Monday 31 July 2023


Today is the 30th anniversary of the first time I saw Depeche Mode live. 

I'd become a Depeche Mode fan upon hearing Enjoy The Silence and, since I heard it, had been obsessed with them. I didn't get the chance to see World Violation due to a combination of exams and Depeche forgetting Scotland existed from 1986 to 2009 so, once that tour ended, I wasn't thinking of seeing them live. Instead I spent a lot of time focussed on devouring their back catalogue.

I went from Castle Douglas to Aberdeen in 1993 and, when Melody Maker announced a new tour and album (I still remember (a) the report that they were to play 180 dates and (b) boring everyone I knew with this), I knew my time had come. I would finally see Depeche Mode live.

I'm writing this as the band tour Memento Mori and last night played in Prague. I know this, not only because I am odd that way, but because a world tour these days involves live relays of gigs, photos and videos appearing online and a huge internet ticket scrum whenever tickets go on sale. In 1993, you either queued at a record shop or ticket outlet or did as I did - ask your Dad to write a cheque for the ticket, send it off and patiently await the return envelope with the hallowed piece of paper.

The ticket duly arrived in Castle Douglas and during my next call home from Aberdeen, the news was broken to me. It was happening. I was going to see Depeche Mode. If you are reading this, the chances are that you even you get exasperated with the seemingly endless stream of "content" I generate. All I can say is, none of that compares to the amount I spoke about the ticket news to anyone who would or wouldn't listen.

In those days, you actually got tickets. This one came in its own Songs Of Faith And Devotion card envelope (see above). I've placed these on the Devotional concert programme cover by the way - they're not stuck on it in case people are currently screaming at this post.

The ticket itself features a classic Devotional era picture of the band with Martin staring off into the distance. One thing to note about the ticket is the price - £18.50. Compare that to the price of the tickets for the current tour - my word. £18.50!

Once the ticket was in hand, one problem arose - how was I going to get to London on my own and where would I stay? At the time, I was a hugely shy, worldly unwise chap so I was not going to sleep in a railway station as many people ended up doing. Happily, Alex Small, one of the students in my halls (hi Alex), lived near enough to the stadium and his parents generously put me up. What they must have thought of a mumbling Scottish boy, dressed in black and acting oddly because he was off to see DM I dread to think. They were so kind though and even gave me lunch on the Sunday before I got the train back up the road. 

Having (1) been driven from Castle Douglas to Dumfries station (2) got the train from Dumfries to Carlisle and (3) got the train from Carlisle to London, I headed to Alex's house, chatted to his parents and then made for the stadium. I think Alex's Dad gave me a lift though I can't recall. Once inside, I was immediately terrified. How many people are here and why does everyone seem older than me, more confident and to know exactly what they're doing? London seemed like a mad place.

I headed for the merchandise stall and got the goodies you can see above, all of which came in a Songs Of Faith And Devotion bag. The programme was in there too and I seem to recall the whole lot costing about £20 but that can't be right. The new tour dates on the flyer were a pain as there was no Scottish gig. I mentioned that to a group of people standing beside me. they ignored me. To be fair, I would have done too. There was a Mute badge and sticker with the bag  too, both with the same bespoke logo on the front of the cassette. The sticker was stuck to a folder and the badge stuck onto a pencil case I used. I have no idea where they are. The t-shirt is cool - Devotional live action on the front and the date of the gig on the back.

The support acts were Marxman, Dub Syndicate and Sisters Of Mercy. I was only familiar with the Sisters so was quite pleased when I could get fairly far forward on the pitch to see their set. As it ended, I saw a boy who lived in my street in Castle Douglas. Unusually, his hair was all backcombed. I went to say hello and he blanked me as I clearly wasn't cool enough. I'd actually forgotten about this until I started writing this bit. Hello Richard if you're reading - you really should have stuck around for the main act or "puppet show" as Andrew Eldritch elegantly put it.

The standing area started to fill up with the confident people I mentioned earlier after Sisters ended, so I walked back a bit, passing a Sisters fan in full wedding dress which was quite a sight.

What of the Depeche gig itself? I don't really a great deal sadly. Not because I was drinking - strictly water all day for me then - but because it was all a blur. I remember Higher Love and the thunder and lightning start; Walking In My Shoes and the video screens; Stripped because, well, it's Stripped and Enjoy The Silence which nearly made my brain explode. Here it was - that song and that band were playing it live right in front of me.

I waited right until the end the headed back to Mr and Mrs Small's place. Not that they wanted me to I imagine, but I filled them in the next day, had lunch and then headed back to the station to repeat the journey of the day before in reverse. My head was the clouds for days afterwards. In many ways, it's never quite fully removed itself.

I'd seen Depeche Mode live. That was a very good thing.

You know the rest.....

Monday 24 July 2023



Matt Cullingworth enjoyed reviewing gigs for the 2017/18 blog project so much that he has come back for more. Here is his excellent review of what sounded like a sweltering Rome gig. Pics are Matt's and Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group's so be nice and credit them if/when you nick them. Thanks Matt. 

It seems customary for those of us with long suffering partners that when Mode tour the only way we can get them along to a gig is if there’s some kind of mini break abroad involved.

This was certainly the case for me when my wife saw the tour dates and pin pointed Rome as our European outdoor gig this time around. We weren’t the only ones by the looks of things either. As we toured the sights in the morning and visited the Colloseum we bumped into another couple who were doing the same (albeit on a larger scale around Europe). If you happen to read this, it was lovely meeting you both. We did look out for the Basildon flag but couldn’t see it.

The record for my hottest DM gig ever was previously held by either Prague back on The Delta Machine tour or the penultimate night of the Global Spirit tour in Berlin. This was equally sweltering and limited our beer intake significantly (when did we get so old and sensible ??)

As the dry ice started to swirl just before 9pm it must have still been well over 30 degrees. “There’s no way Dave is going to wear a jacket in this weather” commented my wife. How wrong she was. As the opening samples of My Cosmos Is Mine rang out across the stadium, out our favourite frontman came - in a full 3 piece suit. Fair play Dave, the jacket lasted the full song before it was carefully passed over to one of the road crew and we launched into Wagging Tongue.

I know a few people have been a little non plussed with the Memento Mori songs in the set list. In my opinion they fit pretty seamlessly alongside the classics.

Walking In My Shoes sets off a breathless run of massive songs. We get to Sister Of Night which means we’re getting set list B and a few different tracks to what I heard at Twickenham. Phew. That’s my only criticism. I wish they’d mix the set list up a bit more - Blasphemous Rumours would fit like a glove in here somewhere for example (as would Lie To Me)

As we get to the end of Speak To Me which Dave completely nails (as he does with his vocals all night) thoughts turn to what Martin songs we might get. After all Strangelove made its tour debut a few nights before. However, no changes for us, which sounds very ungrateful when Mart sings both A Question Of Lust and Soul With Me so beautifully.

Pic courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

We’re getting into the home stretch of the main set now which kicks off with Ghosts Again. Let’s face it this already feels like a DM classic.

A reinvigorated I Feel You and the quite frankly droppable A Pain That I’m Used to take us to the emotional high point of the evening. World In My Eyes is already one of my favourite DM songs anyway but the backdrop of the sadly departed and much missed Andy Fletcher makes it even more poignant. Having been caught off guard by the gut punch it was going to deliver at Twickenham I was doubly surprised when it hit me hard again.

Having lost 2 friends earlier in the year unexpectedly, just before Memento Mori was released, the massive screens are a very visual reminder of the fragility of life and that we must make the most of our allotted time. I’ll drink to that.

Tears wiped away, it’s back to jumping around like a lunatic. Wrong, Stripped, John The Revelator and the best song ever written, Enjoy The Silence, take us to the end of the main set.

Pic courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Here’s where my only gripe comes in and it isn’t with the band. Having been lucky enough to secure gold circle tickets I was looking forward to a great view of Mart & Dave at the end of the catwalk. What transpired through the entirety of a beautiful Waiting For The Night was a sea of mobile phones obscuring what was a mesmerising and tender moment. The modern malaise of concert going I guess.

We all know the encore by now - Just Can’t Get Enough, Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus bring the curtain down on an absolutely stunning performance. They really do sound like they’re getting better live which over 40 years into a career is quite something.

As a series of blacked out vans with a police escort sped passed us. No doubt containing bedressing gowned members of the Mode, it dawned on us that our journey back to the hotel wouldn’t be quite so easy. An hour and a half and a £60 Uber later we were home for the night.

The boys really are on top form this tour. Yes we’d all like to hear some different songs but when they’re smashing it like this it’s hard to argue with the formula. Bring on the winter arenas !!!!


Thanks Matt!

Saturday 22 July 2023



When I last ran a tour review thing, Katia Gigliotti was kind enough to review a couple of concerts. Happily, when I announced this one, Katia was keen to help out again so here is her excellent review of the Bologna gig. The return of But Not Tonight makes me very jealous of everyone who was at this concert. Thanks for this great Katia. All photographs are Katia's so do not steal them.

Bologna was the last of the three Memento Mori Italian dates, after Rome and Milan. It was hot hot hot - not only because of the amazing sensuality Dave brings on stage each and every time, but because Cerberus -a hot airwave, taking the name from the mythological Hell's guardian- has come to Bologna, with temperatures up to 38°C.

It was harder than ever to queue in the sun without any shade but love leads us to do extreme things, even if I am approaching an age where I should see concerts from the seats. That time has not come yet however, not for Depeche Mode concerts at least. If I wasn't standing, I would lose something: Martin's nail varnish, Dave's looks and gestures, even Christian's rebellious hair. I would certainly miss the expressions of Peter Gordeno, who, like me, you might have noticed is slowly turning into a new Robert Smith.

I was in Milan two days before, so I knew exactly what to expect, nevertheless, I was even more eager to see another DM concert.  Following a smooth, ethereal performance from Haelos, the concert started with My Cosmos is Mine. It's my favourite one: it is more an introductory atmospheric song, that brings the proper dark mood. The energy of the new album is brought out by Wagging Tongue, which, together with My Favourite Stranger and the first single Ghosts Again are the only tracks played tonight from Memento Mori, despite the tour supporting the album.

I will not complain however We all know this tour is not a simple promotional tour: it is a celebration of life and death, a non-religious funeral, and a party, because I think Fletch would have loved us to wave our hands up and dance in his memory.

I will not go into the setlist details, which includes some of the most obvious and expected songs (everybody's favourites), as well as non conventional songs that found their way into the setlist like Sister Of Night, the first lighter-song of the night, and John The Revelator.

Even when you think you are listening to the same songs for the millionth time, there is always some detail that surprises and inevitably touches those heartstrings that made me fall in love with this music when I was a little girl. Such details make me sing In Your Room at the top of my lungs, as if I were still in my bedroom and in my adolescence.

As the concert progresses, there is no time to breathe because Everything Counts demands our best dancing efforts and our attention for the eye-catching visuals. I must say that I did not understand the meaning of the visuals immediately, but they still made me proud of the band I love.

Dave's voice is so intense and his energy, despite the temperature, sets Dall'Ara on fire. Dave covers the stage, dominating the crowd, sometimes making strange gorilla-like moves and in others, slow and gentle movements of his hands. He sends kisses while Martin smiles, seeming almost surprised by the magic Dave is able to generate. 

And then Martin's moment arrives: the usual intense Home, with Martin's usual delicate singing, and then, beautifully unpredictable (not at all almost predictable!) But Not Tonight, played live for the first time since 2017. This mid-80s B-side is a gem that highly influenced my musical taste.

Martin stands aside and it is time for King Dave to return to lead the stage. After a superb A Pain That I'm  (the Jacques Lu Cont Remix version) , it's time to dedicate World In My Eyes to Andy: this is his tour, even if he is not physically on stage, but it is thanks to him that Depeche Mode still give us magic. I cannot yet believe he is not on stage behind his keyboards.

Wrong follows, so incredibly dark and powerful live, moreso than ever before and, after Enjoy The Silence, and the love it brings, it is time for the encore.

Christian surprisingly joins Peter on keyboards, whilst Dave and Martin walk till the end of the catwalk, in the middle of the stadium. And then something magical happens:Waiting For The Night.  The music seems to bring everyone into a galaxy of lights, a cloud of calm and silence. For few minutes, time stops and it is like being suspended in the void, in the light and in the deep atmosphere that only Dave Gahan's voice, perfectly harmonized with Martin's one, is able to create. 

I return back to Earth to dance to Just Can't Get Enough a song that, despite its fame, did not find a place in the setlist in many for many years. The concerts finishes, after 2 hours and 15 minutes of tears and smiles, sadness, happiness and infinite joy, with two classics: Never Let Me Down Again  and Personal Jesus.

This concert was phisically tiring, due to extreme weather conditions, and emotionally hard, but old and new friends, sharing the same emotions, turned it into something to treasure, feeding my Depeche Mode addiction.

I return home happy,  and despite experiencing that after gig melancholy, I am counting the days till next concert.

Will I always be here? Yes!

Setlist 16.07.23

Speak to Me (Outro)
1. My Cosmos Is Mine
2. Wagging Tongue
3. Walking in My Shoes
4. It's No Good
5. Sister of Night
6. In Your Room (Zephyr Mix)
7. Everything Counts
8. Precious
9. My Favourite Stranger
10. Home
11. But Not Tonight (First time since 2017)
12. Ghosts Again
13. I Feel You
14. A Pain That I'm Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)
15. World in My Eyes (Dedicated to Andrew Fletcher)
16. Wrong
17. Stripped
18. John the Revelator
19. Enjoy the Silence

20. Waiting for the Night
21. Just Can't Get Enough
22. Never Let Me Down Again
23. Personal Jesus


Thanks Katia!

Thursday 20 July 2023


He's back again. Blog favourite and everyone's favourite Greek (so he tells me) Panos Sialakas returns with this superb review of Depeche Mode's show at the legendary San Siro on 14th July. I had intended to go to this gig when the tour was announced but couldn't make it. This review helps make up for that - thanks Panos. Thanks to Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group for the pictures. If you are going to use them, credit that group.

I have been to Italy several times for Depeche Mode: Turin (indoor), Rome (outdoor), Bologna (indoor and outdoor) and of course Milan (indoor and outdoor). Knowing how warm the Italian audience is and the special aesthetics and acoustics that the Stadio San Siro offers, I decided for the third time in a row to visit it for my second Memento Mori show (the first one was exactly one month earlier in Dublin).

I have to admit that I was very excited when I arrived at the Front of Stage section of the San Siro, as I was there with several devotees/friends that I hadn't seen for a long time (fuck you, Covid), and so I knew that I was going to have a great time.

What I did know - the warm atmosphere of Milan - was immediately felt as soon as the intro kicked in. My Cosmos Is Mine and Wagging Tongue, although probably the weakest start in Depeche Mode's live history, set the stage for the essential opening with the intensity of the now classic Walking In My Shoes and the always positive vibe of It's No Good.

Sister Of Night, besides being magnificent, is the true test of Gahan's voice, and in Milan he sang it so beautifully that it became clear that we would be in for an excellent show.

Everything Counts is one of the highlights and it's amazing how timeless it sounds 40 years after it was first released (judging by the ticket prices, lol!). The whole stadium was singing and dancing along with Dave as he reached the edge of the sidwalk for the first time.

Martin's set (A Question Of Lust and Soul With Me) was a great opportunity for all of us in the pit to see how intense the atmosphere was throughout the stadium and to have an understanding of the dynamics of the acoustics. During Soul With Me in particular, many of us started filming the people in the stands who had turned on their mobile phones by the thousands, creating a beautiful mosaic of light and glowing.

The second part of the show kicked in with Ghosts Again and the gig really took off. The compact version of I Feel You is probably the best in years. World In My Eyes is the best homage to Andrew Fletcher (we love you Andy!), Wrong is as powerful as it can get (again thanks to Dave's sublime vocals) and Stripped a timeless celebration.

The whole stadium went crazy for Enjoy The Silence, and that's no surprise at any Depeche Mode gig. It's probably the best way to end the main set.

Another highlight of the show, and another indication of the amazing atmosphere at the San Siro, was Waiting For The Night, with both men, Dave and Mart, in the corridor singing to each other and to us all.

I've had enough of Just Can't Get Enough, and so have so many others... so how come we all dance and sing when it's on? Oh well, it's a big party when they play it, and more importantly, it's a song that the vast majority of people enjoy listening to without thinking about the setlist. It was the same in Milan.

And then the two most famous Depeche Mode live songs, Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus, came to round off a wonderful evening and a very good show.

In my Dublin review I wrote that I had some reservations about the setlist, and that has to do with the Memento Mori and Playing The Angel songs. And while in the case of Memento Mori, I accept that the show is part of the overall album promotion (though less so than previous albums),  but in the case of the Playing The Angel songs, it's a shame. The songs are brilliant on the album but don't translate well in a live environment.

Also the setlist is basically the same as on the last few tours and in this particular case even the versions are the same.

Nevertheless, and especially after the long time of dealing with a unique situation like Covid, including no trips, meetings and gigs, these reservations are not strong enough to spoil my feelings about the Milan concert. It was a great night and I had a great time!

Next stop: Barcelona 24!


Thanks Panos!