Friday, 20 September 2019

GET SPRITE WITH TREE: DEPECHE MODE - SPIRITS IN THE FOREST


On Wednesday this week, the internet rumour mill began muttering about the long awaited Global Spirit Tour film with a website called spiritsintheforest.com popping up alongside a couple of reports talking about the new Depeche film. Yesterday, those rumours were confirmed and so we now have a new Depeche Mode film to look forward to. Well, some of us  do anyway; as ever there are plenty of fans upset about something they've not yet seen.

The film promises to capture "the energy and spectacle of the band’s performance from the tour along with a deeper look into how their music and shows have been woven into the fabric of their fans’ lives."  As well as the band's two performances at the Waldbuhne, the film follows the adventures of six Depeche fans, all of whom were involved in the band's Facebook takeover. The press release says:

"Through the deeply emotional stories of six special Depeche Mode fans, the film shows not only how and why the band’s popularity and relevance has continued to grow over the course of their career, but provides a unique look into music’s incredible power to build communities, enable people to overcome adversity, and create connections across the boundaries of language, location, gender, age, and circumstance."

Curiously, the press release also says that the film is "expertly edited." You'd take that as being a given really wouldn't you? It would be odd if it claimed that the film was "poorly edited."

When I was in Berlin for the Waldbuhne gigs, I had a chat with one of the 6 fans who are featured. From that it would seem that this is not going to be 101 part 2, but instead is going to focus more on the fans' lives in the period leading up to and including the Berlin gigs. Given that many of us travelled from all over the world to attend the concerts, you can see why this angle has been approached. If nothing else, it gives us a new angle on the DM live dvd and it's interesting to see them..wait for it...branch out. Sorry.

Will I watch it? Of course. I'm waiting to see what cinema gets it in Scotland of course and if none take it, I'll wait until it's given a physical release. There have been a number of mentions of Netflix being involved but nothing has been confirmed yet. Presumably we will also get a physical release and it would of course be wonderful if both Waldbuhne gigs were part of that package. All of that is yet to be announced however.

Naturally, the reaction among the notoriously patient and in no way at all pre-judgemental fanbase has been split into the usual three categories:

(a) "I LOVE DM FOREVER THIS IS THE BEST THING WE WILL EVER SEE"
(b) "Typical late period half arsed Corbijn bollocks that could have been painted by a blind dog what's the point it's a joke remember Violator? Where's Alan"
(c) "Oh right cool. I'll watch it"

I'm in the (c) category although I must say that the artwork is quite dreadful. It looks like a bunch of angry golf clubs have escaped their golf bag and are charging the Depeche stage screaming about setlist variation and Dave's dancing. The title is quite dreadful too, but there is a logic to it. 

So now we wait. There will no doubt be more information released as November 21st approaches and I'll write about that as and when it surfaces. For now however, let the speculation begin. Exactly how will the Global Spirit Tour come across when given the live dvd tree-tment? Will we exit the cinemas full of joy or will we leaf in silence? 

No more tree jokes. I promise.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

DEPECHE MODE - FAITH AND DEVOTION BY IAN GITTINS



As Kevin May and I are currently finding out, writing a book about Depeche Mode can be a tricky thing to do. For a band as big as they are, there is not a huge amount of source material to draw upon beyond the usual interviews on the release of a new album or the odd live review or two and, outside the short films that accompanied the Remasters series or the occasional contribution to the likes of Synth Britannia, the band keep their history close to their chest. Previous Depeche Mode biographies have ranged from the very good (Stripped by Jonathan Miller) to the frustrating (Some Great Reward by Dave Thompson  - see the constant use of "Fly On The Windshield") though it must of course be acknowledged that presenting a history of the band without the band being involved means that the author has to look at new ways of telling a well known story. With Faith & Devotion, renowned music writer Ian Gittins has taken on that challenge and has produced the most enjoyable Depeche Mode biography yet.


Faith & Devotion comes at a point in the band's history where we await news of any future plans. That means that the book is bang up to date, ending with the band's glorious concerts at the Waldbuhne in Berlin in July 2018, giving Gittins the chance to look at the band's entire history from day one to the present day. He presents a thorough examination of Depeche Mode in a style that is less reverential than previous biographies and the book is all the better for that. While he's clearly a fan, he's not frightened to point out the band's flaws (see his views on Exciter or Sounds Of The Universe) and it is that honest but in-depth look at the band that makes Faith & Devotion such an entertaining read.

To augment the magazine articles we've all seen and the books we've all read, Gittins has added his own interview material with new input from Miles Goosens, Mick Paterson and Douglas McCarthy and their involvement gives the book an edge that others don't have. There are more contributions from people who were at one time inside the Depeche inner circle than we've previously seen elsewhere and though they aren't many - this is a Depeche Mode book after all -  they give parts of the DM tale a new, welcome edge. 

Aside from the writing, the book contains a large number of wonderful photographs of the band through the ages. From the early dress sense disasters to Black Celebration's wall to wall leather via World Violation ending at Dave's still bewildering Spirit era pencil moustache, the visual side of the book is simply wonderful and a perfect compliment to the story being told.



Depeche Mode fans are very hard to please and, as I've learned many times, it's a brave person who takes on the challenge of writing about the band. With Faith & Devotion, Ian Gittins has produced a comprehensive and impressive Depeche biography, presenting a fresh look at the world's biggest underappreciated band. Whether you are either new to Depeche Mode or a long standing Devotee, Faith & Devotion is a wonderful read to help you pass the time until we all meet again in stadia and arenas around the world. 

Depeche Mode Faith & Devotion by Ian Gittins is published by Palazzo on 5th September.
Purchase the book from Amazon here