Wednesday 11 October 2023


A record shop, October 2023. Two inevitably tattooed, vaping TikTok watchers pick up a box of records from a band the music press now tells them they should like. Suddenly, a man approaches, dressed almost entirely in black muttering about things being better when everything including him was younger.

"Watch out - here he comes."
"Oh for fuc....hello there Old Depeche Mode fan."
" that a new Depeche Mode 12" boxset under your arm youngster? Depeche Mode 12" singles eh? I remember when the band actually remixed everything themselves, pressed the records, stamped EVERY sleeve individually and...."
"We know, we know, Old Depeche Mode fan. We've read the tedious blogs you people enjoy. It was all better when TV only had four channels, Dave wore sandals and Alan was in the band. WE KNOW."
"You may laugh young one, but at least then we had the BONGS. You modern collectors have no idea. It's all 88883758332 generic worldwide catalogue nonsense. Back when things were proper, we had a BONG, an LBONG and much more. You lot have no id...."
"FOR GOD'S SAKE SHUT UP. The BONGS are back old man, the BONGS are back."

*Old Depeche Mode man examines boxset*

"Oh my word...*wipes tear away*'s true. The BONGS are back. We thought they'd been finished off with Personal Jesus 2011 but they're alive. Ok, from a collector's point of view it's infuriating madness. We've only just got over the "new" 12" thing which knocks our shelves out of whack in a mad way but this is different. It's a BONG. A NEW BONG"
"See Old Depeche Mode man? New things are ok. Modern takes on Depeche Mode can be a good thing."
"I see that now young one. Tell me, are the singles and remixes on this boxset throwbacks too? Are we back to the era of band produced extended versions? Please say it is so."

The new Depeche Mode boxset its out! This time, Delta Machine gets the 12" single treatment. There were originally only three 12" singles supporting this album, one for each single release, and frankly that was enough. As has been the case during this superb re-release series however, new 12" singles have appeared to ensure we have vinyl versions of sub-standard previously CD only remixes and this boxset is no exception.

As ever, before I begin to show you pictures, I must stress that the boxset is a lovely thing. The attention to detail that has been shown to the artwork and sound is wonderful and that can only be applauded. The free gift is odd but brilliant too, however we will come on to that. 

The first single from Delta Machine was Heaven. As I subtly alluded to in the hilarious intro, the BONG numbers have returned for this boxset and that is a lovely thing. Ok, it's slightly rewriting history but, let's face it, we all moaned when they were removed, so we really should just shut up. When Heaven was released, it had a 12" with the catalogue number 88765 49171 1. It now has a BONG.

The front of 12BONG44 looks like this:

Just the same as the 2013 12" really. Here's the back:

It contains the same four remixes as the original 12". Hmmm.

The first new 12" in the box is L12BONG44. Here it is:

On Side A, we have two remixes of Heaven: Blawan Remix and Steps To Heaven Rmx. 

On Side B, we have two more versions of Heaven: Matthew Dear Vs. Audion Vocal Mix and a Live Studio Version.

I reviewed Heaven as part of my still VERY readable 2021 Project where I reviewed every Depeche single there had been to that point. With the exception of the Live Studio Version, I covered all the remixes there. Read about how generally terrible they are here:

The new track here is the Live Studio Version and it's a nice treat. There are always thoughtful things added to these boxes and this is one of them. Compared to the remix horrorshow it sounds like the best thing Depeche Mode have ever done. Anyway, I sound like Old Depeche Mode man don't I?

The next Delta Machine single was the frankly laughable Soothe My Soul.  There is a song that resolutely refuses to improve with age. Anyway, we had a 12" release with the memorable catalogue number 88883 73070 1. That has now become 12BONG45 and it looks like this:

Anton really earned his money with that artwork. The flip side (ask your grandfather or Old Depeche Mode man) looks like this:

The record "blesses' us with the same four tracks as the original 12". 

A new L12 appears next, L12BONG45. The front of it can be seen below:

It's a new design instead of being based on LCD. The title is to the right of the big house on here. On Side A we have three remixes of Soothe My Soul: Tom Furse - The Horrors Remix, Billy F Gibbons and Joe Hardy Remix and Boris Delacroix Remix. I've just listened to these again. May God help me.

 Here is the rear sleeve:

The three tracks here are: Soothe My Soul (Black Asteroid Remix), Soothe My Soul (Gregor Tresher Soothed Remix) and Goodbye (Gesaffelstein Remix). The latter track appeared on the original CD1 release in 2013. As with all Depeche Mode singles, in fact as with what feels like all Depeche Mode releases, I reviewed all these remixes so that you don't have to listen to them. Read all about it here:

The final Delta Machine single was Should Be Higher. The original 12" catalogue number 88883 75834 1 has been rebranded as 12BONG46.  The front looks like this:

In my original review of the single, I boldly claimed that this was the worst set of remixes ever compiled on a Depeche Mode 12" but I stand corrected.

Yes. the six tracks here are almost inexplicably awful, but the new L12BONG46 listens to that, says "hold my beer in a Delta Machine tour cup" and gives us one decent remix and a radio version that is passable only because of the sheer madness of the remaining three tracks. The new 12" front cover looks like this:

Side A contains two "remixes" of Should Be Higher - Jim Sclavunos From Grinderman Remix and  Little Vampire Remix. Lordy.

Side B: 
Should Be Higher (MAPS Remix)  - a GOOD remix thank any Lord you want to thank
Should Be Higher (Jim Jones Revue Remix)  - an actual pisstake
Should Be Higher (Radio Mix).

Mercifully, we move away from the musical content of these otherwise lovely records. Bizarrely but brilliantly, this boxset contains a personalised stencil:

Now, last time, I praised the Sounds Of The Universe boxset for going so far as to personalise records labels for me, but an actual stencil! That is very generous. Many of you don't open your boxes but I am assured that if you do, your own initials will be there in stencil form for you to graffiti wherever you please.

Excuse me a second. My phone's ringing.

"Hello? Oh wow, hello Mute. And Sony too? This is tremendous. How are you both?.... What's that? Oh yes, I see. It was only really a laboured joke that I barely got away with last time so I'm sure no-one Really? ....That seems harsh....Oh you're serious. I see. Thanks. Bye now."

The stencil represents the DM logo used for the Delta Machine era and his in fact not personalised in any way.

Cool thing though isn't it?

The box also contains a reproduction poster. This one cruelly reminds us that Soothe My Soul appeared as a single:

Finally, for anyone who still downloads things, there's a download card:

And there we have it. Welcome back BONG. There can surely only be a couple of boxsets left unless the previously missed 12" singles are compiled into one giant series ending box. That would of course be tremendous and would please all Depche fans, Old and New immensely. 

See you for the Spirit boxset.

Tuesday 3 October 2023



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

It's a  two for one review for you this time. Natalia Burgos reviewed gigs for the blog last time the band toured and I was delighted when she volunteered to review again this time. Here is her wonderful review of the second and third nights of the band's recent three night run in Mexico City. If they tour again in the future, these gigs sound like ones to attend. Thanks very much Natalia. All pictures are hers unless otherwise credited.

When the Mexican dates were announce,  I knew I had to make the effort to get there because going to the US or Europe is out of my league (as it is unfortunately for tons of devotees from Central and South America). These were the shows that kicked off the third leg of the Memento Mori tour so I thought it would be a treat to get to see Martin and Dave all refreshed, with new energy after some weeks of rest. The other reason is that Mexico City has a very special vibe for these massive events with a noisy and fun audience, making it a unique experience for any DM follower. 

Due to personal and health issues, I did not have the chance to dedicate as much time as I would have wanted to listen and digest the Memento Mori album. Actually, the record got zero promotion in my home country, Colombia, so I got my hands on the CD version from a fellow who imports heavy metal records, a month before the Mexican concerts. I also avoided watching videos before going to the shows. I still like to conserve some of the surprise factor when I see DM live (yeah I am very old school).

So, I landed in Mexico City without preparation of any kind, with tickets for September 23rd and 25th. My preparation was that I had no preparation! I am of course fully aware that DM is predictable most of the time when it comes to live presentations especially during the last tours, however, I was just happy to see them on stage.

The Foro Sol is a huge area that is used for concerts and for F1 races, so that gives us an idea of the size. It has an attendance of around 60,000 people per night. The environment around concerts here is like no other in the world. Once you get near this venue, outside of the Foro Sol, you can see loads of merch sellers (keep in mind that these are not official items) offering all kinds of things. You can purchase traditional items like T-shirts, hoodies, pins, keychains, caps, posters, tote bags, etc. but you can also find exotic stuff like knickers, socks, clocks, coffee cups and caps in pastel colors and tie-dye tones, glow in the dark caps and T-shirts with the DM logo, even denim jackets with tons of DM printed themes. You can definitely spend a couple of hours (and some money) giggling at the stuff that is for sale. Almost everyone buys something and most of the people I saw entering the venue had some DM related clothes on. This is paradise for any DM bootleg merchandise lover.

After taking a look at all the merch I entered the venue, passed the entry barriers (the security staff made me throw away a pen that I had in my waist bag, thank goodness I didn’t buy any at the stalls) and, after a 20 minute walk, I made it to the General B section (this area is right behind General A, that is the floor zone, near the stage). For the second concert, I was in General A towards the left side of the stage.

The first concert was on Thursday, I believe that because it was a work day, sop the arena took a bit more time to fill up. When Kelly Lee Owens started her performance the seated area was half empty, whereas for the second show on the 25th,  people arrived earlier and the atmosphere was more feisty. There was also a projection with information about the filming of a documentary. In retrospect, I think that the stage is a bit small for this huge venue.

The Mexican fan clubs had also prepared some fan action initiatives lsuch as holding up photos of Andy Fletcher during World In My Eyes, using skull/katrina masks during Ghosts Again and wearing white gloves during Everything Counts. You could certainly spot some people wearing the masks, but it was far from the majority of the crowd. Still, in the land of the Dia de Muertos, the masks looked pretty cool.

Kelly Lee Owens gave an atmospheric and vibrant 30 minute performance, starting around 8:30. I had the impression that the audience was more receptive to her show on Saturday.

Finally, DM came on the stage at 9:30 (30 minutes after the announced time) with My Cosmos Is Mine and Wagging Tongue, but the audience kicked in properly when Walking In My Shoes started. Dave was looking impeccable in his suit, paired with a white silky shirt, giving off a modern-retro-vampire feel. The audience roared every time he yelled “Mexico City”!

From my point of view in General B, I was grateful for the projections on the screens because I couldn’t see much of what was happening on stage. It was a lovely surprise when the curtain was dropped down revealing the giant M at the beginning of the show. 

It’s No Good and Sister Of Night followed. Personally it was a truly emotional experience to hear this last track live because Ultra is one of my top 3 albums. 

During In Your Room and Wrong there was a bit of a weird sound reverb at moments. Maybe the size of the venue and my location had something to do with it, as I did not hear that reverb during the second show. Everything Counts started, and the crowd was really into it, with Dave inviting us to sing along; Precious was well received too.

Speak To Me was performed and it was breathtaking, Dave’s voice sounds heavenly and it has all those weird space-like sounds that I like. Then Martin took over with A Question Of Lust and Soul With Me. At this point, I had the feeling that the setlist was rather slow-paced at times, at least in the place where I was standing, as I could see that the people were getting a bit disconnected and started chatting or checking their phones and stuff like that.  I definitely enjoyed the second show a bit more than the first. I was closer to the stage and we had 4 setlist changes: Home, Strangelove, My Favourite Stranger and Condemnation. I also found several of my DM pals there!

With Ghosts Again, the audience got back on track again, the second half of the setlist was much more upbeat and that was definitely something that you could feel in the audience. Maybe the devotees in the very front of the General A couldn’t perceive it, but certainly I did.

It was time for songs like Stripped and I Feel You (I know lots of devotees would happily replace but I love this track live with its throbbing beat). Oddly enough, John The Revelator and A Pain That I am Used To were included, making the setlist rather similar to the one performed during the Global Spirit Tour. 

World In My Eyes was delightful and emotional at the same time. I had my eyes glued to the projections, it was a perfect homage for Fletch. A thing of beauty.

Picture courtesy of Juan Oliveros

It was pretty cool that Wrong made the cut. It is a smashing track and was fantastic despite that the sound going a bit odd in certain moments.

Then Enjoy the Silence made an entrance, with its glittery skull projections, and the Mexican public loved it (as much as I respect Christian Eigner, I dread the drum banging part near the end, but it is what is). By the way, some impressive drone footage of the show is available here:

With Waiting For The Night, a ton of memories came to my mind. It is the song that I most remember from my very first DM concert. Absolutely magical, and during its 5 minutes, time seemed to stand still. Effing fantastic.

Time restarted and the mighty hits like Just Can’t Get Enough, Never Let Me Down Again and Personal Jesus arrived making the audience  completely devoted and engaged. DM was playing safe with this setlist, without any changes, but still left  the audience on a high and cheerful. It is an excuse for seeing DM friends, at least for a brief time. I am always thrilled with the sense of community around concerts, and these nights were no exception.

The show ended around 11:30. Getting out of the Foro Sol was a bit hectic (as usual) and many of us didn’t make it to the metro that closed at midnight. It didn’t matter that much, in these times, it is a privilege to witness Depeche Mode live with all their strengths and flaws, reminding us all that we are ephemeral passengers on this train of life.


Thanks Natalia!