Thursday 22 February 2024



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Depeche Mode and Berlin is always a special combination. Sarah Evans visited the city for her first Depeche Berlin experience earlier this month and here is her review. It's a great read - thank you very much Sarah. Follow her on Twitter at @sunforsarah All pictures here are Sarah's unless otherwise credited.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Is Berlin the Spiritual Home of Depeche Mode?

It's a big question and one Americans might challenge, especially with all the band history in Los Angeles; the recent declaration of Depeche Mode day, Dave nearly checking out forever at the Sunset Marquis and the legendary 101 Rose Bowl concert, so their special relationship with LA can't be denied.

But my question, takes me back to Berlin. Home of the famous Hansa Studio's, home of Black Celebration and where DM played in East Germany before the Wall came down. There are many German influences that have seeped into Martin's songwriting.

I had heard all about the German fan base with elevated adoration levels of their beloved DM, I really wanted to experience a piece of this and see if the Berlin hype would be delivered.

Therefore a mini trip to Berlin for the 2024 back end of the tour was too good an opportunity to miss. Especially as we just don't know what lies ahead...devotees you'll have your own views on whether they'll tour again!

So far this Memento Mori tour has been reviewed as being tremendous. The Twickenham gig last summer was a great day. Meeting Twitter friends for a spot of day drinking on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in a pub garden, where the DJ cranked up our excitement, not only by being a "looky likey" Dave resplendent in shiny waistcoat, but by playing DM all afternoon to a boozy swarm of middle aged UK fans in a swathe of black t-shirts. Seeing our boys again that evening after 4 years, was sweaty and glorious.

Then more recently to a more favourable indoor gig at the O2 Arena London, where up to that time (pre-Berlin!) personally this was the best I have ever seen them play.

Before we get back to why I love DM and sharing my Berlin gig experience. I need to share....strap in.....I was a late comer to the DM scene, becoming a convert only in 1996. 

"Good grief," you say, "you missed out on your teenage years lying in front of the stacking hifi system, taping vinyl onto cassettes, learning all the words to every song and you definitely missed out on Dave in his tighty whitey jeans era." 

I know!! Roxy Music, Spandau Ballet, The Cult and Stevie Nicks predominantly, were the tracks of my teenage years. The only memories I have of early DM, were in my catholic school form room, where Joanne (the only DM fan in our year) would play the boppy sounds of See You and People Are People from the double deck cassette player and she would top up the white hand painted words DEPECHE MODE that were Tipp-exed onto her green army school satchel, before we light headily sauntered off to assembly to sing 'Salve Regina'. 

Let's jump ahead a decade to 1996 and I'll introduce you to Mr E. He was the electronic DM fan and he had been there from the start through to the heady iconic Crystal Palace Devotional gig. On our second date, Mr E knows he onto a good thing with me (*winks) and takes me back to his. He then pulls out the Devotional live concert DVD. I expect it was a test, if I dissed DM, I probably wouldn’t have made date 3. 

Oh my goodness! The form room bops had been replaced by atmospheric drums, huge visual screens projecting an assortment of sensual images and Dave with arms outstretched and gyrating arse, fed his addiction from the worshipping crowd. By the time In Your Room came on, I was mesmerised. Dave sacrificially launched himself into the adoring mob below and just as Dave loses his white t-shirt, my goosebumps cause my own clothes to self-combust!! I AM HOOKED! 

For me, Jesus Dave at that very moment (whilst off his face wasn't good for his health) is the absolute zenith of his performances. My lapsed Catholicism was overtaken by the religion that is Depeche Mode, chapters and verses to be learnt by heart from the genius of Mr Martin L Gore. 

A year later Mr E and I dance our wedding song to Enjoy The Silence...of course. 

My first time seeing DM live was in 98' at the old Wembley Stadium for The Singles Tour. Mr E was almost crying when a newly clean, back to life Dave walked on stage and I was completely unaware Daniel Miller was sat near us. Holidays over the next 25 years combined oversees gigs to see the boys in Paris, Madrid, and Miami... and now Berlin.

Right, let's get into it. Berlin...

We had very civilised pre gig cocktails with Dave & Jane, two of the lovely devotees we have met through Twitter (never X). Both huge fans from teenage times and devoted travellers where seeing the Global Spirit Tour finish in Berlin Waldbuhne was their highlight from following DM. 

Mr E and I are up high on the side seats, and the excitement in the German crowd is rippling through the arena. Humanist plays as support, the drums and guitars are good and I'll certainly take a listen to their 2020 album.

I'm next to a very no nonsense German woman, who it would turn out, had the loudest claps and whooooooooops known to womankind every time Dave spun, gyrated or wiggled his bum. She was already standing and bumping along to the build-up tracks before I get to my seat. 

I ask her if the German crowd will be amazing tonight, she answers without hesitation "of course". She's probably thinking I'm a stupid Brit and no wonder we left the EU. 

I press on "why is that?", and quite simply she says; "It's Berlin" 

The stage is reset, the Germans are already bouncy, about 5 minutes before the gig starts, the energy is almost making me well up, my emotions are held together with a big breath. 

The boys walk on stage and we're off, everyone in the seated block is on their feet. What songs will get Berlin ecstatic? How will this gig differ from London just 3 weeks ago? 

Observation to start with; German fans don't leave their seats for beers and wees, there are in it for 2 hours of unbroken adoration. No one's chatting, everyone knows the words and there is a lot of cheering.

Walking In My Shoes is sublime and the Germans are now hypnotised. Mr E post-gig rated Policy Of Truth and My Favourite Stranger as his favourite tracks of the night. Everything Counts sends the Arena into a frenzy, I do love the white gloved hand visuals.

While Dave takes a break (Do you ever wonder what he does for 10 mins especially as he is getting older?, little lie down on the chaise longue maybe?) Martin sings beautiful renditions of Strangelove and Heaven.

Ghosts Again is very well received by the crowd, I was really hoping for the setlist with Before We Drown and Behind The Wheel but it wasn’t to be tonight. I Feel You gets my German gig neighbour excitable, which is a joy to me. We rock it out as if we're strippers in a dodgy communist backstreet joint. Outstanding!!

With the return of World In My Eyes I've got tears seeing the audience gesturing their love to the images of Fletch on the big screens with their fingers joined to make Andy eyes. 

As a late comer to DM, Violator and Songs Of Faith And Devotion will always be my go-to DM listen. When Black Celebration starts up however, this is my chance to really experience what this song means to Berlin. I see a couple dancing together as if they are all alone in a Euro club, totally engrossed in each other. Everyone else around me are just losing it by singing aloud and then I simply get it. It's a deep seated Berlin anthem overcoming the challenges of the past, East and West long since united but still with that bleak history that will never be forgotten. But my interpretation of this industrial track may have been influenced by spending too much time at the remnants of the Wall!

Enjoy The Silence is gorgeous – it is such a crowd pleaser; the skull visuals are perfect.

For the encore Waiting For The Night was beautiful, the arena filled with twinkling phone lights.

And then my second set of tears start as the wonderfully euphoric Berlin crowd give it all, hard and energetic arms are swinging in the air to Never Let Me Down Again. As I looked around the Arena it was triumphant from front to back, it was an OUTSTANDING wheat wave. I have never seen a crowd react in such a way!

To “We’ll see you next time” Dave, Martin, Peter and Christian receive huge applause, there’s a lot of hugging and back slapping, they truly looked like they enjoyed their performance and revel in the deep love from their German fan base. 

So is Berlin the spiritual home of DM? 

My gig neighbour's words "It's Berlin" resound, of course we wouldn’t expect anything less.


Thanks Sarah

No comments:

Post a Comment