Monday 12 February 2024



When I last ran a tour review project, Henno Teams reviewed the band's Paris Lollapalooza gig and that was a great read. Happily for us, he's back and here's his wonderful review of the Antwerp and Amsterdam gigs. Thanks very much indeed Henno. All photos are Henno's so don't steal them.

Last time you all heard from me when writing a review for the Paris show in 2018 I was 21, now I’m closer to 30 than 20 and my head does not cope with this thought well at all. A lot has happened in the meantime, the world has seemingly managed to simultaneously fall apart into a thousand little pieces and put itself back together again, as it usually does every now and then. 

Depeche Mode are no strangers to this phenomenon. Sadly we lost our dear Fletch and it seemed all was lost, but no, we were treated to Memento Mori and its subsequent tour. The boys would treat us to a new cycle of touring as a new invigorated band playing like you’d expect  few people in their twenties would. And now we find ourselves once again in the closing stages of this era of Depeche Mode. 

Last year I attended both Amsterdam shows. I had only booked the first show, luckily managed to grab some golden circle tickets for it, and I think like many others was unbelievably happy to see the boys out again on tour. The show that night was so good I did my best to snag another golden circle ticket for the second show and was happily successful. The shows were absolutely incredible and it felt like the boys were testing the waters, learning to be a band again so to speak, with the audience helping every step of the way.

This year was completely different. I had only booked Amsterdam on this 3rd and last leg of the tour, and went for the standard general admission this time around, but lo and behold my feet got itchy. I wouldn’t let this last leg of the Memento Mori tour go by with one last attempt to get up close to the band right? Right. As by now all shows were sold out and the resale price for the Amsterdam golden circle was beyond belief - seriously the pricing of concerts together with VIP experiences and these dreaded platinum tickets is becoming a big problem - so I had to make another plan.

Enter Antwerp. This show had no golden circle so a standard general admission ticket would suffice and after a few days I got lucky with a nicely priced resale ticket and off we went to Belgium! So this will unexpectedly turn into a double review! Oh my what did i get myself into, I hope you enjoy my ramblings and my photos from the shows as well.

Antwerp February 6th

As some of you may know, unlike most of the tour, the UK leg of shows were mixed by Marc Carolan, front of house engineer for Muse amongst others. Tonight Jamie would be “Behind The Wheel” again (sorry, bad pun). The Sportpaleis is no easy venue for an Audio engineer to mix live music as the venue is renowned for horrendous acoustics no matter the setup. But as it turned out there was no need to worry, the mix was powerful yet crystal clear, the Sportpaleis seemingly gave up and waved the white flag.

After a lengthy entry procedure i managed to secure myself a spot close to the b stage on Dave’s side and before long it was already time for Nadine Shah to warm up the crowd. I’m completely new to her music and thought her set was quite good, not really my taste personally, although I did say the same thing about Depeche Mode in 2013 and look what happened... 

As the clock ticks to 20:45 the lights go dark right on time, and it’s time for the big MODE to do their thing. The first few songs were a little hit and miss for Dave as he seemed to be struggling with his monitors on stage and his vocals were off for a bit every now and then. I saw Dave pointing to the side to have different levels changed and soon it seemed the problems were fixed and Dave shifted into higher gear. 

Right when Dave shifts into top gear, in comes my absolute favourite Depeche Mode song and the first time I’m ever hear it live - Policy Of Truth! And wow does it not disappoint, I almost cried a little! Now we’re in full swing and the band is sounding better than ever.

Superlatives aside, i think this is the best i have heard them sound as a band since my very first time seeing then in Lille back in 2017. This might just go into the books as my favourite DM show. And as is becoming quite clear, I’m not the only one enjoying it as the arena lets out a big cheer and starts clapping along to the intro for Everything Counts, the venue feels alive!

However, not for everyone. It has become very obvious some Tik Tok or Instagram influencers splurged out on some Early Entry tickets and had taken up the barrier besides me. Quite a shame really considering 4 people were taking up space where easily 7 could stand, but pushing me away when I danced too close. For about 80% of the show the people next to me seemed totally unbothered, looking towards an empty b-stage when the show was in full swing on the main stage. I don’t think I saw these people clap even once all night, but to each their own I guess.

As the night goes on I can’t help but feel that last year's shows feel like a rehearsal compared to this year. This is the full blown victory lap, the band is out guns blazing tonight. And as the set nears its conclusion it feels as if we are flying, all 23 thousand of us. 

By the time Enjoy The Silence arrives I feel in love, yet absolutely shattered, Depeche Mode just broke me into a thousand little pieces just to glue me back together again. It seems even the Tik Tok influencers have finally woken up from chatting on their phones and realised the show was happening behind them, despite not a single acknowledgement that they’re watching one of the very very best to ever do it though. 

After 23 wonderful songs the night comes to an end with the ever so rapturous Personal Jesus! Even the influencers are wagging a single finger up and down now, consider it a win Depeche Mode, consider It a win. 

As we head out i buy myself another piece of merchandising, i blame the band for being too good. And surprise surprise, i see one of my old DM related friends for the first time since we met in Lille at my first show, it can’t help but feel like a full circle moment. And so concludes my solo adventure to Antwerp, onwards to Amsterdam with the family!

Amsterdam February 8th

Today is different to last Tuesday in Antwerp, my tickets tonight won't allow me to get up close and it’s a family occasion tonight as well,  so let's enjoy this one together. 

The clock is already well past 8 by the time we get into the venue. Even if I had access to the Golden Circle I wouldn’t have come early today. The weather was absolutely dreadful with constant rain and whilst it’s only 3 degrees outside, the 18mph wind makes everything feel freezing. Brrrr.

We get a beer and make our way inside, opting to stand behind the front of house with the added bonus of seeing the engineers hard at work on the show. These guys are some real unsung heroes. I want to mention one of these great men in particular Jamie Pollack, front of house engineer and responsible for mixing the live show on this last leg of the Memento Mori tour. My god is he doing a great job. Not only is the sound crystal clear but it sounds powerful enough to shake you off your feet.

The show itself gets underway exactly one minute late - who cares -  and it is already clear to me from the start that Dave sounds even better tonight. His voice tonight sounds stronger than I’ve ever heard it live, and Dave seems more confident too. 

Yet the crowd tonight in Amsterdam seems unusually quiet, especially during the first half of the show, with the people in the 100 and 200 sections mostly remaining in their seats.

Even i am finding it more difficult to get into the flow of the show this time, maybe in part because I’m with family this time so I’m holding back a little, or because I’m standing in the very back. It feels more like watching the best band play instead of being in the middle of it, and very much part of it as it can feel that sometimes, the crowd becomes part of the band, Depeche Mode being a prime example. 

The band switches into higher gear again, once again Policy of Truth feels like a pivotal moment in the show, the band and the crowd are getting in sync now, time to take off once again. I think everybody is just as happy as me it is finally solidly back in the setlist. 

The second highlight of the night comes in the unexpected form of Before We Drown. It's my favourite track from Memento Mori and to be honest I never expected them to play it. It was already a treat in Antwerp, but the even better acoustics tonight make sure the song comes across much stronger. Martin's backing vocals on this song deserve extra praise, the swelling vocals together with the dark ominous synths just combine so beautifully. 

Seeing Depeche Mode live could better be described as a religious experience, it never gets old, we sing the same songs again and again and every time we leave the shows feeling stronger. Screaming along to I Feel You for instance, there’s something visceral to it, you feel part of the music, part of the experience and you can feel it reverberate in your bones. 

One would begin to question, will we ever get enough? By the time Martin, Dave, Peter and Christian take us for one more ride with Never Let Me Down Again, you know all is well. No we Just can’t get enough, ever. 

One more time the show must come to an end, one more time we get an invigorating performance if Personal Jesus but tonight I’m sad. How long before they’ll be back? As this is seemingly the last leg of the Memento Mori tour, we start questioning again whether or not it’s the last time. Given the absolute stellar form they’re in, you’d think they will definitely be back for one more round but then you have to as the question - how long will the wait be this time? Hopefully I’ll get to write for you again, and hopefully it wont take 6 years again. 

So of these two shows on this 3rd and final leg, which one was my favourite? Even though the performance by the band was slightly better at my home show in Amsterdam, Antwerp will be the one to beat for a long time coming, nothing beats seeing a band like this up close, it will Never Let You Down (Again).


Thanks Henno!

No comments:

Post a Comment