Wednesday 27 December 2023



It's been nearly thirty years since Depeche Mode played in Australia so more and more of their Australian fanbase now make lengthy pilgrimages all over the world whenever a tour is announced. Despite some initial hopes that the band would play Australia on this tour, nothing was announced so Tim Sowden from Sydney decided to head to San Diego and Los Angeles to see the band in the US for the first time. Here is Tim's story, which takes in gigs in San Diego and Los Angeles and sees him present for the inaugural Depeche Mode Day. Thanks very much for this great piece Tim. All pictures are Tim's so if you do steal them, please credit him.

Merry Christmas to all Depeche Mode fans out there, and I hope you all have a safe and happy 2024. The past 12 months have had some special moments and it’s an honour to share some with you on this blog, including reviews of three of the recent shows on the recently concluded third leg of the Memento Mori tour.

I can’t promise the scientific detail or acerbic wit of David’s usual posts but I am excited to share some insights from my backstage tours and adventures.

Indeed, ‘Depeche Mode Day’ itself was proclaimed on in LA 13 December. It was standing on those steps of Los Angeles City Hall that sunny SoCal afternoon that it dawned on me how far I had come in my DM journey.

Geographically, it had been 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometres), 15 hours by plane from the shores of Sydney, Australia, with my wife and three kids under 10 in tow.

Musically, it had been 23 years since first hearing Dream On on Top of the Pops, when I became a fan of the greatest band in the world, slowly discovering the back catalogue (including Violator, and I commend the book ‘Halo’ to you).

But being an Aussie DM fan requires a certain faith and devotion. Wearing reprinted 101-era USA 1988 T-shirts or watching the Strangelove tribute act can be peaks of fandom Down Under, with tours to our continent long rumoured but never materialising. Six years ago, I took a leap and ventured to the UK, Germany and Italy (sharing my reviews with the DM Facebook Takeover and this blog). This time, I felt a calling to be among the American fan base that had, as Martin L Gore said on those City Hall steps, been such an important part of the band’s history.

And so I went, blessed to have a US holiday based around an itinerary of three shows, each of which delivered surprises and saw Dave, Martin, Peter, Christian and sold-out arenas in rampaging form with slightly different setlists each night.

San Diego, Pechanga Arena, 8 December - Backstage Exclusives

I was lucky enough to bag a “Premium VIP Hospitality Package” for this performance, after waking at 3am Aussie time to get a ticket just as they went on sale. This included a backstage tour where we met Jez Webb, who’s been a trusted part of the DM touring machine since Devotional in 1993. 

Jez (above) was generous in opening the case to Martin’s guitar collection for the show, revealing how he came to be involved (a connection via Daryl Bamonte), his role on the night and answering all our questions. Martin’s guitars look as stunning up close as they do on stage, and apparently Gretsch is bringing out a special guitar in his honour in 2024.

Afterwards, I mentioned I had come from Australia and he all but confirmed what friends had told me: sadly, they had planned to come to our country, but were no longer. I told him there were many DM fans in Oz – which is true – and they are welcome any time. He said at one stage they were ‘nearing the end of the tour’, which I took to mean there will be no post-April dates. For what it’s worth, my theory is they will use the four unreleased Memento Mori session tracks on a new project and do one final “world” tour.

We had a quick look at the stage set-up, where Christian was doing some last-minute drum checks. The ‘hospitality’ room followed, with various DM items (see photos above and below) on show. I ate with some lovely fans from San Diego who, like many in these parts, fell for the band after hearing Policy of Truth – which explains the rapturous reception this track gets. We also got a goodie bag that I’ll reveal the contents of later.

I was front row, which was incredible. After the My Comsos Is Mine and Wagging Tongue opening silos, which start strongly enough, the show really kicked into gear with Walking In My Shoes, with the electronic outro a personal highlight that reminds me of the 1000s of times I played it on the ‘Touring The Angel’ DVD, never daring to believe I would see it live.

I adore Memento Mori and so My Favourite Stranger is, for me, a crunching, glorious highlight, even better live than Ghosts Again (I think the guitar part began slightly late here), while we were treated to Martin singing one of his classics, Shake The Disease. I’ve always loved the remixes of In Your Room and A Pain That I’m Used To which inspire the live versions on this tour, and they came across well here. Jez said his favourite moment of the show is Never Let Me Down Again, with the audience interaction, and he would have enjoyed the response in San Diego.

Picking up a copy of the setlist at the end capped off surely one of the greatest nights of my life. The fan who had Dave sing her Happy Birthday for her 50th may have been the only one who could have eclipsed it.

Los Angeles, Kia Forum, 12 December: Depeche Mode Day

The City of Angels declaring a DM Day didn’t feel tokenistic, especially for us Devotees lucky enough to be there. It felt like an early Christmas present we were, as a City, Nation and Global Fan Community, delivering to Dave and Martin. How we wish Fletch could have seen this, he would surely have loved it, and I thought the lads were genuinely humbled by it.

Arriving two hours early and the front two steps already taken, I waited with my “Love from Australia” sign, met fans from around the US and discussed how we came to be there. Singles 81-85 played over the loudspeakers, then Exciter and Memento Mori as we soaked up the sunshine.

The ceremony was brief and mainly blocked by TV cameras, and the band didn’t stay to sign autographs as we had hoped, but never mind. We had come to applaud and recognise, and left in high spirits.

The previous night’s show had laid the platform, with the inclusion of Dressed In Black to the setlist, and a particularly jaunty rendition of Just Can’t Get Enough. Personal Jesus rocked, Condemnation was beautiful, and both had country twangs that lured us in. I had followed setlists online leading into my trip, but avoided YouTube clips, so these were excellent surprises. 

And with respect to San Diego, there was a special, louder magic to these two shows. I was 10 rows back at the Forum and in the upper tier in the final performance, so had a better view of the stage. I am deeply moved by many of Anton’s visuals, and thought the backdrops to tracks like Everything Counts and I Feel You hit the mark this time. The donkeys in It’s No Good, less so (and I felt the same about the rabbits in Enjoy the Silence last tour, so maybe it’s an animals bias), but the creativity is what keeps it so vital and engaging year after year.

Los Angeles, Arena, 15 December: Everything Counts

The grabbing hands grab all they can and all that, and as any fan knows a night at a show is expensive, especially if like me you appreciate a souvenir or two.

The top tier package included in my VIP ticket had a gorgeous signed poster (only my second signed item after a signed CD single of Enjoy the Silence 04, also autographed by Linkin Park, won via the DM Facebook page), a candle, eye mask, pack of cards and toiletry-style bag. The last three of these were especially handy on the 15-hour flight home.

At the merch stands, I managed to bag an LA-exclusive T-shirt and a couple of other items including the skull tote bag, which for those going to the European leg, sold out quickly, so you may want to get there early if (like me) you want this item to show off your love of DM while purchasing groceries.

Grabbing hands also grab phones, a lot, and this concert featured a well-publicised kerfuffle that required Dave to stop singing Never Let Me Down Again to sort out a situation involving fans, security and a mobile phone. At the time, everyone just hoped nobody was hurt. Dave was all class in how he dealt with it, and in the end we got a bonus NLMDA riff following the drama, so all good.

Finally, a word on what was a highlight of this trinity of concerts: Heaven. Delivered by Martin live for the first time, it was a spiritual experience for me that brought back memories, fears, hopes and reflections on how far I had come in life and in unity with Depeche. As it ended, I turned to my eight-year old daughter, who joined me for her first ever concert, telling her and the strangers in my row just how incredible that moment was to witness.

Precious and fragile things need special handling, but we all reached the shores of Australia safely, and I’ll always be thankful to the band and my soul sisters and soul brothers in the US for shows I will always remember. 

Please follow me on Twitter @Aussie_DM and for more, listen to my thoughts on ABC Australia’s special on DM here:


Thanks very much Tim.

Sunday 10 December 2023



For those of us who still remember the video age, DVD versions of Strange and Strange Too, Depeche Mode's classic video compilations have long been in demand. The original versions, the first released in 1988 and the second in 1990, captured the band at their artistic highpoint. Strange compiled their first videos with Anton Corbijn from A Question Of Time to, curiously but brilliantly, Pimpf and Strange Too featured the six videos made for songs from Violator namely the four singles, Halo and Clean.

Finally, both are reissued on DVD in the one package just in time for Christmas.

The package is sealed in cellophane when it arrives and once opened you find one of these increasingly prevalent Japanese OBI style things wrapped around the DVD case. It's pictured at the top of the article. Once removed and set aside to inevitably be lost any day now, the cover above reveals itself. Just look at how cool they look there. This is only five years after The Meaning Of Love for goodness' sake. I won't start bleating on again about how they accomplished so much in such a short space of time but Strange really does speak to the rapid progression of Depeche Mode both musically and artistically. Anton's involvement was crucial to this artistic reinvention and the air of European cool he added to the very European sounding Music For The Masses songs fitted perfectly. At this point, Depeche were a band who had no idea they were about to become stadium gobbling megastars. The two films on this DVD catch them on either side of that precipice and, when watched together (as I have done several times already), the staggering leap they made from 1987 to 1990 is readily apparent.

I've reviewed every Depeche Mode single in worrying depth previously, so rather than go through the videos again, here is a link to each review where the videos are all discussed:

A Question Of Time: man steals baby, delivers it to Alan, Martin gets his hair pulled
Strangelove : world record for most leather in a video ever, Alan gets his horn out, the band laugh
Never Let Me Down Again : Band holiday in Denmark, Martin's Accordion, Dave's two yellow cards
Behind The Wheel : Depeche Mode's Wandering Minstrels, Dave's moustache, the number 69

The version of Never Let Me Down Again on Strange is the Split Mix version of the track so the video is longer than the single version. Unlike the remix itself which is nothing less than a Godlike act of genius, the extended video doesn't add much really. There's some animated boot action and some dancing but that's that.

Pimpf features despite not being a single. The video is great is however. Martin sits, half naked naturally, in the Depeche Mode Museo pictured on the DVD cover playing along to Pimpf on a piano while the rest of the band wander around angrily trying to find him. The three of them pause and start singing along to the OHHH EEEE bit looking like three distressed leather penguins indulging in a terrifying mating call. The discover Martin's Museo when a direction sign saying PIMPF is found, a sign that Dave very weakly kicks over. Andy, Alan and Dave then descend on the Museo either very limply hitting it (Dave and Alan) or headbutting it (Fletch naturally) all while OHHing and EEEing. The combined force of the three leather penguins sees the Museo explode and collapse. OH MY GOD THEY HAVE KILLED MARTIN! Wait...what's that? It's a fully clothed Martin. He's alive and he's rescued the Music For The Masses horn. Thank goodness for that.

Between the songs, we get the same odd videos that featured on the original release featuring Rebecca Thornton (from Strangelove), Valdemar Christensen (Never Let Me Down Again) and Ippolita Santarelli (Behind The Wheel) all of whom have a lot of quite nasty things to say about Dave.

There are some extras on the DVD in the shape of Outtake Vignettes. The Strange three show some previously unseen footage from Strangelove and Behind The Wheel, the latter in two parts, the second of which is soundtracked by the Shep Pettibone Mix of the song. It's really lovely to see these vignettes as any unseen Depeche footage is always a treat, especially these days when the internet seems to have everything you could want or not want. Look out for Dave really getting into his eyebrow raising, Terry Thomas role in the Behind The Wheel section.

The DVD package comes with a two sided fold-out leaflet with pictures on it as you can see above.

Finally, Little 15 doesn't feature on here, no doubt because it wasn't an Anton video and also because it's very bad compared to the great videos here. 

As regular readers of this blog know, along with Kevin May, I have written a book about Violator called Halo which, as well is being available via all good online retailers, is also the ideal Christmas present for any Depeche Mode fan. In addition to that, I own more copies of Violator than could be called healthy and I have bored many people for many years, talking about Violator and the fact it is the greatest work of art ever.

It won't surprise you to learn then that Strange Too is something I am very much a huge fan of. Everything the band did in 1990 was perfect and that includes the videos. I have of course droned on about the videos in earlier blogs so here are the four reviews if you really want to read them:

Personal Jesus : Cowboy Mode, Fletch's toy horse
Enjoy The Silence : Dave eats his fellow band members and heads for the North of Scotland
Policy Of Truth : Depeche Mode mocked by two women
World In My Eyes : Dave takes a date to the movies, specifically a movie that features him and his mates

In addition to the four singles, Strange Too also features videos for Halo and Clean. When writing Halo, the book not the song, Kevin and I spoke to Pam Heffler (Halo) and Angela Sheldon (Clean) about their roles in the videos. 

Of Halo which features the band dressed as clowns, Dave pretending to be strong, a donkey and much more, Pam said:

"I auditioned for the video and I suppose it was not long before we shot it. I was dancing with a choreographer named Sarah Elgart in her dance company at the time and she recommended me to the director since she was choreographing the video. I probably didn't know much about Depeche Mode.. just their name!  I believe we only shot for 1 day and 1 evening ( it could have been two but I don't remember exactly) and as I recall,  don't believe much was discussed about the concept of the video just how we would participate.  We did hang out with the band and I remember everyone being super cool. I am actually surprised by the video. I didn't know it was going to be so unusual. What we did was super goofy and pretty straight forward and the video is rather eclectic, creative and unusual in a great way!"

Clean is very much a Martin solo video and he spends most of it getting off with Angela Sheldon while World Violation video footage plays ominously on the wall of the flat he's in. Here's the Q&A with Angela that formed the basis of her section in Halo:

1. Were you a Depeche Mode fan before you starred in the Clean video? If so, how long had you been a fan?
I was most definitely a fan of DM before I got to be in the Clean video. I had been a fan since People are People and I was a huge Black Celebration fan.

2. How did you get the role in the Clean video?
I went to a massive casting call full of models. I was sitting on the floor reading a book (I think Henry Miller) and the casting director thought I stood out more than the others due to that fact and spent more time with me.

3. The video is very simple - was there much of a production set-up required?
We shot at the house in the hills for the pool and then shot on a sound stage for the sofa scene. There was more production of that required because of the video playing in the background.

4. Did you realise at the time that the location was actually the rented apartment belonging to the production team (Anton and Richard Bell) as they were in LA doing other work for the band?
I knew they were staying there but I didn't know it was their rented apartment.

5. How long did the shoot take?
I think it was two days.

6. Was Martin the only band member present?
Yes, Martin was the only band member present. He was not there during the pool scene but obviously there on the sofa.

7. What was your reaction when you were told about what the video would entail?
I was thrilled. I was actually dating an extremely jealous guy who flipped out when I told him, so I broke up with him to do the video.

8. Was it fun getting to make out with Martin for the video?
I was a huge fan of Martin Gore and was more than happy to make out with him, but we did the "Hollywood" version where you don't actually touch tongues. Believe me, I tried. He was very professional and kind.

9. It's a fairly intense video, in terms of what it is portraying, so how did it seem between yourself, Martin and the crew when the camera wasn't rolling?
Anton was wonderful and everyone was very professional and kind. It was not like the horror stories you hear. In fact, I was the one who was lamenting the fact we weren't actually making out. (I love Martin Gore)

10. Did you see the World Violation Tour at all? If so, what did you think?
I was invited to see the tour after we filmed the video and got VIP backstage passes. It was fantastic.

As with Strange, the between song films featuring Dave and a toy car, the band going to the drive-in etc are all there. The reverse side of the leaflet (above) features pictures from the era.

There are additional Outtake Vignettes with Strange Too which are a joy. The Personal Jesus section soundtracked by Personal Jesus (Acoustic) shows outtakes from the video where all four band members are having a lot of fun which is cool. That is followed by two Policy Of Truth outtakes. The first is exceptionally moving as it is entirely comprised of shots of Fletch not used in the video. It is of course really hard not to think of Andy when Depeche Mode comes up. This short film is a lovely tribute to the great man. The final outtake shows Dave driving around New York soundtracked by Policy Of Truth (Trancentral Mix).

Ultimately, this DVD is a wonderful release. It shows Depeche Mode at their creative highpoint and adds a few extra touches to make the whole package one every Depeche fan will want to have. Now all we need is a reissue of Live In Hamburg and we can finally thrown away our VCRs.

Wednesday 11 October 2023


A record shop, October 2023. Two inevitably tattooed, vaping TikTok watchers pick up a box of records from a band the music press now tells them they should like. Suddenly, a man approaches, dressed almost entirely in black muttering about things being better when everything including him was younger.

"Watch out - here he comes."
"Oh for fuc....hello there Old Depeche Mode fan."
" that a new Depeche Mode 12" boxset under your arm youngster? Depeche Mode 12" singles eh? I remember when the band actually remixed everything themselves, pressed the records, stamped EVERY sleeve individually and...."
"We know, we know, Old Depeche Mode fan. We've read the tedious blogs you people enjoy. It was all better when TV only had four channels, Dave wore sandals and Alan was in the band. WE KNOW."
"You may laugh young one, but at least then we had the BONGS. You modern collectors have no idea. It's all 88883758332 generic worldwide catalogue nonsense. Back when things were proper, we had a BONG, an LBONG and much more. You lot have no id...."
"FOR GOD'S SAKE SHUT UP. The BONGS are back old man, the BONGS are back."

*Old Depeche Mode man examines boxset*

"Oh my word...*wipes tear away*'s true. The BONGS are back. We thought they'd been finished off with Personal Jesus 2011 but they're alive. Ok, from a collector's point of view it's infuriating madness. We've only just got over the "new" 12" thing which knocks our shelves out of whack in a mad way but this is different. It's a BONG. A NEW BONG"
"See Old Depeche Mode man? New things are ok. Modern takes on Depeche Mode can be a good thing."
"I see that now young one. Tell me, are the singles and remixes on this boxset throwbacks too? Are we back to the era of band produced extended versions? Please say it is so."

The new Depeche Mode boxset its out! This time, Delta Machine gets the 12" single treatment. There were originally only three 12" singles supporting this album, one for each single release, and frankly that was enough. As has been the case during this superb re-release series however, new 12" singles have appeared to ensure we have vinyl versions of sub-standard previously CD only remixes and this boxset is no exception.

As ever, before I begin to show you pictures, I must stress that the boxset is a lovely thing. The attention to detail that has been shown to the artwork and sound is wonderful and that can only be applauded. The free gift is odd but brilliant too, however we will come on to that. 

The first single from Delta Machine was Heaven. As I subtly alluded to in the hilarious intro, the BONG numbers have returned for this boxset and that is a lovely thing. Ok, it's slightly rewriting history but, let's face it, we all moaned when they were removed, so we really should just shut up. When Heaven was released, it had a 12" with the catalogue number 88765 49171 1. It now has a BONG.

The front of 12BONG44 looks like this:

Just the same as the 2013 12" really. Here's the back:

It contains the same four remixes as the original 12". Hmmm.

The first new 12" in the box is L12BONG44. Here it is:

On Side A, we have two remixes of Heaven: Blawan Remix and Steps To Heaven Rmx. 

On Side B, we have two more versions of Heaven: Matthew Dear Vs. Audion Vocal Mix and a Live Studio Version.

I reviewed Heaven as part of my still VERY readable 2021 Project where I reviewed every Depeche single there had been to that point. With the exception of the Live Studio Version, I covered all the remixes there. Read about how generally terrible they are here:

The new track here is the Live Studio Version and it's a nice treat. There are always thoughtful things added to these boxes and this is one of them. Compared to the remix horrorshow it sounds like the best thing Depeche Mode have ever done. Anyway, I sound like Old Depeche Mode man don't I?

The next Delta Machine single was the frankly laughable Soothe My Soul.  There is a song that resolutely refuses to improve with age. Anyway, we had a 12" release with the memorable catalogue number 88883 73070 1. That has now become 12BONG45 and it looks like this:

Anton really earned his money with that artwork. The flip side (ask your grandfather or Old Depeche Mode man) looks like this:

The record "blesses' us with the same four tracks as the original 12". 

A new L12 appears next, L12BONG45. The front of it can be seen below:

It's a new design instead of being based on LCD. The title is to the right of the big house on here. On Side A we have three remixes of Soothe My Soul: Tom Furse - The Horrors Remix, Billy F Gibbons and Joe Hardy Remix and Boris Delacroix Remix. I've just listened to these again. May God help me.

 Here is the rear sleeve:

The three tracks here are: Soothe My Soul (Black Asteroid Remix), Soothe My Soul (Gregor Tresher Soothed Remix) and Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix). The latter track appeared on the original CD1 release in 2013. As with all Depeche Mode singles, in fact as with what feels like all Depeche Mode releases, I reviewed all these remixes so that you don't have to listen to them. Read all about it here:

The final Delta Machine single was Should Be Higher. The original 12" catalogue number 88883 75834 1 has been rebranded as 12BONG46.  The front looks like this:

In my original review of the single, I boldly claimed that this was the worst set of remixes ever compiled on a Depeche Mode 12" but I stand corrected.

Yes. the six tracks here are almost inexplicably awful, but the new L12BONG46 listens to that, says "hold my beer in a Delta Machine tour cup" and gives us one decent remix and a radio version that is passable only because of the sheer madness of the remaining three tracks. The new 12" front cover looks like this:

Side A contains two "remixes" of Should Be Higher - Jim Sclavunos From Grinderman Remix and  Little Vampire Remix. Lordy.

Side B: 
Should Be Higher (MAPS Remix)  - a GOOD remix thank any Lord you want to thank
Should Be Higher (Jim Jones Revue Remix)  - an actual pisstake
Should Be Higher (Radio Mix).

Mercifully, we move away from the musical content of these otherwise lovely records. Bizarrely but brilliantly, this boxset contains a personalised stencil:

Now, last time, I praised the Sounds Of The Universe boxset for going so far as to personalise records labels for me, but an actual stencil! That is very generous. Many of you don't open your boxes but I am assured that if you do, your own initials will be there in stencil form for you to graffiti wherever you please.

Excuse me a second. My phone's ringing.

"Hello? Oh wow, hello Mute. And Sony too? This is tremendous. How are you both?.... What's that? Oh yes, I see. It was only really a laboured joke that I barely got away with last time so I'm sure no-one Really? ....That seems harsh....Oh you're serious. I see. Thanks. Bye now."

The stencil represents the DM logo used for the Delta Machine era and his in fact not personalised in any way.

Cool thing though isn't it?

The box also contains a reproduction poster. This one cruelly reminds us that Soothe My Soul appeared as a single:

Finally, for anyone who still downloads things, there's a download card:

And there we have it. Welcome back BONG. There can surely only be a couple of boxsets left unless the previously missed 12" singles are compiled into one giant series ending box. That would of course be tremendous and would please all Depche fans, Old and New immensely. 

See you for the Spirit boxset.

Tuesday 3 October 2023



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

It's a  two for one review for you this time. Natalia Burgos reviewed gigs for the blog last time the band toured and I was delighted when she volunteered to review again this time. Here is her wonderful review of the second and third nights of the band's recent three night run in Mexico City. If they tour again in the future, these gigs sound like ones to attend. Thanks very much Natalia. All pictures are hers unless otherwise credited.

When the Mexican dates were announce,  I knew I had to make the effort to get there because going to the US or Europe is out of my league (as it is unfortunately for tons of devotees from Central and South America). These were the shows that kicked off the third leg of the Memento Mori tour so I thought it would be a treat to get to see Martin and Dave all refreshed, with new energy after some weeks of rest. The other reason is that Mexico City has a very special vibe for these massive events with a noisy and fun audience, making it a unique experience for any DM follower. 

Due to personal and health issues, I did not have the chance to dedicate as much time as I would have wanted to listen and digest the Memento Mori album. Actually, the record got zero promotion in my home country, Colombia, so I got my hands on the CD version from a fellow who imports heavy metal records, a month before the Mexican concerts. I also avoided watching videos before going to the shows. I still like to conserve some of the surprise factor when I see DM live (yeah I am very old school).

So, I landed in Mexico City without preparation of any kind, with tickets for September 23rd and 25th. My preparation was that I had no preparation! I am of course fully aware that DM is predictable most of the time when it comes to live presentations especially during the last tours, however, I was just happy to see them on stage.

The Foro Sol is a huge area that is used for concerts and for F1 races, so that gives us an idea of the size. It has an attendance of around 60,000 people per night. The environment around concerts here is like no other in the world. Once you get near this venue, outside of the Foro Sol, you can see loads of merch sellers (keep in mind that these are not official items) offering all kinds of things. You can purchase traditional items like T-shirts, hoodies, pins, keychains, caps, posters, tote bags, etc. but you can also find exotic stuff like knickers, socks, clocks, coffee cups and caps in pastel colors and tie-dye tones, glow in the dark caps and T-shirts with the DM logo, even denim jackets with tons of DM printed themes. You can definitely spend a couple of hours (and some money) giggling at the stuff that is for sale. Almost everyone buys something and most of the people I saw entering the venue had some DM related clothes on. This is paradise for any DM bootleg merchandise lover.

After taking a look at all the merch I entered the venue, passed the entry barriers (the security staff made me throw away a pen that I had in my waist bag, thank goodness I didn’t buy any at the stalls) and, after a 20 minute walk, I made it to the General B section (this area is right behind General A, that is the floor zone, near the stage). For the second concert, I was in General A towards the left side of the stage.

The first concert was on Thursday, I believe that because it was a work day, sop the arena took a bit more time to fill up. When Kelly Lee Owens started her performance the seated area was half empty, whereas for the second show on the 25th,  people arrived earlier and the atmosphere was more feisty. There was also a projection with information about the filming of a documentary. In retrospect, I think that the stage is a bit small for this huge venue.

The Mexican fan clubs had also prepared some fan action initiatives lsuch as holding up photos of Andy Fletcher during World In My Eyes, using skull/katrina masks during Ghosts Again and wearing white gloves during Everything Counts. You could certainly spot some people wearing the masks, but it was far from the majority of the crowd. Still, in the land of the Dia de Muertos, the masks looked pretty cool.

Kelly Lee Owens gave an atmospheric and vibrant 30 minute performance, starting around 8:30. I had the impression that the audience was more receptive to her show on Saturday.

Finally, DM came on the stage at 9:30 (30 minutes after the announced time) with My Cosmos Is Mine and Wagging Tongue, but the audience kicked in properly when Walking In My Shoes started. Dave was looking impeccable in his suit, paired with a white silky shirt, giving off a modern-retro-vampire feel. The audience roared every time he yelled “Mexico City”!

From my point of view in General B, I was grateful for the projections on the screens because I couldn’t see much of what was happening on stage. It was a lovely surprise when the curtain was dropped down revealing the giant M at the beginning of the show. 

It’s No Good and Sister Of Night followed. Personally it was a truly emotional experience to hear this last track live because Ultra is one of my top 3 albums. 

During In Your Room and Wrong there was a bit of a weird sound reverb at moments. Maybe the size of the venue and my location had something to do with it, as I did not hear that reverb during the second show. Everything Counts started, and the crowd was really into it, with Dave inviting us to sing along; Precious was well received too.

Speak To Me was performed and it was breathtaking, Dave’s voice sounds heavenly and it has all those weird space-like sounds that I like. Then Martin took over with A Question Of Lust and Soul With Me. At this point, I had the feeling that the setlist was rather slow-paced at times, at least in the place where I was standing, as I could see that the people were getting a bit disconnected and started chatting or checking their phones and stuff like that.  I definitely enjoyed the second show a bit more than the first. I was closer to the stage and we had 4 setlist changes: Home, Strangelove, My Favourite Stranger and Condemnation. I also found several of my DM pals there!

With Ghosts Again, the audience got back on track again, the second half of the setlist was much more upbeat and that was definitely something that you could feel in the audience. Maybe the devotees in the very front of the General A couldn’t perceive it, but certainly I did.

It was time for songs like Stripped and I Feel You (I know lots of devotees would happily replace but I love this track live with its throbbing beat). Oddly enough, John The Revelator and A Pain That I am Used To were included, making the setlist rather similar to the one performed during the Global Spirit Tour. 

World In My Eyes was delightful and emotional at the same time. I had my eyes glued to the projections, it was a perfect homage for Fletch. A thing of beauty.

Picture courtesy of Juan Oliveros

It was pretty cool that Wrong made the cut. It is a smashing track and was fantastic despite that the sound going a bit odd in certain moments.

Then Enjoy the Silence made an entrance, with its glittery skull projections, and the Mexican public loved it (as much as I respect Christian Eigner, I dread the drum banging part near the end, but it is what is). By the way, some impressive drone footage of the show is available here:

With Waiting For The Night, a ton of memories came to my mind. It is the song that I most remember from my very first DM concert. Absolutely magical, and during its 5 minutes, time seemed to stand still. Effing fantastic.

Time restarted and the mighty hits like Just Can’t Get Enough, Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus arrived making the audience  completely devoted and engaged. DM was playing safe with this setlist, without any changes, but still left  the audience on a high and cheerful. It is an excuse for seeing DM friends, at least for a brief time. I am always thrilled with the sense of community around concerts, and these nights were no exception.

The show ended around 11:30. Getting out of the Foro Sol was a bit hectic (as usual) and many of us didn’t make it to the metro that closed at midnight. It didn’t matter that much, in these times, it is a privilege to witness Depeche Mode live with all their strengths and flaws, reminding us all that we are ephemeral passengers on this train of life.


Thanks Natalia! 

Wednesday 23 August 2023



I have a feeling you may have heard a lot of this before...

I love Depeche Mode as I think everyone can accept. They're bloody marvellous, Martin Gore is an actual genius and they have released some of the most moving, awe inspiring and downright gorgeous music that has ever been committed to vinyl. Some of their albums are among the best I have ever heard, some of their singles are so good it's almost obscene, even a lot (ok, about 50%) of the videos are actual works of art. I love Depeche Mode. You can accept that.

The fantastic 12" Boxset series has been a joy. It rightly celebrates Depeche Mode's pioneering role in 12" remixing and you won't find a bad remix on any of the boxsets up to the Songs Of Faith And Devotion one where that daft remix of Higher Love reminds you that, unless they chose wisely, Depeche were best when they remixed themselves.

Even the post SOFAD boxes contain some gems despite various attempts to sully the good name of Depeche Mode. I'm very much looking at you DJ Muggs. Crucially though, they had good source material to work with, even if the end results were patchy.

And so, accepting that I can no longer put off the inevitable, we reach Sounds Of The Universe, the ugly child of the Depeche Mode family, an album with a face only a mother could love. Here we go then....

There were three singles released from the album. The majestic Wrong was the first and that was lovely. Peace, as pointless as song as the band have ever recorded, followed that and then Hole To Feed and Fragile Tension appeared as a double A side. Only three 12" singles were released between those three - Wrong had one and Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension came out as a double 12". In this box, we have an additional four records as we will see. I've listened to them all and you all therefore owe me.

I won't review each remix here as I simply don't want to. Handily, I reviewed every Depeche Mode single in 2021 and you can find each of the Sounds Of The Universe singles right here:

Wronger...sorry...Peace -

Like every boxset before it, this is a lovely thing to look at. An awful lot of thought has gone into its production and the labels and sleeves are really very nice. My box had a slight sleeve issue with some spine damage to the Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension double 12" sleeve but other than that, all is well with the physical side of things.

First out of the box is 12BONG40, a reproduction of the original Wrong 12".

It's an exact replica of the original.

The same four remixes appear on it as on the original 12BONG40.

They also put each purchaser's initials on the B-Side label which is nice. As you can see, mine has a D and an M on it. Check your own copy for your initials.

The first new thing in the box is L12BONG40. Among the original formats in 2009 were two CDs, the second saying Wrong remixes on the cover art. That doesn't appear here as not all the tracks on here are remixes of Wrong.

On the beautifully labelled side A, we have:

Wrong - Magda's Scallop Funk Mix
Wrong - D.I.M. v Boys Noize Remix

There's the back sleeve.

On the record itself (look there are my initials again lolz etc):

Wrong - Trentemoller Club Remix Dub
Oh Well - Black Light Odyssey Remix

The latter of the two is what I believe the kids call "a banger" which is young person speak for a very good remix indeed.

And that was all there as from Sounds Of The U....oh wait.

For a single that should never have been a single in the first place, three formats were originally released. Thanks to this boxset, that number has shot up by 40%.

12BONG41 contains five, yes 5, remixes. On Side A we are blessed with:

Peace - Single version
Peace - SixToes Remix
Come Back - Jonsi Remix

The latter two are fine actually at least in the context of what is to come.

The rear sleeve above reveals the full horror of the B-Side

It contains:

Peace - Ben Klock Remix
Peace - Japanese Popstars Remix

Both are terrible. The label is lovely though. This boxset really is a feast for the eyes instead of the ears though I will say that it sounds great. Sonically I mean. 

L12BONG41 is next. 

This record, while lovely to look at, would test the patience of any Depeche Mode fan, even those guys you see with actual pictures of the band members tattooed on their back. You know who I mean. Side A has only two tracks:

Peace - Sid LeRock Remix
Peace - Justus Kohncke Extended Disco Club Vocal Remix

Honestly. That second remix title can just fuck off. 

The rear sleeve, like the front, is really nice. I genuinely do love the attention that goes into these new 12" singles, even if their existence does annoy some collectors. 

The existence of these records doesn't annoy me despite my collector problem. It's the music that pisses me off. This is Depeche Mode for God's sake, not Coldplay. They shouldn't just bang out any old tat like Chris Martin's comedy troupe, yet on Side B, we get these:

Peace - The Exploding Plastic Inevitable JK Disco Dub
Peace - Pan/Tone Remix


As you will have seen from my single review, Hole To Feed/Fragile Tension came out as a double 12" in 2009. 

This release, 12BONG42, is identical in every way to the original.

I genuinely don't like one remix on it. People seem to like the song Perfect which I will never understand. It features here twice on side C if that's your thing.

The final 12" in the box is another new one - L12BONG42. The idea behind it is great. It gathers together a few radio versions and remixes that appeared on promos of the era, producing an eight track 12".

There they all are.

Side A contains:

Fragile Tension - Radio Mix. I GENUINELY like this song. Shut up.
Hole To Feed - Radio Mix. I can't say the same for this one. 
Come Back - SixToes Remix Another good track.
Fragile Tension - Laidback Luke Remix. Poor

Side B is full of pish as we say in Scotland:

Fragile Tension - Peter, Bjorn and John Remix.  Remember them? That whistling song? No? No wonder
Hole To Feed - Joebot Remix  No, just no.
Perfect - Ralphi & Craig Club Remix Yuck
Fragile Tension - Solo Loves Panoram Remix Yuck again

As ever, the rear of the box has a picture showing you exactly what to avoid when you open it.

There's a cool reprint Wrong promo poster. 

"What was MySpace grandpa?"

And if you want to annoy your enemies, the download card contains a code that will let you install every Peace remix on their digital device of your choosing.

I realise that I have perhaps been a bit harsh here because there is much to admire about this box. It continues the great work that we have seen in this series and the effort that has gone into the artwork and audio can only be admired. One great thing about the Sounds Of The Universe campaign was the return of coloured vinyl with the Wrong and Peace 7" singles. It's a pity they didn't turn up here somehow but the difficulty in vinyl production generally probably put paid to that.

If you are a collector, and I am one of those, you will want this as having gaps in your collection is really not the done thing. Like the album these singles came from however, once you buy it, you are not likely to play it again, the Wrong singles aside.