Wednesday 24 May 2023

A MEMENTO: DEPECHE MODE, SPORTPALEIS, ANTWERP MAY 20TH 2023

 


The first review of the European leg is a special one. It is written by Paul A. Taylor who works for Mute and he is a longtime fan and friend of Depeche Mode. This marvellous review sums up what so many of us think about this tour and it's got me looking forward to my first gig of the tour in Dublin even more than I already was. With the exception of the photos above (thanks DMCPAV) and below, all pictures are Paul's. Thanks very much Paul.


there was a girl at the wrexham college i went to who was obsessed with depeche mode, particularly as a live band, when 101 came out she would constantly go on about it and talk about a previous show or be excited about when she’d see them next.

i’d liked singles, i loved black celebration, music for the masses seemed deep to my teenage mind, but this band, whom seemed to be slipping into obscurity, held no interest to me as a live spectacle, the prospect seemed dull. 

i then found myself in london, on the underground seeing these adverts instructing one to call for ‘your own personal jesus’, and of course then the single appeared, wow, this was a stop in your tracks moment, it was the sound of a band so self assured, so layered, so cool, so interesting and so fun. then the violator juggernaut started, and i found myself, by literal luck (my CV was originally put in the bin) working at mute. as such, the opportunity came to see them perform live, to see what my friend in wrexham was so obsessed by, i mean, surely it would be a decent night out. that night, that first time seeing them live, what a moment, this was a show like no other i’d seen, and at the grand age of 20, i’d seen it all! (stops to reminisce about a cocky know it all youth).

fast forward to the devotional tour, still the best live show i have ever seen, fast forward to the first shows without al, the careful but self assured steps ahead, fast forward to the years of what should of been in the wilderness, still playing one incredible stadium filled show after another, fast forward to the 02 london, nearing the end of the pandemic, watching New Order continue their climb back from the wilderness to legendary status.

“what do you think?” i ask. “well, it’s not much of a show is it, when we play, dave’s a showman, holds the audience in the palm of his hand, i can’t wait to get started again”

fast forward to arguably the most anticipated depeche mode tour ever. 

off the back of losing andy, off the back of an album that critics and fans agree is great, i concur, but this is not an album review. 

fast forward to antwerp, the 3rd show of the european leg of the tour.

i arrive in the city and instantly fall in love with the quiet, cultural beauty.

allow me to share some photos to show the city and help paint the picture:


the wonderful city of antwerp with all its fabulous architecture, restaurants, beer and chocolate.


i have to be at the show for 7pm as i have a meeting there, no one told me that the trams in antwerp have only 2 carriages, it’s now 7.45, as i chase round the venue looking for the meeting room, i find myself in a large room full of white flowers, well, looks like the promoter has gone to town with the ‘memento mori’ theme, but where is everyone? 8.15, the band are on stage at 8.45, i’ve missed the wonderful cold cave and still not had my meeting, turns out i’m in an unused room in the venue that is rarely occupied and is just generally decorated with an abundance of white (plastic...) flowers, but i eventually find everyone, the meeting is quick as the band are about to go on, considering how lost i got initially, i did not want to make the same mistake again, so i get clear instructions of how to get into the arena from where i was to take my seat, armed with 2 full glasses of wine, i head to the arena, 8.43, no problem, i can do this. 

fast forward to the opening bars of ‘my cosmos is mine’ and i’m standing directly underneath the right hand side of a giant M, bugger, i ask a tech in my best brit abroad accent, slow and loud, “how do i get into the arena?” the geordie accent comes back “fuck knows mate, we’ve been getting lost all day”

round in fast circles some more, i finally reach my seat, having missed ‘my cosmos is mine’ & ‘wagging tongues’ but in time for ‘walking in my shoes’, relax, smile, the guys are back, i love these songs, i love these people, two songs later, i’m wondering why they seem so small on the stage, dave is holding the audience in the palm of his hand (just like fletch said he would), martin sings like an angel and plays like a demon, peter and christian, as ever, don’t play a note out of place, then it hits me, just how much of a towering presence on stage that fletch was, he really filled the room, there was something he added that i really didn’t understand until now, i was expecting to miss him, but not like that, with all the hullabaloo getting to my seat, i’d forgotten he wouldn’t be there until it was clear there was a giant fletch shaped hole in my memory.

then came ‘everything counts’ and the emotions came pouring out, but not for any loss, but from the incredible film that tony made to accompany it, boom, so layered, so beautiful, so fun, here’s depeche, being po-faced and serious whilst poking fun at themselves and the world around them.

martin didn’t sing ‘home’!

for me there are 4 songs that always have to be on a depeche mode set list, ‘home’ is one of those 4. how rude of him.

the show became bigger and bigger as it went on, emotion and humour from anton, an unmatched front man performance from dave and martin, playing and smiling (and dancing) like only martin does.



‘enjoy the silence’ chimes out, then encore, no one sits down, dave and mart sing ‘waiting for the night to fall’ together, at the front, it’s beautiful. then comes a finalé to top all finalés, ‘just can’t get enough’, ‘never let me down again’ and ‘personal jesus’, which took me right back to london in 1989 when i called the number for my own personal jesus.

as the show went on, it became clear that this was a different, yet the same depeche mode, when vince left, it was a different yet the same depeche mode, when al left, it was a different, yet the same depeche mode, without andy, it’s a different depeche mode, but it’s still depeche mode. 

they look like they enjoy each other’s company and are having the time of their lives, that can’t help but make you smile in the audience.

would i have liked them to play some of my favourite tracks, some tracks i’ve never seen them perform, of course, was the show disappointing, not one bit.

dave and martin are single minded creative powerhouses who love their job, and just happen to be bloody great at it.

it’s not the end, it’s another beginning.

paul a. taylor
mute 1990 to today and hopefully a while longer



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Thank you Paul.


Friday 5 May 2023

A MEMENTO: DEPECHE MODE, CENTRE BELL, MONTREAL, 12 APRIL 2023




On The Global Spirit Tour Project, Tara Salt's reviews were always a highlight. It seemed that every time she went to a Depeche gig she would interact with or meet the band and, once again, that happened in Montreal. Read on to find out what happened and enjoy this great review. Thank you very much Tara - all photos are Tara's unless credited otherwise.



Montreal – my lucky city. It’s where I first met David back in 2001, and it’s also where I was able to help a few friends meet Martin for the first time in 2009. In 2017 I got a big hug from David when he was incredibly nice to spend time with our group after the show, talking about a variety of topics including David Bowie and his daughter Stella Rose, who had just been accepted to a premiere art program in California. Montreal is where the Depeche Mode crowd is always a loud, crazy one – and the gift is how the band responds to that love. I live in Toronto, but I’ve always had to admit that the Montreal crowds are superior. This night proved that Montreal was yet again, one of the best places to see DM in North America. 




For the first North American leg of the Memento Mori tour, I managed to get front row tickets for Toronto, Quebec City and Montreal. I can clearly say that of the three, Montreal was the most energetic and intense show and we had a higher amount of butt wiggles and crotch grabs to show for it. (“You get a butt wiggle, and you get a crotch grab and you get a butt wiggle!”) I knew the band and crowd was on fire at a completely different level than Toronto and Quebec City when the crowd kept singing after Everything Counts. Martin and David enjoyed this since it had not occurred during previous shows, and you could tell by the big smiles the band had when looking out from the stage. In Toronto and Quebec City I had a good giggle at David’s Frankenstein like air-piano playing during Never Let Me Down Again. In Montreal we not only got that, but we also got some air guitar from David during Stripped. It’s always best when both crowd and band are lost in the intensity of the moment and there was a lot of that in Montreal. 



On a personal note, Montreal was my 90th Depeche Mode concert. I’m looking forward to attending my 101st concert this tour which is ironic, given that many of us who go to multiple shows can directly trace that need back to the 101 video. It made seeing multiple shows look like so much fun and it spawned a lot of us spending fortunes following the band on tour over the last few decades. You won’t find any of us regretting any of those decisions though! One benefit of being in the front row a lot is that David recognises me and we often sing together during the shows. In Montreal those songs ended up being Walking In My Shoes and Stripped and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I enjoyed every minute of it, while squealing on the inside. 

 In fact, at the beginning of the concert during Wagging Tongue, he pointed down at me and grinned as if to say, “There you are!” I know he’s mentioned in past interviews that he looks for familiar faces in the crowd. In Montreal he was sharing that recognition with my friends on Martin’s side of the catwalk since he recognized them as well. I’ll admit it makes the very pricey front rows hard to stay away from, and it’s a personal connection that I’ve always loved. It’s also amazing to see the interaction and smiles exchanged between band members and that’s something you miss when not close up. Mind you, I always joke that when the tour DVD’s are released, I finally get to see the light show. I never get to appreciate that aspect of the concert when up front. You win some, you lose some!

Having seen three shows, my ultimate highlights this tour include Martin singing Soul With Me and David singing Speak To Me. Martin sings Soul With Me with gusto and conviction and he pours a lot of emotion into the song. It’s intimate, and it shines. Each tour I see, I swear Martin gets better and more comfortable out there, commanding the stage on his own. David’s Speak to Me is similar in that it’s a showcase song for him and it feels very epic – very much like how Cover Me was during the Global Spirit tour. I could watch him gracefully float and twirl and command like a wizard all night. Speak To Me, this tour, is a song where you want to whip out your phone and record the last minute of the song on video. David’s movements on stage at that point is quite something to watch. It’s especially thrilling to hear the song build to a crescendo right to the very end. If you haven’t seen the show yet, pay particular attention to these two songs when you go. 





I’d have to say the first half of the setlist is very intimate but then the pace picks up with A Pain That I’m Used To. While I do wish that the band would switch up the setlist more, I can’t say I am displeased that they kept the version of Everything Counts from the lasttour. I find it remains one of the BEST versions of an older song they have done live. I also adore Wrong and I was thrilled to see them keep it. I call it my “therapeutic” DM song to sing along to – the lyrics are so damn good. And while many of us long-time fans are very done with Just Can’t Get Enough, in Montreal I found myself jumping up and down to it and that’s a testament to the band always doing a great job of keeping us thrilled and involved. 




I was lucky enough to go backstage and have a good chat with Martin. (PS – if he could, he would like to live forever!) He's so easy to talk with and he put up with some of our funny questions and stories and I was grateful to spend time with someone who has made millions of fans worldwide so happy. We left a bit past midnight and headed back to our hotel which was only a few blocks up the street from the venue. It was fun to hang out with my friends one last time in the lobby, chatting and catching up and reminiscing. Many of us will meet again in Europe once the first European leg of the tour opens and I’m very much looking forward to that. 

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Thanks very much Tara.