Tuesday 28 March 2023



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

For the second review of the tour, we welcome back Kristin Vogel-Campbell. Kristin reviewed two gigs on the Global Spirit Tour and happily she has agreed to return to reviewing duties. As ever, Kristin's review is a great read and I know you'll all enjoy it. Thanks very much Kristin and I look forward to review number 4 some point later this year. All pictures are Kristin's unless otherwise credited.

David, am I the first official hat trick reviewer for the blog? Previously, I contributed two shows for the Global Spirit Tour: Sacramento 24/5/18 and Hollywood Bowl 12/10/17. I’ve been to quite a few Depeche shows in my life, this show being my forty-sixth. My husband, who I would call a casual fan, was attending his third. I thought it would be nifty to weave both my perspective as well as his into this review, as we are experiencing this on completely different levels.

This review almost didn’t happen. Just as I was set to take the 45 minute drive south from San Francisco to San Jose, my car battery started to go through death throes. Like Frankenstein’s monster, we gave it a jump to squeeze whatever life remained to make it to our destination. As someone who deals with anxiety on a daily basis, this was not the mindset I wanted to be in for the show. Thankfully we managed to make it to the venue with time to spare for a quick bite to eat and an alcoholic beverage to calm my nerves.

A Marquee and beautiful California twilight

In addition to writing this review, my other task for the evening was to nab a t-shirt for a dear friend who had planned on attending the first show in Sacramento but had to cancel due to a family situation. I knew that the merchandise lines would be ridiculously long from my experience in Sacramento, and that the best time to buy something was during the show. As we meandered through the crowds towards our section, we came upon one such line. My husband’s reaction to seeing $55 tees and $100 hoodies was “Jesus Christ those shirts are expensive. Aren't they already rich?” Yes, yes they are, and getting richer with each swipe of a credit card.

One of the most incredible parts of being part of this fandom are the friends I’ve made over the decades. We’ve lost some along the way, but their memories live on at each show. Seeing familiar faces each tour is one of the things I look forward to most. We’re all aging, just as Dave and Martin are. Just as Fletch should be.

Kristin (right) and a dear friend Gigi

Our seats were very high up, and the SAP Center is very steep. To top it off, the folks in our row were the type that expected you to climb over them while they remained seated. We had been in our seats for a few minutes when I noticed Jonathan “The Baron” Kessler pop his head into our section, run over to two women a few rows below us on the aisle, handed them two paper tickets, and quickly left. It shall remain a secret to the end, but it should have been me.

The lights come down, and the band, accompanied by Peter and Christian, alight the stage. Compared to the Global Spirit Tour, this is a very stripped down stage, with a large “M” screen in front of the full length screen. Dave’s feline movements appear to be purposeful and graceful, as opposed to the chaotic prancing and sometimes chicken dancing from a few years ago. He seems prepped, ready, energetic. Granted, it’s the beginning of the tour, but something feels different.

I was appreciative of the inclusion of several songs of the band’s new album, Memento Mori, and honestly would have been ok sacrificing a classic or two for more new songs. The new material sounds fantastic live. Speak to Me was giving off a very Nine Inch Nails The Fragile vibe.

The San Jose setlist is setlist “A”, the same songs that the band played in Sacramento a few nights ago, and was reviewed by Glen. As this is going to be the default set list for the majority of the reviews, I’m not going to do a song by song breakdown, as that will cause a bit of stagnation for later reviews. Instead, I’d like to focus on a few observations throughout the show.

In 1983, Depeche Mode were baby-faced musicians who were developing a taste for the dark, but they were also dabbling with important social issues: The Landscape is Changing focused on environmental concern, while Everything Counts was a jab at capitalism, greed and corruption. Fast forward forty years later where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees are engaging the crowd in an Everything Counts singalong after the debacle of dynamic pricing left many fans with a sour taste in their mouth. Robert Smith of The Cure proved that the artists DID have a say in how tickets were priced. Depeche Mode and their management choose to engage in these tactics, and some fans will continue to feed into it. Come on people, you’re letting me down.

The other interesting bit about Everything Counts that doesn’t involve a gripe were the visuals of a person in a black body and face suit with white gloves, very Jim Henson-esque, seemingly signing along to the song. I had attended Thursday night’s show with a friend who is fluent in American Sign Language, and he said what he recalled didn’t match up. However, after doing some research into signs for British Sign Language, I believe that some of the signs are from BSL. If there is a fan in Europe who is fluent in BSL, this would be great to look into. I found this to be an interesting correlation between my love for the band and my day job as a Special Education teacher, researcher and writer.

Martin sounded spotless, per the usual. There was a great crowd response for A Question of Lust, and even a few lighters out. Shocking! Soul With Me is one of the greatest Depeche Mode songs in the past twenty-five years. I loved hearing it live, and hope that it’s the second or third single from this album. I’d also like to hear People Are Good on the next leg of the tour in the fall/winter.

Enough will be said about the Fletch tribute during World in My Eyes, I cannot truly do it justice. I managed to get through it this time without crying, unlike in Sacramento. When Dave bowed down to Fletch’s photos at the end of the song, it gripped my heart a bit.

The other highlight of the evening for me was Dave and Martin singing Waiting for the Night. My casual fan date turned to me and exclaimed “look at them, they are having a tender moment”. In actuality, everyone in the arena was having a tender moment. However, the transition from such a beautiful performance to the camp fest that is Just Can’t Get Enough was very jarring, and not well planned. Again, the majority of the fans were just eating it up, and it even got a “goddamn, that was good” from my concert partner.

Such was my 46th Depeche Mode concert, and I am glad I got to share it all with you. May you all have the opportunity to see the band on tour this year.


Thanks Kristin!

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