Friday 20 July 2018


Sorry this one is a bit out of sync. My original Tulsa reviewer couldn't provide me with a review in the end so I was looking like missing my first review of the tour. Thankfully, William "Badger" Kelley came to the rescue and offered to step in to review the gig. Thank you for that William! William is a Tulsa based DJ who goes under the name DJ Badger (check out his Facebook page here) and he organised and DJ'd the Tulsa afterparty following the show. His review is a great read, so thank you very much indeed William. Thank you too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures too.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

As a longtime Depeche Mode fan and collector, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to see them in concert twelve times: 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2005, 2009, twice in 2013, twice in 2017, and now, once in 2018, here in my hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

As with many concerts, a lot of my Depeche Mode concert experiences have had something special and memorable about them. The first one, of course, was extra-special; I went to Dallas with a set of five friends, all of us with the "cheap" lawn tickets, and saw DM along with Nitzer Ebb on the World Violation Tour. 1993 gave us the most elaborate stage presentation; 1994 gave us memorably awesome remixes of I Want You Now and A Question of Time.

2009's "Tour of the Universe" was my least favorite Depeche Mode tour; the band decided that the Dallas concert wasn't deserving of either Strangelove or Master and Servant, which they had brought back for that tour for the first time in nineteen years. In 2013, an old estranged friend of mine, with whom I had at one point not spoken for eighteen years after a severe falling-out, traveled from Washington DC so that we could go to the Houston show together and hopefully talk through our differences along the way. Two days later, my wife and I took our then-six-year-old son to Dallas to see Depeche Mode for his first time, and four years after that, we took him again along his five-year-old brother.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

But 2018... well, this was the year that Depeche Mode played in Oklahoma for the first time. For those of you who who are unfamiliar - especially those of you outside of the US - Oklahoma is basically perceived as a bit of a backwoods cultural toilet. Some people think that we still have cowboys and Native Americans waging war on one another, while tumbleweeds blow through our little dirt towns with no indoor plumbing. It's not nearly that bad in reality; Oklahoma, especially in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas, has actually become quite modern.

It had always seemed to be a safe presumption that Depeche Mode would never, ever perform in Oklahoma. They had never done so before, and it had always seemed like a terrible idea due to the demographics. So, when I saw multiple friends on Facebook posting about the Tulsa concert announcement, at first I thought it was probably just an elaborate prank. Then, I clicked one of the event links, and I realized that this was real.

After the prerequisite freakout because the band whose work I'd been collecting since 1987 was actually coming to MY city, I calmed down and realized that as a local DJ and event promoter, I'd better get an afterparty arranged immediately. I wrote to the owner of my favorite Tulsa venue and got her approval to hold a party there on May 29th. I then hastily threw together a preliminary graphic for it and got the event announcement sent out on Facebook. The reality was setting in: *I* had taken the initiative and was now the organizer of Tulsa's afterparty. I scheduled one of the other big DM fans from the Tulsa DJ Scene, Jessy James, to join me behind the decks.

I was so excited about the situation that my skin was practically tingling.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

A bit later on, the day of the presale came. As a spur-of-the-moment decision, my wife and I agreed that since this was such a special concert, and because we had found ourselves in a temporarily fortunate financial situation, we would go ahead and spring for VIP tickets. We managed to get second row seats, on Martin's side of the stage. Over the last twenty-eight years, I had never been anywhere in the "front" section of a Depeche Mode concert.

Thus, as it turned out, this was now going to be an incredibly special concert for numerous reasons.

May 29th finally came around. I knew that we were going to get practically the same set as the two 2017 concerts I'd attended, but with a few little differences that had been introduced in 2018. Frankly, though, I wasn't sure how enthusiastic the band would be. Oklahoma was not exactly a hub of Depeche Mode fandom, and the ticket sales had reportedly not been going well.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club opened the show. I hadn't been familiar with their work over the years, and they did an adequate job, but I wasn't overwhelmed. To this day, if you held a gun to my head and told me that I had to merely hum or even name a Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, I would be completely screwed.

Finally, after the prerequisite wait, the lights went down and the Beatles' Revolution started up. The house erupted... the screen projection of the marching feet began... and for the first time ever, I was seeing Depeche Mode in the city of my birth.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Once Dave came out on the upper deck of the stage for Going Backwards, it quickly became evident that the band wasn't going to merely limp through the Tulsa show. Dave maintained his standard, nearly-impossible level of energy throughout the evening. Martin was obviously happy and excited. Christian and Peter were ready to go. Fletch was clapping, doing an apparent impersonation of an oscillating fan, and otherwise doing his best to act like he was there for some actual reason - you know, just being, well, Fletch. Tulsa was getting a full-on DM concert.

It's No Good was the first big switch from the 2017 shows, a solid replacement for So Much Love. It was interesting that one Ultra song was followed immediately by another - Barrel Of A Gun, complete with the lines from The Message thrown in towards the end... and then, after A Pain That I'm Used To, we got Useless! Just within the span of four songs, it was like we got a three-song Ultra mini-show.

Then... Precious. Oh, they gave it a wonderful effort, but as with every previous live performance of the song I'd ever seen, I was still unable to fully get into it. The 2017 live arrangement of World In My Eyes was still a major treat, and the audience ate that one up with no issue.

Then, they headed into the mellow section of the show. Cover Me was beautiful; I had originally been bored with the album version, but it had gradually grown on me, and by this point, it felt like one of the highlights of the concert.

Dave left the stage, and Martin came out for his two songs. I was excited, as were many of my friends, that he performed The Things You Said. This had been a widely-reported "big deal" since he had brought it back for this tour for the first time since the "Music for the Masses" tour.

The second song... Oh, Home again. Don't get me wrong - I love Home in and of itself. I'm just bored with hearing it so many times in concert. With so many classics that he could dig out of his bag of tricks, why Martin focuses so consistently on that song still kind of boggles me.

At least the audience was (shockingly!) ready for the post-Home singalong, and the band even seemed a tiny bit surprised that our town's crowd was participating to such a degree. Plus, this track completed the full set of Ultra singles within the course of one concert, so that was kind of cool.

The energy level came back up for In Your Room, with its amazing screen projection of the dancing couple. That song will always have a special meaning (okay, maybe a couple of them) to me, and it was an incredible performance. We headed through Where's the Revolution to finally arrive at the huge chunk of classics that would finish off the show.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The 2017 mix of Everything Counts was still awesome, with its lovely new intro. Stripped was a welcome inclusion, although I really wished that they could have given that one a solid remix treatment at some point over the last thirty years. It's one of my favorites by them, but hearing the same version over and over and over has gotten a tad dry. (On the positive side, at least it wasn't Policy of Truth.)

Aaaaaand then it was time for Anton Corbijn's absolutely senseless barnyard animals show, backed by Enjoy The Silence for some unknown reason. 2017/2018 Enjoy the Silence will rank as having one of the worst screen projections of their career. With a song as spectacular as Enjoy the Silence, one must wonder what the hell Anton was thinking when he threw together such a pile of nonsense. At least the band's performance was great.

This was followed by the closing of the main set with Never Let Me Down Again, and Tulsa performed the "waving wheat" as well as any other city, which I'm sure made Dave quite happy.

I was really hoping that we would get Martin's rendition of Strangelove for the first song of the encore, but I was still very pleased to hear I Want You Now. (Feel free to hate me for this, but I was just glad that it wasn't Somebody yet again.)

Walking in My Shoes was phenomenal as usual - one of my absolute favorites. Next up was another new swap for 2018, the return of A Question of Time. That one has, frankly, gotten a lot creepier over the years, as a fifty-six-year-old Dave sings a song addressed to a hypothetical fifteen-year-old while repeatedly grabbing his own crotch.

The final song of the evening was, of course, Personal Jesus" Was it awesome? Yes. Did the crowd freak the hell out? Of course they did. Did the band bring the proverbial house down? Indeed. Was Fletch's keyboard even turned on at the time? Okay, very likely not, but it doesn't matter, because we all know Fletch is Fletch, and he does whatever Fletch does.

However... there was something very poignant about this particular performance of Personal Jesus. It wasn't something that I expected, and it wasn't something that most of the audience noticed. It wasn't something they were ever meant to notice. When the backing screen images showed the performance from the back, over Christian's drums, way down at the front of the stage, there was a small video screen facing the band... set up like a teleprompter... to help keep Dave on top of the lyrics.

Now, part of me knew that realistically, the band had been performing together for about four decades. Age takes its toll, no matter who you are, and sometimes even the greatest performers will need a little help with the lyrics.

At the same time, standing there with my wife among thousands of others enjoying the final song of the show, I couldn't help but feel a bit melancholy about this discovery. You see, when I first started collecting their work, I was still in high school, and Dave Gahan was about ten years older than I was.

Parts of my brain have still clung tightly to the completely unreasonable and illogical notion that I'm still probably somewhere around 25... but, seeing that little monitor, placed there on the stage to help Dave get the words right, made it very evident that the band had been getting older... and if Dave Gahan had been getting that much older, and if I were still only a decade younger (yeah, I know... probably still a fact), then that would have to mean that I was getting older, too. Ouch.

Overall, it was a brilliant show, and I'm glad that I got to see them from such amazing seats for once in my life. The afterparty went extremely well, with people swarming into my little DJ event from numerous nearby states. It was a wonderful, wonderful night here in the city of Tulsa, and I was extremely lucky to have been able to experience it.


Thank you William

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