Depeche Mode's return to Nashville could only be documented by one person - Linda Dorland. Linda is a long term Depeche fan and is well known on the Home forum as a huge fan and someone who is quite obsessed with Mr Gahan. This Depeche show was to be her first ever DM live experience, so I was thrilled when she volunteered to review the gig for the blog. As you'll see, she had a few personal struggles which threatened her attendance at the show, but happily, and much to everyone's delight, she got to go along and see her heroes. This is a great read for a number of reasons, not least the hugely personal perspective it is written from, and I know that it's going to be one of the stand out reviews of this whole project. All pictures are Linda's so please don't steal them, and if you find a video of Dave speaking to Linda at the gig (read on for that), let me know.Enjoy.
PAIN AND SUFFERING IN THE SOUTHERN HEAT - DEPECHE MODE ROCKS NASHVILLE TIL IT HURT AND WE MAY NEVER BE THE SAME
Let me start by saying I had never seen Depeche Mode live. Yes a DM virgin, this was my first show, here in my home city of Nashville. They had been here in the 90's to not a great turnout at a now demolished horrible venue way out of town too. I had bought seats for the Delta Tour in Atlanta but I don't travel well and wound up having to sell them and not go. I was devastated. I created a page on my Depechemodelover.com website titled Bring Depeche Mode to Nashville hoping that would help, maybe someone would see it (note that page now changed). Miracles happen, here they come finally back to Nashville in our new city owned outdoor venue right on the river in the heart of downtown Nashville surrounded by music bars, huge hotels, in the most vibrant part of Nashville. We disappointed them years ago I am sure. So will Nashville rise to the occasion? More importantly this is a small 6800 venue, we have seen the great shows they have done in New York and in Europe. Will they disappoint us?
When I bought my ticket through that stressful and expensive US fan presale, I lucked out with second row center, and rented the hotel closest to the venue to make it a real experience. But since then I got injured, back and hip in pain a lot, and then I developed an eye issue requiring surgery, meaning I could no longer drive and not see as well either. Well there goes the concert I thought but I did not give up - I mean this is fucking Depeche Mode! So I rented two nights at hotel, got friends to transport me, extra medication for the pain etc and off I went. Because of my condition I could not go alone, and got a ticket from the venue on row 3 right behind me so I could take a strong male friend to help out. This should work, right? And with the presale lineup, ticket costs, hotels, etc it only cost me nearly two thousand dollars to go. What? Yeah and I was laid off from work during this time too. But it is Depeche Fucking Mode FFS. Had to go. My favorite band, right here in my hands. Will Nashville live up to this? Will Depeche Mode deliver?
Nashville has changed drastically since the 90's, we still have our country music for sure but rock n roll has emerged strong, they keep calling us the "it" city with tons of people moving here every day, lots from New York and California, with emphasis on music and video. Our lazy downtown on the river has turned into something that resembles Las Vegas but without the gambling - a downtown party zone. The Ascend Amphitheater is positioned next to the river with magnificent views of the Nashville skyline all around. It is actually a city park except when concerts are there, and a nice intimate size for a rich concert experience, but I am pretty sure Depeche Mode is the biggest act they have had in their 2 year history. One of the managers actually said they were shocked to get the booking. Yeah, so were all of us too ! Down the street is the Bridgestone which holds over twenty thousand fans for concerts. But this small size made for a fabulous experience.
No I am not going to talk about any of the songs. So many reviews already, blogs, tweets, we know the setlist by heart and every piece of praise and every complaint about every single song. So I knew what I was going to hear and in which order too (although Martin surprised us with A Question Of Lust, thank you Martin !). And I have seen every single video of this tour so far. After seeing all those huge concerts in Europe and then New York, how can this small event in Nashville even compare?
Oh hell they rocked Nashville till it hurt. I mean they KILLED us. And the crowd! Tons of out of town lifetime fans there as well as locals, a great mix. Due to the heat I sat out the opening act in the VIP lounge with air conditioning, then headed out in time for the boys to take the stage. I had made a sign that said "My First Depeche Mode Concert", not very big as the venue only allows signs the size of printer paper. So here I come hobbling on my cane with my friend carrying the fold up walker for me to use to support myself in case people are standing. WHAT? Did I think I was ever going to sit? More on that later. So first I was recognized by Depmode, who was the sender that evening for the relay on Home. Surely you all know about HOME and those cool concert relays. He even took a selfie with me and posted it (horrible photo of me). but what fun that was. Met several other forum folks too, Depeched sat next to me and one named Lillykiss from the past. As I was arranging my "cage" around my seat, just for fun I held up that sign I had made , turned towards the crowd and panned it across, and to my surprise I got this huge round of applause and cheers. Wow what fun was that ! More on that sign later too. Here come the boys.. How is Nashville going to react?
Did I think I would ever sit? Hell no. The entire crowd was standing the second the drum beats started, even before Revolution started. And chanting, screaming, cheering, clapping. We sounded like the huge venues they had played and this kept up the entire concert. Some people dancing in the aisles (til security made they go back to seats), and sing, OMG it seemed everone knew the words to all the songs even "Heroes" and everyone sang. Loud. It was unbelievable, and I think the crowd really surprised the band, especially Dave. We carried on one of the fan refrains so long he finally asked if we had been watching the internet? Guess he thought Nashville would not know about the fan sing a longs. We sang till he had to cut us off. And the Martin songs, quite often sadly a bathroom break for some people, I did not see any one leave, we stood and sang with him and cheered and held up our hands for him. It was amazing and Marty looked really happy.
Now about Dave. As you guys know me well, I am a big Dave addict. My personal Jesus would be putting it mildly. And I have seen every video of every concert. And here there is no catwalk, not a huge stage, so.....WOW. In person he is more than amazing. Much slimmer than I thought, he pranced across that stage in constant motion like a proud peacock, working that mic stand like crazy, talking to the audience, pointing at people and of course giving a lot of attention to the ladies up front (one of which was me). Let's get back to my sign. After the first 2 or 3 songs (wish I could remember, but I had to wait until there were lights on the fans) I held up the sign for the band to see. Dave saw it instantly, pointed at me with a big grin on his face and said something I could not hear. Home member depeched thinks she heard what Dave said when I held up that sign, something like "no longer a virgin" or she's a virgin. Yes I desperately want to find that video or photo. Pretty sure it was at the beginning of So Much Love.
Hoping someday I can find a photo of video of that moment. Crappy little sign I had made overnight on printer paper with a marker the hotel loaned me. Who would have thought? And what a special moment, the long time fan next to me ( a screamer by the way) turned to me and said "You got a shout out ! But with everyone screaming non stop for two hours, who could hear? Oh year, we gotta talk about sound.
The Ascend is noted for great sound in any seat and I think they live up to it. Quite often center front seats get blasted with so much that it is distorted. Not this time, sound was loud but fabulous, The only issue was on those few songs when Christian gets crazy on the drums and a few where there is very loud bass, the stage is on a concrete base connected to the concrete floor under our front seats so I mean I have never felt anything like that before. Not only the loudness of those moments,which I expected, but it vibrated in our chests I thought my ribs would shatter ! Kind of like an out-of-body experience. The sound was good the entire concert.
Notice I have had little to say about Fletch or Christian and Peter. The stage is so high for those up front I could just not see them that good (and using basically one eye as well), Fletch seemed to be into it though, and I could catch a glimpse of Peter and Christian in some songs. They all seemed to be enjoying this concert.
I had bought my first cell phone (seriously, never wanted one before with everyone in US with land lines), but I bought an iPhone 7Plus which is supposed to take fabulous videos, and I had intended on capturing the whole concert on video. Oops add another eight hundred dollars to the concert cost. Holy fuck these videos better be worth it. And then we realized as I am only 5 feet tall, and with the injury I could not hold the iPhone high enough so my friend had to hold it and do some of the recording. This phone comes with two built in cameras, so you can actually take a photo while also recording video, but alas he did not know how to properly use that feature, so we lost five songs, he started the video then went for a photo and the video stopped after about 5 seconds. Rats. But the ones we got are wonderful, at the bottom I have put the link to my Youtube page where they are loaded. And we also got some good photos on both phones which will get loaded later, but some are already on my facebook page.
Well guess I better talk about some of the songs anyway. After hearing months of complaints about various things in the setlist, the projections, etc. I was surprised. That split projection screen was actually pretty cool, although since I was sitting center it was lined up correctly. And the videos, funny but I did not find them distracting, maybe because I had seen them so many times on videos already. As to the setlist, there was not a weak song at all. Even songs that get bashed by old time fans were hits here in Nashville. I Feel You and A Pain That I'm Used To were just as popular as the others. Martin's songs got a better than average response as far as dancing and singing along I thought. The cover of David Bowie's "Heroes" was a crowd pleaser a well, again a lot of singing along but with some reverence. Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again, 2 of my all time favorites, seemed to also be 2 of the hottest for the crowd, but then this crowd loved every single song they performed. Which is why it is nearly impossible for me to review the songs, every song was just so good.
I have to stop for a moment and say something about Depeche Mode fans. Never in my life have so many people I have never met in person reached out to me via this site, the HOME forum, on youtube, instagram, The Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos website, and then in person at the concert with so much support and love. I went to this concert really too injured, too medicated and too sick to even be sitting in my yard much less staying at a hotel alone and tackling a loud concert in humid heat, I actually almost fainted in the waiting line to get in; and were it not for all this support and love I might have never made it. There is no way I can say how much I love each and every one of you, all the fabulous Depeche Mode fans around the world included, I have So Much Love for you. In my dreams I would create a moment where all of us could meet at least for a moment and dance the night away together.
Back to the concert. Lots of emotions, my first ever time to see them in person, Had this been a year ago, I would have been the one dancing, knocking over chairs, prancing down the aisles, I would have gone nuts. Visions of panties being thrown on stage. So there is a tremendous sadness that life stepped in and dealt me some roadblocks to my ultimate happiness. Sure I am sad for what I could not do, what I could not feel, that I could not sing loud enough, or stand on my chair, or jump and dance and all the things everyone else was doing. But maybe that was my reward, by having to be more still, more "in the moment" within myself during the concert. I really "lived" the concert, it was like the music was not just on the stage, it was within me as well. And watching the band especially my dear Dave, I could "feel" his energy, his joy in performing. Although singing along, I could hear him singing not just with my ears but the words and the vocals seemed to also be in my heart, I felt truly some type of spiritual experience during some of the songs. Enjoy the Silence and Never Let Me Down Again usually make me cry even here at home, or at least jump and sing and laugh. But there I could not experience them that way, and instead it was like I actually became part of the songs, I could look at those silly hot pink painted farm animals with Dave in front of them and suddenly they weren't silly at all, I actually "got it". Enjoy the Silence. Enjoy the Moment. Live each moment for what it is, even if it is looking at a hot pink bunny rabbit.
I heard notes in the songs I never noticed before. I wanted to cry but was too dehydrated from the heat, no tears would flow. But in my heart I cried with sadness and happiness. I finally saw the band I love. The only band I ever want to listen to. All I ever wanted, All I ever needed is here in my arms. I got to see them, hear them, feel them, experience their joy in performing, and was surrounded by a large group of like-minded fans who danced for me since I could not. I want to be back there with them right now. Again and again. And now I understand why fans of this band travel thousands of miles during a tour to see them over. I get it. I would do it too if I could. And now I know when I go back and watch the videos from past tours I will see things I never saw before and hear things new to my ears. No longer will I "listen to" or "watch" Depeche Mode, now I will feel them, the music will go inside me, the videos will be more than pictures. As I watch each video I will re-live this one magical almost impossible night in Nashville Tennessee that has changed me in so many ways.
When I agreed to do this review, everyone asked me to review it as an experience, since there aren't many DM fans that have never been to a concert. So here's my experience. Nothing was going to keep away. The concert was a winner for everyone. The band won, they got a crowd better than I am sure they expected in a beautiful venue. The crowd sure won, a fabulous concert that will go down in history as one of Nashville's best concerts with a lot of people moaning for years "I should have gone". . I won over obstacles, nothing that life threw at me was going to keep me away from my Depeche Mode. I went there a Depeche Mode virgin. Only now two days later can I feel what I could not feel that evening. This is a great band. Not a good band, a great band. Growing up in the South I have lived with heavy Southern rock music , even worked a recording studio for a year or so, and record stores for years. But I have never seen a band like this one. Yes I loved the original Depeche Mode and stuck with them through all their trials and changes, always a fan, but still feeling they were lacking something, they had not reached their true identity, They for me had not peaked. They still had miles to travel. Well folks they are there. I have never seen a band so unique, so different, with so much more talent than most realize, the genius writing of Martin Gore, words to songs we all could live by; the almost impossible performance of Dave on stage with his now mature but beautiful voice, the ever- energizing and comforting presence of Fletch, there to guide us and let us know all is right.
That night in Nashviille, Music City USA, I heard music as it should be, loud, strong, vibrant, energetic, just a magnificent concert. Depeche Mode came to Nashville to perform what I bet they thought was going to be a relaxing break before Texas. And they indeed seemed to be having a great time performing. But the fans had a different idea and when you mix the energy of fans with a talented band you get a performance of a lifetime. Some very seasoned music friends of mine said it was the best concert they had ever attended. Ever. Depeche Mode came to Nashville to perform a concert and instead they rocked Nashville so hard it hurt and we will never be the same. I know for sure I won't.
Review respectfully submitted by Linda Dorland (DepecheModeLover), Nashville native. Inspiration for this review credited to Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher. May their songs continue forever.
Linda's YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/user/DepecheModeLover101/
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What a great review. Thank you so much Linda.