Friday 24 February 2017


Today tickets went on sale for the BBC 6 Music Festival in Glasgow due to run from 24-26 March this year. The radio station is bringing a host of excellent bands to a city that loves music and, on the face of it, the festival is an exciting prospect to say the least. The fact that they've got Depeche Mode as a headliner speaks to the pull of the event and the prospect of seeing Depeche in the best live venue on earth, the Barrowland Ballroom, is a prospect that has driven me beyond excitement since it was announced. Forgive me from this point on if the larger point is made from the perspective of the Depeche Mode fanbase rather than fans of the many other outstanding bands scheduled to appear.

The same excitement I felt was felt by most Depeche fans, especially those based in Scotland. I know plenty of them and they are all long term Devotees, each one scarcely able to believe that their band is scheduled to play the Barras. We're used to see Dave and co in stadia and arenas - we never expected to be able to see them in a venue the size of the Barras. It's a remarkable thing. Getting one of the 1500 tickets available was never going to be easy - nobody thought that - but the shambles that has occurred has made everyone angry, including those lucky enough to get tickets, amongst whose number I am fortunately counted.

The BBC6 Music site was clear about how tickets were to be purchased. It said:

Tickets are limited to 4 per event per customer and photo ID will be required to be presented by the lead booker upon arrival at the venue on the night of the show. The name of the lead booker will be printed on each ticket. The name cannot be changed once the booking has been made. 

The lead booker will be asked to present ID to gain entry into the venue. Failure to adhere to the terms and conditions may result in the customer's order being void. 

If you are booking more than one ticket your guests must arrive at the concert at the same time as you. Failure to do so may result in guests being turned away. 

Tickets cannot be resold or transferred under any circumstances. If the organiser reasonably believes this to be the case the barcode on the ticket will be voided, prohibiting entry to the concert.

Seems clear doesn't it? Buy tickets and you will have to be one of the people that turns up for the gig. You will have to show ID at the venue and your name will be printed on each ticket. The tickets that I got then will bear my name and I'll need to show ID to get me and my friends in. That seems sensible to me. Some gigs where this has been a proviso, such as U2 at the Hydro on their Songs Of Innocence tour, have been easily accessible without showing ID, but that can partly explained by the size of the venue. At the Barrowlands, with only 1500 people getting in, it should be feasible to check ID. The system then seems reasonably foolproof at first glance.

But here's the thing. While I and certainly every other Scottish Depeche fan I know were redialling the TicketWeb phone line endlessly and queuing on a site patiently awaiting some form of sign of progress this morning, tickets for this already massively oversubscribed gig were appearing on vile, fan ripping off, blood sucking, legalised touting bastard sites like Viagogo. Some tickets even appeared on that site BEFORE the official sale start time of 10 a.m. How on earth is that possible? How is it permitted?

How is it lifelong fans of Depeche Mode are denied the opportunity to even fairly compete with other lifelong Depeche Mode fans in the scramble for tickets? Why can't BBC6 Music or TicketWeb even attempt to tackle such rank inequity? It's frankly beyond contempt and the fact that a music festival set up for laudable reasons and promoted as a come one come all event is immediately subjected to the sort of blatantly fraudulent ticket scams that one has sadly come to expect from major events these days is an utter disgrace. 

This rant in itself is ultimately fruitless as this problem is not new, nor is it unexpected. It's horribly predictable and, really, I shouldn't be surprised and shouldn't be annoyed about it as vulture sites like Viagogo, Get Me In and Seatwave always win, they always scam genuine fans and rob many excited punters of the chance to see their favourite bands, despite threats of legislation and despite warnings about people not getting in etc with tickets purchased from these sources. This is what being a gig going music fan involves these days and there is little interest in doing anything about it, other than from music fans themselves.

And they don't seem to count one jot when it comes to buying tickets. Why should they? They're only the lifeblood of live music in the country.

I'm one of the lucky Depeche Mode fans today and I'm supremely grateful for that. I'm also grateful I'm not feeling the justifiable rage of those denied by the touts. None of them are moaning about genuine Depeche fans getting tickets. Far from it in fact, they are delighted for their fellow fans, happy in the knowledge that they will see Depeche Mode in as intimate a venue as they can. They are angry at the way they've been conned basically and rightly so.

So come on BBC6 Music and TicketWeb - justify this. How did this happen and how will you avoid it in the future? How will a music festival be given over to actual music fans rather than the shady grabbing hands who grab all they can?

How can you say that this festival is truly a festival for music fans?


An addition:

On Twitter at 5.32 pm on 24 February, spurred on by the many positive reactions to the post above,  I said:

OK here it is. When are up here for can we have a chat about ticket selling? Many would love to hear it explained

So do you fancy it? Happy to make myself available. I'll report back to fans here and on the blog. Get in touch

So will BBC6 Music respond? I'll let you know....

Thursday 23 February 2017


This was all going so well. I've done 1981, have interviews underway for 1982-84 and everything was set up for a chronological history of Depeche Mode's visits to Scotland. And then this happened...

Bands like Depeche Mode do not play the Barrowlands. They play the Hydro in Glasgow or the likes of London Olympic Stadium and every single stadium in Germany. The Barras holds 2100 people. That is usually the front two rows of the early access golden super circle in whatever enormodrome the band have pitched up in. Also, the Barras is my favourite venue on earth and is only 15 minutes drive from my house. I've seen hundreds of bands there, most recently The Pixies, and every gig has been a cracker, even the self indulgent Spiritualized show in 2001 which my companions that night still rate as the worst gig they've seen. The Barras is full of musical memories for me and I never expected Depeche Mode would even consider playing there. Yet, on 26 March, that's exactly what they're going to do.

This gig, as you'll see above, is part of the BBC6 Music Festival which is taking over Glasgow for three days starting on 24 March. For the shows at the Barras, capacity is restricted to 1500 tickets and these are available this Friday via the 6 Music website. For a standard gig, 1500 tickets isn't a lot. For Depeche Mode, it's a minuscule amount. If you are lucky enough to get one, you are in for the Depeche gig of a lifetime. If I get one, I'll obviously report back on the gig here - once I've calmed down that is. Good luck in your hunt for tickets.

As an historical aside, this is not the first time the band have played the Barrowlands. As I'll come onto in more depth on what was scheduled to be part 4 of this series, now a frustrating and album order defying part 5, the band played here on 16 October 1984 on the Some Great Reward tour. First hand recollections and more chat about that gig will come in good time. To whet your appetite for that and for Friday's ticket scramble, check out this recording of that 1984 gig courtesy of the ever wonderful DM Live Wiki:

Monday 20 February 2017


Depeche backstage at Nite Club - photographer unknown - picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Information Service - 1981

With Depeche Mode's new album Spirit imminent and the Global Spirit tour shortly about to start up in Stockholm, I thought it was time to have a look at the band's live history in my home country, Scotland. From when I became a proper fan of the band in 1990 until the Tour Of The Universe gig at Glasgow's SECC on 12 December 2009, I didn't have the chance to see the band play live in Scotland. Before the December 09 gig, the last time they played here was at the Edinburgh Playhouse on 17 January 1988 on the Music For The Masses tour. When you consider they ended up at the Rose Bowl, it's hard to imagine that set being played at such a small venue. More on that gig to come however. 

Picture courtesy of Trevor Thomson

The first part of this blog looks at the band's earliest shows in Scotland, all of which took place in Edinburgh. I've been trying to track down people who have been at every gig Depeche played in Scotland and that's been hard for the early dates. Thankfully, I managed to have a chat with Trevor who saw both the first gig Depeche played in Scotland and the subsequent Speak And Spell tour gig in Edinburgh too. I was put in touch with Trevor via the Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos page on Facebook (thanks Andy) and the excellent Depeche Mode Information Service - 1981 page which is of course run by the wonderful Deb Danahay.

7 August 1981, Nite Club, Edinburgh (2 gigs)
The band's first Scottish outing saw them play two shows at the long closed Nite Club in Edinburgh. The venue was situated beside the Edinburgh Playhouse on Greenside Place, Edinburgh and it's long closed though the Playhouse is still there.

Nite Club Edinburgh, courtesy Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos

The band played two gigs that day - one was an early show ostensibly for Under 18's and the other a later standard show. Sadly, there is no record of a setlist for either show. As both predated Speak And Spell, it's likely that songs like Television Set and The Price Of Love still featured. The show at Rafters in Manchester on 5 August featured them for example (see,_Manchester,_England,_UK - thanks to DM Live Wiki ). I wonder if the band mixed the sets up at all rather than play two identical ones? A look at other setlists of the time would indicate that's likely. If both sets had been the same, and had we had the internet in those days, you can only imagine the moaning.

This is where Trevor steps in with his first hand evidence. 

APA: What made you go and see Depeche Mode at Nite Club?

TT: I was 17 and had, by then, developed a love of electronic music, kick-started by Tubeway Army in 1979, fed by Kraftwerk and developed by the Human League (both incarnations) and OMD. A friend of mine told me about New Life when it was in the lower reaches of the charts, and I’d seen Depeche Mode mentioned in the Indie Charts earlier in the year without paying much notice. I heard New Life on the radio and I thought it was something new – electronic pop, jaunty melodies, accessible and addictive. I also thought it was a great song, and still do! I was also attracted by their attachment to an Indie label – Mute. By that age I was a bit grumpy about the shiny corporate pop machine.

Picture courtesy of Trevor

APA: What do you remember about the gig?

TT: Firstly, that it was totally mobbed. The Nite Club wasn’t that big, but it was pretty full. It was also meant to be an early (i.e. no booze and under 18) gig, but there seemed to be plenty of older people! Not that it was a problem. I spent most of the time waiting for them to play New Life but considering I didn’t know any of their songs apart from it and Shout! I really remember Dreaming of Me, Puppets and What’s Your Name? I’m pretty sure they played all of these – I’d bought the Dreaming of Me 7” by then. I definitely remember What’s Your Name?!

Trevor's ticket courtesy of Trevor

APA: Now, from looking at Deb's Depeche Mode Information Service - 1981 page, I see that you managed to see a little bit more Depeche Mode than you bargained for. What's the story there?

TT: I was meant to be going to the gig with my brother, but for some reason I went down to the venue at about 4:30 or 5:00 – I have no idea why. I suppose I was at a loose end. I poked my head ‘round the door and there was this joiner working on something and I mumbled about getting in to see if there was anyone around; he said, well if you go up to the bar and get me a drink of water I suppose you could get in. I think he probably didn’t expect to see me again, but off I go, up to the top of the building and fetch a drink of water for the joiner at the door . . . and there were all these members of Depeche Mode milling around. So, I take the drink down to the man, and run back up. At this point there was Vince, Andy, Martin and Dave mooching around the place.  I didn't want to get booted out so I kind of sat around unobtrusively. I distinctly remember their rider was something like twenty-four cans of Kestrel, which I was a bit dismayed at because even to my untrained palette Kestrel, could only have been described as 'rank'. Not Scottish brewing's finest moment. Anyway, I hung around for the sound check. They ran through a couple of songs; tragically I have no memory of the songs they played but I just thought they were superb. Mainly it was great music played very loud. I remember Dave being in charge of the tape machine. And very little mobility from the other three!

The sound man, who looked INCREDIBLY stressed, was a slightly overweight person with curly unkempt hair and thick rimmed specs. I often wondered who he was; I speculate that it was Daniel Miller but I don’t know. There were hardly any people around – another hanger on, me, the band, “Daniel Miller”, and some bar staff. I think that was all. . . I had my ticket stub, so I got it signed. It was all very unlike me at the time as I was a bit of reserved person, and hardly ever worked up courage to speak to anyone. What I do find remarkable is that three of those skinny 20 year olds are now selling out Olympic stadia all over Europe! And the other is basically a hit factory. . .

Trevor's autographed ticket - courtesy of Trevor

Thanks very much to Trevor for sharing all that with us. He didn't make it to the second show but you might have been there or you might know someone who was. If you do, get in touch.

2 November 1981, Coasters, Edinburgh
For the Speak And Spell tour proper, Depeche returned to Edinburgh to play Coasters. Situated at 3 West Tollcross, it's now known as The Cave and has gone from looking like this

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos

to this

which is a pity. It all seems somewhat livelier in the top picture. Also, as we can see in the picture below from 1982, it doubled as a roller disco. Did Depeche Mode do this? I can only speculate. No (roller) Disco anyone?

Anyway, luckily for this blog, Trevor remained a fan of Depeche Mode and he attended this gig. I bothered him again and, thankfully for me, he was happy to oblige. I asked him what he remembered of the show - over to Trevor:

"Coasters - 02/11/1981! This is all a bit more sketchy. I wasn't going to go until the very last minute and eventually ended up paying at the door; I lived out of Edinburgh and going in to town on a Monday night in November required a bit of commitment. And it was raining. Coasters was a bigger venue certainly than the Nite Club, but it was by no means massive. The Smiths, New Order, Simple Minds, Soft Cell all played there are I recall those all being sold out. I think I was lucky to get in, because it was really busy (again).

Blancmange were support - I wasn't sure about them at the time, I was more into the up tempo pop Depeche Mode offered then. Subsequently liked them well enough, and saw them at the Nite Club (and there was virtually no one at that - 27 March 1982). I seem to recall DM being more 'suited and booted', although I think Martin had a commando hat and white t-shirt on - distinctly non-corporate. Vincent came on before the gig started (after the support) and made sure everything was in tune - I believe analogue synthesizers have a tendency to go out of tune quite easily. They had a proper stand up reel-to-reel tape machine that made the band seem more complete - not like the one that Dave had to muck around with at the Nite Club.

I distinctly remember Tora! Tora! Tora! because it was somewhat at odds with the rest of the tunes - more a precursor of DM's subsequent career; darker music and subject, delivered by Dave with some passion. Anyway, everyone went home happy (. . . .although a friend of mine, a young lady, stayed on to ahem, 'party'; it would be libel to suggest what went on as I don't really know and I was too shy to ask the next time I saw her - namely the next day. I suspect not much). I think also the band knew Vince was leaving by then. There was a certainly an air of professionalism, lets get the job done. Much more than the more 'informal' nature of the earlier gig. I think they also realised that this could fly or crash and burn.

. . . one remnant. I bought a Moog Rogue in a music shop in Home Street in Edinburgh in 1982, which is just round the corner from Coasters. When I was talking to the geezer in the shop, he said that Depeche Mode had been in when they played Coasters to 'buy a Moog Source'. I don't know if he was spinning me a line because he knew I liked Depeche Mode but Andy Fletcher did have a shiny new Moog at the Coasters gig on 2 November. It may have just been bought that afternoon!"

Coasters ticket courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos

Sadly, there's no confirmation that I can find anywhere of what setlist was played that night. DM Live Wiki confirms that the gig the following night in Manchester saw them play:

Any Second Now
New Life
Ice Machine
Big Muff
I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Just Can't Get Enough
Boys Say Go!
What's Your Name
Television Set
Dreaming Of Me

and the following night in Birmingham saw the same set played so it perhaps wasn't too far off that. If anyone can remember what was played or has a recording stashed away then do get in touch.

Excerpt from Speak And Spell tour poster courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos

So that was 1981 and Depeche Mode Live in Scotland. 3 gigs with two on the one day and each one in Edinburgh. They weren't going to stay away for long though as 1982 would see them not only return to Coaster's, but also play their first gigs in Glasgow. I was only 7 at that point so I didn't go, but I've tracked down some people that did. Their story will be told next time.

Thanks very much to Trevor, all the people that do the hard work at Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos, Deb at Depeche Mode Information Service 1981 on Facebook and Matthew at DM Live Wiki.

Friday 3 February 2017


After months of near frenzied anticipation among the Depeche Mode fanbase, the band are back with the release of their new single Where's The Revolution. Go on any Depeche forum, Twitter, Facebook and more and you'll see thousands of different views on the song ranging from the "IT'S THE BEST THING EVER!!!!!" to "This is why Alan HAS to come back" and covering all points in between. Is it Depeche's BEST THING EVER? No, it isn't. What Where's The Revolution is however is a storming return by the band, marking a return to the politics of Construction Time Again and showing that there is a lot of life left in these old electro dogs yet. 

Martin's lyrics haven't sounded as relevant in years. Gone are notions of universes, souls and knees and being down on them, with these themes replaced by a fire that hasn't been seen often enough in recent years. I mentioned Construction Time Again above and on my preview a couple of days ago and I think that's a genuinely relevant comparison. The naive socialism of that album sought to suggest that better times could be around the corner ("All that we need at the start/Universal revolution/That's all")  but that naivety is no more in Where's The Revolution. Instead we find Martin writing about the fact we've all been had ("You've been kept down/You've been pushed round/You've been lied to/You've been fed truths.") before demanding that someone springs to life and starts the revolution. In the post Brexit times we're living in in Britain, the lyrics strike a particular chord following the manipulation of facts and truths that led to the catastrophic result of the 2016 referendum. Reference in particular to "patriotic junkies" in the song seems particularly apt when you consider what's happening in Government here now. Similarly, the current plight America finds itself with the Clown In Chief in charge seems to be present here. Ok, the song wasn't written last week, but lines such as "They manipulate and threaten/With terror as a weapon" seems incredibly accurate given what's happened in American in the last 7 days.

Seem to have a got a bit political there which I usually avoid in these reviews but, do you know what? The fact that my favourite songwriter of all time is back with a song with lyrics that strike a chord with me is a beautiful thing. Who'd have thought that it would be Depeche Mode of all the "big" bands speaking out for the masses after all these years? It's great to see.

Anyway, what of the actual music? Since James Ford was announced as producer, I've been really keen to hear how he's contributed. Musically, we're not a million miles away from Delta Machine with layers of bubbling and droning electronics flying all over the place here. The production seems to be much crisper however, with each sound distinct from the other, unlike places on Delta Machine where it became a bit muddled. The pace of the song is very close to The Sweetest Condition from Exciter and the slide guitar parts in that song are echoed here in Where's The Revolution's chorus. I first listened to the song on headphones and that allowed me to hear most of what was going on. If you're a bit uncertain about it having heard it on the Polish radio preview last night or on BBC6 Music this morning, stick on your headphones and give it a go. 

After two rounds of verse/verse/chorus, the song takes an unexpected turn (3 minutes 6 seconds in) to a section with almost ambient textures behind it where we're told "The train is coming...So get on board"  in an almost lullaby like way. That part seems to have irked some people this morning, but it all fits for me. If we're not having a revolution just now, one can't be far away, so Martin's suggesting we all get ready to join that. Again, it's more of an aggressive call to arms that we had in And Then all those years ago ("Let's take a map of the world/Tear it into pieces.")  but that fits the song's theme.

So what does all the foregoing over analysis tell us? Well, firstly Depeche Mode are back and that's only ever a good thing. Where's The Revolution sees them return with a relevance they haven't had for a while and whilst it may not be a necessarily obvious lead single for an album, that's never been an issue before. Usually, that means there's even better to come on the record itself. 

Is it THE BEST THING EVER? No, no it's not. But it's an intriguing track and a very, very good one. And when Depeche Mode are very, very good, they're better than most other bands you can think of. 37 years in, still fighting and still pushing themselves. Welcome back Depeche Mode. It may be that you've returned at just the right time.

Wednesday 1 February 2017


Helen Marnie's solo work to date is a wonderful thing with her debut album Crystal World and standalone single Wolves both must haves in anyone's collection. Her new solo album Strange Words And Weird Wars, released under her solo guise Marnie, is due out on 25 March and it's been preceded by the gorgeous single Alphabet Block.  The track is as fine an examples of synthpop as you'll hear at the moment, showing the many artists who have been influenced by her solo work and, of course, her work with Ladytron, just how this type of music is done.

Mixing a new poppier direction with shoegaze and dream pop influenced electronics, Alphabet Block is a powerful, mesmerising track that demands repeated plays. The verses and the chorus juxtapose perfectly with the former's darker feel giving way to the shimmering space of the chorus magnificently. As you can hear below, Alphabet Block is a special track and one you're going to love. It's a great taster for the album too and that record is going to be one of the must hear releases this year. You don't want to miss it - once again, Glasgow proves itself to be the new home of electronic music.

I had a quick chat with Marnie to find out a bit more about Alphabet Block.

APA: Welcome back Marnie! Alphabet Block is quite a way to announce your return. Tell us a bit about the song.

M: Thank you. It's great to be back! The song is a co-write with producer Jonny Scott. He produced the album Strange Words And Weird Wars and I've been working with him since I wrote Wolves in 2014. I thought Alphabet Block would be a good album opener, a little sneak peak at what to expect. That being said, the album is quite different to Alphabet Block. AB is a wordy little number, which i would describe as shoe-gaze electropop. I love all the swirling guitars and arpeggiators. Lyrically, it's actually really dark. I wrote it at a time of personal uncertainty. However, I think it does come across as warm and that is due to the instrumentation.

APA: The song has a real classic synthpop feel to it. Does the song represent a move towards a poppier sound generally?

M: I would agree with that, yes. It's funny, when I did my last album Crystal World, a few people advised me not to move in that direction. As in, I'd be wrong to do that. So, this is basically my 'fuck you' to them. Nobody should ever tell me what kind of music I should make. I can make my own decisions and create whatever I want.

APA: Were there any particular influences in mind when you wrote the track? The chorus has a real dream pop feel to it for example.

M: Because the verses are so lyrically full, it was important for me create some space and depth with the choruses. And I did that be introducing that dreamy vocal feel. Elongating the words. Creating more breath and layering the vocals. The guitars also give a sense of space. I like that the song enters like a club track, but then completely changes and transforms into something different.

APA: Looking forward, your second solo album Strange Words and Weird Wars is out in March. Can we expect a similar, more pop focussed approach?

M: I can't tell you how excited I am to finally have the album coming out. It will be over 2 years in the making. And, as seems is usual with me, not everything went as smoothly as i would've wished. It's definitely a pop effort, there is no denying that. But I think there's also a lot more to it than that. It's intelligent, it's melodic, it's not overly produced, it's guitars, it's synths, it's my voice, and it's a good ride. I'm hoping people will be pleasantly surprised.

Thanks very much to Marnie for taking the time to have a chat. As I've mentioned earlier, Strange Words and Weird Wars is destined to be an album that a lot of you are going to love this year. Alphabet Block is a wonderful way to reintroduce yourself to Marnie.

Strange Words and Weird Wars by Marnie is released on 25 March. Alphabet Block is out now.

(c) Almost Predictable Almost 2017. Not to be reproduced without permission. 


The wait is over. The band's official site has confirmed this morning that the band's new single Where's The Revolution will be released on 3rd February which is only two days away. A snippet of the track was played at the band's Milan press conference last year and, as much as a snippet is not something to get excited about, it was exciting so I'm very much looking forward to the single. All signs point to something loud and political. Construction Time Again with guitars maybe?  Who knows. Come back on Friday for my inevitably over the top reaction that'll make me sound like a 16 year old. The single artwork can be seen below. As for any tracklist or release formats, nothing has been confirmed yet. I guess it'll be digital first with a physical release confirmed for a later date.

Courtesy of

The keen eyed among you will have seen two pictures above, The second is the cover of the new album Spirit which is coming out on March 17th. There's no other news about that just now from the official site though Dave gave away a little in an interview for Ukranian TV recently. It seems he's written 5 songs for the album, one of which is a co-write with Martin though who knows if all 5 will appear on the album itself or if some will be spread over a deluxe Delta Machine style release. He also mentions And Then... from Construction Time Again being a song Martin might consider playing live, though that isn't confirmed as the translation of the interview on Home ( isn't verbatim. That song with lines like "All that we need at the start/Universal revolution/That's all" would certainly chime with the theme of the lead single.

Anyway, we have news. More will no doubt spill out over the next few days and I'll update this as much as I can. Let the Revolution begin...