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.

Tuesday 22 August 2023



To celebrate Depeche Mode's landmark Construction Time Again reaching its 40th birthday, here is an article I wrote for the 2023 Classic Pop Depeche Mode special. I was asked to write about an album that had not had that much coverage previously and Construction Time Again seemed an ideal choice. If you want to buy the magazine this first featured in, go to

Depeche Mode’s third album, Construction Time Again, represents a crucial step in the band’s career. With this album, they moved away from the pop-focussed sound of Speak & Spell and A Broken Frame and, combining Martin’s interest in the industrial sounds of Einsturzende Neubauten and the sampling skills of “Tonmeister” Gareth Jones, they created a collection of songs that brought an experimental edge to their electronic pop music. The album also of course saw them use Hansa Studios in Berlin for the first time, the start of their fruitful relationship with Jones, and it produced a classic Depeche Mode single in Everything Counts.

To properly consider Construction Time Again, we must go back to the band’s January 1983 single Get The Balance Right. That release saw Alan Wilder officially join Depeche Mode and the single’s 12” remix, the Combination Mix, gave a clear indication of the direction in which Depeche Mode were headed. The harder sounding edge of the remix saw the band move on from the more standard 12” remixes to something entirely different, and that sound and feel resonate throughout Construction Time Again. As we will see, having co-written Get The Balance Right’s B-side, the curious instrumental The Great Outdoors with Gore, Wilder also wrote two of that album’s nine tracks, thus quickly cementing himself as an integral part of the band he had only recently joined.

Recording for Construction Time Again began in April 1983 in The Garden studios which were owned by John Foxx. The band, Gareth Jones and Daniel Miller stayed there for two months, and, during that time, they revolutionised the way Depeche Mode approached making music. The band’s first two albums were predominantly, if not wholly, analogue recordings but the use of The Garden’s digital facilities together with the introduction of Daniel Miller’s new purchased Synclavier sampling synthesizer opened up a new world of possibilities for the band. Like Gore, Jones was fascinated by the possibilities of sampling and he and Depeche Mode used his Stellavox SP7 reel-to-reel recorder to add textures and atmosphere to the album itself. The Garden was based in Shoreditch and that area was far from the area it now; it was run-down and full of building sites, old railway yards and all sorts of places filled with sampling possibilities.

The album’s third track, the Gore lead vocal Pipeline, is the album’s best example of the studio’s team’s eagerness to sample anything they could. The song is constructed entirely from found sounds, made up from the band, Miller and Jones hitting, banging and recording anything they could find in their Shoreditch playground. The vocals were recorded in a railway yard in the area and, as can be heard from around four minutes fifteen seconds into the track, a train passed by as Martin sang. The decision to keep that noise in the song is an inspired one; if you’re going to make a song influenced by industrial music, made entirely from samples of noises you found in railway yards and building sites, you may as well retain the noise of a passing train for extra authenticity. More Trans East End Express than Trans Europe Express perhaps?

Pipeline is the only track on Construction Time Again that is entirely made up of samples. Jones estimates that only “15-20%” of the album is made up of samples with the rest played on the band’s usual synthesizers. It’s worth noting too that on Love, In Itself and And Then… an acoustic guitar makes an appearance, a novelty for Depeche Mode at that time. The use of “real” instruments is taken further on the Love, In Itself remix Love, In Itself 4 which sees the band take on a lounge style persona with Dave crooning to a guitar and piano backing. Experimentation was very much in the air.

Once the London sessions were concluded, the band moved to Berlin to mix the album at Hansa Studios. That studio became the band’s home for the next few years and they recorded the next two albums, Some Great Reward and Black Celebration, there. Their newfound love of sampling married to their growing sonic ambition meant that they needed somewhere more specialised to mix Construction Time Again. Jones was already familiar with the studio, and, in September 1983, Dave Gahan told Record Mirror:

“We’ve been working in The Garden Studios in Shoreditch, and we just wanted to go to Berlin to get a different atmosphere. If you work a lot in one place it gets quite boring and we were using so many channels, we couldn’t possibly mix on a 24 track.”

Hansa offered a state-of-the-art studio with 64-input Solid State Logic mixing console, facilities that perfectly suited the ideas the band, Miller and Jones had for the sound of the album. Berlin suited the band perfectly too with its 24-hour nightlife particularly appealing. Gore ended up moving to the city to live with his new Berlin native girlfriend and that move’s influence on him directly informed the band’s next two albums and Gore’s newfound dress sense, a style still tediously not forgotten by his home country’s press today. 

The album’s release was preceded by its first single, Everything Counts, which came out on 11th June 1983. The single perfectly exemplifies what Depeche Mode were trying to achieve with Construction Time Again; the pop sensibilities were still there but the daring addition of sampling and industrial influences meant that the band were doing something very different from their peers. This experimentation often gets overlooked and Depeche Mode do not receive the credit they should do for the bold way they mixed two very different genres while at their pop height. The band’s television appearances in their home country still suggested a band playing the pop game and that sadly seems to have led to the album’s new direction and sonic pallet being overlooked. Gary Bushell’s typically coarse review of Everything Counts in Sounds (“And the band played on…whether the members of Depeche Mode are actually dead or alive is a question that’s baffled the medical profession for years.”) sums up the majority of the UK music press’ attitude to the band at the time. 

The single was rightly a hit, reaching number 6 in the UK charts, accompanied by the band’s first wholly watchable video, filmed by Clive Richardson in Berlin. The 12” features a wonderful remix Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts) while the single’s B-side, the enjoyably throwaway Work Hard, takes the album’s name and themes a little too literally. Like the Combination Mix of Get The Balance Right, Everything Counts (In Larger Amounts) shows just how far ahead of their peers Depeche Mode were when it came to remixing their own songs for 12” single releases, a cause rightly celebrated by the band’s ongoing 12” Boxset release programme. 

Get The Balance Right had also seen the band’s first limited edition 12” release, a stunning numbered, blue sleeved record that featured four live tracks from the band’s Hammersmith Odeon gig on 25th October 1982 alongside the single version of the track. That trick was repeated with Everything Counts, with a red sleeved 12” featuring the single and four more tracks from the same concert. The green sleeved limited edition 12” released for Love In Itself, the second and final single from Construction Time Again, gave fans a further four songs from Hammersmith gig, and all three 12” singles together provide a wonderful record of the live Depeche sound of the time which comprised three things: unforgettable melodies, synthesizers and screaming fans. Interestingly, the songs from A Broken Frame that most pointed to the direction Depeche Mode were headed, Leave In Silence and The Sun & The Rainfall, while played at Hammersmith were not present on these 12” singles. Perhaps the band were using them to say goodbye to their first phase as they moved on to darker, more interesting places?

The artwork for Everything Counts showed a sketch of a man hitting an anvil with a hammer, a precursor to the striking Brian Griffin shot artwork that graced the album sleeve. The album cover showed a worker wielding a sledgehammer on a mountainside, the worker in fact Griffin’s brother posing on Mont Blanc. The image matches the album’s themes and tone perfectly, though it did lead to some over-interpretation of the band’s political motives during an infamous interview with X Moore in the NME in September 1983. His attempts to have them engage in deep conversation about their newfound political direction failed however as the band shied away from any notion of that at all.

That is not to say that Construction Time Again ignored wider issues. Alan Wilder’s two songs on the album, Two Minute Warning and The Landscape Is Changing, dealt with subjects new to Depeche Mode releases. The former tackled the then ever-present fear of nuclear destruction and the latter, written after Wilder watched a documentary on acid rain, considered the environment and the impact we were having on it. Neither topic could be said to be topics particularly covered by pop bands of the time, never mind Depeche Mode themselves. 

Most of the album was of course written by Martin Gore and, while he didn’t follow Wilder’s lead and write songs that posted clear comments on world events, there is a theme that runs through many of his songs that perhaps shows X Moore wasn’t too far off the mark. Pipeline gave the album its overall theme and atmosphere. In that song, the construction of the titular pipleline is seen as a joyous event (“On this golden day, work’s been sent out way”) that provides something for the workers involved (“Taking from the greedy, giving to the needy”). In Everything Counts on the other hand, a song inspired by a trip the band made to Asia, the greed of money-makers is seen very much as a bad thing (“The grabbing hands, grab all they can, all for themselves, after all.”) Elsewhere, Shame sees Gore point the finger at anyone complacently watching others suffer and doing nothing to help them (“Soap won’t wash away your shame”) and Told You So borrows from William Blake’s Jerusalem, turning that poem on its head, highlighting that the green and pleasant English land envisioned by Blake was far different in reality. More oblique than Wilder’s songs no doubt, but still very much not what was expected of Depeche Mode.

The album’s opening two tracks, under-performing second single Love, In Itself (it only reached number 21 in the U.K.) and the thunderous More Than A Party, are a good start to the album but don’t offer too many clues to what lies ahead as from Pipeline to Told You So, the album changes direction and becomes more serious as discussed above. The closing track And Then… calms everything down, offering the idea that we “pull it all down and start again,” which, given the state of the world address the band have just delivered, seems a reasonable idea. It’s a very clever, enjoyable closing track and a hidden gem in the band’s rich back catalogue. Just when we think that And Then… has served its purpose however, a 59 second long reprise of the chorus of Everything Counts plays, perhaps suggesting that starting all again is futile as those with the power and the money will always win.

While easy to dismiss Construction Time Again as just another early Depeche Mode album featuring a great single, it pays to look much deeper into this album. Depeche Mode used Construction Time Again to push the boundaries of what synthpop bands could do. Instead of repeating the previously successful formula, they looked to industrial music, saw the potential of new sampling technology and, while never losing their pop edge, created a mature, focussed album that set them firmly on the path to their dominant late 80’s/early 90’s period. In terms of innovation and experimentation, Construction Time Again is one of Depeche Mode’s boldest and best albums.

Tuesday 15 August 2023



Picture courtesy of Fredrik Lindh

This review is by Kate Dowling. It's Kate's first for the blog. She is one of the people who has been worn down by years of my Twitter based Depeche Mode nonsense who happily wasn't put off the band instead volunteered a review. It's a great read as I'm sure you will agree. Follow Kate on Twitter @waveatthetrain . The photos that appear here are either hers or from other sources. Don’t steal their pictures.

There’s a certain panic that happens when you’re in an airport within two hours of flying and that flight is cancelled. There’s that level of panic and then there’s the panic you feel when your flight is cancelled and you’re due to see Depeche Mode the following day. We scrambled for a replacement plane and got the last two seats that would get us to Copenhagen in time. It was a very lucky escape.

Arriving in Denmark only a few hours before the gig, there was a quick turnaround to check into the hotel, find somewhere to eat and get orientated in the direction of the stadium. Like a gig day anywhere, there’s always the overwhelming focus that you have reached THE day, but for me there’s a particular nervous energy to seeing a gig away from home in a venue you don’t know, when you’re don’t really know where you’re going. You look at a map and it looks close to the hotel, but it’s still a bit of a lottery. We were lucky as the Parken Stadium was incredibly straightforward to find and in easy in walking distance of where we were staying.

Like anyone that’s been following the tour and heading for a gig, there’s always the excitement of what variation might occur during the setlist. I’m a big fan of the setlist charts produced by Mark Peterborough, which are shared on Twitter after every gig - you can check these out via @markpeterboro. The charts list all the song variations and represent any emerging patterns with the choice of tracks that are played live, including those Martin curveballs which appear as if by magic and make you wonder if you’re going to be getting Home or even, by a slim percentage, Shake the Disease.

Following Mark’s charts I knew the potential tracks that could be played. We’d already been to Twickenham and I would really have liked some changes to what was played during that performance. I loved that set, but there’s always the hope that you might get something completely different. I appreciate that this is probably completely unrealistic, but I’m one of a dedicated following that thinks Before We Drown would be a fantastic addition to the live set. Well, there’s always hope, isn’t there?

The stadium was absolutely packed by the time the band reached the stage, with no gaps at all at pitch level. With the roof closed it also had a very different feel to the Twickenham gig, something of a hybrid between a stadium and an arena due to the light that was still coming through the covered ceiling. We had great seats, which was a pleasant realisation. They certainly didn’t look that close to the stage when I booked them. The booking system obviously lied!

Things got off to a banging start music-wise, but when anyone tried to stand up in the crowd, the Live Nation security staff told people to sit down. I always go for a seat as I’ve a problem with one of my legs and can’t stand for hours. I appreciate with this there’s a risk when I do need to dance, but I’ve never seen such wide-scale control of people standing in a seated area as there was in Copenhagen. Even as time went on, the people in the row behind were not having any standing. I really felt for the guy sitting at the side of us, who was so into the music that he was down on his knees during Stripped. He was elevated to an otherworldly worship by the song, but was being suppressed by an under-zealous crowd.

I think anyone seeing Depeche has views about what does and doesn’t work live. I have those feelings too, but My Favourite Stranger was an unexpected highlight. This track hadn’t really stood out for me on Memento Mori, but playing it live seems to turn it into a proper banger. With the roof closed, the song had that warehouse, ravey vibe about it. And yes, I know John The Revelator is that Marmite song that people seem to love or hate, but I bloomin’ love it and I was thrilled that it’s been included on this tour. Who’s that shouting? Me, apparently.

By the time we reached Enjoy The Silence, some sporadic standing was permitted, which broke out in to - Shock! Horror! - widespread dancing by Just Can’t Get Enough. Personal Jesus brought things to a close and whilst I’m not really in favour of the Hammond Organ embellishments that have appeared more recently, the track is always such a great finale.

And then, like warm sand that you’re trying to stop running through your fingers, it’s gone. The band are bowing and waving at the crowd, your hands are sore from applause, your voice is disappearing. We didn’t get any of those surprises during the set, but I was just grateful for being able to be there.

With truly great bands the shared sense of experiencing something incredible with thousands of people is almost palpable. It was there for me in that stadium as I turned to leave. There’s an often unsaid fellowship amongst the true fans in those crowds that we shouldn’t take for granted, something beyond speaking the same language or living in the same country. I saw the woman at the side of me in a sort of daze at what she had witnessed, something I felt too, but then she looked towards me, put a hand on my shoulder and smiled. Never forget we share this. Never forget how lucky we are.


Thanks Kate!

Tuesday 8 August 2023


Blog friend, Halo contributor and fellow Liverpool FC fan (a man of great taste in all respects in other words) Chris Snoddon returns to reviewing duties for the first time on this tour. I've already spent a good bit of time with Chris in Dublin this year and can only imagine the good time he, Scott, Stevie and the gang had in Budapest. They hopefully left some beer for everyone else. Thanks for this great review Chris. All pictures belong to Chris unless otherwise stated.

Thanks to @Ultra_Depeche

It was decided after travelling to Rome, Krakow and Berlin during the Global Spirit Tour, a new European city was to be pencilled in for the Memento Mori Tour and Budapest was one I'd always wanted to visit. This gave me the perfect opportunity. I'd been fortunate enough to catch night one in Amsterdam with Stevie and Scott my trusted concert buddies with Dublin and Twickenham following, so I'd managed to catch the show in both indoor and outdoor settings. My main gripe over the years with DM's stadium performances was that the stage set was never big enough for these monstrous venues and was always more suited to the indoor ones and again in my opinion this was the case. The stadium shows always started in daylight as well which never really gave you the full effect of the lights etc but this show was the exception for me. Duskfell pretty early and the compact stadium kept the light out really well which made for a tremendous spectacle.

Chris (left)

We all busied ourselves during the day with the usual tourist attractions and then decided that we would hook up with fellow Home board member Aidan,  his lovely wife Debbie and son Jake at 101Klub, a DM themed bar on Rakocki ut. A few beers later and it was off to the stadium. It was pretty easy getting into the venue and very relaxed indeed and once in everyone on the field seemed to be in a real party mood, chatting away and being really courteous when passing by with no pushing in front or being obnoxious. We got drinks really easily and made our way towards the front just as it started to get dark and the pulsing beat of the Intro and My Cosmos Is Mine started. The vibrant blue lights lit up the stage and Dave came on to a huge cheer from the audience. The band who have really improved show on show sounded really tight and this was confirmed during Wagging Tongue, a song which I have now grown to love. The show really started to kick off when Walking In My Shoes and It's No Good were played with the audience around us going mad with enjoyment.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

The usual track list followed, all met with great enthusiasm by the crowd, especially during the momentous Everything Counts. My Favourite Stranger was preferred over Speak to Me for this show then it was Martin up with A Question Of Lust before giving a beautiful rendition of Strangelove for only the second time this tour. Dave then returned with a solid performance of Ghosts Again and the set list continued on until the majestic Enjoy The Silence finished the show. By this stage the crowd were at fever pitch when the boys returned with Condemnation for the first track of the encore. For me, it is not as good Waiting For The Night but this was the first I'd seen it over this tour so was a welcome change.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Just Can't Get Enough followed which finished with Dave throwing in a rather horrific Freddie Mercury impression to my horror (I hate Queen)  and then the show finished with the as usual triumphant duo of Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus. Getting out of the venue and back into town was easy enough and we then spent the rest of the night with Aidan and family having a few more liquid jollies and discussing how great the show was and that the crowd was really enthusiastic and loud.

Of the three shows id caught so far this tour, Budapest has been the stand out for me with the mixture of band performance and crowd enthusiasm making it a really enjoyable night. The Stadium was compact and managed well and id definitely pencil it in for another visit in the future. Roll on the fourth leg in the new year for another excursion DM or two.


Thanks Chris

Wednesday 2 August 2023



This review has been written by Paul Jeffrey. I was delighted when Paul asked to review one of the gigs as I knew we'd get a great review and, as you'll see, this one is a cracker. As we will see, Paul had been unable to see any of this tour so far for very sad reasons, so Zagreb was his first show, He picked a decent night to be there too - possibly the biggest birthday party on the planet that day. Happy birthday Martin and thank you Paul. All pics are by Helen Jeffrey so don't steal them.

The phrase “soundtrack of my life” is a somewhat trite and clunky phrase, but for many of the people reading this, that is exactly what Depeche have become. I first discovered the boys from Basildon aged seven, when I was advised by the lad behind the counter in Woolworths Washington to put down the 7” single I’d selected to purchase with my weekly pocket money; “don’t get that, buy this, it’s really good” will forever be in my head, those few words changed everything for me…that single was New Life

Roll forward many decades to a chap who is approaching a half century of birthdays, and the mighty Mode have indeed soundtracked my highest highs and lowest lows; it’s why Martin will very rarely give a definitive explanation about anything he’s written, it allows the song to become personal to the listener, they shapeshift, they mutate, meanings change.

I was chatting with a very good friend recently about the current tour, and unlike any other DM tour that I can recall, life really does seem to have caught up with a lot of fans. It’s an age thing I suppose, but it appears that hardcore Devotees have been cancelling booked shows, selling tickets, making other plans as the responsibilities of middle age bite, and I should know, I’m one of those fans. Antwerp, London cancelled, On the day I should have been in Paris, my mother passed away, her funeral was on the day of the first Berlin gig. Momento Mori indeed. It was against this backdrop that we boarded the plane to Zagreb for our first show of the tour. 

The first thing you notice about Zagreb is just how quiet it is. People speak in hushed tones, traffic noise is minimal, even the trams appear to be making an effort to keep it down. The second is the architecture, beautiful old buildings battered and bruised by a combination of war and earthquakes mix with stunning modernist constructions, and did I mention the heat? Absolutely sweltering.

I love the anticipation of show day. Whilst I knew most of the set list from various blogs and reports from friends, I’d managed to avoid any video footage of the tour - no mean feat – so I was genuinely excited to see how DM would present the new tour. 

Before heading across to the arena we grabbed a spot of lunch and bumped into fellow Devotee Tim Adams and his lovely wife Elle. Sitting outside nattering away about their summer adventures following DM around I noticed a curly haired chap walk past me,” Peter”, I shouted without a thought about what next, the aforementioned chap turned around and it was indeed Mr Peter Gordeno, looking very warm in a denim shirt – did I mention it was hot? – we all waved, exchanged pleasantries and he was off, it was a good omen for the evenings show.

The venue – Arena Zagreb – is one of the smaller capacities (18,600) on this leg of the tour. Situated a few miles from the city centre, its impressive concrete porcupine-esque spines dominate the landscape as you approach. As we emerged from the cab, bars outside the venue were pumping out DM to the black swarm. The vibe was good, it already felt like it was going to be a special one. After a quick drink to cool down we headed inside. We had tickets for the golden circle, and whilst me and my wife are not ones for getting down the front, the section felt almost intimate. Standing against the rear barrier that divides the sections we were maybe 60 feet from the walkway…game on.

I’ve been banging on about Haelos (pronounced HALOS) for quite a while now to anyone who would listen, so I was over the mood to find out they were supporting. In theory, a DM support is a wonderful thing for a relatively new band, but, in reality, it can be a daunting and occasionally harrowing prospect – just ask Billie Ray Martin or Miranda Sex Garden – however, I’m happy to report that Haelos absolutely smashed it. Their setlist; heavily weighted with tracks from their Full Circle and Any Random Kindness records, filled the space beautifully, some bands just sound great in a big arena, Haelos are one of those. Front women Lotti is mesmerising, they left the stage with a bow and large applause. 

As the pre-show MLG electronica mix tape increases in volume, the arena crackles, awaiting the arrival of DM, and then mood shift, the lights blacken, the outro of Speak To Me pounds the scorching venue walls, and through dry ice and red search lights emerges Martin, Peter, Christian and finally Dave, the audience raise their hands to the sky as the bass heavy My Cosmos Is Mine envelops Zagreb, Wagging Tongue follows, I’d heard good reports about the live Momento Mori tracks and they weren’t wrong, they sound simply immense, which makes it even more baffling that they’re not playing that much of the new record live. 

Whilst a couple of big hitters dropped in early on – Walking In My Shoes and It’s No Good – have the sold-out crowd well and truly on their feet and throwing some serious shapes, it’s the addition of Sister Of Night that I’m most delighted to hear. Sounding both exquisite and ferocious in equal amounts, the music wraps around Dave and Martin’s crystal-clear note perfect harmonies to stunning effect. 

I really do adore nearly everything DM have released over the years, and I’m probably in the minority who genuinely loves the last four albums – Momento Mori is particularly wonderful. Saying that, it’s always great to hear a proper oldie in the set – as long as it’s not Just Can't Get Enough more on that later – and frankly, Everything Counts nearly takes the roof off…but there’s a problem, for me at least. The Michael Jackson yelp, the “Take It Boys” before the instrumental section, it’s EXACTLY the same as every night on both the Global Spirit and Memento Mori tours, don’t get me wrong, it sounds amazing, and they do give it their all, but there’s a slight whiff of almost predictable about it. 

I mentioned earlier about songs becoming personal to the listener, and with Precious, that’s certainly the case. Hearing it three weeks after I said goodbye to my mother, I simply burst into tears for the whole song. It was heart-wrenching – the lines “Angels with silver wings shouldn’t know suffering, I wish I could take the pain for you” had me doubled over, weeping uncontrollably, something I’ll never forget. It may be a while before I can listen to it again without a reaction.

After a grungy and glorious My Favourite Stranger, Martin steps up to slam through wonderful renditions of Home and Strangelove, complete with mass singalong. DM MUSTmhear the reaction that this gets and it’s mystifying that a full band version isn’t at least dropped in occasionally. As the last notes fade out to utterly rapturous applause, Dave and Christian appear from the side of the stage with massive grins across their faces, pushing a trolley bedecked with balloons and sparklers and holding a massive birthday cake…it’s Martin’s 62nd birthday, he gets big hugs from the band, the crowd sing Happy Birthday, it was one of those really rare “I Was There” moments. Just lovely. 

The rest of the set is incredible; Ghosts Again already sounding like a bonefide DM classic, I Feel You, A Pain That I’m Used To, followed by an emotional World In My Eyes, a brutal and brilliant Wrong, a dark and brooding Stripped, and an ecstatic final salvo of John The Revelator and Enjoy The Silence all proving once again how wonderful a band DM are. 

By this point the crowd are off the hook, the security give up and join in, the folk from the first few rows of seats join the standing, we take up their seats, now this is fun? Oh yes. 

The encore commences with a beautifully delicate Condemnation, Dave and Mart with arms around each other on the tip of the runway, singing their collective hearts out. It’s spine tinglingly brilliant and another highlight in an already fantastic gig…and then it happens, Just Can’t Get Enough. I’ve seen DM around 50 times and with the exception of Black Celebration and Music For The Masses, I haven’t seen them perform this song. I always use it as my get a drink, go to the toilet moment. With every tour it sounds increasingly twee, like they’re crowbarring it into the set. For me, it interrupts the flow. Dropping in something like Master And Servant, Something To Do, Shake The Disease, Photographic, Policy Of Truth, or in fact nearly anything else, would work better. There had been rumours that they’d worked up The Sun And The Rainfall and Lie to Me, I mean, can you imagine? I’d possibly self-combust. They finish with the now familiar final two of Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus, both sound frankly phenomenal, and then they’re gone. 

The band are on fire at the minute, and going off the temperature inside the arena, I thought they may need the fire brigade…with the exception of the second night of Walbuhne on the last tour, it was the hottest DM gig I’ve been too. 

The only slight let down was the production of the show. It really does look like it’s taken Anton five minutes on the back of a napkin which is a shame as the performance of the band was out of this world. That gripe aside, the performance was simply incendiary. Thank you, Zagreb. It’s been emotional.


Thank you Paul!