates just past midday and it was a smart choice, because that was the only covered area of the site and at 1pm it started pouring. Well, it’s not a real festival if you don’t get a bit of rain, is it? 

Luckily, the rain lasted only half an hour and then the glorious sun was back again with a light breeze blowing from the lake, which dried the ground so that we avoided being in the mud dring the concert. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Pre DM 

When the gates finally opened, there was just a bit of rush, but, with barely 50 people who were not even running to get to the main stage, I could peacefully walk – fast – the 400m to the stage and place myself in my favourite spot: front row, slightly on Dave’s left (and if you have read my reviews from the other gigs, you know why: I won’t go over the matter again, the ladies reading this will understand anyway). 

There were just 2 bands before DM started and I must say they were both pretty good. The first act, starting at 6.00 pm, was Altin Gun, a Turkish-Dutch group which, in my opinion, perfectly represented the folk spirit of a music festival. They sang in Turkish, with a fantastic Oriental flavour, but they also sounded very international, with a hint of a ‘70s vibe, but still very contemporary. I would suggest you check them out. After all, this is the aim of a festival: you get to hear things you didn’t know of. 

The second act was a more traditional rock group, from Iceland, Kaleo, whose lead singer really has a great voice, controlled and educated a bit more, but that is my personal taste. He is really goodlooking: he had his share of teenage fans screaming. Overall, they were good and they made the whole crowd dance, which is always a nice way to spend your time while waiting for the main act. Much better than other festivals I have been to this summer (Liam Gallagher anyone? errm...) 

By the time the second band had finished their set, the place was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was full of excitement. It was finally getting dark and the weather was absolutely perfect. So, it was time for me to plunge into my personal DM trance. 


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

15 songs 

As we know by now, the setlist for the festivals is made up of just 15 songs, but, even though I would love to have Dave singing all night, I have to say that for a festival it is the right amount of time. People have been on site all day, at least the whole afternoon, they have had plenty of music to enjoy, it is a mixed audience, it is often very hot (or, worse it could be raining), so, no one can really complain if the concert does not last 3 hours. And the majority of DM fans are not getting any younger... 

I know that many diehard fans are not happy about the choice of the songs, but I think it is a good setlist for a festival, with a good balance created to engage festival goers who may not be familiar with DM and their music. The first part is perfectly balanced with A Pain That I’m Used To setting the crowd into motion with its fast pace and then the melodic structure of Precious which is a popular tune and which is always well received. I’m not going into World In My Eyes because I do not want to get carried away by talking of certain moves with that damn mic stand, you know. And then the second part is just amazing: hit after hit after hit. 

The Nyon crowd was really participating, they all answered to Dave’s inputs and prompts, even during the first songs which in other dates fell a bit flat. At least that was my impression from up front, where, of course, the most devoted people were. But from what I heard, the reaction was great for every song. And I could see it reflected also in the faces of the band on stage. They looked to be enjoying the show as well. 

By now I know every single move and gesture of everyone on stage, since they tend to repeat what they know works with the audience, so we got the usual stuff, always delivered with utmost skill and craft. It still amazes me that they can look so fresh and on top of their game after so many concerts. 

I can just underline a couple af different things: the Pollock backdrop to Going Backwards is slightly different from the one used throughout the tour (I noticed it had changed at Mad Cool in Madrid, I do not know in any other places), and Dave knelt down during the instrumental part of Everything Counts, when he shouts “Take it boys!”, just before pretending to yawn. So much for the innovations! 

But they are so good, their music is so brillant, that, no matter how many times you have experienced them live, they just blow your mind. Dave’s vocals were absolutely outstanding, he was really focused on delivering a stunning vocal performace, especially before the final rush from Everything Counts on, when, of course, the entertaining aspect takes the upper hand. He introduced variations and subtleties that the attentive fan could notice and appeciate, and, maybe thanks to the place itself, there were moments of sheer emotion. I noticed that especially during Stripped and the chorus of In Your Room, when Dave let the crowd sing “Will I always be here” standing with his open arms: in those moments, the darkness on stage, the spotlight on Dave, the smoke around the scene, and the wind from the lake, created an utterly magical combination: goosebumps. 

Another great moment was, of course, the wheat field: at festivals something astonishing happens. Even normal people take part in the wave, everyone is so involved that they lap up Dave’s commands in a flash and, when the whole floor waving is shown on the big screen, the roar from the audience is absolutely deafening. Last night in Nyon was exactly like that and my hair literally stood up at the back of my neck, even though I have often been part of the wave and I do not usually really get emotional with it. I think this is because festival goers are not used to such scenes and so their reaction is over the top, while we DM fans are really spoilt and we usually just look around to see if our ritual is working fine. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

See You All Some Other Time 

Yes, Dave said that at the end, but I am not going to speculate. I’m sure that if and when they feel like it, they will get together once more and the cycle will start all over again. 

So, all in all, my festival experience was really worth it, at least at smaller festivals, because I got to enjoy different aspects of the DM world. 

Now, it’s time to say goodbye to this wonderful journey which has been the Global Spirit Tour for me. Thank you David for having me on this huge project and I’ll see many of you in Berlin for the final bow. Take care!

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Thank you Luisa

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