For the final review of the fourth leg, we welcome back Claudia Schulzi. As you surely know by now, Claudia runs the superb My Daily Mode blog, where you can read all about her adventures following the band on the Global Spirit Tour. By this point in the tour, it's quite possible that Claudia has been to more concerts than the band themselves - make sure you check her blog out. As ever, Claudia's review is one you won't want to miss and it's one that I think a lot of us will have a great deal of empathy with. A bittersweet Brazilian tale. Thank so much for the words and pictures Claudia - see you in Berlin.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Depeche Mode in Sao Paulo, March 27 or "Things Get Damaged"
My airplane landed at the concert day in the early afternoon. I made a late decision to go to Sao Paulo or San Paolo, as it was written on the departure board in Buenos Aires,
because I heard about the crimerate in Sao Paulo and I wanted to stay as short as
possible a time there.
Happily, our hotel and the Allianz Park arena was located in a very safe area, called Perdizes.
Our hotel was a small skycraper with 18 floors and from the top I could see the whole city
with this crazy skyline. So many skycrapers, unbelievable.
I regretted immediately that I couldn't stay longer in this city.
I walked alone to a very good Burger restaurant "Ze Do Hamburger" where I ate a very
good vegan burger and drank an amazing big fruit juice.
The restaurant was in a 50's diner style and the waiter was so unbelievable friendly.
I forgot that I had to speak Portuguese now and thanked him in bad Spanish!.
He smiled and I recognized my fault, so with the help of my mobile phone I learned a very
few words in Portuguese like "Thank you / obrigado", " hi / bom dia", "Goodbye/ adeus", "please/por favor". He laughed full of joy and I left this restaurant very happy.
Next step: I needed beer to warm up the concert in my hotel room, so I walked 10 minutes
to a huge supermarket where I bought beer, water and some fruits because its looked so
Sao Paulo skyline
As I left the supermarket it started raining heavily. I have never experienced
such a strong rain. Unfortunately, the area was very hilly, and so the water poured down
the hills, it formed small rivers. There was no way to get to the hotel dry. When I walked into the foyer,
the staff laughed at me because they had warned me about the rain .... who knew this was what they meant by rain? So I did not know this rain, it was like showering. I spent the next 2 hours drinking beer and drying my shoes.
We then walked to the nearby Allianz Parque Arena, a very modern new arena, home of
the football club SE Palmeiras. It will take up to 55000 people for concerts, but I think
there were 30000 devotees.
As we reached the stadium the rain came back on, not so strong like before but strong
enough. We decided to miss the support band and spent time drinking beer inside. We bought commemorative beer cups of the event for a really small amopunt of money, taking pictures with a special event
picture machine and smoking and bought our Brazil Global Spirit t-shirt.
We spoke with a few fans, wow, everybody was so friendly, another increase to the
already incredible friendliness in all countries we'd visited until then.
Then the concert started. From the beginning I knew, that will be the best concert of the South American tour,
because the devotees welcomed Depeche Mode with such an applause.
Who would have guessed? I just did not expect anything from the Brazil concert, but it was such a long time since Depeche Mode played in Brazil and I think it was about
The rain was no obstacle for the fans as all of us wore capes, but I decided to lose mine, because as well as the rain, it was also very hot in Sao Paulo, more than 85
Dave came down to the stage as Going Backwards started and everything worked fine
again ( the sound, the screens...). It's No Good saw the fans started to dance wildly; very funny all that rustling rain
capes. During Barrel Of A Gun something crazy happened - suddenly, people dancing next to us ended up in a tough fight.
Several people beat each other and were held back by others. The fight seemed to end, then suddenly a woman hit a man very hard in the face. He immediately began
to bleed and lunged at the woman, they rolled on the ground.
I was almost knocked over by retreating people.
There was no security at all, neither from the stadium nor Depeche Mode.
Suddenly I saw Andy's bodyguard trying to figure out what was going on. I waved
and signaled that help was needed, but he turned away. The action was far from
Depeche Mode and no danger to them.
Really shocking. That would never have happened when Daryl Ives was still chief
He was not always nice, but mostly on the side of the devotees. He took good care
of his band and his audience.
Unfortunately, Daryl died of a heart attack in February 2007 in Hong Kong at age
But be assured, Daryl, we don't forget you!
It took me a while to follow the concert again and I missed Dave's greeting at the
end of the song.
A Pain That I'm Used To was great and then Useless, yes, the screenings worked
well and the fans from further away could enjoy Dave's pithy show on the
Like every gig, Precious is the first big highlight: "Things get damaged
Things get broken
I thought we'd manage
But words left unspoken
Left us so brittle
There was so little left to give" The text is probably about a relationship but it also fits in with all the cities in South
America that I've seen. Many things are damaged, broken; there is not much that
could help. Or is there? In Sao Paulo, all the people I met (and this was repeated during a few days in Rio) were
as warm-hearted as anyone from Europe. It touched me a lot, even very poor
people, who sold their last belongings on the roadside, still smiled at me ...
And so the fans in Sao Paulo sang fervently along to Precious.
Then Dave took a sip of tea and World In My Eyes began and it was also
After the song Dave asked the fans "How are you doing“? And again - “I said, how
are you doing?" He was satisfied with the screaming of the fans. Cover Me! I say it again, best song of the tour. The sound was powerful and
Dave danced in the rain on the catwalk, after he shook hands again.
Then Mr. Gore sang Insight: "Talking to you now, the fire still burns", but sorry
Martin, I could not hear you, because Gordeno sang so loud. I wanted to hear
Martin Gore not Peter Gordeno. The Brazilians liked Martin Gore, he got applause like in Europe. Home was wonderful, the sing along was the best of the South American Tour, I
My favourite moment with Martin Gore is, when he runs back to the stage, the catwalk is a
small hill and it looked so funny when he ran up this small hill. He is so
unpretentious, I like it.
In Your Room, the screens worked again, but I tried to look only at Dave to enjoy
this great song. He looked like he's telling us a story that only he knows; about his
special room. Where's The Revolution - sorry yawn. Everything Counts in Brazil was the best song of the South American tour. Finally
the fans celebrated it like I know it from Europe. The fans let balloons fly, the rain
stopped meanwhile and the air was full of haze, looking amazing.
Dave turned to the band to make clear he wanted to celebrate the song a long time.
He enjoyed the bath in the masses. At the end he knocked a balloon away and
thanked with “Sao Paulo, you are really the best", and it was true. Stripped gets louder from concert to concert. Dave sang it full of fervor,
sometimes falling back in his old roaring.
Enjoy The Silence saw Martin and Dave stood as ever in front of Gordeno, with Dave later imitating an ape in front of Andy, before he then shot the pig on the screen. Enjoy The Silence was such a long time my favourite live song, over years I played every
morning another live version of this song, but with this tour I stopped loving it because I
didn't find this tour's version as much fun. During Never Let MeDown Again, the fans hardly waved enough for Dave, he urged
them to wave more.
And finally the gun came back, Dave didn't use it in La Plata, don't know why. But
he smiled very happy as he got it back in his hands. Strangelove - wow, the fans loved this song and Martin's performance. They
screamed louder than me, and that's not easy, believe me!
I used Walking In My Shoes to breathe deeply, before I danced and screamed to
the last two songs. The current live version of A Question Of Time is the best live version of this song for a long time and it acts as a prelude for my favourite song, the strongest song ever, Personal Jesus.
I danced to it a last time on this amazing continent. My journey came to its end.
Good bye Depeche Mode for nearly 3 months.
Actually I wanted to fly to the second North America leg, but I decided to cancel it,
because I was very disappointed about the concerts in South America.
Depeche Mode have to change the setlist and the sreenings, I can't keep watching this much longer.
So I will visit only a few festival concerts before the tour ends in Berlin.
A kind of saying Goodbye to my long life love Depeche Mode...."This is the last time
I'll say goodbye /The last time
Then we do not have to lie /The last time
Call it what you want /You do not mean a thing to me no more“.
It hurts me in the soul and I cry while writing, but it is the truth.
A new HQFU release is always something to be welcomed and Sarah Stanley's new album For Inhumanity, released today, is yet another unmissable
The album is wholly instrumental, showing off a gentler side to HQFU and this approach was reflects the fact that the album was designed as the soundtrack to the forthcoming Dark Skies Entertainment game Inhumanity, a text based game due for release later this year. For Inhumanity displays many of HQFU's signature traits which fans will recognise, but they're balanced with a more stripped back feel that adds a new dimension to HQFU's sound.
Inhumanity1 is one of the best examples of this with layers of overlapping synth lines building to a joyous finale. It's a wonderful track, as is its Kraftwerk like reprise Inhumanity2, which mixes the classic electro of Computer World with the best parts of Tour De France and that is very much a good thing.
For Inhumanity is certainly an album all HQFU fans will love and it will no doubt attract many people who have somehow missed out on this unique and quite brilliant artist. To celebrate the release of the album, HQFU is having a launch night at Stereo in Glasgow tonight with a live album playthrough accompanied by visuals. Support comes from Bossy Love who are providing a DJ set.
For Inhumanity is available now on all digital platforms. Tickets for the show at Stereo are £4 in advance or on the door
I've been looking forward to this one. Most, if not all of you will know about DMK, the unique and frankly wonderful Depeche Mode cover band from Bogota comprising Dicken Schrader and his children Milah and Korben. If for some reason you've never seen them do their thing, have a look here - CLICK - and see what you've been missing. A while back I asked Dicken if he'd be interested in covering the show for the blog and happily he said yes. So, here is Dicken's review of Bogota and it's a great one, telling us all about his Depeche and how they've impacted his life, the ups and downs of the meet and greet experience, the show itself, Dave getting his t-shirt gun co-ordinates wrong and ending on a remarkable high. You'll love this. Thanks Dicken and thanks too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook Group for the pics.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
I was kindly invited by the “Almost Predictable… Almost” blog to provide a report on the Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour show in Bogotá, my hometown. But as I began to write, it became increasingly clear to me that the personal experiences that I lived before, during, and after the concert were so intertwined together, so relevant, so intense, so memorable, that it would be virtually impossible for me to separate them from the show itself. So please bear with me, because this is not just a show review. This is an insight into my life.
BEFORE THE SHOW
Backstage, Simón Bolívar Park. It´s Friday, March 16th, 2018, around 7:30 in the evening, and I’m the last one in a short line of eight people. Even though the sky is clear, it’s very chilly tonight, as I thought it would be, and I feel glad I´m wearing my black leather jacket. You see, going to a concert is a little bit like going to war: preparing for it is crucial, especially in a place with such an unpredictable weather like Bogotá: if you underdress you freeze your ass off, and if you overdress you’ll spend the entire show trying to figure out where to tie your sweater. But I feel that for this particular event I’m very adequately prepared. I tap the pockets of my jacket to double-check their contents. Gum to stop smoking: Check. Cigarettes and lighter for when the gum stops working: check. Pot stash and pipe: check. Smuggled aguardiente (our local liquor): check. Wooden maraca with neon green feather that was given to me by a shaman in the Putumayo, in southern Colombia, over a year ago when he helped me cleanse my soul from deep emotional scars: Check. You see, tonight I’m bringing this instrument, simple yet very precious to me, as an offering to my all-time favorite band, Depeche Mode. I am about to meet them for the very first time, and I intend to give them a little token of my appreciation and admiration, something that would probably make them remember our encounter. A small object, musical in nature, that would represent who I am and where I come from. What better than a sacred maraca from the Putumayo?
Amidst the cold, my palms are sweaty. I try not to ponder too much on the magnitude of what’s about to happen, but I can’t help thinking about the importance that this band from Basildon has had in my life.
I remember perfectly that sunny Saturday morning in 1987 when I bought my first vinyl at a record store in Niza, the Bogotá neighborhood where I grew up: it was Music For The Masses. I remember playing it over and over again on my grandfather’s record player, and falling in love with its words and sounds. I remember painting its iconic cover on the ceiling of my room, and the posters of David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Alan Wilder covering my walls. And I certainly remember how I became obsessed with their music, finding every single album from their back catalogue, and falling in love with every single one of their songs, as they somehow managed to narrate passages from my own life.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
“Please, move forward to the meet-and-greet area,” said a bland voice in Spanish, strangely unconnected from the significance of the moment. My heart begins to race as we walk deeper backstage. I’m feeling the excitement of being next in line for a rollercoaster ride, only a hundred times more intense. I try not to lose my cool, especially in front of Korben, my eleven-year-old son, who is seventh in line, just ahead of me. I hold his hand and I whisper softly into his ear: “Son, what we are about to experience, we deserve it.” Korben turns around, looks at me, and nods. Korben is not only my offspring, but also my bandmate in DMK, an unusual tribute project in which we perform Depeche Mode covers using old instruments, toys and household items.
As our line slithers through backstage tents like a snake in the dark, I can’t help but think about the process that led us to this moment: The emotional suffering I went through during my divorce with his mother that led me to record our first cover, Shake The Disease. The rapid evolution of our band after the accidental viral success of Everything Counts (below). Our consequent live shows in Colombia, the United States, Spain, Poland… Suddenly and unexpectedly, we were spreading the news around the world, taking the word to boys and girls. When we started, we never imagined this project would have taken us to where it did, let alone to this moment: Our YouTube notoriety led the organizers of the concert in Bogotá to invite us to the exclusive local meet-and-greet as ambassadors of Colombian devotees. A great honor. I grasp my son firmly by the hand and think about my beloved daughter Milah, the third member of our band, who couldn’t join us in this sublime moment for personal reasons. My heart aches for her absence, but I keep on walking.
We enter the smallest tent in the backstage area. It’s eight of us and it already feels crowded. We look at each other, eight faces brimming with excitement, and I can we have all lived stories that have this moment as a crucial point. The back wall is covered with a tarp printed with DM logos. We instinctively stand in front of it like at a police line-up. I look at my son, and he’s obviously very excited to meet the band that his father taught him to love. He shakes his hands in his pockets, and we can all hear the rumble of three little egg-shaped maracas. For one of our first gigs we printed a thousand of these little yellow shakers with our band logo, hoping to sell them as merchandise. We ended up giving them away at our shows, throwing them from the stage into the crowd. Out of a thousand eggs we had three left at home, and when Korben heard I was going to give them my sacred maraca from the Putumayo, he also wanted to give them something, and suggested our remaining official DMK shakers, one for each member of the band. I thought it was a beautiful gesture.
A photographer walks in, escorted by two big blokes with British accents. This is it. We are going to meet Depeche Mode. Through my head run a million thoughts per second, mostly voices going over speeches that I had prepared throughout the years for such an unlikely event. But also, different scenarios of reactions from the band. Have they seen our covers on YouTube? And, more importantly, have they enjoyed them? We noticed Stella Gahan (David´s daughter) following our live concert from Poland, but other than that, we have no idea if the guys from Depeche Mode know who we are. This might be the moment when we finally find out for sure. Suddenly, the density of the air changes, as if we were entering the eye of a storm. I sense we are seconds away from a very important moment in my life, and my reaction is to take out my phone and start recording. “Put away your phones, no personal photography,” says one of the British guys. I comply. I hear some people approaching the tent. I know it’s them because around them goes silent, an ambiance of absolute respect.
In walks Martin Lee Gore. After seeing that face for so many years in so many places, he feels like family, like an older brother. My face is stuck in the biggest smile it’s ever produced. After all these years of rehearsing the perfect line, all I can come up with is “Oh my God, Martin!” Obviously used to these kind of interactions, he looks at me dead in the eye and smiles back, probably amused by my stupid face. We shake. His hand feels warm and friendly. He shakes Korben’s hand, and before I have a chance to say anything else, he moves to greet the next guy in line. After Martin comes Dave, as the absolute rockstar he is. The universe swerves around him as he walks through it. “Hi, Dave,” I say. He’s looking at the horizon, avoiding eye contact with me and everyone else. He shakes my hand with a firm, dry grip, shakes Korben’s, and moves on. Last comes Andrew Fletcher, a tall, commanding presence that moves slowly but confident. We shake hands awkwardly as I say “Hi, Fletch.” He looks at me through his dark, blue-tinted glasses, with an expression on his face that appeared to say “who the fuck are you to be calling me Fletch?” He greets Korben and the others and moves to the right end of the frame. Martin squats for the picture as if we were in a soccer team, and David takes his place in the middle, sticking out his tongue and making a pre-programmed rockstar face. For a split second the scene reminds me of the time I was seven years old and my mother took me to Disney World. After all the anticipation of meeting Mickey Mouse and getting a photo taken with him, when it finally happened all I did was wonder if the guy inside the mask was actually smiling for the picture.
Korben (far left) and Dicken beside him (Picture courtesy of Dicken)
The camera clicks. The photographer says “one more, please,” but David completely ignores the request and leaves as quickly as he came in. Martin and Andy follow him closely behind and, as they leave, the density of the air changes back to normal. During this kind of sublime moments time appears to warp, so I couldn´t give you a reliable figure, but I guess the encounter couldn´t last more than thirty seconds. None of the band members spoke a word during this time to any of us. Now, before you start defending them, I’m aware that these guys are some of the biggest rockstars in the world, and I was sort of expecting such behavior, one they are definitely entitled to. And I also know we have some good days and some bad days, and we probably met them on a bad day. But all this aside, in the end we are all human beings, and I guess I was actually expecting to have some sort of human interaction with them. I hoped they would sacrifice just a few minutes off their busy schedule to really meet-and-greet some regular people who have been touched by their music. Exchange a few words, maybe. Some huge artists build pedestals to stand on, alienating themselves from their fans. I trusted Depeche Mode was not one of them. As we walk back, Korben shakes the little maracas in his pocket and gives me an expression of disappointment. “They are Gods, Korben. We are mere mortals,” I say to him with a little sarcasm in my voice to let him know I’m partially kidding. “We knew it was a long shot for them to notice us. Just be thankful we got a handshake and a picture.”
We shake it off and emerge from the comfort of the backstage into the wilderness of the crowd. It’s about 8:15 by now, and local opening act Estados Alterados are starting to play their set. This band from Medellín was one of the few during the 80’s and 90’s that managed to play synthpop in Colombia and become successful at it. Back then, there were only two radio stations that played English-speaking rock and pop, and they leaned toward either heavy rock acts like Guns´N Roses and Metallica, or pop, like Madonna or Michael Jackson. Once in a while they would play a track from what was then called “alternative” music, usually the same three or four songs from bands like The Cure and, yes, Depeche Mode. Fans from these bands, like me, were a rare breed, very distant from the mainstream. We had to make a big effort to find our music, in an era before the internet, and in a place ravaged by violence and alienated from the rest of the world. Nowadays things are very different, Colombia has emerged from the ashes of its past, and there’s a new generation that has absolutely no memory of it. Life is relatively good. That’s probably why a lot of kids nowadays –and, yes, I’m aware I´m now sounding like an old man—are not attracted to lyrics that make them think. They don’t want to be asked where the revolution is, they prefer a reguetón beat that makes them shake their culos, and if it comes with lyrics that explicitly commands them to, even better. Radio stations today reflect this hard fact. I’m thinking all of this as we walk through the crowd, maybe to justify the fact that it’s obviously a tiny fraction of the crowd I saw online at Foro Sol in Mexico City a few days before. I would later confirm that, in fact, Mexico City’s audience was 65.000 strong in just the first of two nights, whereas in Bogotá, only one night, were barely 13.000. Even adjusting for population differences between both cities, is still a small number. Is this probably the reason why the band seemed to be in one of their not-so-good days? Were they expecting a larger turnout?
I’m facing the fact that Depeche Mode is not mainstream in my country, and they could never sell out a stadium the way they do in other places. But I’m thinking we Colombian fans, although may not be a large crowd, are definitely strong devotees. I’m realizing that even if the meet-and-greet wasn’t what I expected, damn it, I just met Depeche Mode and I’m about to see them live for the fifth time in my life, this time up close from first row. I feel grateful I have my son here with me to share such an incredible experience. I am currently living one of the most memorable nights of my life, and it’s just going to get better. We lurch through the crowd and manage to reach the V.I.P. area, where my girlfriend Debbie has been waiting for us patiently this whole time, holding our place in front row. “So, how was it?” she asks. “I´ll tell you later,” I reply. It’s almost nine o’clock now. Lights go off.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
DURING THE SHOW
“We all want to change the world,” professes Paul McCartney through the speakers and the ages. Depeche Mode start their show with this timeless reminder that revolution is something that began a long time before they brought it up, and that it will continue long after they’re gone. They rightfully take their place as another link in the chain. Martin, Andy, Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner walk out in the darkness, yet we can perceive their presence. The crowd roars. As Debbie distracts Korben, I take a deep toke from the pipe. As I distract Korben, she does the same. The screen behind the band is lit with beautiful colors, now we can clearly identify their silhouettes. Going Backwards begins. After a few bars comes out David, and something made someone lose their beat. In the crowd we may never knew what really happened, but Dave stopped the song and said to his bandmates “I think we should start that number again, don’t you think, boys?” They go backwards and start again. This would be the only gaffe in an otherwise clockwork show.
As the first notes of It’s No Good blare, David fully takes command over his stage like no other entertainer can. The screens come alive with his movements in black-and-white. The crowd sings along and we can’t stop dancing. Korben follows the beat with one of his maracas. At some point during A Pain That I’m Used To, as he strolls down the runway shaking his booty to the bassline played by Peter, Dave walks right by us and Korben is tempted to throw the maraca at him. I pictured the image of the little yellow egg shaker hitting David Gahan on the head and, although I found it very funny, I urged my son not to do it. “That’s probably not the best way to get his attention.” At this moment I realize once again, as I did several times during the evening, that Korben is the only kid for miles around. Although the concert organizers made an exception with him, they normally don’t allow any audience members younger than fourteen. Now I realize the reason why. After a long and exciting day, Korben’s energy starts to wane down. During Useless I tried to keep him awake. “Look at those visuals, Korben! That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” --I’m 44 and I still actually say those things. But useless it was. Korben hunkers down against the fence and falls asleep. You may argue that a rock-n-roll concert is not the ideal activity to do with an eleven-year-old, and you may be absolutely right. But this opportunity, this unforgettable experience, would only come to us once in our lifetimes. Everything we built up during the last years somehow culminates in this very moment. My son is aware of it, and wants to be here no matter what. For a moment I consider the possibility of leaving the show. I’ve seen Depeche Mode before and being a parent comes first. “Do you want to go?” I ask him. He says “no” by shaking his head. He seems comfortable and safe in his little front row cocoon. We decide to stay. Cue Precious, a beautiful song Martin wrote about the pain his children suffered during his divorce, and when I listen to it, it always makes me think about my own experience. I look at Korben, pleasantly asleep despite the commotion around him. I think of Milah, his sister, my beautiful oldest daughter, and the painful moments we all lived when our family broke apart. I think about the suffering I feel living away from them, thousands of miles apart. I think of Lola and Nina, my youngest girls from a second marriage –yes, I have four angels with silver wings—and the pain they felt when the love story with their mother ended as well. “My God, what have I done to you?” As I feel Martin’s words and guitar stokes flow through me, tears pour down my face.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
“I think it’s time for a guaro,” says Debbie, screaming loudly over the music and wiping away my tears. Debbie always knows what to do. I reach into my jacket and retrieve the smuggled booze. I pour a shot for Debbie, she gulps it down, then I pour one for me. Global Spirit (wink, wink) Tour… ¡Salud! Our toast gives way to World In My Eyes and like magic, its first notes melt away all my sorrows. This is a crowd favorite and the place is booming. I’m dancing and yelling out the lyrics as if I was seventeen again, locked up in my room. I dance with Debbie. Like this song, she makes me feel young. As Dave goes backstage and Martin takes the helm, I kiss her. Martin’s velvety voice takes us to another dimension. His charisma engages the audience with sincerity and humility. His words make me sob again, this time tears of joy and elation. I hold my girlfriend tight, like a rock that’s saving my life in the middle of a turbulent ocean. I love Debbie. She makes me laugh. She overlooks my defects and undermines my drama. She’s patient about my Depeche Mode obsession and has done her best to show interest about it, learning songs that are sometimes older than her. As Martin sings Home, I realize she has not only shown me home, but created one from scratch, a home for me and my children. And I thank her. As David returns to the stage, Debbie and I have another shot of guaro and dance, entranced and inspired by the choreography on the screen. I sing softly into her ear “I’m hanging on your words, living on your breath, feeling with your skin…”
Suddenly, a new song begins. “Which one is this?” asks Debbie in Spanish. Everything Counts, I reply surely, having heard the new intro many times before and having memorized the almost predictable set list. Then the classic sounds of this hit blast through the air and wake up Korben like a shot of adrenaline straight to his heart. “This is our song!” he cries. “Yes,” I reply without hesitation, thinking somehow we have made it our own. We all enjoy it as such, screaming every word. At the end of the song, during the official “grabbing hands” coda, David walks to the end of the stage, just a few meters away from us. I keep on singing as loud as I can, but the general audience doesn’t keep up, despite Dave’s attempts. This is one time during the show when I saw him clearly upset about the audience’s lack of engagement, and maybe also its modest size. “Thanks,” he says at the end without satisfaction. He partially recaptures the energy of the crowd during Stripped, but then Enjoy TheSilence starts playing, the song everyone loves, and the place booms. As thousands of voices sing in unison, I hug my family and start crying again, realizing that all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is, in fact, here in my arms. Korben is mesmerized by the images of animals on the screen. I ask him, “why do you think they chose animals for the visuals?” He replies without hesitation: “Because animals can’t speak.” Good boy, Korben. This is his first experience at a real concert, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a tough cookie. I also feel proud that I personally taught him how to do the traditional arm wave at the end of Never Let Me Down Again. David grabs his t-shirt gun, walks to the end of the runway, faces southwest, fires, and… overshoots! The Bogotá venue is too small and the t-shirt flies over the wall and into the Simón Bolívar park, nearby a lake. He turns to the northwest, fires, and… overshoots again! This t-shirt also lands in the park, probably close to 63rd street. No t-shirts for the fans tonight, but probably some lucky homeless guy sleeping in the park got a gift from heaven. David didn’t seem too amused about it (t-shirt gun re-calibrator, stats!), but Korben thought it was hilarious.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
“Buenas noches, Bogotá!” screams David as they all wave goodbye. “Is it over?” asks Korben. “No,” I reply. “Now we have to yell ‘otra, otra,’ until they come back out.” Having performed in front of a live audience himself, he’s aware of the concept of an encore. We engage in the ritual and, sure enough, the band returns. Martin and Peter come out first, to beautifully perform a stripped-down version of one of their classics --a must-have in every Depeche Mode show-- this time, Strangelove. Then David returns to the stage for one of my personal favorites, Walking In My Shoes,” enhanced and repurposed by a clever use of visuals. Christian Eigner sets the pace masterfully for all of us to follow with our bodies.
Then it all becomes A Question Of Time. As I grew up listening to this song, I always pictured in my head it was talking about a fifteen-year-old female friend, someone you felt the urge to protect from other male predators. Now that my own daughter is turning fifteen this year, it takes on a whole new meaning. This is the beauty of Depeche Mode’s music. Not only is it truly timeless and sounds as fresh and relevant in today’s music scene as it did thirty years ago, it also evolves, adopting new forms and interpretations every time you hear it. Listening to this song, watching Dave spin with his microphone stand like a blender motor, Fletch clapping his hands like he always does and Martin being master of his domain, I remember why I love so much this band. A chills runs down my spine. “Will this be this the last time I see them?” I thought. Life is full of surprises, and they may be gone tomorrow, or I may. It is a question of time, folks, and it’s running out for all of us. The older you get, the clearer this concept becomes. But every once in a while you come in contact with entities that defy this concept. Like a bunch of fifty-year-olds being creative and behaving like teenagers on stage, proving time is utterly overrated. People come and go, but Depeche Mode’s music will live on forever. Their legacy to the world truly makes them immortal.
Time for Personal Jesus. This is the song that even non-devotees know by heart and the venue explodes. David plays with the crowd like a cat with a ball of yarn. He makes it look so simple. Not a voice goes silent at the “Reach out and touch faith” moment, some people singing “Richard entons’ qué?” (“What’s up, Richard?), a stupid local joke that generates some chuckles. We are having a great time. Unfortunately, a few minutes before the song ends I must grab Korben with one hand, Debbie with the other and start leading our way through the crowd, going straight for the exit. “If we don’t leave right now, we’re never going to leave,” I say, knowing exactly what I’m talking about. Bogotá has an awful transportation infrastructure, and when any big concert or event ends, traffic in surrounding neighborhoods gets completely clogged for hours. You just can’t get a cab or an Uber because they can’t reach you, and since it’s now past eleven o’clock, there are no public buses available. We sacrifice the last minutes of the concert in order to get a cab more easily, and even so we still have a lot of trouble finding one. We finally do. I’m riding in the taxi, reliving in my head every moment of an amazing concert, and filing them in my memory to be cherished for years to come. Korben is exhausted and falls asleep. I’m so psyched I can’t fall asleep until the next morning.
AFTER THE SHOW
It´s now Monday, March 19th, around 4:30 in the afternoon, and I am in another cab. The sun is starting to set in Bogotá; beautiful orange and magenta hues tint the clouds in sky. With me are my girlfriend Debbie, my son Korben and my younger daughters Lola and Nina. We spent the entire day at the Salitre Mágico amusement park getting in and out of carrousels, rollercoasters and other fun rides, and we are currently on our way home. We still have in our possession a bag of pink cotton candy that’s not fluffy anymore, but lumpy and disgusting, yet we are still happily picking at it. We recall Debbie´s experience a few minutes earlier at the Ferris wheel. She didn´t know she was so terrified of heights until she was up there, some 50 meters (160 feet) up in the air, and by then it was too late to stop the ride. She just hugged the middle pole in our booth for dear life, screaming for the entire ten or fifteen minutes it took us to go around once. Of course, the rest of our party (me included) couldn´t stop laughing. We laugh again inside the cab as we recollect the moment; even the cab driver is giggling. Debbie is not amused by our bullying, but cracks a smile anyway. Even she has to admit it was pretty funny.
Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
We take 63rd street, driving past the venue where we saw Depeche Mode perform two days earlier. For a second I remember the t-shirts that Dave overshot and wonder if they are still out there, I even consider the possibility of launching a search party for them. Thinking about this funny bit triggers all the other memories from the concert. I remember every single detail, every moment, every feeling. Depeche Mode are professional entertainers, true artists who gave us one of the best concerts Bogotá has seen in years. I feel grateful for having experienced it firsthand and, for a moment, I feel really proud to be a Depeche Mode fan.
All that aside, I´m also thinking about our underwhelming experience at the meet-and-greet and all the ways it could have been better. I consider all possible explanations that explain the gap I felt between the band and us fans. I go back to fantasize about a scenario in which the Gods would notice us humble mortals. “Maybe one day,” I thought.
As my train of thought begins to wander, I grab my phone –like most of us do nowadays-- to check what’s happening in the digital world. Maybe someone found the t-shirts and posted it on Facebook. I see I have a bunch of notifications. The first one comes from my friend, Sean Salo. “You and your kids were called out by Martin,” he writes, attaching the link. I’m curious, but I know he must be kidding. Sean and I became friends when we worked together at Vh1 in New York city, ten years ago. We were connected by our common love for Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, Yaz, Erasure. But especially DM. Our shared interest has helped our friendship to remain strong through the years and despite the distance. But we share something else: For the past year, Depeche Mode put into action the brilliant “Fan Takeover” idea, commending their Facebook page to a worthy fan each day. I was day three. Sean was day fifty. Our lucky group of “Takeoverees,” as we like to call ourselves proudly, consists of 365 hand-picked devotees, that range from hardcore fans and collectors to celebrities like Tony Hawk and Trent Reznor. We have a group on Facebook in which we share our experiences. I scroll down a bit and see another similar post from another takeoveree. And another. Lots of congratulatory messages. What’s going on? I feel I’m entering some kind of twilight zone. I feel butterflies in my stomach. With trembling hands, I click on Sean´s link. The kids in the cab are laughing and screaming loudly, and the seriousness I use to tell them to be quiet makes them stop dead on their tracks. They look at me as if I had just read the news that we are being invaded by aliens. Debbie also looks at me like “WTF?” I turn up my phone´s volume and click on Sean´s link. The video begins (watch the video here).
Martin Gore is still on the South American leg of the tour, a Peruvian tapestry conveniently placed behind him reminds us his exact location. “Hello, it’s Martin,” he says, “and is now day 366, which means that our Facebook takeover is over.” He then continues to thank everyone involved in the initiative, and then decides to share some of his favorite entries. When he says “Dicken and his kids,” my whole world stops. My heart probably missed a beat on that very moment. As Martin mentions us, his face lights up with excitement. “Uh… Playing Enjoy The Silence,” he continues, still smiling. He did not only watch our performance, he clearly enjoyed it too. I start shrieking like a little girl. I cannot believe it, my mind can´t grasp the concept, so I go back and play the “Dicken and his kids” line again. And again. It takes Korben a few reproductions to understand what´s happening. “He knows who we are! He knows who we are!” he keeps repeating. Debbie is screaming too.
The girls don’t understand what the whole fuss is about, neither does the cab driver, who looks bewildered at the troop of screaming monkeys that suddenly took over his vehicle. Debbie kisses me. “Congratulations,” she says. “Now you´ve got your validation.” And I guess I did. I wasn´t expecting it, but I definitely thank the cosmos for it. Was it a coincidence that these events, the concert with its dull meet-and-greet and the end of the Fan Takeover with Martin´s absolutely brilliant shout-out, were just two days apart? Or was it fate that connected everything with a thread of irony just to teach me some kind of lesson? I finish watching the video. Martin mentions his two other favorite entries: Peter Gordeno, who took over the page on this birthday, and the Charity: Waters project, one he declares very dear to him. Out of 365 entries, we made his personal top three. Our cab is stuck in traffic, but I’m floating through the clouds all the way home and way beyond.
Validation? Recognition? Retribution? Yes, that all sounds very nice, almost as nice as my name sounded on Martin´s lips. Some great reward. But what’s given me the most pleasure out of this strange experience has been the undeniable proof that, even though gigantic figures like Depeche Mode may sometimes feel like Gods among us mortals, they are still human, and we can have real human interactions with them. I have become witness to the undeniable fact that, every once in a while, as we reach out and touch faith, faith reaches out and touches us back.
11th and 13th March saw Depeche Mode play the only two nighter of the Latin American tour with two huge gigs at Foro Sol in Mexico City. Michael Lyons previously told us the story of night 1 and to tell us all about night 2, we welcome back Ana Soto from depechemode.mx. Ana has already reviewed shows in Milan and Warsaw for this project and it's great to have her back once again. This review is another superb Soto story, emphasising the passion that greeted the band during their stay in Mexico and filled with tales of DM families, a proposal and, yes, a successful t-shirt gun catch. Thank you for this and for the videos and pictures Ana.
Mexico City 2nd night: ‘Wow, wow, wow!’
(according to Dave Gahan)
Why are the second shows in a same city always so great?
Well, there are a few diferent songs for starters, but there is something else: the crowd.
A perfect combination of hardcore fans that would never miss the chance to see Depeche Mode twice in the same place, the new but passionate fans that didn’t have enough experience to get tickets for the first night and, in this case, families, lots of families!
That’s right, on March 13th 2018 Foro Sol was the best place to be for many parents and their children to hang out together sharing a same passion: Depeche Mode. And their happiness, energy and excitement fuelled the whole night.
It was 8.43 p.m. when the lights turned out and every single detail made the crowd yell: the fog, Revolution byTthe Beatles, the walking boots on the screens.
The mood among the band was also high and great, it was easy to notice it when Andy Flecther playfully showed his tongue to Dave Gahan during Going Backwards.
By the second song, It's No Good the crowd was singing so loud that it was really hard to hear Gahan’s voice. The reward to this amazing moment was Dave splashing some of his sweat to the audience.
During Barrel Of A Gun the fans were a little bit quiet, maybe because they left so much energy in the song before, but Dave yelling "Good evening Mexico City!" was enough to bring back the high mood.
Useless was the song with a little mistake. Dave sang the line "All my hanging around twice instead of singing first "All my useless advice". Here you can watch it - see 4 minutes 5 seconds:
After 16 shows without Judas in the setlist (last time was Berlin second night) this song made a great come back in Mexico City. We felt very lucky to hear it - here is the video:
But Policy Of Truth was the song that made everybody go nuts again, singing, yelling and dancing, making the simple act of listening live one of their favorite songs feel like a privilege. Maybe you can feel it too in this video:
It could be a second night, but for me it was the first time seeing one of the t-shirts that Dave Gahan launches during Never Let Me Down Again. This was the happy girl that caught one in General B zone:
Somebody had been absent from the tour for almost 5 months, but Martin Gore brought it back in the second night in Mexico. If you want to listen it again here is the video:
“Thank you for singing something special tonight” said Dave to Martin when he jumped back onto the stage to take back the lead singing.
At 10.54 p.m. we heard the last notes of Personal Jesus, with the song ending with a very excited Dave Gahan saying: ‘Wow, wow, wow Mexico City!’
And I must tell you this was not just a very polite goodbye for the Mexican fans, the band was really happy with the shows and the audience. That was exactly what they told to the manager of the vegan coffee shop where Martin Gore enjoyed his last meal in Mexico City the next day.
Actually, I was lucky enough to met Martin that day too and with a big smile he told us: ‘Those were great shows!’ After that my smile was even bigger than his!
But I was not the only one full of happiness after that epic second show. There are some little stories that happened that night that I really would like to share with you.
Nobody had a better place in the show than this 7 year old girl. An amazing security guy from Depeche Mode team put her in the other side of the barrier at the very end of the catwalk, also he gave her a guitar pick from the band. Not bad for her first DM concert!
And I told you that night was all about families - this little boy was very sad because he couldn’t go to the first show, but his parents took him to the second and he was so excited wearing his Enjoy The Silence costume. This was his first concert ever!
And what about this family posing like Depeche Mode in the Strangelove video - you can feel the love!
Finally, this girl proposed to her fiancé at the concert because Depeche Mode music helped them to build their relationship (and he said yes!). I am pretty sure that for many of us Depeche Mode has played the same part in our love life.
Thank you Depeche Mode (especially Martin Gore!), thanks to the members of depechemode.mx group that shared their stories and pictures, thank you Plan V Café and thanks Almost Predictable Almost blog for this amazing project!
This review comes from Char Smith, one of the admin team at Depeche Mode Paraguay . I originally got in touch with them on Twitter when I received a message a few months ago about this show and I was delighted that Char wanted to review it. One of the cool things about this project has been linking up with Depeche fan groups all over the world and this is another great example of that. This review tells us the story of Char's trip from Paraguay to Argentina wonderfully, encapsulating all the highs and lows of a huge gig, from hearing Depeche Mode to seeing a lot less of them than expected when the screens failed. Thanks so much for this Char and thanks to Depeche Mode Paraguay for all the photos.
ENJOY THE DARKNESS
Part I: The improvised Meet & Greet
A year ago, when Depeche Mode announced its Global Spirit Tour, we were sure that we would finally see Dave Gahan and company in our country. However, when the Latin American dates were published during the Takeover of the Mexican Lothar Torres and we did not see Paraguay, we were disappointed and we hoped that it would be announced later; but as good devotees, we started planning the trip from now on. The destination: Buenos Aires, an Argentine city that always welcomes us with open arms every time a great band arrives in South America.
So, a year passed since that announcement, and without news of any tour dates on our country, we began to pack. Some of us had the tickets ready with much anticipation, others let themselves be until they feel the enthusiasm of the other devotees and they had to buy tickets a few days before the show (as good Paraguayans) There were also the ones who had plans and desire to go, but in a year many things changed and they had to stay in the country. Oh well...
Departing from different parts of the country and in different means of transport, we headed to the big city of Buenos Aires. Thanks to applications such as WhatsApp, we were able to report live our journey and agree common meeting points. The day before the concert, those of us who had the luck to arrive early, stood in front of the Park Hyatt hotel in Buenos Aires around noon, hoping to get an autograph or at least to see one of the band members. We were not disappointed, with a great smile Martin L. Gore approached us from the other side of the fence, greeted everyone and signed autographs on all kinds of material of the band: records, books and others.
Now, we had to wait for Andy and Dave. Meanwhile, minutes after Martin returned to the hotel, Peter Gordeno came out to say hello. Maybe the support keyboardist is not as popular as the other members of the band, but he has his fans. More devotees were arriving at the hotel after seeing the first photos with Martin, hoping to see other members of the band. The hours passed and there was no news, maybe later we would have better luck. Some of us still hesitate to go, it is difficult to choose between seeing the band face to face and eating a good Argentine barbecue with friends and relatives that you haven’t seen for years.
Finally after a few hours, Andrew Fletcher came out to greet the devotees who stayed until the afternoon. He could not sign autographs for everyone, but we were happy to see him and to record him on video, between talks and laughter from those present. Dave Gahan came out but didn’t stay to see the fans; he jumped quickly into a van on the other side of the fence with Christian Eigner. The fans shouted his name to come closer, but it was useless. The band already had other plans for those hours.
As the band, for us it was also time for dinner (and drinking). The heavy rain and hail that fell at that time did not prevent us from meeting in an Irish pub to enjoy a few beers. That's how the night went, between talks and an improvised karaoke over the background music of the pub.
Part II: The D(M) Day
It dawned on the 24th, and those of us who had not gone out the previous night woke up early with a good ‘mate’. The others recovered quickly from the hangover around noon with an ice shower. We all set off for the city of La Plata taking a couple of buses and trains. Around noon, we were already standing in line with the Argentine devotees, who impatiently counted the hours to be next to the fence and watch the show from the best possible location.
Those of us who had not yet left had to wait a little longer to arrive, as the marches for the Day of Remembrance caused road closures in the main streets of the city. On the other hand, the group that arrived for the concert with a travel agency had to change its location in the stadium from Field to Platea because their tickets were stolen. The anxiety took over everyone not knowing if we could get to the show in time, although there were still several hours left, if it is for Depeche Mode, every minute counts.
About 5 hours before show time, the access gates were opened. The first devotees were entering and taking their places next to the catwalk. For them, it was just a matter of time.
Once the inconveniences with traffic were overcome, the other devotees began to arrive. The doors printed on the tickets were not the correct ones, so it took a long walk to get to our places. Around six in the afternoon, we were all in the Stadium, distributed in all sectors: VIP Field, Field with access to the central stands, and Platea with seats on both sides of the Stadium. The meeting with devoted friends of our country and of others like Argentina and Colombia left a lot of talk and pictures to remember.
Another obstacle to overcome before seeing Depeche Mode was the supporting artist. From the moment her participation in the DM show was announced, Juana Molina generated divided opinions. With so many good Argentine electronic music bands (obviously influenced by DM), putting a comedian turned experimental musician as the opening act was not successful. The singer said goodbye between some boos and little applause from the audience.
It was less than an hour left to see the synthpop greats on stage and more and more people came to the Único de La Plata. The heart accelerated and we began to check the cell phones to make sure we had enough battery and capture every possible moment.
The time has come. The lights of the Estadio Único went out and the screaming throats went on. According to our watch, there were still 2 minutes left until the official start of the concert, scheduled for 9 PM. The first beats of Going Backwards shook the place and after a while the members of the band entered. One by one they took their place while the first shouts and applause began. From the top walkway of the stage, Dave Gahan began to shake and sing, dressed in a red jacket and black pants. As soon as the song finished, the red jacket was gone. Dave was already wiping the sweat from his forehead when It's No Good started, accompanied by the 'oooh oh oh' of the devotees to the rhythm of the synth’s riff. The abstract painting image of the background changed to live shots of the band on stage, with the visual focusing on the movements and turns of Gahan and the energy of Eigner on drums. Shortly after we learned that this would be one of the few opportunities that devotees in the most remote places could see the band on stage through the screens.
Another song from Ultra followed, Barrel Of A Gun, whose sound perfectly accompanied the darkness that reigned at the Estadio Único after the screens, which had to show the visuals prepared for the show, stopped working.
The stage lights changed from blue to red tones while industrial sounds ripped from the intro of APain That I'm Used To. Dave made his first pass on the catwalk, with the encouragement, the applause and shouts of the female audience present, and then returned to the stage to sing from his usual position. Useless marked a post punk atmosphere through the bass lines of the intro, executed masterfully by Peter Gordeno, although with a couple of almost imperceptible errors. The dance steps of Gahan and Fletch (who looked quite relaxed on the keyboards) got all the attention while the visuals were still not shown on the screens.
Precious began with devotees clapping in unison, repeated later in the middle section of Gore's guitar solo. Taking a big leap back in time, World in My Eyes started by making us all feel that we were in a show from the World Violation Tour with the movements of Gahan. The female devotees in the front row were very grateful.
Dave took advantage of the break between songs to thank us and ask how we were doing. Even without screens, we could not be better. With another leap in time but this time forward, the band performed Cover Me with an accompaniment of minimalist lights and instruments. Of course, the moment came when Dave crossed the catwalk, fulfilling the dream of the devotees who stood at the fence from the early hours, of crossing their hands with Dave's, even for a thousandth of a second.
Again, Dave thanked the audience before leaving the stage. It was time for Martin to take all the attention, first with an intimate version of Insight accompanied by Gordeno's piano. For a few moments the central screen came back on showing only a white light, to turn off again after a few seconds.
'Olé, olé olé olé, Martin, Martin ...' the crowd cheered as he prepared to perform Home, this time with the accompaniment of the whole band. During the second verse, the central screen was turned on again showing the image of a house, which remained until the end of the song, along with the chorus of devotees who sang 'oh oh oh, oh oh oh oh'. Martin went to the end of the catwalk and led the choir.
Dave went out again to take the central microphone while the choir of Home extended between applauses and was directed this time by him, next to Eigner's drums. Then he introduced the band and In Your Room began. This time the screens on the sides showed shots of the band, however at the beginning of the song the central screen showed the image of a Windows desktop and a mouse trying to find something to solve the problem, but there was no solution found. Anyway, the audience was ecstatic about Gahan's deep and heartfelt voice and his well-known movements with the microphone stand.
There then came another single from his latest album, Where’s the Revolution. We could still see the band on the side screens, and Dave Gahan occupying the centre stage from the top catwalk, raising his fist and calling the audience to the revolution.
With claps and a pass by Dave on the catwalk, Everything Counts started, again without screens but with the encouragement of the people. People danced, jumped and sang as if it were 1983. The last verse of the song was repeated to infinity with the audience, with Dave and his microphone at the end of the catwalk and the drums of Eigner setting the pace.
One of the great moments of the night was during Stripped, with the audience chanting the intro of the song and replacing Gahan in the main choir.
The lights on the stage set the atmosphere of the song that was coming. Enjoy The Silence was greeted with shouts, claps and jumps directed by Dave from the stage and continued throughout the song.
Never Let Me Down Again was also received with claps and shouts, showing the Argentine audience still had plenty of energy left. Next to Dave on the catwalk, the wheat field was shown at the end of the song. The first part of the show had come to an end.
For the encore, Gordeno's piano played the first notes of Strangelove, giving way to another intimate and minimalist interpretation by Martin Gore. It was immediately followed by Walking in My Shoes and the return of Dave, but with the audience still encouraging Martin. The nervous steps of Gahan and the powerful drums of Eigner marked the end of the song.
It was then just “a question of time.” The song of the same name, penultimate on the setlist, made everybody jump and sing along, and we all sensed that the devout Mass was coming to an end.
After a brief pause, Personal Jesus started with Dave dancing on the catwalk, totally possessed by the spirit of the song. Shouting “reach out and touch faith!” and with one last lap of Dave on the catwalk, the show came to an end. “See you some other time” was Dave's farewell, in the middle of many “thank you very much”.
Finally, the screens were lit showing the exits of the stadium, to the displeasure of those who wanted to see the visual work of Corbijn through them during the show.
While looking for the exits, we all talked about how great the concert was. Words like amazing, exciting, spectacular were the most heard from the mouths of the devotees. The sound left a little to be desired, although depending on the sectors, it could be heard better or worse. None of that mattered; this Depeche Mode show fulfilled the dream of many devotees who are still waiting for their visit to Paraguay, in a smaller place maybe but surely with better screens. For now, let's enjoy the darkness.