Monday, 15 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ZIGGO DOME, AMSTERDAM, 13 JANUARY 2018




Another year, another Depeche Mode gig. I ended 2017's gigs in Paris at an exceptional Depeche concert and, last Saturday, found myself in Amsterdam for my first gig of 2018. Surprisingly enough, once again, it was Depeche Mode.

My Paris review answered the "Why do you go and see Depeche Mode" question as best as I could. To many people, seeing multiple gigs on a tour seems crazy, but yet again, the current Depeche Mode live experience proved to be one well worth travelling to see and one well worth seeing numerous times. I was there with my friends John and Andrew and we concentrated on having a good time, having several beers and singing every single word. It was superb.

Me, John and Andrew - note how both are covering the blog logo. Shoddy.

The Ziggo Dome is one of the best venues I've been to. The sound in the place was incredible and the whole venue was well organised. It puts apparently purpose built venues like Glasgow's Hyrdo to shame really. Every gig I've seen abroad on this tour (Stockholm, Dublin, Paris and Amsterdam) has been a much more enjoyable experience than attending any in Britain. Perhaps it's just that those venues, Dublin aside, are new to me meaning I'm being too harsh on venues at home but the overall I've much preferred these shows to the usual British arena gigs. Even the machines where you bought tokens for the bar were fine in the Ziggo Dome once you worked out what was going on. 

The crowd was on great form on Saturday. The early entry DM fans and those who then got as close to the catwalk as they could were gave support band Pumarosa a good reception too. I quite enjoyed them despite the sound issues they had. As soon as they exited the stage, the Black Swarm descended, the arena going from fairly empty to completely full in a matter of minutes. We took that opportunity to hand out the blog's cards to many baffled people. You only realise how Scottish you sound when you speak to non Scots. God knows what people must have thought but most folk took a card or two which was cool even if it was just out of politeness/fear/anything else.

Depeche were on great form throughout the gig. The setlist was the same as in Paris which was no real surprise. I'd at least like to see Martin change his solo songs (Where's the setlist evolution?) but his solo Strangelove meant that my mate Scott got to hear that song for the first time so fair enough. The highlights were the usual highlights - Going Backwards (a strong, brooding opener, their best since Higher Love in 1993), It's No Good, World In My Eyes, Everything Counts and Never Let Me Down Again. Those songs alone make this tour worth seeing.



Cover Me is a song that really feels at home in a Depeche set. Despite its brilliance, you can't imagine that Going Backwards would feature on any future tour and Where's The Revolution already sounds as if it's had enough, but Cover Me should surely remain in any setlists if the band tour again. It has a feel of a classic Depeche song and is as adventurous a track as they've recorded in years with its lengthy instrumental second half. That it's written by Dave is also a plus as he's matched anything Martin's written on Spirit and that's saying something when you think of some of the tracks on the album. 

If there are any negatives to be taken from the current live shows, it's definitely the absence of Spirit material. I think dropping So Much Love is a mistake, despite It's No Good being a superb choice for track 2 of the setlist. I don't think anyone misses Poison Heart, especially bar staff at venues who were overwhelmed with customers when it came on, but I really wish the band had been braver and picked, say,  Scum for inclusion. Perhaps Martin could have had a go at Fail? Fewer Spirit songs means more Ultra songs though so that's not too bad a compromise.



Pickiness aside, Saturday's show was yet more evidence that Depeche Mode are in their best form in years. The show bursts with energy, the set is nicely balanced and the run of songs from Everything Counts onwards is sensational. I don't think many fans expected this good a tour and it's a pleasure to have seen so many gigs.

That's it for me until Berlin on July 25th. I didn't get to meet as many people as I wanted at the weekend, so I hope there will be a chance to catch up in Berlin. I have a feeling that will be quite a gig and, well, more than a party.


LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, BARCLAYCARD ARENA, HAMBURG, 11 JANUARY 2018

This whole project relies entirely on people being kind enough to help me out by taking time out of their otherwise busy lives to write reviews and it's something that I'm beyond grateful for. The original reviewer for this gig Natalie Gladkaya was sadly unwell and couldn't make the Hamburg show - hope you feel better soon Natalie. I had to find a replacement and it wasn't until the gig had basically started that I got not one but three: Claudia Schulzi, Thomas Ostermann and Michael Pinzon. Thomas messaged me on Facebook and said the three of them could cover the gig and that was superb news. Happily I got to meet them in Amsterdam at the weekend to say thanks. The review is a wonderful read. Thanks so much to Claudia, Thomas and Michael for stepping in at the last minute, for the review and for the pictures too.





The world we live in and live Hamburg - review by Thomas Ostermann, Michael Pinzon and Claudia Schulzi

The tour started again two days ago in Copenhagen and we all are happy to meet up again in Hamburg. Ohst and me we met the first time in 2001 and we met Michael the first time on the Delta Machine tour.

Sometimes the chemistry works and we three are like the Stooges.

We were almost in the arena, as we read, that David didn't have a reviewer for the Hamburg concert and we decided  to takeover David's blog for Hamburg.

So here we are in the train to Amsterdam with the first wine of the day and start to write this blog.



Hamburg was always a good Depeche Mode location. They recorded the genius video there, "The World We Live In And Live In Hamburg" on December 14, 1984.

Schulzi was there, she saw Depeche Mode including this concert 9 times, Thomas 5 concerts, Michael 3.

Now is time to answer some questions. We are only allowed one sentence answers.

Depeche Mode:

Thomas: What can I say?

Michael: Oh Shit!

Schulzi: Can't live without them


Dave Gahan:

Thomas: strongest man of the universe

Michael: best ramp pig of the world, in German we say Rampensau

Schulzi: love of my life


Martin Lee Gore:

Thomas: „Spielführer“

Michael: Martin, my genius

Schulzi: he wrote the soundtrack of my life but I have a split relationship to him, a kind of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.


Fletch:

Thomas: my personal highlight of this tour

Michael: my secret hero

Schulzi: the one and only



Peter Gordeno:

Thomas: are you kidding me?

Michael: unfortunately he is in

Claudia: who?


Christian Eigner:

Thomas: Trommelkasper

Michael: I like him

Schulzi: Mr. Fletcher shook out hands in Torino in the band hotel, Mr. Eigner didn't want to do a picture with us there, that's all I have to say about him


Hamburg:

Thomas: The fishmarket, "Schlagermove", friends and very good concerts of Depeche Mode

Michael: Elphi, Manja, miniature wonderland

Schulzi: lived there a year, not my mentality, but always good concerts of Depeche Mode




Barclaycard Arena:

Thomas: best organisation of the whole tour

Michael: best organisation ever

Schulzi: well organized arena, such a good FOS area, good sound


Audience in Hamburg:

Thomas: not like the Hesse, but quite good

Michael: very good

Schulzi: I'm a bit surprised, we could walk to row 5 after the first five songs


Best Song Of The Evening:

Thomas: Everything Counts

Michael: Cover Me

Schulzi: Personal Jesus


Worst Song Of The Evening:

Thomas: Precious

Michael: Barrel Of A Gun

Schulzi: Precious



Going Backwards:

Thomas: great opener

Michael: I love it

Schulzi: Mr. Gahan comes on the stage, best moment


Cover Me:

Thomas: highlight

Michael: my secret highlight

Schulzi: what a performance, show all what Mr. Gahan can do. Best frontman of the world for ever and ever.


Home:

Thomas: thank you for bringing me here

Michael: for showing me home

Schulzi: for singing these tears



Everything Counts:

Thomas: I love this song from the first moment I heard it. 1983 my brother played a self recorded tape, altough he hates Depeche Mode

Michael: I was surprised that they play this song again, my highlight

Schulzi: my hymn


Special moments of the evening:

Dave greeted the fans twice, after Barrel Of A Gun the first time and again after World In My Eyes. Very funny moment as he said it again: Good evening Hambuuuurg!

World In My Eyes : the screening was longer than normal.

Dave was in an unbelievable mood, he smiled the whole evening.

As they left the stage Dave clapped Andy's ass. The mood was very good on stage.

In total conclusion a very very good concert, a great comeback.

After the concert we were on the Aftershow Party in the Markthalle with DJ Niggels.

We all are happy to be on tour again and looking forward to this wonderful year with Depeche Mode.

Only one hour ago from Amsterdam we looking forward to meet you, David.... almost predictable.



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Thanks very, very much Claudia, Thomas and Michael

Thursday, 11 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, ROYAL ARENA, COPENHAGEN, 9 JANUARY 2018

For the first gig of 2018, it's great to welcome Martin Sernestrand back to reviewing duties. Martin covered the first Copengahen gig of the tour back in May and I was delighted when he said he'd be travelling from Gothenburg to Copenhagen once again in January and asked if he could review this gig. Many of you will know Martin from his stunning Depeche Mode collection and others will know him from his book Deepche Mode In Sweden - see http://www.depechemodeisverige.se. Go and check out the book as it's well worth a read. Thanks very much to Martin for this review and for the superb pictures too. 



It does not take many minutes for the synthpop icons Depeche Mode to prove their greatness. Going Backwards launches the evening and the year's first concert on the Global Spirit Tour. Led by the sympathetic front figure of Dave Gahan, the group immediately show all of us, who have been wise enough to travel to the Danish capital this Tuesday, that they are hungry for more. To get the singer's smiley look smiling at me already in the first track is amazing. I'm getting both glad and a little bit embarrassed.



The setlist looks the same as last time I saw them in December, but that is nothing that worries me remarkably nor is it anything that interferes with the overall experience. The nostalgia bomb towards the end is absolutely wonderful. 



Everything Counts begins some magic minutes, as after that Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again are played at a furious pace before Dave Gahan, with a happy facial expression leads the group to the end, ploughing through the usual set.




Cheerfully, of course, when Martin Gore climbs on stage alone with Peter Gordeno, he sings an acoustic version of Strangelove before Walking in My Shoes, A Question of Time and Personal Jesus ends the encore. 

However, I can not let go of the idea that they could have become even more elaborate in the selection of songs - especially in the first half of the set. To a great extent, David Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher continue to make a fresh alternative to other old 80's bands. But one question remains: when Depeche Mode's song material is so strong, why does the band strive to repeat the same old songs as they have done over the last 15 years. 



Somewhat unexpectedly, however, the band is not playing I Feel You. What is even more surprising is that they do not replace it with any other old track. Anyway that is not important - what is important is that Depeche Mode rarely gets better than this.

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Thank you Martin!

Sunday, 31 December 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, MANCHESTER ARENA, 17 NOVEMBER 2017

The final Global Spirit Tour Project review of 2017 is a special one. As you'll have noticed, this project has been supported hugely by the superb Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group page as they've allowed me to plunder their remarkable archive whenever I need pictures to use in these reviews. When Group creator Andy McMinn asked me if he could write a review of the band's show in his hometown Manchester, I was delighted as I knew Andy had a good tale or two to tell about the night he had. As you'll see, it was quite a night for Andy and, like me, you'll no doubt be more than jealous when you read about his post gig adventures. Thanks very much for this Andy and for the pictures too. All pics are Andy's unless credited otherwise - in other words, and somewhat shamlessly, I've nabbed a couple from the Facebook group too. 


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Hello everyone, my name is Andy McMinn from Stretford in Manchester. I've followed Depeche Mode ever since I first saw them on Top Of The Pops in 1981 performing Just Can't Get Enough and New Life. I watched them every time they appeared on Top Of The Pops, although in 1986 when they released the video for A Question Of Time things changed.  I liked a few other bands at the time but this song and video really took hold of me and blew me away. From then on it was a done deal this was going to be the band I follow for the rest of my life. 36 years on and Depeche are still at it and going just as strong as ever .

I am also known for creating and running with some other great people a Facebook Group called Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos which has fully and completely documented Depeche Mode's entire history, with over 3200 photo albums of anything Depeche Mode have ever done. we have categorised and dated any photograph that is on the internet publicly. Without sounding arrogant or big headed, you will not find anything else about Depeche Mode like this, so it's well worth joining. We are always looking for new photos to add to our archive of many unseen photos that only appear in this group. There are over 150,000 photos and much more - to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/depechemodeclassicfansphotosandvideos/

The reason I'm writing this today for the excellent Almost Predictable Blog page is to give you my experience of the November 17th 2017 Manchester concert at the Manchester Arena ,my home town gig, and the events of the past few months which meant this gig would be so special to me.

On June 3rd 2017, Depeche Mode were due to perform their biggest UK concert at the Olympic Stadium in London, a concert I hadn't really planned on attending as I was holding out for more UK gigs. Specifically, I was waiting for an announcement they would do a gig in Manchester. No news was filtering through and I was getting a bit concerned that they would not play anywhere else in the UK !!!

Pre gig Mode

My mind was changed about going to the London gig when the events on May 22nd 2017 took place at the Manchester Arena. A terrorist decided to kill 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert, an incident which was right on my doorstep. It sent shockwaves through our city and united many people through that difficult period of time.  I did go to the London gig in the end, mainly due to what happened in Manchester 12 days previously. It was my first visit to the capital for 18 years and a kind of personal protest that this kind of incident will not stop us carrying on our daily lives normally. As we all know, the same night as the Depeche Mode gig in London there was another terrorist attack on London Bridge as we were all travelling back from gig, all too close to home again !!

The following Monday after the London concert, more UK dates got announced and I was very happy to see that Manchester had been now included in the Global Spirit Tour.  I bought my ticket as soon as they went on sale.

November 17th 2017....The day had finally come !!! I decided to go out very early around 11am just to make whole day out of it. I got to the Manchester Arena around 11.30am as its only a short trip by tram for me. I wanted to just see what went on around the venue such as Tour Crew working, see if I could see any well known people who work closely with Depeche, but the security was that tight all I could literally do was walk around the outside of the venue. The only accessible place was the ticket office which is deep inside the Arena one way in one way out. There was around 20-30 fans waiting there so I presume they were waiting for early entry. I took a few photos of the venue and then decided it was time to start my Facebook Groups photo album for this gig. As I mentioned earlier, we document every concert Depeche do as it happens.

With not much happening at the venue, I decided to see if I could find which hotel the band was staying at. I wouldn't normally do something like this but as I had a lot of time on my hands it made sense to kill some time. I visited the four most likely hotel venues but had no success in getting a glimpse of the band, so I made my to a bar I know well on Deansgate for a few beers. As I sat down with my beer,  my mate Linda Meijer from the Netherlands who helps me run our Facebook Group messaged me a photo of Peter Gordeno from Instagram at the Lowry Hotel Manchester.  I had literally just walked from there, must have missed the band by minutes !!! Great shame but not the end of the world as I was on the guest list for tonight's gig and I would be mingling backstage with them all later that night.

Andy second from right top row

The Crown & Anchor Pub is a well know meet up point when DM play Manchester so that is where everyone decided to congregate. This would mean I would be meeting a lot of people who I had never personally met before but have known via social media for a number of years. These would include: Claire Peet, Yvette Trubuil, the wonderful Deb Danahay Mann and Martin Mann, David McElroy, Mark Wilson, Peter Harper, Caroline Rose, and Glyn Tookey.  There were also people who I know personally already: Rachel Blackman, Michael Lyons, Michael Rose, Nicki Jones, Andrew Pollard, Julien Roge, John Corner and of course my wife Lisa. If I've missed anyone I'm sorry -  everyone was having a laugh and just enjoying themselves, drinking beer and talking Depeche and getting selfie photos. In fact, the entire pub was packed with DM fans and the music in the background was of course DM .

My good friend Michael Lyons had to leave the pub around 7pm so he could go and pick up our tickets and confirm his guestlist so he could be issued with all our wristbands. I already had 2 standing tickets so I swapped my standing for seated tickets with him, our new tickets complimentary priced £0.00 and issued with a RED Wristband -  “This means something” (From 101). We were on the Backstage guestlist after the show. It didn't seem real but it was actually happening!

It took a while to get into the Arena due to all the security checks but this is becoming the norm for any event these days and once again we were running into people we knew from our Facebook group and even seeing some personal friends in the concourse inside the Arena. A couple more beers were had and then it was decided myself and my wife would head off to check out our seats. When we got to them, we got a very nice surprise as we were just to the left of stage virtually side on.  The closeness to the stage was amazing and it really set up the night there and then.

As I sat down I had 2 pints of beer in my hand. I sat down too quickly and my beer splashed all over the shoulders of this French couple in front of me. They weren't impressed at all but I made my apologies and they did see the funny side eventually after a bit of Manc humour was thrown in .



As the concert is due to start,  you can feel the Arena atmosphere building up. As soon as the lights all go out,  there is a football match type roar, meaning it's all about to kick off. As we know, it starts with The Beatles' Revolution and then the Intro. The band appears and go straight into Going Backwards and Dave Gahan appears at the elevated section of the stage. After the first song Dave Gahan shouts “Good Evening Manchester !!!” . The sound of an indoor arena more suits this tour than outside arena as Going Backwards sounded so much more powerful than it did London .

For the next 3 songs It's No Good,  Barrel Of A Gun and A Pain That I'm Used To there were problems onstage with the background screening. There was nothing but stage lights and it all seemed very dark, but to me it made everyone concentrate more on the band playing rather than watching the screens. I'm not sure if this was purposely done, but it certainly seemed to me there was a lot of problems, but the band just played on regardless .

The background screens eventually came on during Useless a new Anton Corbijn video which was similar to the Halo video used during the Delta Machine Tour. Once again during World In My Eyes the screens failed but the music was all that mattered as Depeche Mode were delivering a fantastic show to us all.  WIME has become a massive favourite for a lot fans during this tour and the new intros to a few of the songs designed by Kerry Hopwood (Live Programmer) have given some old songs a new lease of life, especially Everything Counts and Wrong although that song is sadly not on the setlist anymore .



As mentioned previously, I have a Facebook Group and during a few concerts previous I had requests from fans that they wanted to use Facebook “GO LIVE” so anyone in the group can see the concert as it happens. It always goes down very well so I felt it was my duty to pay a little back and “GO LIVE” myself. After a few issues getting connected, I managed to get online at the start of Cover Me, another crowd favourite.  I managed to capture the atmosphere and sound perfectly with the footage filmed, at one point we had 200 people from around the world watching the gig via the internet. It'samazing what can be done via technology these days. I stayed online for 17 minutes during Cover Me, Insight and Home and you can watch the video via this link:


We're into the final 3rd of the setlist and the place is bouncing by now. The well known songs are set to finish off the show, particular favourites are Everything Counts and Stripped. EC is another Kerry Hopwood revamp, with the new pulsating bassline that virtually carries on right through the whole song and really gets everyone dancing.  Never Let Me Down Again never fails to impress and during the hand waving part I always take a step back from waving my arms to actually take a look and watch everyone else doing it. It's an amazing sight and I advise anyone who is seeing any further shows to do this and take it all in. Of course Personal Jesus finishes off  the show with its usual intensity .

The show is over and everyone is just coming down from what is yet another unbelievable performance. I remember I need to check my phone as I will be receiving a text from Mr Lyons about where to meet up to go backstage. The message came - we were to meet at Section 113 Row A which was the other side of the Arena. Upon getting there, there were about 20 of us with RED wristbands and others had YELLOW? Yellow meant nothing, RED meant something (101 again). After a few minutes of waiting around, Michael Oertel from, band security appears and shouts to us all, “RED wristbands first and you are not to use any cameras whilst backstage.” We all then proceeded through the tunnels of the Manchester Arena. It really is a vast arena.  We arrive at this decent sized room where there is food on a table (mainly fruit and fish) and a decent sized fridge full of beer (now we are talking).  After a few minutes Martin Gore appears through a little side door and starts saying hello to everyone. He passed me and my wife and he looked at me. I just nodded my head in acknowledgement and raised my hand in a little wave. I'm not one to bother famous people really but all that was going through my head was “Thats Martin F****** Gore!” He stood literally 1 metre away from me -  he is so small. Shortly after Martin arrived,  Eigner shows up and then Gordeno. Everyone is chatting away nicely.  Fletch showed up but not for long, it was Gore, Eigner and Gordeno who stayed the longest.  Kerry Hopwood and Jezz Webb showed up as well and to my surprise a woman I recognised was sat down on a sofa -  Jo Gahan,  Dave Gahan's ex wife !!!! After asking a few people who know the band very well, I was told she is still very much a fan of Depeche Mode which I think is really nice .

The fridge full of beer had run out but I had been told by good sources that there is always a hidden secret stash of beer backstage. This proved to be correct as I asked the nearest person to me where it was. That person was Peter Gordeno.  He politely just said “Go round that corner to the left,” so off I went to get me and wife another drink only to find the fridge is blocked by Martin Gore and three 3 people he was talking to.  I asked politely could I just get in the fridge and Martin said “Sorry am I in your way”. I said no you are not and said thanks for a great show tonight. He just nodded with a smile.

One funny incident that took place backstage was when these 5 lads placed all their coats and beer bottles onto the famous Depeche Mode football table. No-one had played on it all night and security Michael Oertel and David Sauter gave them a little telling off. One lad took offence to this and that caused them to be asked to leave the room - no-one should use the famous table football  as a beer mat. It's part of DM history !!!

Martin's security guard Mr Oertel came back around 12.45am to get Martin back to the hotel and when he tried to do this Martin didn't want to go! I will not say he was pushed out or forcibly removed, but his security had to get him out. He seemed like he was having a great time and was a bit disappointed at having to leave it seemed.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

It was around 1.00am when my wife and I decided to go home, we were virtually the last ones out. On leaving, Peter Gordeno passed us and I stopped him and just thanked for tonight's show to which he responded “Glad you enjoyed it.” We asked security to show us the way out and we were lead back through all these tunnels again. This was all bit different when I met the band back in 1998 at the same venue at the pre show meet and greet. Tonight I spent a good 4 hours at a concert and backstage in the presence of my favourite band and saw a great show. 

There is probably more I could tell or write but this was an experience I will never forget and the only
disappointment for me is that So Much Love has been dropped from the setlist. Just to finally mention again my Facebook Group fully documents every gig Depeche Mode have ever done , you will find 460 photos and many videos of the Manchester gig if you join, and also many other surprises

https://www.facebook.com/groups/depechemodeclassicfansphotosandvideos/

A big thank you to David for letting me tell my version of events.

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Thanks Andy!

Friday, 29 December 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, WIZINK CENTER, MADRID, 16 DECEMBER 2017

This review comes courtesy of Ian Morrison from Edinburgh - always good to have more Scottish reviewers on board. Ian has been a Depeche fan for years and the Madrid gig on 16 December was part of his school term permitting Global Spirit jaunt. This review is bursting with enthusiasm and encapsulates the joy of the current version of Depeche Mode live. Thanks very much Ian . In my usual way, I've nabbed the the pictures from Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

So I like to do one or two gigs each tour and I try and manage a gig in another country if I can. For Delta Machine, it was Glasgow and Madrid and logistics meant that the Madrid date is one of the few of this tour that I can make. As a teacher, it’s a bit of a pain when they announce dates for a country I’d like to see them in, to find it’s a weekday, but it’s a pain that I’m used to.

Last time they did two nights in the Palacio des Deportes and I saw the second night then, but this gig is only one night in the now-named Wizink. I already saw them in Manchester in November, but ended up with fairly rubbish seats, mainly because I was holding out for them adding a Glasgow date. I was surprised after them showing so much love for Glasgow when they played the Barrowlands, certain we’d get at least one Scottish date. So, sitting up in the gods at the side in Manchester with the speakers obscuring the screens, I was really only able to watch the band themselves and in a way it strangely focused me on watching their every moves, something I’ve not been able to do for years.



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group





Anyway, I digress. I’m hear to talk about last nights Madrid gig. 

All poised for the pre-sale, I was aiming to buy first tier seats (this is where I was previously in Madrid, plus I figured I’d be doing my dancing in Glasgow!), but each time I selected seats, they got snapped up, so in a bit of a panic, I opted to select the golden circle actually thinking these would be the first to go. Best decision I inadvertently made. 

I was there with my pal Pamela, someone I met off the DMTV boards about 12 years ago. Funny, this is also where I first made contact with this fine blog’s chief, David. We were a wee group of people that didn’t quite subscribe to the ‘everything-DM-are-doing-is-great-and-I-won’t-hear-a-thing-said-against-them’ brigade and some firm friendships were formed. Anyway, I’m saying that as I was really happy to be there with Pamela, our friendship goes way beyond Depeche Mode and she’s a right laugh. 

We got there in plenty of time and made our way to the golden circle. We had to pass the section that gets cordoned off for the pre-show meet and greet and the image of some guy dressed as Dave as the King (in Enjoy The Silence, not Elvis!) dancing about didn’t make me wish I was in there. And I’ve decided that if there’s a golden circle option in future, this is the one I’m going to opt for. I’m past trying to get to the front at gigs these days, but this is still a good view, relatively near the front (even at the back of that section) without being squashed up against anyone’s armpit. Huzzah’s all round. 

The support act Pumarosa came on and I had to check their name as I was expecting Re-Tros. I’d missed them at Manc due to reserved seating apathy (so much so, I had assumed they’d dropped the Beatles’ Revolution intro!) :o 

So Pumarosa are fairly standard indie fayre - guitars, drums and - shock! - a saxophone! The female singer (sorry, not bothering to google names here, i had to go and look for the band’s name, be thankful I did that. Otherwise I’d be referring to them as Re-Tros!) obviously loved her billowing, silver dress and clearly wanted to show in its best light, she didn’t quite master the Dave spin as effortlessly as he does, but points for effort. Stayed for a couple of songs, but it became an opportunity to go to the bar and grab a bite too. Interest remained firmly un-piqued. 

As we waited for Depeche Mode, the atmosphere was building nicely. If someone knows what tracks are played pre-DM, please post them here. Took some photos of some guys who’d asked for them to be taken, each handing me their phone to capture the same one individually. Then we got one of them to take a picture of us. Happy times indeed. In this run up, we spotted two Dave lookalikes. I say lookalikes in the loosest term. One of them was dressed almost like current Dave, black trousers with a red stripe and a black and red waistcoat. The other one was mixing his eras: from the neck down he was in white denim and white shirt à la Violation Dave, but then he had the long hair and choker from Devotional Dave from the neck up (imagination in large amounts was required for this one!). There’s a bit of me salutes these people for their commitment, but my inner curmudgeon thinks “how do these people function in their day to day lives?” 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

9.32pm and we’ve had the Hublot advert and the Beatles’ Revolution is on with the boot graphic from the album sleeve. The tension is palpable. I realise this is the greatest I’ve anticipated the band in a long time. We were stood fairly central and had a pretty much front on view of the screens so the immersive experience was happening. No tall fuckers in front of me (my most regular gripe about any live music, and there’s some tall DM fans!). 

The band come on to loud cheers and it’s clear the Madrid crowd love them. The cheering is non-stop and then just increases when Dave appears, slinking up the steps at the side of the screen for the opening of Going Backwards. I could go on at length here about how Going Backwards is the best opener for a DM album in a long time, but with Dave up on the walkway, consumed by the splattered paint in the projection is actually immense. I got quite emotional thinking back to the Barrowlands gig and how that song opened then. It has touched me in a way DM tracks haven’t really in a long time and I’m not sure I can put into words just how. It might be my imagination, but it feels like the tempo of some songs have been slowed down. Going Backwards felt almost tribal in the way it churned on, as Dave was creeping about the stage like a cross between Nosferatu and John Waters (both compliments, by the way, before you write in!). 

Up next was It’s No Good and with the opening bars, the crowd were loving it. It is a great, almost anthemic song and I was happy to hear it again. 

Barrel Of A Gun is not a favourite of mine, particularly live and the slow tempo (as previously mentioned) doesn’t really lift it for me, but the one thing I was aware of was Dave’s vocal which is shit hot considering the length of this tour! 

I’ve had to consult depechemode.nl for the setlist for reminders, I don’t intend to write this up track by track, although I may very well change my mind! 

When A Pain That I’m Used To came on, this was like the dance number that gets people on their feet at birthday parties. The Jacques Le Cont mix is good, and no issues with tempo here. Dave doing his usual Tasmanian devil round the stage! 

Useless was up next and it has a new video. I’m not sure everyone in the audience was aware of it not being present earlier in the tour, but there was a few screams of surprise dotted near us as it started up. This is a favourite song of mine from the post-imperial Mode, but I felt this was a bit lacklustre. The video was the usual, quirky Anton schtick. Liked the wee nod to ETS, but the woman dropping the text cards in a nod to Bob Dylan is a bit overdone. Didn’t lift the song any. Now, the people that know me know I have a love/hate relationships with AC’s work. As beautifully filmed as it is, it’s lazy. That’s my opinion. Look back at what’s he’s capable of and this just feels like he’s got an assistant to come up with something. Anyway…


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group


World In My Eyes had a few people near us confused by the ‘new’ opener, but then the original baseline started and the crowd went crazy! I’m sure this is the experience across the world with more clued-up (read: scour internet for clips after every show) and the more casual (likes them, but doesn’t devour everything!) fan. Precious was up next which is nice to hear, Fletch was employing chief clap-in-time skills, somehow not managing even that. Bless him. 


I am restraining myself from slipping into over-used superlatives for Cover Me, but fuck me, it *IS* indeed a gorgeous, pulsating song which Dave delivered well. After the vocal, he was in some hippy-trippy rain dance thing to the imagined stars on the ceiling to the second instrumental half. That man has one flexible spine and when he came out the walkway to deliver this bendy man sequence, he had the crowd in his hand. At one point, he looked lost in his own head and it was a joy to watch. Did they miss a trick not glitter-balling the entire audience. I’m writing this on my flight home while listening to the recording of the 6Music gig and Cover Me has just started. I’m listening to this and seeing Dave not 10 metres from me last night. Gorgeous.

Up next were the two Martin tracks - Insight is a gorgeous song and one of my favourites from Ultra and Martin delivers it well without too much of the vibrato he employed in more recent years. The woman in front of me was Shazam-ing this so at the end of the song I showed her it was off Ultra. Community at work. I’m not embarrassed to say I had one or two actual tears and goosebumps in Manchester and was head to toe in goosebumps last night. Quite a few reviewers have touched on the impact the band have had on their lives and I felt myself getting overcome. This is not just a band playing songs I like. Each song is now like a clip of my personal history, all or personal histories. Connections. *sigh* It’s just dust, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.


Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Suffice to say I’m happy at anytime to hear the full version of Home at any time and anywhere. 

In Your Room next. One of my least favourite songs off SOFAD (gasps at the back? Take a sip of water, you’ll be fine.), but the power of the visual to lift a song. If this was an AC directed video then it falls into the ‘love’ bit of the ‘love/hate’ cups. This might not be what fans want to hear, but for me this elevated the song. Dave did well to pretty much stand and sing it flawlessly and let the dancers do the visuals. I can sometimes be a tad critical of the band, particularly Dave leaving out bits of the chorus or hitting a duff note, but I found myself humbled by his vocal. Thinking about the beast that is Dave Gahan and how he loves singing In Your Room (sure I’ve read that somewhere), who’s to care whether anyone likes it, he can fucking go for it! 

(I understand that perhaps I’m getting a bit totes emosh).



Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group



Where’s The Revolution? Where’s the songs from Spirit? I re-christened this the Global Ultra Tour in Manchester. WTR is a good song, but at this stage in the setlist lost a bit of it’s might. 

Everything Counts, again with a fancy new intro was a joy to hear. Like welcoming an old friend, actually like an old auntie you haven’t seen for years onto the dance floor at your cousins second wedding. The arena went wild when the familiar opening bars started. What a song. 

I realise I said I wasn’t going to go from track to track, but I’m now doing it. This version of Stripped might be the best I’ve heard in years. It was no-nonsense and punched all its weight onto you. It’s one of their best songs and let us know it. The crowd loved it. I loved it. 

For years I’ve been like “can we please *drop* Enjoy The Silence?” like a moaning teenager, but you know what, thank fuck they don’t really listen to fans. Like Stripped it’s a song that spans lifetimes. All of our lifetimes. Christ, some of the fans seeing them weren’t born when that song was released and they deliver it with power and gusto like it’s a new release. I know I’ve moaned over the years about Dave not singing the chorus and too many drum solos (we CAN actually do without them), but this bit has been added on during my edit and I’ve played back past live versions over the years and i stand by the fact that they have delivered a strong version this tour. Although, I am mentally blocking out the drum solos. We don’t need them. No one does. ;-) 

I’m about to sound like a broken record, but this version of NLMDA is probably the best I’ve heard it. I know. Vocally it can’t be bettered by the MFTM or VIolation tour and I still scrunch my nose up at “aaaaahhmm takin a raaaaad with ma bes fren!”, but the sound of the guitar intro and then the opening bars taking us to that first line was amazing. The loudest I think I’ve heard them. I thought that in Manc, but then wondered if I was hearing things so high up, but very pleased to know it’s something that everyone is experiencing. Dave’s vocal is what it is now. He’s not going to go back to singing in that 20-something geezer style that made NLMDA a classic. I’ve griped over the years about how weak the opening has been, but not tonight (last night, obvs.) I loved it. And as before with the drum solos in ETS, we do not, I repeat, do not need the piano fill-ins during NLMDA, Gordeno. Don’t sully the baby. 

Strangelove next by Martin and it’s lovely. Not much else to say. It’s one of my favourite tracks and it was the first time I’d heard it, so a win for me. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Walking In My Shoes is another huge fan favourite that is not high up my list. It’s another one I don’t hope they do live, but here it is and bizarrely with a distracting film. It’s like they knew I was coming. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song before you start composing your comments, but *for me*, it’s not up there. It’s a gut thing, I can’t explain it. When listening to SOFAD, I don’t skip it, but I don’t actively put it on. A lot of SOFAD is like that for me and because Dave’s vocal is more, shall we say economical, it drags for me live. Absolutely pardon the pun since this video features a drag queen. :D 

A Question Of Time next and hands up who would love the return of the churning electronic bass of the 7” remix? Well, get over it, it’ll never return live. I feel AQOT has been like this since SOFAD third leg and it’s a case of putting up and shutting up. I still danced like a freak to it. I’m still in the same room as the people who created it and that goes a long way towards reconciliation for me. As a band, they’ve morphed over the years into what they now are and I don’t personally love the live set up, but like I mentioned earlier about Dave not caring if people like or dislike songs, he’s going to sing it, same goes for what they are now. They won’t suddenly change back. I have always had this theory about them as a band in a similar way visual artists develop and that means the most vital work is probably behind them. Not to say they couldn’t do something ground-breaking in the future, but the odds are just slimmer. So we either moan as fans that they’ll never do another Violator or Black Celebration and that’s pretty much impossible as they’re not the people they were back then or we get on with it. And it’s nothing to do with loving Alan vs Gordeno bashing - I’m not stupid. But in a lot of ways, Spirit excited me in ways a new Depeche album hasn’t been able to do probably since Violator. And I don’t say that lightly. I’m one of these fans that grew up with them in my formative teens when it looked like the rules were you made a new album and toured every year. My expectations of them have been so grand over the years and like anything you put on a pedestal, it will frequently disappoint. 

I’m now going over bits of this and spell-checking and it’s the 28 December. After the gig, I had a busy week at work before xmas and then I’ve been lazing on my arse for the last few days, but I promised David I’d get it to him before the new year. I’m sitting here listening through the albums and reminiscing about this to myself and thinking back 30 years to the day, getting the bus into town to buy the Behind The Wheel 7” and 12”s. Coming home and listening to every side, being blown away by this song Route 66 that sounds just like a speeded up Behind The Wheel, but just isn’t and what’s this slow bass line? where’s the far dancer album version? and isn’t this Step Pettibone mix a bit…. weak? Even as a 15 year old having devoured everything they’d done over the previous two years, my critical ear was there. I love the 7” mix of Behind The Wheel now, but it will not be bettered by the album version. I live with that and I live with so much of Depeche Mode that I love and the stuff I don’t *love*, I certainly don’t hate (ok, The Child Inside is an exception, I mean… come on!) :o 

What I’m getting at is these three men along with that fourth one that left were like my older brothers or cousins, part of my family. Part of my life. A constant. I still feel like that when I see them. I fucking love Depeche Mode! 

Oh and Personal Jesus was a great finale. Glad they dropped the longer version with the slow intro!





Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group


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Thanks Ian!


Thursday, 21 December 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, PALAU ST. JORDI, BARCELONA, 7 DECEMBER 2017

Following her review of night 2 in Paris, Sandrine Specia returns to reviewing duties for the Palau St Jordi gig on on 7 December. This was a home gig for Sandrine too and here she encapsulates perfectly the reasons that many Devotees see Barcelona as a must attend gig. If we get another tour (and if we do someone else can run a review project :D ) I know I'll be heading to the Barcelona show. Thanks very much for the review and pictures Sandrine.



The Depeche Mode concert at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona caused a lot of expectation among the devotees for months since the date of the concert was announced only in summer. Prior to it being announced, many were worried that DM would not come and play in Barcelona.

Obviously, DM were not going to miss Barcelona out, but the delay in announcing was definitely a concern. When the date was finally released, many began to complain that they were not going to attend because of too high-ticket price. The newly released Spirit had also received a lot of unfair critics on local fans networks from people like the usual moaners who continue to lament the resignation of Alan Wilder from the band. As far as I’m concerned, there is always an exceptional and warm atmosphere in Barcelona, with fans eager to see their favorite band. I wasn't worried about  meeting any negative and complaining people at the concert. 

For many devotees, this concert was going to be the only one they were going to attend.

When I speak of exceptional atmosphere, I can say that of the five concerts I’ve attended during the Delta Machine tour, Barcelona was the best and I did not expect anything less for this show.



Sadly, one downside was that it was another miserable experience for the EE ticket holders, but it was also a very entertaining one meeting people Some Facebook friends came especially from Israel and they were staying in the same hotel as DM. They couldn’t meet them but it was very exciting to know.

I chose to stay in the middle of the catwalk closest to the stage in front of Dave, standing with fans who have traveled all over Europe this year just to see Depeche Mode. 

Support-act Re-Tros received very little applause, people were too impatient and just wanted DM.

A big concert in Barcelona can be easily compared to a football match atmosphere before the Barça takes to the pitch at the Camp Nou Stadium. They warm up the show with "oooohe ohe ohe, ohe, ohe" until the band takes the stage. 



The crowd was excited. If I could have taken the temperature of the people, I'm sure that many would have had a fever! Nerves were in full swing.

Everyone's mobiles were ready to record or to click madly on their camera the second the band arrived on stage at the start of what was to be an epic concert.

People surrendered with all their soul from the first notes of Going Backwards by screaming, shrieking, whistling, going on before Dave to sing the refrains instead of being asked to "sing iiiiiiiiit" when Dave offered us his mic. Dave seemed very surprised but very satisfied discovering such an enthusiastic and loud audience.

The crowd did not simply sit back and listen to It's No Good, or watch Useless and its magnificent black and white video - the atmosphere was electric and Dave stepped on the catwalk more than usual for so much energy shared with the fans.



A Pain That I'm Used To was the catalyst for the long-awaited start of mass jumping around. The energy in the place was sensational.

Home, very much like the Touring the Angel version got the people in love and I must admit that it is the best audience singalong during the "oooooooooooooooh, oh, oooooooooooh" that I've experienced on this tour. We stopped when Dave returned to the stage, which surprised him with a sort of “WTF” face. He asked Peter Gordeno to play again and we continued ohoing without stopping.. Dave was at his best. When the gladiator owns his audience ... In Your Room, Everything Counts, Stripped …

Enjoy The Silence, Never Let Me Down Again and A Question of Time are the number-one songs in the Palau Sant Jordi when DM performs, all of us sing loudly the complete lyrics, causing goosebumps, Spanish shouts of satisfaction The exception to that was during Cover Me,  with Dave majestic, dancing like a swan spreading his wings, with the devotees all around the catwalk speechless, until he knelt down to touch some lucky hands caught on the fence, with people ready to drown to reach him. 



This tour, I spent my time watching the stunning video when Walking in My Shoes was performed. I'm left wordless by its esthetic, colors, story and the beautiful long-haired actor. 

After it finished, many of us were not done with this unbelievable gig. An after-show party had been arranged close to the venue, by MartyrDan Dj who’s also the DM Barcelona fan club’s president. A very long line had taken form at the Spanish Village (Poble Espanyol district) as the day after was a public holiday. Lots couldn’t get a ticket, it was sold out in a flash. I met there with my best Spanish buddies and it’s always a funny encounter, re-living one of our happiest moment in life - sharing DM music till the end of the night.

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Thank you Sandrine

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, UNIPOL ARENA, BOLOGNA, 13 DECEMBER 2017

This review comes from Marta Masé who is from Marghera in Italy. As you will see, Marta had a superb time in Bologna and has a few more concerts to go on the Global Spirit Tour during which she'll introduce more friends and family to the best live band on earth. Other than the people I already know, Marta is one of the few Global Spirit Tour Project writers I've been lucky to meet as we got a chance to say hello in Manchester. Thanks very much for this review Marta and thanks for the superb pictures too.



Depeche Mode have always been there, in the music background of my life: I owned the CDs, knew the lyrics to most of the songs but I never grew too attached. I never saw one of their gigs either, partly because my parents wouldn’t have allowed me to – I wish I had been rebellious enough to go behind their backs, but definitely I wasn’t! – partly because live music is something I appreciate much more nowadays. That’s why I thought it was about time I saw them live and, as soon as the dates of the Global Spirit Tour were out, I secured my tickets. I fell in love with Spirit and went back through their entire catalogue as a result, it’s been such a journey, each song in its own way strikes a chord at this point in my life! That’s all I have been listening to since October 2016, despite my family’s complaints and confident that the kids will benefit from it…never too late to become a devotee and never too early either!

The first gig I saw in Ljubljana simply cemented the passion. As Kevin May pointed out, Depeche Mode is a band that “pulls in different directions” and I must admit I wasn’t expecting such an elating atmosphere, a huge party involving all age groups. That was it, I was going to make up for lost time and enjoy this experience as much as I could…and it was easy to get my friends on board too, wasn’t it ladies?

Marta (right)

After Ljubljana and Bologna in the summer and Manchester in November here we are, travelling to Bologna again! It’s a two-hour excitement-filled drive from Venice, the sort of first date type of excitement, butterflies and all…My friend Eva joins me this time, it’s her first DM concert so I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the gig through her eyes as well.

The Unipol arena is a more intimate setting than the 40.000 capacity outdoor football stadium of the summer leg. In June the inner pit experience blew me away, so I got standing tickets for this gig too – some devotion is surely required as they sell out fast! We are finally here, waiting for the doors to open at 7 pm, no early entry and lack of organization at the entrance and we miss the front of the stage area. We still manage to find a spot fairly near the end of the catwalk and wait for the show to begin with a group of die-hard fans, the mood is just right. By the time Pumarosa finish their set – the best support band so far, in my opinion – the arena is packed, I mean really packed, and the temperature feels like 40°. The intros begin, and the excitement grows.



Some people would rather not know too much about the shows, I belong to the other kind, the ones who obsessively read about every detail (the Almost Predictable Almost blog being a fundamental part of this process!). I know what to expect, still the overall atmosphere can be so different each night. We all enjoy live music in our own way, that being said, my worst nightmare at any concert is being stuck in a spot where nobody stands up or takes part 100%. And this goes even more for a band as generous as DM, who clearly feed on the energy of their audience and, in return, deliver energetic, heartfelt, moving performances. It might sound weird, but my expectations are set higher on the audience as I am sure the band will never disappoint! Generally speaking the Italian crowd is quite the loud one and this time we are in a good place, but I am pretty amazed at seeing most people sitting down half way through the show.

I read many complaints about poor acoustic and yes, a few times Dave’s voice felt a bit overwhelmed by the instruments, but I can’t comment further on sounds and the setlist is well-known, so I’ll just go with my overall feelings of the songs. Going Backwards is a great opener, the combination of those first beats and Dave’s silhouette on the Pollock-like background works perfectly. I miss So Much Love but It’s No Good is such a classic and sets the audience singing from the beginning. Barrel Of A Gun is just ok for me. I read many don’t like the Jacques Lu Cont’s remix of A Pain That I’m Used To, I love its rhythm and dancing to it and Dave looks like he’s having a lot of fun too. Useless and Precious are well received new entries – a great new video comes with Useless and Precious is just so moving, perfect. Then comes World In My Eyes with the new backdrop and many hands raise in the audience. I feel Cover Me is a special moment in the show and I am so proud of Dave as an author. Mr Gahan tonight is in top form, he looks like he is having a good time, smiling more than usual, blowing kisses and skipping around, hard to believe he is 55. While he gives it all in his performance, he only spares a few words and the shout outs to the crowd are pretty much always the same, but we feel special anyway…Will you cover me…will ya? 



And then comes Martin’s turn. I prefer Insight performed by Dave (and Strangelove for that matter). Martin has so many others to choose from, but he creates such an atmosphere that when Home starts, I am emotional. However,  I feel the sing along tonight is not up to scratch to show him the appreciation he deserves. In Your Room has become my song, it brings the devotional mood and the video complements it perfectly (I am so missing the side screens, even though I am wearing my highest wedges I can’t see the band properly!). Where’s The Revolution then Everything Counts and the whole arena is on fire as Dave is back stomping on the catwalk – the projections of the stage replicated pyramid-style on the screen look great too. Stripped is not as strong but it’s followed by Enjoy The Silence and we are back on track singing our hearts out and reveling in this amazing moment. I don’t get the animals video at all, I feel it doesn’t add much to the song but the genius here is Anton not myself!



Never Let Me Down Again is powerful, you know what is coming, the expectation grows with the tune and finally everybody joins in the wave - I could live without the bazooka but it gives us one more chance to have Dave closer on the catwalk. This could be the perfect ending to any show but thankfully it’s not. The encore starts Strangelove by Martin then Walking In My Shoes - masterpiece, love the video, I would rather have it a bit earlier in the set though. Super energetic finale with A Question of Time – glad I heard I Feel You, but this is one of my favourites – and Personal Jesus to finish off, iconic is all I can say. I miss Halo and Policy of Truth but I still have hope for the second date in Milan. 

Unfortunately, we can’t make it to the afterparty so what little energy we have left is spent driving back, sharing our emotions, already counting the days till the next one (45 by the way…). In case you were wondering, Eva had a blast and totally agrees tonight was awesome, I’m guessing she will join me again! 



‘Why do you keep going to the same gig from the same band?’ is the question I’ve been getting since May -‘at your age’ usually comes with it too. Great music, outstanding lyrics, unforgettable performances, amazing flow of energy between the band and the audience...isn’t this enough? Everybody in Bologna experienced it first-hand tonight, my kids will be next and even my mum will see “what all the fuss is about” in January in Milan. So, thank you Depeche Mode for such intense music and performances, to my family who doesn’t get it, yet, but puts up with me anyway, to all devotees who made tonight and all other gigs special and to my friends Federica, Rosanna and Eva, I will treasure these special moments forever. 

See you in Milan, Milan and Berlin!

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Thanks Marta!