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 A Pain 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.
Thank you Char!