Today's guest reviewer is Alex Ferguson (no not that one) who traveled to Cologne on 5 June after having seen Depeche Mode in London on 3rd June to take in his second Global Spirit Tour show in 3 days. How did Cologne match up to London? Read on to find out. Thanks very much to Alex for this great review and the pictures accompanying it.
I wanted to get deep under the skin for this concert but did I have the willpower & stamina to last the day out? I admit it was a struggle at times but as they say no pain…
An early flight out of London Stansted didn’t help matters and that was followed by a train and tram trip to reach my destination. On the train in, I spotted some graffiti written on the side of a building, in large letters “HOME”, was this a sign I thought? Nah I concluded, as it was in the wrong colour and more importantly wrong font.
I decided to take the walk to the FC Cologne stadium from the hotel and it was a pleasant suburban district with large parkland along the route. The stadium is quite imposing from the outside, the heat was rising in a sun drenched afternoon, and I settled into the front of stage queue behind some 30 fans ahead of me. I have never seen so many DM t-shirts congregated together so guessed it was a fan forum get together, “Reach out and touch Dave” emblazoned on many…indeed!
|Front of stage right queue behind me|
I soon got chatting to Julie from Dusseldorf who had become a fan at the age of 8 and turned out to be seasoned to the art of queuing for DM. “Oh yes” she said “you see the same faces all the time at the front”. Just how much these fans spend on travelling, tickets and queuing must be mind-blowing. Anyway we pass a couple of hours chatting Depeche. I asked her where she was hoping to stand and her plan was front row along the catwalk”. Entering the stadium at 5pm I had clocked up a mere two hours of the wait so far and things were starting to cease up and hurt - not a good sign I know.
Once inside and past security, I didn’t quite make front row - but second row along the catwalk with a clear view of the central screen was fine by me. I had completely missed the central screen in London 2 days earlier - mainly due to the speaker positioning and a deep set stage.
I had three jovial ladies in front of me at the barrier who were in good form but the wait inside was a proving a tough slog, standing, sitting and breathing in fumes from chain smokers all around.
I spot Julie further along the catwalk and noticed she had got her front row spot. I gave her the thumbs up and she smiled back in a way that told me she was ok (..but only just), the wait was nearly over.
I had to plug up my ears for the Horrors as they had been too loud and monotonous during the London concert and this made it tolerable.
Really think Depeche should command a decent support act. How about Goldfrapp from the Mute camp? Then Alison could cameo later during the remix version of Halo.
The Horrors complete their set to a loud “hallelujah” from a fan next to me. A few minutes later a roar goes up behind me from the seated areas as the Depeche entourage enter the stadium seating and fans start to clap along to a technician who tests out the drum kit to a desperate beat (Did you spot what I did there? It gets worse I promise).
Earplugs removed, the opener starts up, I get the connection with Beatles Revolution, but this is not convincing, too upbeat for me, we need a moody, angry Mode - how about short version of Scum and go straight for the jugular?
Out from the bat the fans all around are clapping and punching the air to the opening tracks which are a great combination from Spirit.
This is serious Depeche devotion at work here no doubt.
I thought I knew most of the lyrics to the songs but these fans are insane, word perfect. Now I am the first to admit I am not keen on the Germanic slant cover versions of Dave’s voice, so I was fearful of what I was about to encounter but my fears were allayed as the lady next to me belted it out and sounded great too.
Dave paraded the stage in silver glitter shoes tonight swapping from the dashing red ones spotted in London.
I really got into the live version of In Your Room this time - maybe seeing the projected dancing couple helped and the fact it’s always been a classic song for me.
The track capturing attention this tour is Everything Counts and no doubt the reworked intro is excellent and the chorus sends the fans all around me into meltdown. Mid track Dave launches aloft a big stage block on the left of stage and for a split second he looks like he’s lost his balance but thankfully he gets it right (sorry I couldn’t resist).
I also witness the famous chicken walk too from Dave. He really likes all that flapping around, please just give me a dance that I’m used to (apologies again for this one)
Martin’s Somebody is another highlight as the audience duly provide a star filled sky for him all around the stadia.
Earlier in the day sheets were handed down the queue for "Heroes" and of course they appeared aloft at the appropriate time, as Dave took on the said track. I forgive the misquote of the lyrics as it should be forever and ever and hold my sheet aloft for the cause. Dave carries this off well and of course a great personal choice too being the track he auditioned for DM. As it concludes he points to the sky in remembrance of the icon.
Trotting down the catwalk Dave is in full flow beckoning the crowd as he cups his ear. I’m about 8ft from him at this point and the ladies in front of me share some amazing pictures they capture. My phone isn’t the best so I just soak up the view and proximity.
I have mixed feelings on the backdrop screens, some of them too simplistic in design and seem to waste their high definition capabilities. However, I did like the effect when Dave strutted in silhouette across the higher level stage to a backdrop of super furry animals, hang on just a thought, could this be the inspiration for Dave’s chicken dance?
This is a really polished act, vocals amazing, Martin loud and Dave animated. The sound quality is really superb where I was. Cologne certainly feels more compact and intimate than the London concert and the fans were fully engaged from the start.
I am not a huge fan of the big arena concerts but this really was as good as it gets.
As I leave the arena, I leave behind the three German ladies slumped over the catwalk barrier. They are all emotionally drained and had given it everything they had. They had entertained me along the way and I chuckled at their futile attempts to attract Fletch from behind his keyboard onto the catwalk. My sore limbs reminded me of the pain and suffering I had endured and the long day had taken its toll but the experience was a truly memorable one.
Catch them while you can or on the new winter leg dates that have just been released for UK and Ireland…Believe me, from this insight, the fire still burns.
Thanks very much Alex.