Wednesday, 4 July 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, VOLT FESTIVAL, SOPRON, HUNGARY, 26 JUNE 2018

As the festival season continues, Depeche Mode's final lap of the Global Spirit Tour continues too. On 26 June, they headlined the Volt Festival in Hungary and Stephan Bobinger was there to review it for the blog. You might recall Stephan's wonderful Nuremberg review from January and once again he has written something I know you will all enjoy. Thank you for this and the great pictures Stephan.




It’s strange. I saw 17 DM concerts in 30 years (1984 – 2014) in total, seeing them much more than I saw other band, yet I am here in Sopron, Hungary for concert number 17 only on my personal Global Spirit Tour with Depeche Mode. But for the first time for me, it’s a Mode concert at a festival – and a special one indeed. 

You may have read my report on the concert in Nuremberg in January 2018 which marked my thirteenth on this tour which was followed by concerts in Vienna, Helsinki and Riga, each special and - like always - really good experiences. They were also my last indoor concerts on this tour. That meant they were all dry and, in the case of Helsinki, even so clean that you could eat from the floor AFTER the concert. As they concerts were indoors, the temperature was always nice and cool too. 

Going to a festival, I expect something different, in summer maybe hot temperatures, maybe a lot of rain or the opposite. The weather forecast for Sopron was 22 degrees (3 days before it was 10 degrees hotter) and no rain at all, or only a bit in the late evening. I went to Sopron by train via Vienna and when I arrived at the station (still sunny) there were the first guys in Mode shirts to be seen. The festival signs in the magenta color of Telekom were everywhere in the nice town. 



A special thing about this festival is that every headliner gets a special designed chair as a present, to sign or paint something on it. And the chair stays afterwards in Sopron in public. The chair of our boys will be (after the festival) in the outdoor area of an ice café/restaurant in the center, next to the chair of Linkin Park (headliner in 2017 and the singer remembered through the festival in spots, r.i.p.). 

There are two type of festivals Depeche Mode are playing to, most are typical festivals with dozens of bands, a few headliners, a lot of very young people (more into fun and drinking) all of which last for about 3 days. Usually the VOLT-Festival is about the same I think, but for one day it was the other type of festival Depeche Mode are playing to. This day, June 26th, was officially Day 0 (Zero!) of the 5-day-festival with day tickets more expensive than for the other four days with other well-known bands like Hurts or Iron Maiden. 

Day 0 was the Depeche Mode day – in many respects. 

A bus shuttle brought me from the station to the festival site. At 3pm there were still not so many people inside, with many people building their tents next to the festival area before going in. About 4 bands were already playing at different stages, most of them Hungarian, and some of them played just to a handful of people. At 4 pm it started pouring - I guess there is a law that on the first day of any festival the floor has to be changed into mud? Well, finally it wasn’t that bad in Sopron and the last of the rain stopped just a quarter of an hour before Depeche Mode entered the main stage. That meant they could even dry the stage floor a bit. 

Three hours before, right opposite to the main stage on the smallest festival stage, a Hungarian DM tribute band called “Das Modell” played a concert, so about 100 Mode fans got a nice warmup with Black Celebration, A Question Of Time, Behind The Wheel and Photographic. Not a good band sadly. If you want to see a really good tribute one I really recommend the Berlin band “Forced to Mode”. But still it was nice and fun, anyway. 



On the main stage there were only two bands on that day. First a Hungarian hiphop band Belga, which I didn’t like but to get a good place I had to “enjoy” them and Depeche Mode entered at 9 pm. 

After 8 pm the whole festival site filled and everybody came to (and for) Depeche Mode. In the end it should have been about 30,000 people there. It was much more like a Mode concert with the people knowing even the Spirit songs (only 2 in the festival setlist with Going Backwards and Cover Me) and the band were received with an enthusiastic welcome. As always, the band played as if they were having a lot of fun and seemed to enjoy that concert. 

There were two big side screens and a bigger one behind the band. So everyone in the back could watch them. The sound was really good for an outdoor concert (at least at my position, centre, maybe row 20 from the stage). 

After 16 concerts I had seen 32 different songs on this tour, so I didn’t expect any new ones until a few days before the concert. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew which setlist they played on their first festival in UK and so I hoped for two personal tour premieres for me: The Things You Said and Just Can’t Get Enough

The concert started as usual with Going Backwards but for my first time with Dave starting singing in the front (I liked that). It’s No Good showed Fletch much more often on the screens than usual (one more like). Barrel Of A Gun is missed in the festival set however. They speed things up however with up with the next song -  A Pain That I’m Used To



Now according to the UK festival, Precious was expected but as a small surprise the band played Useless before Precious. No other song is welcomed so differently in concerts. In Vienna or Riga it was the breakthrough to elevate the mood , here in Sopron it was just nice. World In My Eyes elevated the mood even more again and Cover Me is always one of the highlights on this tour. 

Now, waiting and hoping for the Martin song… YES. The Things You Said. I was lucky to hear/see this song about 30 years ago in Munich, but hell, now it sounds so much more grown up – how could they dismiss it for 30 years? 

In Your Room – a fantastic song – but make sure not to watch the video on the screen but Dave’s performance. After that the Depeche Mode party really gets running and the audience got really wild – and how! Everything Counts better than ever followed by my all time favorite Stripped and next Personal Jesus, no longer a closer on the tour (and that’s right!). About one year ago, I was in the stadium concert in Budapest and the most impressive thing was the 100%-waving audience at Never Let Me Down Again. The Hungarian mode fans are really the best at this and they were again in Sopron. Really fantastic! 

The encore started with Somebody (still my favorite love song) and Walking In My Shoes but then a small (negative) surprise for me when Enjoy The Silence started and I had expected that it would be their last song. But they just changed the sequence to the festival before and finished this fantastic concert with Just Can’t Get Enough (announced by one of the longest speeches of Dave in history: “Thank you very much, than you. We’re going to take you now far back ln time now. A loooong looong time ago.”)  You can love it or hate it but it’s a perfect festival song. 



Which brings me to an interesting but academic question: Which is the perfect closer for a Mode concert? Never Let Me Down Again like on last tour? Personal Jesus like on this tour? Enjoy The Silence like in the Isle Of Wight Festival? Or Just Can’t Get Enough like in Sopron? Or one of the very special closing songs like Goodnight Lovers, Waiting For The Night or Goodbye

Sorry my answer is: Behind the wheel with Route 66

That’s all!? No, not in Sopron that night. The festival continued with live bands and a lot of DJs on the other stages and the longer the night, the more Depeche Mode songs were played. On the biggest stage the DJ even dared to play songs like Here Is The House and Sacred. Also, just 50 metres opposite on another stage, the DJ Black Asteroid mixed live songs from different artists including of course  Depeche Mode. You might remember that he made some official remixes for the band, e.g. on Soothe My Soul

So, it was a really good festival experience with Depeche Mode and it eased the waiting time for my final three stages on this tour in Madrid and Berlin. 

See you (almost) all at the Waldbühne.

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Thank you Stephan

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