Thursday, 24 May 2018


Welcome back. The fifth leg of the Global Spirit Tour has begun and the band started with a show at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on 22 May 2018. Rob Rohm was there and this is his review. You may recall that Rob has reviewed for the blog previously on the tour (San Diego) and this is yet another cracking read ending with yet another guitar pick success for Rob. He must have a magnet that attracts them or something. Thanks very much for the review, the pictures and the superb videos Rob. 

I speculated there would be a second US leg of the Global Spirit Tour because of the huge gap in the schedule between South American and EU Festival Dates. As 2018 began and weeks passed without an announcement, I did get a bit concerned. Finally, in February it was announced! And what an announcement, the second leg of the US tour would open with a show at the Honda Center in Anaheim! This is as close as it can get for me. My house is 2 miles (3 km) away from the Honda Center. I’m near the freeway and it’s 2 freeway exits away. A $6 Uber ride. Needless to say, I was ecstatic!

The first order of business was to secure tickets. Luckily I ended up with front row on the floor. During the on sale, I first purchased a pair of fifth row tickets but then found a single in the front row. Knowing what a hardcore of a fan I am, my wife told me to me sit up in the front row while she sat in fifth row with someone else (my Mom). And as luck would have it, I was in seat 4 and my friends Adam, Lisa, and Jeni had seats 1, 2, and 3.

Since the venue was so close to my home, I thought I’d invite some Devotees to my house for a pre-party the day of the show. Since a lot of us had VIP party packages, I held the pre-party at my house from 1:00 - 5:00 pm. The VIP party was beginning at 5:30 at Honda Center. This is the first time I’ve ever thrown a party with an end time. The timing worked out perfectly.

I started a Facebook group called Depeche Mode Global Fan Group after I was a part of Depeche Mode’s Facebook Fan Takeover last summer. The group currently has almost 5,500 members from all across the globe. I invited some of the members of the group that were attending the Anaheim show to the pre-party at my house. It was a great group of people, some I had just met in person for the first time but as we all know Depeche Mode fans are like a family.

When we hit the Honda Center for the VIP party, there was a merch table set up right next to our check-in location. I bought a poster and t-shirt and put it in the car before we went inside (our friend Jeni drove us from the pre-party). We checked in and received our VIP lanyards, wristbands, and drink tickets. The VIP event was held in the Shock Top Terrace on the Club Level of the Honda Center. We were given VIP exclusive Depeche Mode branded black bags that are reversible with printing on both sides in different colors (gray and red). Inside the bag there was also a Depeche Mode branded wireless speaker. The food was really good with a self-serve taco bar and churros for dessert. While walking to the VIP area, one of our friends, Leah, recorded a snippet of soundcheck. It was Martin Gore performing The Things You Said.

The VIP experience at Honda Center was a bit above the Hollywood Bowl shows. We headed down to our seats after almost 2 hours in the VIP area.

VIP Party - Rob in the centre

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club was the opening act. I’m not too familiar with their music but they sounded great.

During the intermission between bands, I joined a group of fans that had hosted the Depeche Mode page during the Facebook Fan Takeover including Depeche Mode’s webmaster, Daniel “Brat” Barassi.


All eyes were on Anaheim as fans across the globe were curious as to what changes might be in store for this next leg of the tour. When Depeche Mode last played Southern California, they had significantly reshaped their set list with changes that would flow across the rest of the tour. The familiar intro with the Beatles’ Revolution and the Spirit feet marching lead into Going Backwards. The beautiful color splatter video backdrop and Dave’s silhouette dancing across the upper stage is still in place.

It’s No Good was the second song, this was one of the surprise changes at the Hollywood Bowl that has been a staple in the set list since. Barrel Of A Gun and A Pain That I’m Used To were followed by Useless and Precious, two other tracks that made their appearance at the Hollywood Bowl shows. Useless had a new video backdrop for this part of the tour.

World In My Eyes was up next and the backdrop features a silhouette of a young Dave Gahan from the Violator era with his hands forming the familiar glasses the band members were photographed doing. Stellar versions of all of these songs as usual.

Cover Me has been one of Dave’s favorite songs to interact with the audience on this tour. At the Hollywood Bowl, I filmed Dave up close during Cover Me. Honda Center had the traditional catwalk the band has used this tour (unlike Hollywood Bowl). As the song entered the middle section, I made my way from my front row seat across the floor to the catwalk. I captured some video and you’ll notice in the middle of the clip that Dave is actually telling some fans to “Get the fuck up!” since they were sitting down.

As alluded to earlier, Martin soundchecked with The Things You Said and he delivered. This was a very welcomed set change. Really cool to hear it live again.

Home was a standard rendition but the singing by the fans at the end seemed a bit minimal in comparison to previous concerts. In Your Room is one of my favorite tracks and I’m happy they continued playing it this second leg. I love that it’s the album version of the track. It was accompanied by the same video footage that’s been used all tour. Where’s The Revolution had all of us raising our fists in the front row in unison with the chorus. Everything Counts was up next and I was hoping to capture a nice clip of us in the front row on the video screens but they changed up the video feed a bit for this song.

The closers for the regular set are three of my all-time favorite Depeche Mode tracks: Stripped, Enjoy The Silence, and Never Let Me Down Again.

This potentially could be my last show this tour. I was fortunate enough to attend their rehearsal in April 2017 at S.I.R. Studios in Hollywood with 40 other Devotees. I then saw them in Paris in July, followed by shows in Las Vegas, Santa Barbara, San Diego, and the four Hollywood Bowl shows. I haven’t completely ruled out heading to Europe for one of the summer festival gigs but as of the moment this 10th show I’ve seen on this tour is my last. I mention it as I was taking in the experience with that perspective. I had been so hyped to see them in my hometown but it’s bittersweet for it to come to an end.

The encore started with Martin Gore’s other lead vocal track from Music For The Masses, I Want You Now. It was a beautiful piano rendition of the song.

Walking In My Shoes was the second encore. Being seated directly in front of Martin, it’s always cool to watch him play guitar. Most people are unaware that he uses an Ebow on Walking In My Shoes. The EBow is a hand-held electronic bow for guitar. I shot this photo of him using it:

A Question of Time was a nice set change from what they played on the first US leg. It was a hard-driving energetic performance. The second leg features a shorter 20 song set list, so the final song was Personal Jesus. I don’t think anybody wanted the show to end. After the song Martin threw his guitar pick to me. Everything came full circle for this Global Spirit Tour. He handed me a pick after their rehearsal in April of 2017 and also threw me one at the last Hollywood Bowl show. I now have one from my hometown gig too, potentially the final show for me on this Amazing Global Spirit Tour.


Thanks Rob!

Tuesday, 15 May 2018


If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll have noticed that the content has not been as varied as it might have been due to the mid life crisis that is The Global Spirit Tour Project. To find out what that is, click the link there to see. This is a non DM related post and it's going to stay that way.

The seemingly never ending Depeche tour has meant that, the odd review aside, this blog has focused entirely on one band since May last year. That'll remain the focus in a week's time when they kick off again so this is the ideal chance to talk about some other music that's been on heavy rotation in recent weeks. 

First up, Happy Robots Records, home of the superb Rodney Cromwell has put out a couple of superb releases in recent weeks. Sinosa's If U Must Dance is a curious but wonderful mix of electrpop and skewed disco with Kraftwerk lurking somewhere in the background. It's available on the label's Bandcamp page digitally and on striking clear vinyl 7".

Label boss Rodney Cromwell is also back. The superb Comrades takes off from where the still marvellous Age Of Anxiety left off. It's a prime slice of synthpop of a quality that is harder and harder to find. The song heads up the forthcoming e.p. Rodney's English Disco which adds three new tracks and 4 remixes and is available digitally and on 7" red vinyl from 25 May. As with all Rodney Cromwell releases, it's one you don't want to miss.

Seeing as we are talking about bands I've gone on a lot about on here before, the news that Apostille is back is a great thing. His new album Choose Life is out on the 8th of June and it is destined to be one of my records of the year. The first single from it, Feel Bad, came out in March and it's simply brilliant, as is its video.

Sticking with Glasgow and its seemingly endless supply of outstanding electronic artists, HQFU's new album For Inhumanity (reviewed here) is still proving hard to put down and is highly recommended. 

Graham Crossan, ex of Machines In Heaven, released two new pieces of music via his Bandcamp page in March with the dark electronics of Feel Everything (below) and earlier in the year in January with the superb GLVXGOW (Skip Ad) e.p. Graham's work with his new band Polis is also well 

Going back to the pop side of things, Priest returned in April with a new e.p. The Lost Lions which is available in all the usual digital places. As you'd expect, it's yet more synthpop goodness and features the superb Our Time Will Come which came out earlier this year.

Finally, three releases I'm looking forward to taking with me on the road to Berlin for the final two DM gigs of the year. The 25th of May sees the return of blood blood, Davey from Machines In Heaven's side project. Black Tarot promises to be another superb blood blood offering and the small sample available on Facebook certainly whets the appetite.

The new Your Silent Face release, The Fallen e.p., which is out this Thursday is a full on techno affair and from the Soundcloud preview (below), there's a lot to be excited about

Finally, Gus Harrower is back with a new single Wonder on the first of June. Gus' justified reputation as one of Scotland's best new singer songwriters has been enhanced by an ever increasing number of live shows and Wonder is only going to see his reputation grow and grow. You can find all his releases on his Soundcloud page ( and on Spotify.

And that's that bar for a couple of things. Firstly, other than very occasional things like this, I'm going to step back from reviewing music on here. Unfortunately, the combination of further Depeche Mode projects on the way and real life mean I don't have the time to do bands justice and there's no point in providing half arsed reviews as that's not fair on the people that work so hard on their music. Thanks very much to everyone who has sent me so much music over the last few years. From it's start as the home of Depeche related geekery to what it became, running the review part of the blog has given me so much pleasure and introduced me to so many lovely people and bands. Thanks to everyone who's ever sent me things to review and sorry if I didn't get round to them.

Secondly, and not at all related to anything above, I just wanted to say how sad I was at the untimely passing of Scott Hutchison last week. He was a genius and Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight is proof of that alone. Like everyone else, my thoughts are with Scott's family and friends  - he will be much missed.

Monday, 23 April 2018


For the final review of the fourth leg, we welcome back Claudia Schulzi. As you surely know by now, Claudia runs the superb My Daily Mode blog, where you can read all about her adventures following the band on the Global Spirit Tour. By this point in the tour, it's quite possible that Claudia has been to more concerts than the band themselves - make sure you check her blog out. As ever, Claudia's review is one you won't want to miss and it's one that I think a lot of us will have a great deal of empathy with. A bittersweet Brazilian tale. Thank so much for the words and pictures Claudia - see you in Berlin.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Depeche Mode in Sao Paulo, March 27 or "Things Get Damaged" 

My airplane landed at the concert day in the early afternoon. I made a late decision to go to Sao Paulo or San Paolo, as it was written on the departure board in Buenos Aires, because I heard about the crimerate in Sao Paulo and I wanted to stay as short as possible a time there. Happily, our hotel and the Allianz Park arena was located in a very safe area, called Perdizes. Our hotel was a small skycraper with 18 floors and from the top I could see the whole city with this crazy skyline. So many skycrapers, unbelievable. I regretted immediately that I couldn't stay longer in this city. I walked alone to a very good Burger restaurant "Ze Do Hamburger" where I ate a very good vegan burger and drank an amazing big fruit juice. The restaurant was in a 50's diner style and the waiter was so unbelievable friendly. I forgot that I had to speak Portuguese now and thanked him in bad Spanish!. He smiled and I recognized my fault, so with the help of my mobile phone I learned a very few words in Portuguese like "Thank you / obrigado", " hi / bom dia", "Goodbye/ adeus", "please/por favor". He laughed full of joy and I left this restaurant very happy. Next step: I needed beer to warm up the concert in my hotel room, so I walked 10 minutes to a huge supermarket where I bought beer, water and some fruits because its looked so delicious.

Sao Paulo skyline

As I left the supermarket it started raining heavily. I have never experienced such a strong rain. Unfortunately, the area was very hilly, and so the water poured down the hills, it formed small rivers. There was no way to get to the hotel dry. When I walked into the foyer, the staff laughed at me because they had warned me about the rain .... who knew this was what they meant by rain? So I did not know this rain, it was like showering.  I spent the next 2 hours drinking beer and drying my shoes.

We then walked to the nearby Allianz Parque Arena, a very modern new arena, home of the football club SE Palmeiras. It will take up to 55000 people for concerts, but I think there were 30000 devotees. As we reached the stadium the rain came back on, not so strong like before but strong enough. We decided to miss the support band and spent time drinking beer inside. We bought commemorative beer cups of the event for a really small amopunt of money, taking pictures with a special event picture machine and smoking and bought our Brazil Global Spirit t-shirt. We spoke with a few fans, wow, everybody was so friendly, another increase to the already incredible friendliness in all countries we'd visited until then.

Claudia (right)

Then the concert started. From the beginning I knew, that will be the best concert of the South American tour, because the devotees welcomed Depeche Mode with such an applause. Who would have guessed? I just did not expect anything from the Brazil concert, but it was such a long time since Depeche Mode played in Brazil and I think it was about time. The rain was no obstacle for the fans as all of us wore capes, but I decided to lose mine, because as well as the rain, it was also very hot in Sao Paulo, more than 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dave came down to the stage as Going Backwards started and everything worked fine again ( the sound, the screens...). It's No Good  saw the fans started to dance wildly; very funny all that rustling rain capes. During Barrel Of A Gun something crazy happened -  suddenly, people dancing next to us ended up in a tough fight. Several people beat each other and were held back by others. The fight seemed to end, then suddenly a woman hit a man very hard in the face. He immediately began to bleed and lunged at the woman, they rolled on the ground. I was almost knocked over by retreating people. There was no security at all, neither from the stadium nor Depeche Mode. Suddenly I saw Andy's bodyguard trying to figure out what was going on. I waved and signaled that help was needed, but he turned away. The action was far from Depeche Mode and no danger to them. Really shocking. That would never have happened when Daryl Ives was still chief security. He was not always nice, but mostly on the side of the devotees. He took good care of his band and his audience. Unfortunately, Daryl died of a heart attack in February 2007 in Hong Kong at age 50. But be assured, Daryl, we don't forget you!

It took me a while to follow the concert again and I missed Dave's greeting at the end of the song. A Pain That I'm Used To was great and then Useless, yes, the screenings worked well and the fans from further away could enjoy Dave's pithy show on the side screens. Like every gig, Precious is the first big highlight: "Things get damaged Things get broken I thought we'd manage But words left unspoken Left us so brittle There was so little left to give" The text is probably about a relationship but it also fits in with all the cities in South America that I've seen. Many things are damaged, broken; there is not much that could help. Or is there? In Sao Paulo, all the people I met (and this was repeated during a few days in Rio) were as warm-hearted as anyone from Europe. It touched me a lot, even very poor people, who sold their last belongings on the roadside, still smiled at me ... And so the fans in Sao Paulo sang fervently along to Precious.

Then Dave took a sip of tea and World In My Eyes began and it was also celebrated joyfully. After the song Dave asked the fans "How are you doing“? And again - “I said, how are you doing?" He was satisfied with the screaming of the fans. Cover Me! I say it again, best song of the tour. The sound was powerful and Dave danced in the rain on the catwalk, after he shook hands again. Then Mr. Gore sang Insight: "Talking to you now, the fire still burns", but sorry Martin, I could not hear you, because Gordeno sang so loud. I wanted to hear Martin Gore not Peter Gordeno. The Brazilians liked Martin Gore, he got applause like in Europe. Home was wonderful, the sing along was the best of the South American Tour, I missed it. My favourite moment with Martin Gore is, when he runs back to the stage, the catwalk is a small hill and it looked so funny when he ran up this small hill. He is so unpretentious, I like it.

In Your Room, the screens worked again, but I tried to look only at Dave to enjoy this great song. He looked like he's telling us a story that only he knows; about his special room. Where's The Revolution - sorry yawn. Everything Counts in Brazil was the best song of the South American tour. Finally the fans celebrated it like I know it from Europe. The fans let balloons fly, the rain stopped meanwhile and the air was full of haze, looking amazing. Dave turned to the band to make clear he wanted to celebrate the song a long time. He enjoyed the bath in the masses. At the end he knocked a balloon away and thanked with “Sao Paulo, you are really the best", and it was true. Stripped gets louder from concert to concert. Dave sang it full of fervor, sometimes falling back in his old roaring.

Enjoy The Silence  saw Martin and Dave stood as ever in front of Gordeno, with Dave later imitating an ape in front of Andy, before he then shot the pig on the screen. Enjoy The Silence was such a long time my favourite live song, over years I played every morning another live version of this song, but with this tour I stopped loving it because I didn't find this tour's version as much fun. During Never Let Me Down Again, the fans hardly waved enough for Dave, he urged them to wave more. And finally the gun came back, Dave didn't use it in La Plata, don't know why. But he smiled very happy as he got it back in his hands. Strangelove -  wow, the fans loved this song and Martin's performance. They screamed louder than me, and that's not easy, believe me!

I used Walking In My Shoes to breathe deeply, before I danced and screamed to the last two songs. The current live version of  A Question Of Time is the  best live version of this song for a long time and it acts as a prelude for my favourite song, the strongest song ever,  Personal Jesus. I danced to it a last time on this amazing continent. My journey came to its end. Good bye Depeche Mode for nearly 3 months. Actually I wanted to fly to the second North America leg, but I decided to cancel it, because I was very disappointed about the concerts in South America. Depeche Mode have to change the setlist and the sreenings, I can't keep watching this much longer. So I will visit only a few festival concerts before the tour ends in Berlin. A kind of saying Goodbye to my long life love Depeche Mode...."This is the last time I'll say goodbye /The last time Then we do not have to lie /The last time Call it what you want /You do not mean a thing to me no more“. It hurts me in the soul and I cry while writing, but it is the truth.


Thank you Claudia

Friday, 13 April 2018


A new HQFU release is always something to be welcomed and Sarah Stanley's new album For Inhumanity, released today, is yet another unmissable 

The album is wholly instrumental, showing off a gentler side to HQFU and this approach was reflects the fact that the album was designed as the soundtrack to the forthcoming Dark Skies Entertainment game Inhumanity, a text based game due for release later this year. For Inhumanity displays many of HQFU's signature traits which fans will recognise, but they're balanced with a more stripped back feel that adds a new dimension to HQFU's sound.

Inhumanity1 is one of the best examples of this with layers of overlapping synth lines building to a joyous finale. It's a wonderful track, as is its Kraftwerk like reprise Inhumanity2, which mixes the classic electro of Computer World with the best parts of Tour De France and that is very much a good thing.

For Inhumanity is certainly an album all HQFU fans will love and it will no doubt attract many people who have somehow missed out on this unique and quite brilliant artist. To celebrate the release of the album, HQFU is having a launch night at Stereo in Glasgow tonight with a live album playthrough accompanied by visuals. Support comes from Bossy Love who are providing a DJ set.

For Inhumanity is available now on all digital platforms. Tickets for the show at Stereo are £4 in advance or on the door

Thursday, 12 April 2018


I've been looking forward to this one. Most, if not all of you will know about DMK, the unique and frankly wonderful Depeche Mode cover band from Bogota comprising Dicken Schrader and his children Milah and Korben. If for some reason you've never seen them do their thing, have a look here - CLICK - and see what you've been missing. A while back I asked Dicken if he'd be interested in covering the show for the blog and happily he said yes. So, here is Dicken's review of Bogota and it's a great one, telling us all about his Depeche and how they've impacted his life, the ups and downs of the meet and greet experience, the show itself, Dave getting his t-shirt gun co-ordinates wrong and ending on a remarkable high. You'll love this. Thanks Dicken and thanks too to Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook Group for the pics.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

I was kindly invited by the “Almost Predictable… Almost” blog to provide a report on the Depeche Mode Global Spirit Tour show in Bogotá, my hometown. But as I began to write, it became increasingly clear to me that the personal experiences that I lived before, during, and after the concert were so intertwined together, so relevant, so intense, so memorable, that it would be virtually impossible for me to separate them from the show itself. So please bear with me, because this is not just a show review. This is an insight into my life.



Backstage, Simón Bolívar Park. It´s Friday, March 16th, 2018, around 7:30 in the evening, and I’m the last one in a short line of eight people. Even though the sky is clear, it’s very chilly tonight, as I thought it would be, and I feel glad I´m wearing my black leather jacket. You see, going to a concert is a little bit like going to war: preparing for it is crucial, especially in a place with such an unpredictable weather like Bogotá: if you underdress you freeze your ass off, and if you overdress you’ll spend the entire show trying to figure out where to tie your sweater. But I feel that for this particular event I’m very adequately prepared. I tap the pockets of my jacket to double-check their contents. Gum to stop smoking: Check. Cigarettes and lighter for when the gum stops working: check. Pot stash and pipe: check. Smuggled aguardiente (our local liquor): check. Wooden maraca with neon green feather that was given to me by a shaman in the Putumayo, in southern Colombia, over a year ago when he helped me cleanse my soul from deep emotional scars: Check. You see, tonight I’m bringing this instrument, simple yet very precious to me, as an offering to my all-time favorite band, Depeche Mode. I am about to meet them for the very first time, and I intend to give them a little token of my appreciation and admiration, something that would probably make them remember our encounter. A small object, musical in nature, that would represent who I am and where I come from. What better than a sacred maraca from the Putumayo?

Amidst the cold, my palms are sweaty. I try not to ponder too much on the magnitude of what’s about to happen, but I can’t help thinking about the importance that this band from Basildon has had in my life.

I remember perfectly that sunny Saturday morning in 1987 when I bought my first vinyl at a record store in Niza, the Bogotá neighborhood where I grew up: it was Music For The Masses. I remember playing it over and over again on my grandfather’s record player, and falling in love with its words and sounds. I remember painting its iconic cover on the ceiling of my room, and the posters of David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and Alan Wilder covering my walls. And I certainly remember how I became obsessed with their music, finding every single album from their back catalogue, and falling in love with every single one of their songs, as they somehow managed to narrate passages from my own life.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Please, move forward to the meet-and-greet area,” said a bland voice in Spanish, strangely unconnected from the significance of the moment. My heart begins to race as we walk deeper backstage. I’m feeling the excitement of being next in line for a rollercoaster ride, only a hundred times more intense. I try not to lose my cool, especially in front of Korben, my eleven-year-old son, who is seventh in line, just ahead of me. I hold his hand and I whisper softly into his ear: “Son, what we are about to experience, we deserve it.” Korben turns around, looks at me, and nods. Korben is not only my offspring, but also my bandmate in DMK, an unusual tribute project in which we perform Depeche Mode covers using old instruments, toys and household items. 

As our line slithers through backstage tents like a snake in the dark, I can’t help but think about the process that led us to this moment: The emotional suffering I went through during my divorce with his mother that led me to record our first cover, Shake The Disease. The rapid evolution of our band after the accidental viral success of Everything Counts (below). Our consequent live shows in Colombia, the United States, Spain, Poland… Suddenly and unexpectedly, we were spreading the news around the world, taking the word to boys and girls. When we started, we never imagined this project would have taken us to where it did, let alone to this moment: Our YouTube notoriety led the organizers of the concert in Bogotá to invite us to the exclusive local meet-and-greet as ambassadors of Colombian devotees. A great honor. I grasp my son firmly by the hand and think about my beloved daughter Milah, the third member of our band, who couldn’t join us in this sublime moment for personal reasons. My heart aches for her absence, but I keep on walking.

We enter the smallest tent in the backstage area. It’s eight of us and it already feels crowded. We look at each other, eight faces brimming with excitement, and I can we have all lived stories that have this moment as a crucial point. The back wall is covered with a tarp printed with DM logos. We instinctively stand in front of it like at a police line-up. I look at my son, and he’s obviously very excited to meet the band that his father taught him to love. He shakes his hands in his pockets, and we can all hear the rumble of three little egg-shaped maracas. For one of our first gigs we printed a thousand of these little yellow shakers with our band logo, hoping to sell them as merchandise. We ended up giving them away at our shows, throwing them from the stage into the crowd. Out of a thousand eggs we had three left at home, and when Korben heard I was going to give them my sacred maraca from the Putumayo, he also wanted to give them something, and suggested our remaining official DMK shakers, one for each member of the band. I thought it was a beautiful gesture. 

A photographer walks in, escorted by two big blokes with British accents. This is it. We are going to meet Depeche Mode. Through my head run a million thoughts per second, mostly voices going over speeches that I had prepared throughout the years for such an unlikely event. But also, different scenarios of reactions from the band. Have they seen our covers on YouTube? And, more importantly, have they enjoyed them? We noticed Stella Gahan (David´s daughter) following our live concert from Poland, but other than that, we have no idea if the guys from Depeche Mode know who we are. This might be the moment when we finally find out for sure. Suddenly, the density of the air changes, as if we were entering the eye of a storm. I sense we are seconds away from a very important moment in my life, and my reaction is to take out my phone and start recording. “Put away your phones, no personal photography,” says one of the British guys. I comply. I hear some people approaching the tent. I know it’s them because around them goes silent, an ambiance of absolute respect. 

In walks Martin Lee Gore. After seeing that face for so many years in so many places, he feels like family, like an older brother. My face is stuck in the biggest smile it’s ever produced. After all these years of rehearsing the perfect line, all I can come up with is “Oh my God, Martin!” Obviously used to these kind of interactions, he looks at me dead in the eye and smiles back, probably amused by my stupid face. We shake. His hand feels warm and friendly. He shakes Korben’s hand, and before I have a chance to say anything else, he moves to greet the next guy in line. After Martin comes Dave, as the absolute rockstar he is. The universe swerves around him as he walks through it. “Hi, Dave,” I say. He’s looking at the horizon, avoiding eye contact with me and everyone else. He shakes my hand with a firm, dry grip, shakes Korben’s, and moves on. Last comes Andrew Fletcher, a tall, commanding presence that moves slowly but confident. We shake hands awkwardly as I say “Hi, Fletch.” He looks at me through his dark, blue-tinted glasses, with an expression on his face that appeared to say “who the fuck are you to be calling me Fletch?” He greets Korben and the others and moves to the right end of the frame. Martin squats for the picture as if we were in a soccer team, and David takes his place in the middle, sticking out his tongue and making a pre-programmed rockstar face. For a split second the scene reminds me of the time I was seven years old and my mother took me to Disney World. After all the anticipation of meeting Mickey Mouse and getting a photo taken with him, when it finally happened all I did was wonder if the guy inside the mask was actually smiling for the picture.

Korben (far left) and Dicken beside him (Picture courtesy of Dicken)

The camera clicks. The photographer says “one more, please,” but David completely ignores the request and leaves as quickly as he came in. Martin and Andy follow him closely behind and, as they leave, the density of the air changes back to normal. During this kind of sublime moments time appears to warp, so I couldn´t give you a reliable figure, but I guess the encounter couldn´t last more than thirty seconds. None of the band members spoke a word during this time to any of us. Now, before you start defending them, I’m aware that these guys are some of the biggest rockstars in the world, and I was sort of expecting such behavior, one they are definitely entitled to. And I also know we have some good days and some bad days, and we probably met them on a bad day. But all this aside, in the end we are all human beings, and I guess I was actually expecting to have some sort of human interaction with them. I hoped they would sacrifice just a few minutes off their busy schedule to really meet-and-greet some regular people who have been touched by their music. Exchange a few words, maybe. Some huge artists build pedestals to stand on, alienating themselves from their fans. I trusted Depeche Mode was not one of them. As we walk back, Korben shakes the little maracas in his pocket and gives me an expression of disappointment. “They are Gods, Korben. We are mere mortals,” I say to him with a little sarcasm in my voice to let him know I’m partially kidding. “We knew it was a long shot for them to notice us. Just be thankful we got a handshake and a picture.” 

We shake it off and emerge from the comfort of the backstage into the wilderness of the crowd. It’s about 8:15 by now, and local opening act Estados Alterados are starting to play their set. This band from Medellín was one of the few during the 80’s and 90’s that managed to play synthpop in Colombia and become successful at it. Back then, there were only two radio stations that played English-speaking rock and pop, and they leaned toward either heavy rock acts like Guns´N Roses and Metallica, or pop, like Madonna or Michael Jackson. Once in a while they would play a track from what was then called “alternative” music, usually the same three or four songs from bands like The Cure and, yes, Depeche Mode. Fans from these bands, like me, were a rare breed, very distant from the mainstream. We had to make a big effort to find our music, in an era before the internet, and in a place ravaged by violence and alienated from the rest of the world. Nowadays things are very different, Colombia has emerged from the ashes of its past, and there’s a new generation that has absolutely no memory of it. Life is relatively good. That’s probably why a lot of kids nowadays –and, yes, I’m aware I´m now sounding like an old man—are not attracted to lyrics that make them think. They don’t want to be asked where the revolution is, they prefer a reguetón beat that makes them shake their culos, and if it comes with lyrics that explicitly commands them to, even better. Radio stations today reflect this hard fact. I’m thinking all of this as we walk through the crowd, maybe to justify the fact that it’s obviously a tiny fraction of the crowd I saw online at Foro Sol in Mexico City a few days before. I would later confirm that, in fact, Mexico City’s audience was 65.000 strong in just the first of two nights, whereas in Bogotá, only one night, were barely 13.000. Even adjusting for population differences between both cities, is still a small number. Is this probably the reason why the band seemed to be in one of their not-so-good days? Were they expecting a larger turnout? 

I’m facing the fact that Depeche Mode is not mainstream in my country, and they could never sell out a stadium the way they do in other places. But I’m thinking we Colombian fans, although may not be a large crowd, are definitely strong devotees. I’m realizing that even if the meet-and-greet wasn’t what I expected, damn it, I just met Depeche Mode and I’m about to see them live for the fifth time in my life, this time up close from first row. I feel grateful I have my son here with me to share such an incredible experience. I am currently living one of the most memorable nights of my life, and it’s just going to get better. We lurch through the crowd and manage to reach the V.I.P. area, where my girlfriend Debbie has been waiting for us patiently this whole time, holding our place in front row. “So, how was it?” she asks. “I´ll tell you later,” I reply. It’s almost nine o’clock now. Lights go off.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group




We all want to change the world,” professes Paul McCartney through the speakers and the ages. Depeche Mode start their show with this timeless reminder that revolution is something that began a long time before they brought it up, and that it will continue long after they’re gone. They rightfully take their place as another link in the chain. Martin, Andy, Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner walk out in the darkness, yet we can perceive their presence. The crowd roars. As Debbie distracts Korben, I take a deep toke from the pipe. As I distract Korben, she does the same. The screen behind the band is lit with beautiful colors, now we can clearly identify their silhouettes. Going Backwards begins. After a few bars comes out David, and something made someone lose their beat. In the crowd we may never knew what really happened, but Dave stopped the song and said to his bandmates “I think we should start that number again, don’t you think, boys?” They go backwards and start again. This would be the only gaffe in an otherwise clockwork show. 

As the first notes of It’s No Good blare, David fully takes command over his stage like no other entertainer can. The screens come alive with his movements in black-and-white. The crowd sings along and we can’t stop dancing. Korben follows the beat with one of his maracas. At some point during A Pain That I’m Used To, as he strolls down the runway shaking his booty to the bassline played by Peter, Dave walks right by us and Korben is tempted to throw the maraca at him. I pictured the image of the little yellow egg shaker hitting David Gahan on the head and, although I found it very funny, I urged my son not to do it. “That’s probably not the best way to get his attention.” At this moment I realize once again, as I did several times during the evening, that Korben is the only kid for miles around. Although the concert organizers made an exception with him, they normally don’t allow any audience members younger than fourteen. Now I realize the reason why. After a long and exciting day, Korben’s energy starts to wane down. During Useless I tried to keep him awake. “Look at those visuals, Korben! That’s what I want to do when I grow up!” --I’m 44 and I still actually say those things. But useless it was. Korben hunkers down against the fence and falls asleep. You may argue that a rock-n-roll concert is not the ideal activity to do with an eleven-year-old, and you may be absolutely right. But this opportunity, this unforgettable experience, would only come to us once in our lifetimes. Everything we built up during the last years somehow culminates in this very moment. My son is aware of it, and wants to be here no matter what. For a moment I consider the possibility of leaving the show. I’ve seen Depeche Mode before and being a parent comes first. “Do you want to go?” I ask him. He says “no” by shaking his head. He seems comfortable and safe in his little front row cocoon. We decide to stay. Cue Precious, a beautiful song Martin wrote about the pain his children suffered during his divorce, and when I listen to it, it always makes me think about my own experience. I look at Korben, pleasantly asleep despite the commotion around him. I think of Milah, his sister, my beautiful oldest daughter, and the painful moments we all lived when our family broke apart. I think about the suffering I feel living away from them, thousands of miles apart. I think of Lola and Nina, my youngest girls from a second marriage –yes, I have four angels with silver wings—and the pain they felt when the love story with their mother ended as well. “My God, what have I done to you?” As I feel Martin’s words and guitar stokes flow through me, tears pour down my face. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
I think it’s time for a guaro,” says Debbie, screaming loudly over the music and wiping away my tears. Debbie always knows what to do. I reach into my jacket and retrieve the smuggled booze. I pour a shot for Debbie, she gulps it down, then I pour one for me. Global Spirit (wink, wink) Tour… ¡Salud! Our toast gives way to World In My Eyes and like magic, its first notes melt away all my sorrows. This is a crowd favorite and the place is booming. I’m dancing and yelling out the lyrics as if I was seventeen again, locked up in my room. I dance with Debbie. Like this song, she makes me feel young. As Dave goes backstage and Martin takes the helm, I kiss her. Martin’s velvety voice takes us to another dimension. His charisma engages the audience with sincerity and humility. His words make me sob again, this time tears of joy and elation. I hold my girlfriend tight, like a rock that’s saving my life in the middle of a turbulent ocean. I love Debbie. She makes me laugh. She overlooks my defects and undermines my drama. She’s patient about my Depeche Mode obsession and has done her best to show interest about it, learning songs that are sometimes older than her. As Martin sings Home, I realize she has not only shown me home, but created one from scratch, a home for me and my children. And I thank her. As David returns to the stage, Debbie and I have another shot of guaro and dance, entranced and inspired by the choreography on the screen. I sing softly into her ear “I’m hanging on your words, living on your breath, feeling with your skin…” 

Suddenly, a new song begins. “Which one is this?” asks Debbie in Spanish. Everything Counts, I reply surely, having heard the new intro many times before and having memorized the almost predictable set list. Then the classic sounds of this hit blast through the air and wake up Korben like a shot of adrenaline straight to his heart. “This is our song!” he cries. “Yes,” I reply without hesitation, thinking somehow we have made it our own. We all enjoy it as such, screaming every word. At the end of the song, during the official “grabbing hands” coda, David walks to the end of the stage, just a few meters away from us. I keep on singing as loud as I can, but the general audience doesn’t keep up, despite Dave’s attempts. This is one time during the show when I saw him clearly upset about the audience’s lack of engagement, and maybe also its modest size. “Thanks,” he says at the end without satisfaction. He partially recaptures the energy of the crowd during Stripped, but then Enjoy The Silence starts playing, the song everyone loves, and the place booms. As thousands of voices sing in unison, I hug my family and start crying again, realizing that all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is, in fact, here in my arms. Korben is mesmerized by the images of animals on the screen. I ask him, “why do you think they chose animals for the visuals?” He replies without hesitation: “Because animals can’t speak.” Good boy, Korben. This is his first experience at a real concert, and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a tough cookie. I also feel proud that I personally taught him how to do the traditional arm wave at the end of Never Let Me Down Again. David grabs his t-shirt gun, walks to the end of the runway, faces southwest, fires, and… overshoots! The Bogotá venue is too small and the t-shirt flies over the wall and into the Simón Bolívar park, nearby a lake. He turns to the northwest, fires, and… overshoots again! This t-shirt also lands in the park, probably close to 63rd street. No t-shirts for the fans tonight, but probably some lucky homeless guy sleeping in the park got a gift from heaven. David didn’t seem too amused about it (t-shirt gun re-calibrator, stats!), but Korben thought it was hilarious. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
Buenas noches, Bogotá!” screams David as they all wave goodbye. “Is it over?” asks Korben. “No,” I reply. “Now we have to yell ‘otra, otra,’ until they come back out.” Having performed in front of a live audience himself, he’s aware of the concept of an encore. We engage in the ritual and, sure enough, the band returns. Martin and Peter come out first, to beautifully perform a stripped-down version of one of their classics --a must-have in every Depeche Mode show-- this time, Strangelove. Then David returns to the stage for one of my personal favorites, Walking In My Shoes,” enhanced and repurposed by a clever use of visuals. Christian Eigner sets the pace masterfully for all of us to follow with our bodies. 

Then it all becomes A Question Of Time. As I grew up listening to this song, I always pictured in my head it was talking about a fifteen-year-old female friend, someone you felt the urge to protect from other male predators. Now that my own daughter is turning fifteen this year, it takes on a whole new meaning. This is the beauty of Depeche Mode’s music. Not only is it truly timeless and sounds as fresh and relevant in today’s music scene as it did thirty years ago, it also evolves, adopting new forms and interpretations every time you hear it. Listening to this song, watching Dave spin with his microphone stand like a blender motor, Fletch clapping his hands like he always does and Martin being master of his domain, I remember why I love so much this band. A chills runs down my spine. “Will this be this the last time I see them?” I thought. Life is full of surprises, and they may be gone tomorrow, or I may. It is a question of time, folks, and it’s running out for all of us. The older you get, the clearer this concept becomes. But every once in a while you come in contact with entities that defy this concept. Like a bunch of fifty-year-olds being creative and behaving like teenagers on stage, proving time is utterly overrated. People come and go, but Depeche Mode’s music will live on forever. Their legacy to the world truly makes them immortal. 

Time for Personal Jesus. This is the song that even non-devotees know by heart and the venue explodes. David plays with the crowd like a cat with a ball of yarn. He makes it look so simple. Not a voice goes silent at the “Reach out and touch faith” moment, some people singing “Richard entons’ qué?” (“What’s up, Richard?), a stupid local joke that generates some chuckles. We are having a great time. Unfortunately, a few minutes before the song ends I must grab Korben with one hand, Debbie with the other and start leading our way through the crowd, going straight for the exit. “If we don’t leave right now, we’re never going to leave,” I say, knowing exactly what I’m talking about. Bogotá has an awful transportation infrastructure, and when any big concert or event ends, traffic in surrounding neighborhoods gets completely clogged for hours. You just can’t get a cab or an Uber because they can’t reach you, and since it’s now past eleven o’clock, there are no public buses available. We sacrifice the last minutes of the concert in order to get a cab more easily, and even so we still have a lot of trouble finding one. We finally do. I’m riding in the taxi, reliving in my head every moment of an amazing concert, and filing them in my memory to be cherished for years to come. Korben is exhausted and falls asleep. I’m so psyched I can’t fall asleep until the next morning.




It´s now Monday, March 19th, around 4:30 in the afternoon, and I am in another cab. The sun is starting to set in Bogotá; beautiful orange and magenta hues tint the clouds in sky. With me are my girlfriend Debbie, my son Korben and my younger daughters Lola and Nina. We spent the entire day at the Salitre Mágico amusement park getting in and out of carrousels, rollercoasters and other fun rides, and we are currently on our way home. We still have in our possession a bag of pink cotton candy that’s not fluffy anymore, but lumpy and disgusting, yet we are still happily picking at it. We recall Debbie´s experience a few minutes earlier at the Ferris wheel. She didn´t know she was so terrified of heights until she was up there, some 50 meters (160 feet) up in the air, and by then it was too late to stop the ride. She just hugged the middle pole in our booth for dear life, screaming for the entire ten or fifteen minutes it took us to go around once. Of course, the rest of our party (me included) couldn´t stop laughing. We laugh again inside the cab as we recollect the moment; even the cab driver is giggling. Debbie is not amused by our bullying, but cracks a smile anyway. Even she has to admit it was pretty funny. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
We take 63rd street, driving past the venue where we saw Depeche Mode perform two days earlier. For a second I remember the t-shirts that Dave overshot and wonder if they are still out there, I even consider the possibility of launching a search party for them. Thinking about this funny bit triggers all the other memories from the concert. I remember every single detail, every moment, every feeling. Depeche Mode are professional entertainers, true artists who gave us one of the best concerts Bogotá has seen in years. I feel grateful for having experienced it firsthand and, for a moment, I feel really proud to be a Depeche Mode fan. 

All that aside, I´m also thinking about our underwhelming experience at the meet-and-greet and all the ways it could have been better. I consider all possible explanations that explain the gap I felt between the band and us fans. I go back to fantasize about a scenario in which the Gods would notice us humble mortals. “Maybe one day,” I thought. 

As my train of thought begins to wander, I grab my phone –like most of us do nowadays-- to check what’s happening in the digital world. Maybe someone found the t-shirts and posted it on Facebook. I see I have a bunch of notifications. The first one comes from my friend, Sean Salo. “You and your kids were called out by Martin,” he writes, attaching the link. I’m curious, but I know he must be kidding. Sean and I became friends when we worked together at Vh1 in New York city, ten years ago. We were connected by our common love for Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, Yaz, Erasure. But especially DM. Our shared interest has helped our friendship to remain strong through the years and despite the distance. But we share something else: For the past year, Depeche Mode put into action the brilliant “Fan Takeover” idea, commending their Facebook page to a worthy fan each day. I was day three. Sean was day fifty. Our lucky group of “Takeoverees,” as we like to call ourselves proudly, consists of 365 hand-picked devotees, that range from hardcore fans and collectors to celebrities like Tony Hawk and Trent Reznor. We have a group on Facebook in which we share our experiences. I scroll down a bit and see another similar post from another takeoveree. And another. Lots of congratulatory messages. What’s going on? I feel I’m entering some kind of twilight zone. I feel butterflies in my stomach. With trembling hands, I click on Sean´s link. The kids in the cab are laughing and screaming loudly, and the seriousness I use to tell them to be quiet makes them stop dead on their tracks. They look at me as if I had just read the news that we are being invaded by aliens. Debbie also looks at me like “WTF?” I turn up my phone´s volume and click on Sean´s link. The video begins (watch the video here)

Martin Gore is still on the South American leg of the tour, a Peruvian tapestry conveniently placed behind him reminds us his exact location. “Hello, it’s Martin,” he says, “and is now day 366, which means that our Facebook takeover is over.” He then continues to thank everyone involved in the initiative, and then decides to share some of his favorite entries. When he says “Dicken and his kids,” my whole world stops. My heart probably missed a beat on that very moment. As Martin mentions us, his face lights up with excitement. “Uh… Playing Enjoy The Silence,” he continues, still smiling. He did not only watch our performance, he clearly enjoyed it too. I start shrieking like a little girl. I cannot believe it, my mind can´t grasp the concept, so I go back and play the “Dicken and his kids” line again. And again. It takes Korben a few reproductions to understand what´s happening. “He knows who we are! He knows who we are!” he keeps repeating. Debbie is screaming too.

The girls don’t understand what the whole fuss is about, neither does the cab driver, who looks bewildered at the troop of screaming monkeys that suddenly took over his vehicle. Debbie kisses me. “Congratulations,” she says. “Now you´ve got your validation.” And I guess I did. I wasn´t expecting it, but I definitely thank the cosmos for it. Was it a coincidence that these events, the concert with its dull meet-and-greet and the end of the Fan Takeover with Martin´s absolutely brilliant shout-out, were just two days apart? Or was it fate that connected everything with a thread of irony just to teach me some kind of lesson? I finish watching the video. Martin mentions his two other favorite entries: Peter Gordeno, who took over the page on this birthday, and the Charity: Waters project, one he declares very dear to him. Out of 365 entries, we made his personal top three. Our cab is stuck in traffic, but I’m floating through the clouds all the way home and way beyond. 

Validation? Recognition? Retribution? Yes, that all sounds very nice, almost as nice as my name sounded on Martin´s lips. Some great reward. But what’s given me the most pleasure out of this strange experience has been the undeniable proof that, even though gigantic figures like Depeche Mode may sometimes feel like Gods among us mortals, they are still human, and we can have real human interactions with them. I have become witness to the undeniable fact that, every once in a while, as we reach out and touch faith, faith reaches out and touches us back.


Thank you Dicken!

Friday, 6 April 2018


11th and 13th March saw Depeche Mode play the only two nighter of the Latin American tour with two huge gigs at Foro Sol in Mexico City. Michael Lyons previously told us the story of night 1 and to tell us all about night 2, we welcome back Ana Soto from Ana has already reviewed shows in Milan and Warsaw for this project and it's great to have her back once again. This review is another superb Soto story, emphasising the passion that greeted the band during their stay in Mexico and filled with tales of DM families, a proposal and, yes, a successful t-shirt gun catch. Thank you for this and for the videos and pictures Ana. 

Mexico City 2nd night: ‘Wow, wow, wow!’
(according to Dave Gahan)

Why are the second shows in a same city always so great? 

Well, there are a few diferent songs for starters, but there is something else: the crowd. 

A perfect combination of hardcore fans that would never miss the chance to see Depeche Mode twice in the same place, the new but passionate fans that didn’t have enough experience to get tickets for the first night and, in this case, families, lots of families! 

That’s right, on March 13th 2018 Foro Sol was the best place to be for many parents and their children to hang out together sharing a same passion: Depeche Mode. And their happiness, energy and excitement fuelled the whole night. 

It was 8.43 p.m. when the lights turned out and every single detail made the crowd yell: the fog, Revolution byTthe Beatles, the walking boots on the screens.

The mood among the band was also high and great, it was easy to notice it when Andy Flecther playfully showed his tongue to Dave Gahan during Going Backwards.

By the second song, It's No Good the crowd was singing so loud that it was really hard to hear Gahan’s voice. The reward to this amazing moment was Dave splashing some of his sweat to the audience.

During Barrel Of A Gun the fans were a little bit quiet, maybe because they left so much energy in the song before, but Dave yelling "Good evening Mexico City!" was enough to bring back the high mood.

Useless was the song with a little mistake. Dave sang the line "All my hanging around twice instead of singing first "All my useless advice". Here you can watch it - see 4 minutes 5 seconds:

After 16 shows without Judas in the setlist (last time was Berlin second night) this song made a great come back in Mexico City. We felt very lucky to hear it -  here is the video:

But Policy Of Truth was the song that made everybody go nuts again, singing, yelling and dancing, making the simple act of listening live one of their favorite songs feel like a privilege. Maybe you can feel it too in this video:

It could be a second night, but for me it was the first time seeing one of the t-shirts that Dave Gahan launches during Never Let Me Down Again. This was the happy girl that caught one in General B zone:

Somebody had been absent from the tour for almost 5 months, but Martin Gore brought it back in the second night in Mexico. If you want to listen it again here is the video:

Thank you for singing something special tonight” said Dave to Martin when he jumped back onto the stage to take back the lead singing. 

At 10.54 p.m. we heard the last notes of Personal Jesus, with the song ending with a very excited Dave Gahan saying: ‘Wow, wow, wow Mexico City!’ 

And I must tell you this was not just a very polite goodbye for the Mexican fans, the band was really happy with the shows and the audience. That was exactly what they told to the manager of the vegan coffee shop where Martin Gore enjoyed his last meal in Mexico City the next day.

Actually, I was lucky enough to met Martin that day too and with a big smile he told us: ‘Those were great shows!’ After that my smile was even bigger than his!

But I was not the only one full of happiness after that epic second show. There are some little stories that happened that night that I really would like to share with you. 

Nobody had a better place in the show than this 7 year old girl. An amazing security guy from Depeche Mode team put her in the other side of the barrier at the very end of the catwalk, also he gave her a guitar pick from the band. Not bad for her first DM concert!

And I told you that night was all about families - this little boy was very sad because he couldn’t go to the first show, but his parents took him to the second and he was so excited wearing his Enjoy The Silence costume. This was his first concert ever!

And what about this family posing like Depeche Mode in the  Strangelove video -  you can feel the love!

Finally, this girl proposed to her fiancé at the concert because Depeche Mode music helped them to build their relationship (and he said yes!). I am pretty sure that for many of us Depeche Mode has played the same part in our love life.

Thank you Depeche Mode (especially Martin Gore!), thanks to the members of group that shared their stories and pictures, thank you Plan V Café and thanks Almost Predictable Almost blog for this amazing project!

Ana Soto /

And thank you Ana!