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!

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