Wednesday 29 November 2017


Part two of the Birmingham special is this blog by Robbie Sargent, a second time reviewer having previously covered the Olympic Stadium show in Munich last June (click). The Birmingham gig experience for Robbie was somewhat different from yesterday's reporter Shaun's. Unusally for Robbie he was seated rather than standing and his daughter Holly was with him, set to experience her first Global Spirit Tour gig. Did they enjoy it? Read on to find out. Thanks very much Robbie and thanks too to, yes that's right, Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for all pics bar one.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

My first Depeche Show was on 23 January 1988 at the Bournemouth International Centre. I was a spotty faced 15 year old, whose biggest vice was turning the Akai Midi Hifi stereo up to 10 and getting a telling off from mum. That was a big night for me, not only my first Depeche gig, but my first ever concert (apart from the Black and White Minstrels at the Bournemouth Pavilion a few years earlier for a friend’s birthday - please don’t judge me!). I vividly remember the Black Swarm dressed to impress, and the anticipation of getting to see my first concert. I don’t think it was necessarily the anticipation of seeing the four boys from Basildon, which I see as a bit of a crime nowadays. Anyway, the concert blew me away, the opening of Behind the Wheel, the curtain falling to reveal the band, and the array of incredible sounds coming from stage. And a band with identity. That night has never left me and was the defining two hours of my musical education.

My daughter's first show wasn’t quite the same for her. We had taken the opportunity to mix meeting friends, watching an F1 GP and seeing Depeche in Abu Dhabi on the Delta Machine tour. I saw 7 shows on that tour (pretty amateurish by comparison to some) and having seen at least two shows on every tour since Music For The Masses in 1988, I rank this as the worst Depeche gig I’ve ever seen.

My daughter (6 at the time) was caught up in a maelstrom of jet lag and general all round tiredness and likely agreed with me - she fell asleep half way through the set, and ended up right at the back of the open air venue asleep in my wife’s arms. To say she was underwhelmed by her first Depeche experience is probably an understatement. But, I wasn’t going to leave her DM acquaintance here, so was determined to get her to a show on the Spirit tour - hence we found ourselves in a cold Birmingham city centre in November.

To be fair, my daughter (Holly), seemed right up for the show and dead excited. Depeche had a lot to live up to in her eyes - we’d seen Coldplay at the Millenium Stadium earlier this summer, and for all of their nondescript, banal and ‘nice’ pretty music (I’m not a fan, can’t you tell?), they do put on one hell of a show (for 10 year olds anyway). I tried to play down her expectations of fireworks, confetti displays and four stages for Depeche but she was still excited to get to another concert.

Holly ready for the Revolution

Our entry into the venue led to a t—shirt purchase for Holly. Now, she’s 10 and pretty slim and athletic, but she needed a women’s medium size tee to fit. What on earth is going on with women’s clothing sizes? A total nonsense. Anyway, £30 later and we hit our seats. My wife and I have stood at every Depeche show since the Singles tour so this was a bit different. I was a bit apprehensive that we couldn’t dance, but that wasn’t my main concern at the start - it was about how bloody hot the venue was. It was almost unbearable in the seats - I dread to think what it was like on the floor. The hottest show I’ve ever been too.

We get a pretty appalling support act (nothing like Hard Corps at Bournemouth, with the anticipation that the female singer might go topless). My daughter shows first signs of ‘why have you dragged me here dad?’. Not to worry, they are off pretty quickly and Holly is enthralled by the growing crowd and it’s wildly different demographics.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Then Revolution. Then the Mode. As I mentioned in my review of the Munich show, Going Backwards is a pretty good opener and then we’re in to the standard European winter leg set list. I won't bore you with a review of each song, suffice to say I’m still not a fan of Barrel Of A Gun live and although I love Useless, I wasn't entirely sure it worked on this night - nevertheless, it was great to hear a different song live and see the setlist shaken up from the summer shows. The band perform a storming World In My Eyes and things begin to kick up from here - even taking into account Martin’s two songs (Insight and Home) which enthrall the audience. 

We get a masterful In Your Room, albeit the screen then fails and we lose Anton’s visuals. No matter, this band is more than good enough to let their music do the talking, which they have to do throughout the next four or 5 songs before the screen kicks in to life again. I wonder, exactly, what Holly would have thought of Coldplay if they were just a band performing their music without the visuals and LED wrist bands - not much I reckon. Anyway, my little Modette ignores the loss of screen, and continues her dancing through Everything Counts and Enjoy The Silence (although she took a little break during Stripped to cool down a little!).

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I’ve stated my love for Enjoy The Silence many times. It is THE perfect pop song, and gives me goose bumps every time I hear it live. I cannot tell you how proud I felt to be watching the greatest band on the planet perform the greatest song of all time, with my daughter next to me, both of us dancing our backsides off. It almost felt like I’d come full circle from that night in Bournemouth 30 years ago, my life in some strange way felt complete. Sod her getting her exam results, sod her getting married, sod her having kids*, THIS meant everything to me and I was the proudest fella in that arena at this particular time.

The main set list predictably ends with Never Let Me Down Again. Now, I was quite fearful of the arm waving tonight. Remember I said it was hot, well I reckon the body odour should have knocked everyone in that arena sideways when the arms lifted. But, thankfully it seems Depeche fans are a hygienic lot who like their Rightguard. Crisis averted.

The encore has dropped "Heroes" after the US leg, which disappoints me a little - I love it. If you haven’t seen it, check out the Youtube Highline sessions of the song - Dave’s vocals are immense. I Feel You disappears too after the summer shows, which is fine with me. Instead, it's a welcome return for A Question Of Time (but with no quick hand clap at the end). And then we end with Personal Jesus. Enough said.

Another great performance from the band - it’s clear they are loving their work at the moment. The crowd weren’t so great - maybe because I was seated, but I just didn't think the atmosphere was up there with London Stadium, Munich or the O2 a few days later. That's it for me for this tour and although I’ve only done four shows, I reckon I saw some of the best band performances for many years - likely going back to the Devotional shows (which were on another level altogether).

So, here's to 2021 - SEE YOU NEXT TIME!

* Regarding my daughter having kids. I probably didn't mean that. I reckon that will trump this, but you know what I mean!!!!


Thanks Robbie. And thanks to Holly too for letting me use her picture.

Tuesday 28 November 2017


This review is the first of two reviews of the Birmingham show from 19 November. It's by Shaun Coward, a long time Depeche fan and a man uniquely placed to write about the Birmingham gig. Shaun's review takes us all the way from his formative Depeche experiences, through many gigs in Birmingham and all the way up to a mojito fueled Global Spirit gig on the 19th of November. It's a superb, hilarious read, crammed with historical Mode chat and pics and I know you're all going to love it. Thanks Shaun. Pictures are all Shaun's unless otherwise credited If you want to abuse him having read the review, his Twitter name is @TonmeisterJones

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

March 1986. I am eleven years old. My Depeche Mode obsession is now really kicking in and I have nailed my colours to the mast: this is My Favourite Band. The posters are going up. The exercise books are getting covered in whatever logos I can hamfistedly sketch. The Singles 81→85 has cemented my relationship with this band, who will go on to help shape my adolescence and even adulthood. (Admittedly, there was some confusion caused by Martin’s exposed chest on the cover of that record, but we will not dwell on that here.)

We have some family friends, whose son Chris is a good six years older than me and a huge Depeche fan that’s already seen them play live half a dozen times. (He also, infuriatingly, has countless anecdotes of bumping into Fletch at Erasure gigs, being backstage with the Human League and so on. What an utter bastard.) We happen to be at their house on the day that he buys Black Celebration (on CD, the first one I think I’d seen). There is a listening session in his bedroom. Not much is said. I feel like I’m going to burst, but with the exception of A Question of Time, Chris is unmoved. He thinks the album is too slow, too downbeat. Too dark? I am not about to start disagreeing with him, so I keep my thoughts to myself. It is perfect. 

Wednesday April 9th, 1986. Depeche Mode are playing at the NEC Arena in Birmingham, about thirty miles north of where I live. It’s their first gig at the still relatively new venue, much larger than the Odeon in town where they had become a fixture. My older sister is going, with a few of her friends. She is also a fan, although even then I had doubts as to how anyone could simultaneously enjoy the music of Depeche Mode and Bon Jovi. If you ask me, she’s only going because she has a crush on Dave. But I don’t really care; all that matters to me is that I will be able to tag along.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Of course my parents say no. Devastation.

Friday January 15th, 1988. I’m almost thirteen years old and now in the grips of full blown Depeche Mode infatuation. On the German exchange, I buy the European version of Music For The Masses on cassette, with the four extra tracks on the b-side. (I already own the album on vinyl, obviously.) During coach journeys, I take to moodily standing on the steps by the toilet with the curtain wrapped around me, watching the landscape slip by with the album playing on my Walkman constantly. I don’t speak to anyone for hours at a time, and am fairly sure that this will not only impress my schoolmates, but also impart to me some kind of unknowable cool. As opposed to looking like a dickhead stood outside a chemical toilet on the autobahn.

By this point, Depeche Mode are MY band. I think of them as my band in the same way that I would think of my girlfriend as being my girlfriend, if I’d had one. I graciously allow a select number of friends to like them as well, on the strict understanding that it is impossible that they could ever like them as much as me. (This was blown to fucking smithereens the following year when they released 101, at which point seemingly everyone in my entire school became a fan overnight. This is probably the most traumatic period of my childhood, if not life.)

They are coming back to the NEC. I have this information before my sister, and ponder how I should broach the subject with my parents. Critically, I hesitate. The moment has passed and the tickets are bought. I am once again denied the single thing I want more than anything in the world. It hurts. I swear it hurts almost PHYSICALLY. The sense of injustice threatens to overwhelm me. There is something about being thirteen that amplifies even the most petty of grievances to the level of world ending nuclear armageddon, and I’m feeling it. 

Friday January 15th, 1988. The day of the show. Off goes my sister, collected by a friend’s dad. I sulk in my bedroom, of course. My dad has agreed to collect them after the gig, and at about 8.30pm he shouts up the stairs. With every fibre of my being, I want to ignore him. But due mainly to the fact that my dad really isn’t the kind of person you either can or should ignore, I morosely shuffle to the landing and say ‘what’ as quietly as I can.

Martin onstage 15 January 1988 - Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group (picture taken by Wayne Kisbee)

He asks me if I want to go with him to collect my sister and her friends. At first I can’t see the point, and I don’t even understand why he thinks I’d want to come. But then he says something about being able to hear the last few songs from outside, and I’m already in the car. 

And so that’s how, at the age of nearly thirteen, the best experience of my life to date was standing in the foyer of the NEC in Birmingham listening to Depeche Mode play their full encore. You might imagine that it was like a form of torture, being able to hear but not to see. But it wasn’t. It was incredible. It almost didn’t matter. What mattered was that I was in the same building as Depeche Mode. What mattered was being able to hear Dave Gahan, DAVE FUCKING GAHAN, whip the crowd into a frenzy. What mattered was hearing Everything Counts. The sheer joy that you feel when the music bypasses all logical thought and drills straight into your soul. Here it is. 

Ah, Birmingham. The often-mocked second city. The accents. The, er… Well, to tell you the truth there is a lot to like about Birmingham. Just ask Telly Savalas. Walking around the city centre these days and you could be forgiven for the thinking you were in a different place. It’s certainly a lot smarter now, but I think it’s lost something. The old Bull Ring wasn’t much to look at, but I preferred it to the orgy of glass and chrome that sits in its place now. In 1990, Birmingham was vibrant, loud and grubby. (Not unlike my teenage self, minus the ‘vibrant’ part.) The train stopped at Moor Street, from where we would generally head for the closer of the two (two!) HMV’s on New Street, in one of which my sister met the band and got her copy of 101 signed. Because yes, in those days, Depeche Mode did record signings. In Birmingham.

I never really understood why HMV had two stores a few hundred yards apart. The larger one could generally be guaranteed to stock all the latest Depeche Mode 12” records, whereas the smaller store often contained things we didn’t even know existed until we found them: the FrontDepNitz and On U-Sound Megamixes, to name a couple. From there it was up to Virgin Megastore, which was pretty vast. It was between these three places that I bought 90% of my Depeche Mode vinyl. There was never any need to find some cool little independent record shop, because the Mode were everywhere back then.

(To be honest, it was nothing compared to record shops in Germany, which seemed to exist solely for the purpose of shifting as many Depeche Mode records as possible. I can recall feeling absolute disbelief at seeing the sheer volume of DM vinyl in a record shop in Wuppertal, which was surpassed only by the anguish that I couldn’t afford to buy it all.)

Violator was on the way. Personal Jesus had already changed my life, in the same way dozens of other DM songs already had. A tour, a tour that I would actually be able to attend, was within touching distance. Information was sketchy in the pre-internet age. I didn’t subscribe to Bong, so it was left to either the NME or Melody Maker to break the news. I can’t remember how we actually found out about the first Birmingham date. All I remember is that it was in the school holidays, and I was at my mate’s house. I phoned my mum in a panic and asked her to call and buy tickets, we’d give her the cash. She said something like, ‘I’ve just got to finish this ironing’, which elicited from me a sound like a pig being throttled. She got the point. I rang off, and we waited an agonising five minutes for her to call the box office. (Because that’s right kids, back in the olden days we could just call the venue and buy tickets. We could even just go there and buy them from a human.)

She called back. The tickets were secured. There then followed a delirious minute or two of me and my two friends jumping up and down whilst whacking the keys of an upright piano and shrieking. You made your own entertainment back then.

Dave onstage 22 November 1990 - Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Thursday the 22nd of November, 1990. It was fucking freezing. We got into the NEC early, and spent a glorious hour or so just wandering round the concourse and soaking it up. So much leather and hair gel. I don’t know if I can adequately describe the anticipation I was feeling. I was so excited, it felt like the culmination of a life’s ambition. Which it was. We took our seats to the left of the stage, near the front. Thanks mum. 24 years later, I would sit with one of the same friends and my daughter in almost exactly the same spot.

Electribe 101 were great, although in the tradition of Depeche Mode’s supporting bands, largely ignored by the audience. Off they went. By the time Kaleid started up, the crowd were going absolutely fucking mental. I’m sitting here now in my office at home, writing this with the dog at my feet and the When Worlds Mix version playing. I swear if someone asked me a question right now, my voice would stick in my throat. It’s all there; those memories are so strong. By the time World in my Eyes started, I am finally understanding what what was going on when I watched The Rock’n’Roll Years with my parents, and all those women would be screaming at The Beatles. I’m not screaming, exactly; I’m bellowing. I feel like the top of my head is coming off and my heart is about to explode. 

And when Dave runs on, I can’t breathe.

Can’t. Fucking. Breathe. 

I’m paralysed, rooted to the spot for a good ten seconds. I finally manage to get a hold of myself and the concert is, obviously, like heaven on earth. Five days later we’d be back for the final gig of that tour, standing a couple of rows from the front on a night that somehow topped the untoppable. At the end of that final show, as the lights came up after Behind The Wheel/Route 66, we spotted a guy who was a couple of years ahead of us at school. I remember just looking at him with my mouth hanging open, as he did the same. It was, and always will be, the best gig I’ve ever been to. Suddenly, the fact I’d missed the two previous tours didn’t matter, because this was it. This was the BEST. (That feeling didn’t last by the way, I went back to being pissed off about it within a week.)

Martin onstage 27 November 1990 - Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I’d love to be able to provide a proper review of that gig, but it was a long time ago. The main thing I loved about it, and the reason why World Violation is for me their strongest tour is that they still had a foot in that Music For The Masses show. To hear a full version of Shake The Disease is a wonderful thing. To hear Dave do some of the same shouts and ‘ALRIGHTS’ between lines as he did on 101 made me feel as if I’d been there after all. Three sold-out nights: Birmingham loved Depeche Mode. I felt a mixture of euphoria and slight bewilderment. If you’d have asked me then when I thought I’d be back there for a Depeche Mode concert, I’d have said two years, three year tops. It would be ten years, and the experience would prove very different. 

So let’s skip past the Devotional Tour. I was at Crystal Palace and Sheffield for that one, and perhaps I’ll write something about those shows and foist it onto David in the future. I missed the Singles Tour, because it came at a time when my head had been surgically positioned up my own arse, making it difficult to hear about new gigs and albums. I was living in Brighton at the time, and was flailing about in a sort of drum & bass vortex, although I still listened to DM daily. I had loved Ultra, but wasn’t even aware they’d released a new singles compilation until my mum put it on in the car. (I remain suitably embarrassed about my mum being more up to speed on DM releases than me.)

To be honest, even if I’d know about the Singles Tour, I may not have gone. Alan leaving the band was A Very Big Deal to me and I was (am) a petulant bastard. I know almost nothing about that tour so let’s move onto 2001, which I think really kicked off phase two of my thing for Depeche Mode. 

Exciter was the first album that had a few songs that I didn’t like. Consider that. From Speak & Spell through to Ultra, I would not have told you that there was a single song I didn’t like. Still wouldn’t. You can throw anything at me. I can remember singing A Photograph of You when I was a little boy. I can remember being eleven and lying in bed reading 2000AD and singing along to What’s Your Name. It doesn’t matter to me that they aren’t considered to be “great” songs, or even good songs; what matters is how they resonated with me at a certain point in my life.

But I still listened to Exciter an awful lot, and I know all the words to each song - which is either an indicator of quality or my rabidness as a fan. I was excited (HAHA) as ever to be back at the NEC in 2001, standing in more or less the same spot and feeling the same anticipation as I had a decade previously. 

All I can really say is that this was my period of adjustment. This was the concert when I realised that Depeche Mode were not quite the same as before, that I was watching a band that were coming at things slightly differently, living their lives on the road slightly differently. (Or very differently, depending on who you’re thinking about.) It wasn’t bad, it was just… Different. I wasn’t prepared for it. I don’t want to appear to be down on them, and the Birmingham crowd was in good voice, but I had naively thought that I’d have essentially the same experience as I’d had at my last Depeche Mode concert, in Sheffield in 93. Having missed the Singles Tour, it was all a bit jarring. I came away disappointed, but not really disappointed with the band. I was disappointed that I’d lost touch, that I hadn’t realised that the band had moved on. I needed to move on with them. 

The next three tours, Touring The Angel, Tour of the Universe and The Delta Machine Tour would see me (and the same friends) attend multiple concerts across the UK, but always in Birmingham. Over that time, the NEC got a much needed facelift. I’d adjusted to this new iteration of Depeche Mode, and whilst there may have been aspects I didn’t care for (STILL NO FUCKING ALAN), a choice between a different live show and no show is an easy choice to make.

Birmingham NEC Walking In My Shoes 31 March 2006 by me

The Delta Machine Tour at Birmingham was a memorable night for me, as it was my daughter’s first concert. She was eight at the time and, well… It was a moment. But I remember noting that the NEC (or whatever it was now called) wasn’t full. This was new to me. It didn’t have a detrimental effect on the gig, in fact it was one of the most enjoyable shows I’d seen for a while. The band appeared to be having a blast, but what had happened to the Birmingham audience? From three sold-out nights in 1990 to this? Various members of the band have criticised Birmingham shows in the past, which I thought was unfair. Some of the least vocal crowds I’ve ever been a part of were in London, although not so much these days. But would the Global Spirit Tour be the moment that Depeche Mode finally gave up on Brum? 

Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this, would I? You bloody idiot. 

And so, again, to Birmingham. Only this time, it’s not the NEC. (Sorry marketing tossers, it will always be the NEC. Not the Genting Monstrosity. Not the LG Eyesore. The NEC.) A word of thanks here to Adele Mitchell who informed me, via the Twitters that you have nowadays, that this gig was being held at the NIA (OR WHATEVER IT’S CALLED NOW). I had managed to look up the show and purchase my ticket without actually noticing this, and would have absolutely turned up at the NEC with a confused look on my face. 

The NIA then. Hmm. Well, it’s in the city centre, which is good. The area around it is stuffed with bars and good places to eat, which is also good. Despite the fact that I’ve been there a few times and seen it with my own eyes, I’d always assumed it had a smaller capacity than the NEC. But it turns out to be slightly larger by a few hundred. So that’s also good. But the sound is terrible. It always has been. It was terrible when I saw Prince there in the early 90s and it’s terrible now. Okay, it’s not quite as terrible as the almost impressively terrible Wembley Arena, but it’s still pretty terrible. 

Anyway, after a solid five hours of drinking mojitos in a bar where the staff were all younger, better dressed and better looking than me, we staggered into the venue. Bought a beer and headed into the standing section. And then headed straight back out again. Yes, that’s right: the support band was playing. I say ‘playing’. It was difficult to tell what was going on, as the sound from the stage was like a couple of donkeys trapped in a well and being pelted with cymbals. They were called ‘Re-TROS’, it says here. In fairness to them, it can’t have been all their fault. And it may have sounded better down the front; at the back of the venue it was frightening. But in that great tradition of Depeche Mode warm up acts, they left the stage and the mood brightened considerably.

We pushed our way towards to the front. Please don’t misunderstand - I am unfailingly polite. I’m the kind of person who will apologise to a stranger for having the temerity to put my arse in the way of their foot. So I’m not one of those people who just barges through. I slither through, slowly. Like a devious black-clad worm. We found a decent enough spot with perfect timing. Lights down, show starts. 

Going Backwards is a perfectly fine song. Not my favourite song on Spirit, but I like it. Like so much of what they do, it’s not a song you could imagine any other band putting out. With the best will in the world, it is not a great way to open a concert. Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t think it does justice to the anticipation levels in the crowd. It was the same with Welcome To My World last time around. As Roger Taylor (the Queen one, not the one out of the most overrated band in the universe, Duran Duran) put it, the object of the first few songs is to blow the audience’s bollocks off. I presume that’s a metaphor, although I wouldn’t have put it past Queen to use a bit of live ordnance in their sets.

So not only do we kick things off with Going Backwards, we then get It’s No Good and Barrel Of A Gun. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad start per se. The first three songs all sound great, although I’ve never really cared for Barrel Of A Gun live. It’s fine. But that’s all it is. Fine. My bollocks remained intact. They continued to remain intact through A Pain That I’m Used To, even more so considering it’s the Jacques Lu Cont version. Almost as much of an aberration as Butch Vig’s In Your Room atrocity. But hey. It’s fine. It’s FINE.

Don’t panic. This is not a bad review. (It is a badly written review, but that’s different. I’ve been paid for my services in the form of a small piece of cardboard, so stop moaning.) I thought the London show in the summer suffered from the same thing - a bit of a lacklustre first 15-20 minutes. So let’s put it behind us and talk about my bollocks again. 

Useless and Precious, and they are now starting to twitch. But full ball bag detonation does not occur until World In My Eyes. It’s a belting version, and whilst I appreciate they can’t really start the set with it THEY BLOODY SHOULD. From this point onwards, they do not put a foot wrong. Cover Me (my favourite from the album) is wondrous, special. A brilliant song presented and performed brilliantly. And then they’re coming thick and fast and bloody hell. Bloody HELL. 

Cast your mind back to a few months ago when I was talking about the excitement of seeing Depeche Mode. It’s still there. Okay, so tonight it took me a little time to warm up, and I’m not sure anything is quite as exciting to a fat, jaded 42-year-old as it is to a 16-year-old, but still. I’m grinning like a mental. This is it, this is why I still love Depeche Mode. Much later that evening, I tweeted about how pointless it is to make comparisons between DM now and DM of past decades. They’re here in the same room as me, and I’m having a brilliant time.

A brief note about farting. Do not fart at concerts. Don’t do it. Don’t be that absolute beast. I don’t know who it was, but Christ almighty. Someone in my vicinity was dropping the most eye-wateringly vile guffs, and I would have happily kicked him to death if I could have. (Because let’s face it, it was a him.) I can’t really link this passage to anything that was happening on stage, but I needed to get it off my chest. Don’t. Fart. At. Concerts. Back to the show.

Insight and Home are both lovely, although the miserable bastard in me could live without the ‘spontaneous’ crowd singalong after Home now. (Marvel at my hypocrisy in a couple of paragraphs when I laud the Everything Counts crowd singalong.) In Your Room is great, and I was one of the many happy people to see the proper version restored for this tour. It’s a great example of how unfathomable it is to me how some songs work incredibly well live, and some don’t. In Your Room could easily be a difficult live track. It’s fairly slow, but it builds and builds… For me it acts as an homage to Devotional-era Depeche Mode, and it’s all the better for it. An interesting thing happened when In Your Room started. There was a young couple near me, perhaps in their early 20s. When the song started, they conferred briefly and decided that now would be a good time to go to the bar. He actually offered to go by himself, but it turned out she didn’t like it much either. Jesus wept. This happened on a previous tour as well. Perfectly turned out hipster fucked off to the bar when Stripped started. I ask you.

Right, I’ll be honest. I was pretty hammered by this point. Lost both my friends. I was getting text messages from one of them saying that he’d found a kindly security guard who was letting him smoke a fag indoors, but he was so drunk that he couldn’t remember where I was. The other one was AWOL. So perhaps I was a bit preoccupied/bladdered, but I didn’t even notice that the screen was buggered for Where’s The Revolution. At some point during the evening it came back on, but with one panel missing. Shout out to all my OCD brothers and sisters who spent the next 35-40 minutes staring at it. 

The last four songs in the regular set were blinding. Everything Counts (with the obligatory and amazing crowd singalong, told you) is stunning. Stripped, Enjoy The Silence, Never Let Me Down Again… It seems almost pointless to try and use words to describe the brilliance of that particular quartet, particularly when I’m almost certainly preaching to the converted. In my opinion, that’s a stronger four songs than those in the encore. The end of Never Let Me Down Again should be the end of every gig, ever. Even ones by different bands. It’s the perfect ending. It ended the regular set but I think they should swap it with Personal Jesus. And because I effectively pay their wages, I demand that they listen to me.

After a refreshing break of about 35 seconds, Martin returned to give us an acoustic version of Strangelove. It was nice, but I selfishly wished it had been a full performance. Walking In My Shoes was as majestic as ever, but I think it’s better employed earlier in the set. I missed most of A Question of Time as I was on WhatsApp trying to track down the more errant of my two friends. Some sample messages from him: 

‘i just egging’

‘The last thing i ever wanted to do is make you lie to me’

‘Don’t try and hide’


‘How can I help you?’

Most of my messages in between followed a common format: 


This is what I’m up against. 

But we’ve almost made it. Personal Jesus might be the best song Depeche Mode have ever released. (It isn’t, that’s World In My Eyes. But you might think it is.) It’s a worthy ending to the show, but again, I’d personally prefer it a little earlier. But no complaints, they could probably belt it out whilst in a drug-induced coma (as Fletch appeared to be for much of the evening), but it’s still an awesome sight. And, er, sound. 

So let’s wrap it up with some words about the guys themselves. There was a point, a few tours back, when I used my finely honed abilities in reading body language to infer that Martin wasn’t enjoying himself much. These days he barely stops smiling, the smug bastard. Dave too, he looks like he’s having the time of his life. Because I’m an arsehole, I like to study them both in the hope that I’ll see some cracks in the facade. That maybe Martin’s smile will briefly fade and he’ll do the wanker sign behind Dave’s back. Or Dave will appear from the wings during Martin’s solo stint and pretend to throttle himself in the background. Hasn’t happened yet. I can only conclude that they’re having a ball. Makes you sick. 

Fletch. Fletch. I love Fletch. I once organised a friend’s stag weekend so that I could be in Barcelona when he was DJing there. Stood resolutely by the decks all night, fighting off smaller, less English and less aggressively drunk people for my spot. Stood there for hours and was rewarded with a few words and a handshake. He’s brilliant, and I suspect he’d be a good laugh to have a pint with. So this isn’t a criticism, but when Dave and Martin look so happy on stage, why does Fletch look like someone’s just pissed in his pocket? Give us a smile and get down the front to shake someone’s hand, see if you can still make people faint with the power of touch. Even better, kick Dave in the knackers and sing Mouldy Old Dough during the finale. 

Anyway, the lights came up and I eventually managed to locate my missing friends. We made our way back to my mate’s house, whereupon we spent the next six hours in his studio playing with Alan Wilder’s EMAX sounds and making lots of appreciative ‘oof’ noises. A fine end to a great evening. At around 5am, it occurred to me that I’d told David I’d cobble a review together, at which point I began to sweat. So David, I’m sorry I wasn’t a bit more thorough about the gig itself. Those mojitos were a bit moreish.

Well, if you got this far then thank you for reading. It looks like my mission to get tickets for the tour finale in Berlin is down the toilet, so that’s it for a few years at least. I fucking love Depeche Mode. Over and out.


Thanks Shaun! 

Monday 27 November 2017


For the second time on the tour, Depeche Mode returned to Antwerp's Sportpaleis for another sold out gig. The band must love the place. Jean-Francois Cimino from Frameries a.k.a Belek for those of you on the Home forum was there last night and he's send this cracking review of what turned out to be yet another top form performance from the seemingly ageless band. I have no idea how they do it. Thanks very much for this Jean-Francois and thanks to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for putting up with yet more brazen thievery on my part.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

(I was) Wrong

When you are a hardcore Depeche Mode fan, you know how hard it is to avoid setlist spoilers on the Internet. You will always find someone around you posting a picture of a setlist sheet or writing a comment on one song or another. Going to multiple shows might also spoil the experience as we all know how adventurous the Boys are…

Since a few good songs were dropped ("Heroes", Wrong, Halo after only one performance) and one of my least favourites was in (Precious), I wasn’t as happy as usual to go to the Antwerp gig. Same songs all over again compared to previous tours, nothing to really get excited about, really. That being said, a few of my favourite songs were still making the setlist so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. To keep myself busy, I was the realtime setlist sender on the Home message board.

It was cold around the Sportpaleis, cold and rainy. A few beers helped the warming before the opening of the doors.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Before the show, we were given some flags and instructions on when to use them. This action was nice and reminded me a lot of the action in May on Dave’s birthday. (APA: see Linda Meijer's review of that show here)

The venue was surprisingly well packed during the opening act Re-Tros. The sound was terrible but the audience was into it and seemed to enjoy the 30 minutes set and so did I.

Around 20.40, the lights went off for the second time in the night, that was early but who needs to wait 20 minutes more when everything is ready and people excited?

The atmosphere during the Going Backwards was a bit weird to be honest. I was sitting at the back and people around me were sitting still, but they were noisy. After a few seconds, We all knew Dave was in top form and the performance he was about to deliver would be an excellent one.

It’s No Good was a blast and got everyone into it. People around me remained sitting though. Only a few people in front of me had stood up and started to dance.

As asked, you could see flags waving all over the place after It’s No Good. Don’t know if the band were expecting this but they took a while before starting Barrel Of A Gun, staring at the audience. Nice moments.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Barrel Of A Gun was excellent to my ears. An almost perfect rendition compared to the other gigs I attended this tour (1st leg) and other tours (Delta Machine and Singles Tours).

A Pain That I'm Used To gave a good vibe, you can see the band really enjoys playing it and people in the audience were into it as well. Dave even went on the catwalk at the beginning of the song. Really nice.

Useless was fan-tas-tic! The reworked version with the bassline intro (Peter did it perfectly!!!) gave me goosebumps. The screen projections were great as well, perfect combination if you ask me. First highlight of the night. 

Precious. Aaaah Precious! I never liked that song but last night, I thought it sounded great and really enjoyed it. A good surprise to me. The other good surprise was the absence of projections. I didn’t need the dogs again. :)

To me, World In My Eyes is one of the best DM songs ever made. I was pleased to see they didn’t drop it. The not-so new intro is still great and Dave’s vocals on it were on par with WVT. The audience response was great as well.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
This was my third concert of the current tour (after Antwerp and Lille in May) and as planned in my book, Cover Me was another highlight. Dave beautifully sang the song (no more « RrrrI’ve felt better… ») and did the entertainment win the catwalk during the second part of the song. The audience was getting better and better.

Martin’s spot is the place were changes are expected to happen. I was pleased to hear another Ultra song, Insight. The vocal harmonies with Martin and Peter on that one were simply beautiful and well balanced. I hope I’ll get to hear it again on the next gig I’ll attend. Home was as great as usual. You can’t be disappointed with Home and the singalong right after was great as well, Dave encouraging people to sing more and more. Nothing unplanned of course, we all know that, but it was nice to hear live.

In Your Room was already amazing during the first leg but placed here, after Martin’s spot was an excellent choice. Also, I think the version was slightly reworked as I could hear the extra loop after "...cause flames to arise." Don’t know if I’m right but it sounded so perfect yesterday. Good job guys!

The flags were back for Where's The Revolution. A much more interesting rendition than during the first leg. I can’t exactly say what changes were made but it sounded particularly good in Antwerp. Flags waving and audience chanting was another highlight!

With the first notes of Everything Counts, people around me finally stop up to sing and dance. The crowd was on fire and the singalong was great as well. The atmosphere would never go down again until the end of the show. Everything Counts is, to me, one of the best DM songs and this reworked version is my favorite one of all I’ve heard. We got  "Antwerp you really are the best..." from Dave… I assume he says that all the time, doesn’t he?

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The sound was a bit louder after Martin’s tracks. Maybe that was the reason people woke up, who knows. Stripped sounded fantastic and during the final duo Enjoy The Silence and Never Let me Down Again, the audience went crazy. People were dancing and singing throughout the songs. The last flag waving was planned during NLMDA and guess what? It was outstanding! ETS and NLMDA are definitely crowd pleasers, even if I would go for shorter versions, DM can’t stop playing them, never!

Encore was shorter than on the first leg but was enjoyable though. Strangelove was short but nice. Martin told the audience after the first chorus: "You can singalong if you want ... He seemed to enjoy performing it and to be honest, it sounded way better than the previous renditions I heard. Not a question of audio quality but the performance itself was better. Well done Mart and Peter.

Another song that I really love from Depeche Mode is Walking In My Shoes. Personally, I love the video projection for that one. It gives another meaning to the song and despite its brightness, it tells a not-so happy story. I was shocked to see some people around me didn’t know the song. I was there with a bunch of friends and one of them told me he never heard it before…

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Then came the best version of A Question Of Time I’ve ever heard. Really. I was pleased to hear Martin had stopped playing the little gimmick with his guitar which used to make the song sound flat. Sticking to the rhythmic part with his guitar was the best ting to do, letting the gimmick to the synths only. I was only disappointed that Dave didn’t sing that much and the audience seemed to have forgotten a little bit about the lyrics.

The final song was a punchy Personal Jesus that left everyone happy as you could see on people’s faces. 

So overall, I must admit I was wrong. This is the best DM gig I’ve attended this tour and I’m already looking forward to seeing the next one in January. I’ll go to festivals this summer as well. Congrats boys, you did a fantastic job in Antwerp.


Thanks Jean-Francois!

Thursday 23 November 2017


A Depeche Mode homecoming gig is always a big event as June's superb Olympic Stadium gig proved. Last night they filled the O2, playing to a crowd that loved every second of it. A gig like that needs a reviewer to match it and that's what it's got with this cracking piece by my Depeche chum Amanda Stock. Thanks very much Amanda and, as ever, thanks to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook group for the pics. Thanks too to Mr Halo, Kevin May, for the video below (edit - and the first picture!)

Picture courtesy of Kevin May of Halo - The Violator Book

I was in the security queue at 8:45pm. I wasn’t too frazzled as this would be my third time seeing Depeche Mode on this tour – I was one of the lucky few to see them at The Barrowlands, Glasgow back in March (best DM gig EVER) and at London’s Olympic Stadium in June when we were treated to Everything Counts in warm summer rain which was pretty damned special. 

A new thing for me was handing over the whole e- ticket before entering the arena – “that’s one less for the scrapbook” I thought. Do people really go back and reclaim a ticket afterwards? It’s an almighty task just getting out! 

I was a bit late to the gig because as all The Devoted know – the Mode experience is as much as about catching up (i.e.drinking) with DM pals beforehand, either “real life” ones or friends that have been made on social media. I love the effect social media has had on making new friendships with fellow fans. For a long time - well, from 1983 to about 2011 for me, I thought I was the only one. But, didn’t we all? So a pre-gig meet-up in a local drinking establishment always sets the night off nicely. I caught up with some good twitter pals at “The Slug and Lettuce” and there is always such an air of excitement about what the night will bring. But I seem to forget about the time and end up walking in just as Dave takes to the stage.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
This gig was particularly special for me as I was accompanied by my girl, Georgia (as my sister, Sue was with her daughter, Hannah) both girls experiencing Depeche Mode for the first time. A Depeche Mode “circle of life”…… 

If someone had told us back in 1983 (when Sue and I saw Depeche for the first time on the Construction Time Again tour), that just a little over 34 years later the band would still be going, performing at sold out stadiums across the world AND we would be bringing our grown-up daughters to see them, I would have found it all hard to believe. But here we were. And it was all rather poignant. 

So, like I mentioned earlier, we were a tad late and I didn’t really take in the first couple of songs – Going Backwards and It’s No Good until we found a position. I didn’t have a great view of the band but I thought, “Never mind, there will be the big side screens” - but apparently they were missing for tonight’s performance. Okayyyy. That just left the big screen behind the band which mainly showed the “always interesting” Anton Corbijn visuals. They both enhance the songs but distract my attention and I would rather see more of the band on the big screen to be honest but, you live with it. It’s a minor quibble.

So, let’s go over the wonderful highlights. The songs that made me a bit emotional and the songs that made me jump up and down on the spot – hence why I ache today…

It was lovely hearing Precious, one of Mode’s more tender, “straight from the heart” songs but I wouldn’t mind if Barrel Of A Gun was replaced. It’s never been a favourite of mine and I would prefer to hear something else – although the addition of the snippet from Grandmaster Flash’s The Message is a bit quirky.

Just as an aside, I’ve been spending time today looking at song stats on ( as you do) and Never Let Me Down Again has been played, in total over all tours 897 times. Scum has been played once. Furthermore, one of my favourite DM songs, Lie To Me has been played 78 times – this could do with being bumped up a bit - but I digress. 

World In My Eyes followed – this song is just brilliant live. It always gets a huge crowd response and my spine is utterly tingled on hearing the opening rich tones of that bass synth. Like all the favourites, it never gets dull or tired. Halo would have been a perfect addition.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Cover Me was next – THE stand-out song from Spirit and played to a backdrop of a beautiful “Spaceman Dave” visual. It’s a gorgeous song. Just three songs from Spirit were played and whilst this doesn’t worry me, it’s been a discussion point for fans and there are many differences of opinion whether this is right or not. I don’t actually care, as long as the band still continue to perform live, but it may be an indication that the central theme of Spirit – disparity in wealth, living in terror, the current state of the world doesn’t translate for those wanting “Dance Mode”. That said, most fans will agree that Spirit is the best album since Ultra – which interestingly had five songs played last night. So it appears it’s the “Global Ultra Spirit Tour” which I think is pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty, good. 

Martin’s solo songs Home and Strangelove (an adorable acoustic version) went down really well with the crowd although for me, I would’ve preferred another song other than Insight – I have missed the treat of the appearance of Judas on this tour and that would’ve been awesome. 

Where’s The Revolution got an amazing reaction - the crowd’s hands in the air, shouting back at Dave with real passion: “WHERE’S THE REVOULUUUUTION? COME ON, PEOPLE YOU’RE LETTING ME DOWWWNN!!” The atmosphere was intoxicating at this point and from here the night just got better and better.

Then – Everything Counts. *heart*

This tour is all about Everything Counts – the song resonates with fans like myself who have followed the band all their lives. I had it constantly playing on my Sony Walkman during the summer of 1983 and it still gives me goosebumps now. This latest tour version is a real delight, with an introduction that is designed to throw you off scent. Three chimes of synth – just the same three simple keys ring out for the first few minutes and then…. the grinding, pounding, industrial introduction arrives and by the time Mart joins in with the famous “Melodica-like” synth notes, the crowd are going wild. A roar almost blew the roof off the arena as the crowd clapped, danced and sang the chorus as I have never heard fans before. The band was on fire and so were we. Literally and metaphorically. I have never heard London like this, certainly at the 02 and although my legs ached at this point and I really felt very hot indeed, I was so glad I went for standing tickets. 

Here is a snippet of Everything Counts from my fellow DM mate, Kevin May:

The night rolled away with the ultimate classic favourites of Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again – and I have to mention Dave’s energy levels at this point. I am always, always blown away that at the age of 55, he puts in a stunning performance every single night on a world tour as if it was his first (or maybe his last?) He is up there as one of the best frontmen ever and I hope he knows how much he is loved. I really do.

Walking In My Shoes and A Question Of Time received rapturous applause and the almighty Personal Jesus closed the set. I looked over at my girl and she was joining in with the words, indeed reaching out to touch faith and I think, at that moment, she got it. I absolutely loved having her by my side.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
So, that’s me done for another four years – the speculation will start I expect about whether this is the last tour or not – I hope not. But we shall have to wait and see. I was so proud that London showed Depeche Mode all the love last night. They never disappoint live and I think they are, like us, having the time of their lives.


Thanks Amanda. Follow Amanda on Twitter - @Amandastock1

Monday 20 November 2017


Manchester on 17 November was my second gig in 3 days and I'm still feeling tired. I spent the day there with my mates Paul, John, John and Stuart, meaning that I was once again off reviewing duties. Claudia Schulzi is the reviewer for this show and I was delighted when she volunteered. She runs the superb My Daily Mode Blog which is a site I recommend you all check out. I think she might have been to more gigs on this tour than Depeche themselves. This is a great review - thanks to Claudia for that and all the great pictures.

It was great to meet so many people in Manchester and thanks to the many people who took Global Spirit Tour Project business cards from me and my mates who were all wearing blog t-shirts, meaning we looked like a cross between very old holiday reps and the world's worst boyband. There were so many people I didn't get to say hi too, especially Claudia. I hope to get to see everyone in Paris on Dec 3 and in Amsterdam. Anyway, to Claudia's review.

Hello everyone - my name is Claudia, I'm from Cologne and I have the great honour to write the blog about the Manchester concert here. I have my own small blog ( and so it is very exciting for me to be part of this famous blog by David. 

I arrived on Friday, November 17 by plane, in Manchester. I have been to Manchester many times , I love this small city because it is a little bit like my hometown. You can do everything by walking and as we arrived we start walking through the city. We didn't need a big sightseeing trip, so we enjoyed the city, stopped here for eat something, to drink or buy something. We met a few German fans in the city by chance, it is always the same, the German Depeche Mode devotees sometimes fall into cities like a swarm of locusts to follow our favorite band. After we checked into our room a bit later in the afternoon and got into the mood with wine, it was already time to go to the Manchester Arena, where I picked up my ticket. As we came into the standing area in the arena we have to give our ticket away and became bracelets. I hate this so much, you can get your ticket back after the show, but mostly you forget it and that's exactly how it was here again.

Claudia (right)

A woman gave us a CD in front of the entrance. As it turned out, it was a CD of the supporting band Re-TROS. I came early to see them, so I can report on them here. A Chinese band from Bejing, China, comprising 3 people, drums, keyboard and a singer with the guitar. They played a kind of punk, ska, electronic music. Not bad. I have to see them a few more times to deepen my impression. But I think I like them. A good supporting band for Depeche Mode. 

We were in a big group of friends and we enjoyed some delicious beers together before the concert started. I was very excited. Almost 4 weeks ago, I saw my last 2nd leg gig in Hollywood and I was already suffering from withdrawal. With the snippet of the Beatles and at 8:45 o'clock p.m. Depeche Mode came on stage. The fans of Manchester welcomed the band with a big applause, from the beginning all fans got up. I loved the American concerts, but I was very happy to be back in good old Europe, especially in England to have a big party all together. And that it was, a huge party. I wanted to take notes for this blog, but my pen failed after the second song and now I am dependent on my memories. Not so easy with the amount of beer I drank!

Dave was in a very good mood, sometimes I wonder how he does it. He is so lively, he has not had much time to rest after the US tour and he does not take a breather during the concert. In Going Backwards he sang "there's nothing inside" while he was lifting his jacket. Second song was It's No Good, a great ass wiggle parade of Dave. Ok, here we are, this is the winter setlist and I like the change. It is a kind of  "Ultra Setlist“ and because Ultra is one of my favorite albums I'm very happy with the new setlist. It's No Good was followed by Barrel Of A Gun with the great last lines from Grandmaster Flash. I don't know why Dave is rapping this lines, but it goes well with the song and ultimately with Dave. And he didn't loose his head, he was the master of the setlist changes. Anyone who thinks he can't pull this off, is wrong. 

After the strong A Pain That I'm Used To Dave sang the wonderful Useless,  a track I heard in Hollywood concert number 4. Anton made a new short film for this song, which I didn't understand, a typical Anton video. But the new video is a sign, that this song now is surely integrated into the Winter setlist. And then, what a surprise - Precious instead of  In Your Room. A very good decision, because In Your Room slows the set down at this point and with  Precious, the mood stayed up. I never liked this song very much, but I like it when Dave rubs his sweaty back against Martin's back, looking a little tormented .... Very funny. 

Then World In My Eyes. We were in the middle of the arena and danced and sang together with the English fans and had lots of fun all together. Cover Me, always a highlight for me, a great moment when Dave came on the catwalk to do his slowly soulful dance. I was too far away from stage and the catwalk, but I saw pictures taken by a facebook friend. Dave touched a few people in front of the catwalk and one time, he rested his hands on the head of a woman of the arena security crew. Unbelievable. I wonder why he did it  -  a penny for his thoughts. Mr. Gore sang Insight, another great song from Ultra, but I like this song so much sang by Dave. But Martin did a good job and the audience liked his performance and, as he came out on the catwalk to finish Home, the whole crowd start to sing with him: "ohohohooooo" and they sang a long while after the song ended. Dave came back and conducted the crowd. 

Next - no more Poison Heart. I think that's a shame, that means they are already playing two songs fewer from the new album -  the title "Global Spirit Tour" does not fit anymore. Instead they ended up playing five songs from Ultra. But to folow they played In Your Room, which fitted very well at this point, building suspense before Where's The Revolution. For me, this wasa kind of break, not the best song for me. And then a total shock with the intro of Everything Counts. What happened to Wrong? It was canceled without replacement, why? Nevertheless,  Everything Counts was once again one of the best moments of the concert with its Kraftwerk like intro. This version of the song is so emotional and it feels like home for me. I felt like I'm in the middle of the 80's and that was a wonderful feeling.

I had a fast beer at Stripped and for the first time on this tour, on my 28th concert of this tour, I was able to float away with Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again, as on past tours. The happiest moment of the tour so far for me. I sang and danced with my friends. One of my friends opened his braid and danced with long, open hair. I've never seen him dance like this before. We agreed that Manchester was one of the best concerts of the tour. The band went off for a while before Martin came back with the soulful Judas. After Walking In My Shoes I expected Halo, but I was disappointed. Another missing song. I hope that this will be an exception. A Question Of Time was then played instead of I Feel You. I know many people didn't like the song anymore, but it is one of my favorite songs, especially live. It is maybe the most typical Dave song with his screaming and spitting. I miss it. A Question Of Time“ is a very good song but the combination of I Feel You and the last one Personal Jesus was a perfect high-voltage build-up. But we all, Dave, Depeche Mode, Manchester and I, gave Personal Jesus our best. We rocked off until we had nothing left. A perfect tour start for me, we left the arena totally happy. The most of us went home, but my friend Heike and me, we drove by taxi to the Canal street and spent a funny beer-soaked night in a big gay pub „ Via“. We danced and sang the whole night with strangers. We rested only a few less hours in our hotel room before we took our early flight back to Cologne.

Manchester, always a pleasure. Thank you for this great concert.


Thanks very much Claudia!

Remember to go and check out My Daily Mode Blog here and on Facebook