Wednesday 21 June 2023



John H, John C, Stuart, Me, Colin, Andrew, Paul

My second gig of the Memento Mori world tour was at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 17 June. This was always going to be a special show. Depeche Mode's last UK stadium gig at the London Stadium in June 2017 was wonderful but, after Fletch died, none of us were sure we would get the chance to celebrate the band on that scale and on home turf ever again. There was, therefore, very much an air of celebration before, during and after Saturday's concert.

As has become standard for these events, I suggested to my friends that they dress up in blog colours. They very generously agreed to do so as you can see above. The group I was with were friends I have had since school (the two Johns and Stuart) and from University (Colin, Andrew and Paul). They have all had to suffer my Depeche Mode obsession for between 30 and 35 years and, happily, they are all still talking to me. They are of course Depeche fans too and, despite being a long time fan of the band, this was Colin's first Depeche Mode concert, a fact I was quite jealous of. Imagine seeing a band like this, a band playing so well, for the first time ever? Lucky man. 

I was delighted to be spending a weekend with my oldest friends seeing a band we all love, a mood shared not only by our own group, but by almost everyone else we saw, spoke to or messaged throughout the weekend. People had come to this concert from all over the world to see this concert and trying to say hello to everyone you wanted to say hello to proved impossible. We spent part of the Saturday afternoon at The Barmy Arms in Twickenham, enjoying a beer or two, watching Depeche T-Shirts from all eras. A group of fans had bespoke luminous baseball caps which seemed to cause some jealously among my friends who were all wearing their free T-shirts. You can't please everyone I suppose. We chatted to two lads from Devon who had driven up for the gig, one of whom hadn't seen the band since a show in St Austell, Cornwall in 1984. I needlessly pressed him for what he remembered about the concert. Really must stop doing that....

We planned to head from there to The Cabbage Patch for a large DM meet up but couldn't get in, so we made up for it with a trip to our hotel bar where my mates got their first taste of this blog's appeal (if that is the right word) as people came over to say hello. 

From there, we headed to Twickenham to get a good spot in the golden circle. I managed to say a few hellos to people I know (hi Pete, Peter, Glynn, Michael L, Duncan, Thomas, Michael P, Carsten, Mark, Chris, Scott, Claire and Adele) and to people I'd never met before, all of whom wanted to chat about the blog and Halo. I still can't get over that really - it still takes me by surprise and genuinely means a lot. 

Carsten, Thomas and me

As was the case in Dublin, Young Fathers were fantastic. I really hope that a lot of Depeche fans have been impressed by them as they are one of the best live acts around. Once they were done, and once we'd bought another round of drinks at £7.50 a pint (!!), it was time for Depeche Mode.

My Dublin review covered the set in detail so I won't go into it in depth here. The only change was Martin swapping Home for A Question Of Lust, a long time favourite of mine and a song I had never actually seen Martin perform live before. That was a real treat.

The band were on fantastic form. Dave was in full preening, twirling, part-vampire, part-showman mode and he held the stadium in the palm of his hand throughout the concert. Of the new tracks, Wagging Tongue and My Favourite Stranger sounded incredible, the latter really packing a punch. Stripped was as powerful as ever and Never Let Me Down Again shook the stadium to its foundations, prompting all seven of us to form a circle and jump around like men half our age. 

That act of celebration summed up the whole night for me. Everywhere you looked, people were bouncing around, jumping about and just generally going crazy as Depeche Mode played a set crammed with tracks that had provided the soundtrack to the lives of tens of thousands of people at the sold-out stadium. This was more a celebration than a concert. Depeche Mode have a special way, a unique way even, of making songs that seem intimate when you listen to them on your own still have that effect despite being played in a stadium to thousands. Of all the bands that have existed in the last forty years, there is no doubt that Depeche Mode are the least obvious stadium fillers but fill stadiums they do, and the world is a better place for that.

When Fletch died, I couldn't work out why I was so upset. It only made sense when my wife said to me that it was understandable because Depeche Mode had been such a big part of my life for so long.  I was reminded of that and of the length of time I have loved this band at Twickenham by celebrating them with my oldest friends, a theme common among the many groups of people there that night. 

That is why Depeche Mode are special. That is why the Twickenham gig was one of the best experiences of my life.

Tuesday 20 June 2023



Peter Philipsen, known to some you as as Peter Too from reviewed shows on the last tour for this blog and I was delighted when he asked if he could do it again. This is his review of what sounded like an incredible show in Amsterdam and this contains some fascinating insights into what goes on at each show. Thanks very much for this Peter and it was great to see you albeit briefly at Twickenham. All pictures are Peter's so don't steal them.

When Amsterdam was announced, I knew this would be a “must go” stop on the tour. Double-nighter (the first of the tour to boot), European kick-off shows, some of the few in-door shows on this leg and the first one just happened to be on my birthday.

I’m always a little bit at a loss as to where to start when writing these show reports. If you’re reading this, chances are you already know a lot about these shows; probably even been to one or several at this point. So I’ll try to recap the day and the show, tell you what was “different” about the second night compared to the first, and hopefully sprinkle in a few interesting bits and pieces.

The band and crew had actually been in town for a while at this point. Of course there had been the show two days before, and before that, there had been a full scale rehearsal, to make sure everyone knew what they were playing, and testing out alternate songs for rotation at double nighters and later on in the tour. Don’t worry - no spoilers on that front here.

And even before the band arrived to rehearse, the entire stage setup had to be rebuilt from the ground up, with completely new bits and pieces. Rather than shipping over the stage and the gear after the North American leg, everything that could be sourced “locally” (read: in Europe), was sourced here. So rather than shipping over 20 or so containers worth, they only had to bring over about two containers worth of equipment. 

On the day I went to the venue late afternoon, and had a wander in and around the venue before doors opened. There’s a weirdly solemn atmosphere about an almost venue that’s ready for a show. That goes for all shows I suppose, but with Mode it’s something special for me. In Amsterdam my personal excitement was mixed with a slight tinge of disbelief that this was all happening. I can honestly say that when Fletch passed away - less than a year ago - I had not expected to be here. 

There’s a few things I try to do every time I go to a show. I like watching the doors open, and the crowd swarming in. Such a rush. I also try and go say hello to some of the people I know on from past tours. As Cold Cave was performing, I was treated to a tour of the video set up, and the spotlight controls. Never fails to amaze how much gadgetry and tech goes into a show like this. 

Remember way back in the day, when lighting-crew would climb eerily flimsy ladders to go sit 10 meters above the stage, manually controlling the spotlights? Those days are long gone. The spotlights are mounted with small cameras, and are remote controlled from backstage. The rig looks like a steam punk, multi-player arcade racing game setup. 

They are working with completely new lighting designers and crew. And they’ve done phenomenal work. This show looks absolutely stunning. Front of house (the mixing desk) is also helmed by a new guy, who’s super good. But other than that a lot of familiar faces. 

The show itself was great. The crowd seemed way more into it on Thursday than Tuesday. A couple of glitches here and there - the system Christian use to trigger songs failed after the intro, so the first song started a little late. A little funny seeing the confused looks, as the techs frantically fixed whatever was the matter. Ghosts Again also got off to a rough start with Mart’s guitar falling out. 

And if you were there, and thought there was one too many people on stage: No, you’re not wrong. That was a local photographer… Anton something or other… who was taking photos of throughout the show. 

We got a total of three “new” songs on the second night: My Favourite Stranger (listed as “Perfect Stranger” on the set list), Home and Condemnation. Personally I wish they played more from the new album at the shows, so it was cool hearing My Favourite Stranger again. As far as I remember, it hadn’t been played since the Munich warm-up gig. 

A relatively small and calm affair backstage after the show - with most of the crew having to pack everything down and load out there seemed to be fewer people and less partying than on the first night. But the video juke box did play Just Can’t Get Enough, so there was that.


Thanks very much Peter - not a bad way to spend your birthday!

Thursday 15 June 2023



Last night, I at last managed to see Depeche Mode's Memento Mori World Tour and it was fantastic. Like many fans, I've been keeping an eye on the setlist and its lack of variation (while nothing new for a Depeche Mode tour from the early days to date) combined with its use of Global Spirit Tour versions of songs did cause me some concern. In the end however, there was nothing to be concerned about. Even the most cynical Depeche fans would have loved this gig.

Prior to the show, I met up with friends I hadn't seen since the last tour and that was wonderful. Dublin itself was full of Depeche Mode t-shirts of all types and many of us nodded to each other in acknowledgement when we passed in the city's streets. Finding the station to the venue and then the venue itself was easy too - just follow the black t-shirts.

A final pre-gig note: a chap came up to me in the pub and asked if I was the Almost Predictable guy. He wanted to say how much he enjoys the blog. That was lovely.

Anyway, the concert itself. I missed the first support Just Mustard, but people have told me good things about them. Happily, I saw all of Young Fathers set and they were outstanding. I've seen them live before and they are always good, but their show last night was incredible. Their energy is extraordinary and I hope that they enjoyed it. A Depeche Mode support slot is notoriously rough, but I loved them and a few people around me were converted. I'm looking forward to seeing them again on Saturday at Twickenham.

My Cosmos Is Mine is a strange but tremendous opener. We went Depeche Mode to be weird and they fulfil that brief opening stadium shows with this track. As soon as the song started, a forest of arms were raised and a seemingly endless number of phones started filming. Please stop this. Please.

Wagging Tongue has become a favourite of mine from the album and it works nicely live too, but for those fans there who aren't oddball DM obsessives, these two songs make for a fairly slow start to the gigs. That changes though with Walking In My Shoes and It's No Good, a one-two that gets everyone paying attention. It's No Good has become a vital part of any Depeche gig.

The only low point in an otherwise near flawless performance came next with Sister Of Night. The Ultra version is one of my favourite Depeche tracks and it is great that they have added it to the set but, and this is perhaps pedantic, the use of a different lead synth sound just sounds really bad. On the original the lead riff is an icy, metallic, classic Depeche Mode sound. Here it's a weak organ-like sound and, well, it sounds crap. Dave's vocals, perfect for the rest of the gig, were a bit off here too. It's a gorgeous song, but it slowed the pace of the gig again.

The album version of In Your Room was resurrected on the last tour and that's one I'd have been delighted for them to retain but the Zephyr Mix has returned on this tour. It works of course but lacks the drama of the original. Everything Counts however could be played in any version or way the band want, and it would remain one of the greatest songs of all time. The first part of the show wrapped up with Precious and an excellent My Favourite Stranger, displaying a surprising punch. It's an excellent live track.

Dave took a seat and Martin took over. During Home, he did that odd dance only he does, half skipping and half hopping down the catwalk, waving and pointing and looking like he was having the time of his life. Soul With Me, acoustic rather than the album version as has been the case thus far on the tour, was lovely.

Ghosts Again saw Dave return and saw the end of any input from Memento Mori. That is a shame, as songs such as Before We Drown, Don't Say You Love Me and People Are Good would surely be worth playing. I Feel You is shorter than on previous tours and that is a good thing. Devotional aside, longer versions of the song have seen it lose its power, but that's not the case here. It was outstanding last night. A Pain That I'm Used To was fine but tired. I don't think we really need to hear to much more of that version.

Being a Violator era bore (did I mention I'd written a book with Kevin May? Halo - available right now) I usually sing/shout every word of World In My Eyes, but not last night. I never met Andy Fletcher and didn't know him at all, but his death hit me far harder than I ever thought it would. I thought I was over all that but, as his image appeared on the screens last night, I was reminded how much of a shock his death was. I don't think I was the only one there last night with tears in their eyes. Anton's film is a very simple and very moving tribute to the great man.

Wrong, or as Dave calls it Wraaaanggg, perked me up and then Stripped began. My word, is there a more powerful song in the Depeche Mode canon? Stripped was designed to be played in large venues like this and it was so loud and so imposing that I imagine I could have heard it from my garden in Glasgow if I'd stayed at home. What a bloody song. Despite keeping an eye on setlist, I'd forgotten that John The Revelator followed Stripped. It was good a kept everyone bouncing along. The singalong but at the end seems a bit pointless however.

The main set ended with Enjoy The Silence a song that I may have mentioned before on this blog. It is still my favourite Depeche Mode song, it will always be my favourite Depeche Mode song and, frankly, I have yet to hear a better song by anyone ever in the history of music. And that's me not going over the top - honestly.

The encore started with Dave and Martin wandering down to the front of the catwalk and singing Waiting For The Night. Beautiful. A three song hits package - Just Can't Get Enough, Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus followed and rounded off the night in fine style. 

For anyone who has been sceptical about the current Depeche tour, forget your concerns and embrace this live show. Let's be honest, we didn't think we'd see them again after the last tour and certainly not after Fletch passed away, so to have Depeche Mode back is a wonderful thing. When they are playing with this enthusiasm and with this power, they remain a joy and one of the finest live bands there is.

Bring on Twickenham.

Sunday 4 June 2023



Blog friend, fellow Home ( mod and geniune film star Daniel Cassus returns to reviewing duties for the Depeche show in Lyon on 31st May. As we will see, there is a Spirits In The Forest mini reunion among much else in this great review. Thanks very much Daniel. All pictures are his so don't nick them without saying that. 

May 31st. The day had come. I woke up at 2am to catch a very early flight to Geneva and then a train to Lyon. The plan was simple: try to do a reunion of us fans from Spirits in the Forest. Well, four of us made it. And it was also my first show of this tour. What can I say?

We hung around the merchandise stand right in front of the entrance and we were… a bit surprised (but then again, not that much) with the spike in prices. I was put off from almost everything simply because I am not a fan of the design of the apparel this time. The skull in particular doesn’t say “Depeche Mode” to me. But I did succumb to the grey fleece jacket. 

A man arrived with a plain white shirt with a special message to Dave written with a sharpie on the back. He did find something else to wear during the show and spared Dave from the odd request.

Let’s talk about the show, shall we? We were all seated together on a grandstand on the left side of the stage. Not the best view, but also the best view. Why? I got to see a DM concert from a distance with the crowd in my vision. 

The visual aspect of this tour that deserves a highlight (no pun intended) are the lights. The entire lighting is a show within a show. It’s as if they translated music into colors and beams of light everywhere in the stadium.

To be honest, the crowd didn’t really go nuts until they played Enjoy The Silence. Not even Walking In My Shoes and It’s No Good early in the set got them bananas as I expected. For me every song sounded fantastic. Sister Of Night with Dave on vocals is a highlight of this tour for me. And even though this setlist seems to have copied half of the one from the Global Spirit Tour, I still caught myself singing loud the lyrics to every song. 

Of course I was voiceless the following day. The singalong expected of Everything Counts simply did not happen. It even looked a bit embarrassing to watch Dave trying to get the crowd singing the coda and the response being almost null. What’s wrong with you people? The new singalong at the end of John The Revelator however gave the song a new life. And from that part of the show on, the crowd finally got wild.

What else could I say? Waiting For The Night is a magical moment. Stripped and Just Can’t Get Enough sounded better this time. If there were complaints that they weren’t using the original sound patches when playing live, this time you can clearly hear that, YES, they are using the exact same sound banks pulled from the studio versions. This also goes for Christian’s drum kit live tweaks. Crashes, snares and kicks all sound like the original sounds we’re used from the studio versions of each song. Peter is on the bass a bit more often on this tour (although I’m waiting to see him play My Favourite Strange” again). 

Dave and Martin were flawless in their performances. All in all, a great show to celebrate friendships while enjoying Depeche Mode before our eyes.


Thanks very much Daniel.