Tuesday 15 August 2023



Picture courtesy of Fredrik Lindh

This review is by Kate Dowling. It's Kate's first for the blog. She is one of the people who has been worn down by years of my Twitter based Depeche Mode nonsense who happily wasn't put off the band instead volunteered a review. It's a great read as I'm sure you will agree. Follow Kate on Twitter @waveatthetrain . The photos that appear here are either hers or from other sources. Don’t steal their pictures.

There’s a certain panic that happens when you’re in an airport within two hours of flying and that flight is cancelled. There’s that level of panic and then there’s the panic you feel when your flight is cancelled and you’re due to see Depeche Mode the following day. We scrambled for a replacement plane and got the last two seats that would get us to Copenhagen in time. It was a very lucky escape.

Arriving in Denmark only a few hours before the gig, there was a quick turnaround to check into the hotel, find somewhere to eat and get orientated in the direction of the stadium. Like a gig day anywhere, there’s always the overwhelming focus that you have reached THE day, but for me there’s a particular nervous energy to seeing a gig away from home in a venue you don’t know, when you’re don’t really know where you’re going. You look at a map and it looks close to the hotel, but it’s still a bit of a lottery. We were lucky as the Parken Stadium was incredibly straightforward to find and in easy in walking distance of where we were staying.

Like anyone that’s been following the tour and heading for a gig, there’s always the excitement of what variation might occur during the setlist. I’m a big fan of the setlist charts produced by Mark Peterborough, which are shared on Twitter after every gig - you can check these out via @markpeterboro. The charts list all the song variations and represent any emerging patterns with the choice of tracks that are played live, including those Martin curveballs which appear as if by magic and make you wonder if you’re going to be getting Home or even, by a slim percentage, Shake the Disease.

Following Mark’s charts I knew the potential tracks that could be played. We’d already been to Twickenham and I would really have liked some changes to what was played during that performance. I loved that set, but there’s always the hope that you might get something completely different. I appreciate that this is probably completely unrealistic, but I’m one of a dedicated following that thinks Before We Drown would be a fantastic addition to the live set. Well, there’s always hope, isn’t there?

The stadium was absolutely packed by the time the band reached the stage, with no gaps at all at pitch level. With the roof closed it also had a very different feel to the Twickenham gig, something of a hybrid between a stadium and an arena due to the light that was still coming through the covered ceiling. We had great seats, which was a pleasant realisation. They certainly didn’t look that close to the stage when I booked them. The booking system obviously lied!

Things got off to a banging start music-wise, but when anyone tried to stand up in the crowd, the Live Nation security staff told people to sit down. I always go for a seat as I’ve a problem with one of my legs and can’t stand for hours. I appreciate with this there’s a risk when I do need to dance, but I’ve never seen such wide-scale control of people standing in a seated area as there was in Copenhagen. Even as time went on, the people in the row behind were not having any standing. I really felt for the guy sitting at the side of us, who was so into the music that he was down on his knees during Stripped. He was elevated to an otherworldly worship by the song, but was being suppressed by an under-zealous crowd.

I think anyone seeing Depeche has views about what does and doesn’t work live. I have those feelings too, but My Favourite Stranger was an unexpected highlight. This track hadn’t really stood out for me on Memento Mori, but playing it live seems to turn it into a proper banger. With the roof closed, the song had that warehouse, ravey vibe about it. And yes, I know John The Revelator is that Marmite song that people seem to love or hate, but I bloomin’ love it and I was thrilled that it’s been included on this tour. Who’s that shouting? Me, apparently.

By the time we reached Enjoy The Silence, some sporadic standing was permitted, which broke out in to - Shock! Horror! - widespread dancing by Just Can’t Get Enough. Personal Jesus brought things to a close and whilst I’m not really in favour of the Hammond Organ embellishments that have appeared more recently, the track is always such a great finale.

And then, like warm sand that you’re trying to stop running through your fingers, it’s gone. The band are bowing and waving at the crowd, your hands are sore from applause, your voice is disappearing. We didn’t get any of those surprises during the set, but I was just grateful for being able to be there.

With truly great bands the shared sense of experiencing something incredible with thousands of people is almost palpable. It was there for me in that stadium as I turned to leave. There’s an often unsaid fellowship amongst the true fans in those crowds that we shouldn’t take for granted, something beyond speaking the same language or living in the same country. I saw the woman at the side of me in a sort of daze at what she had witnessed, something I felt too, but then she looked towards me, put a hand on my shoulder and smiled. Never forget we share this. Never forget how lucky we are.


Thanks Kate!

No comments:

Post a Comment