Wednesday, 6 December 2017

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, SAP CENTER, SAN JOSE, 8 OCTOBER 2017

This one is a bit out of sync but that does not matter one jot. Today's reviewer is Mr Breathing In Fumes also known as Glen Hammarstrom. You all know Glen, either from the unmissable Breathing In Fumes, or his work on Home, or his vinyl obsession or his regular online radio show Disappear where he broadcasts deep house from deep in Modesto. You might also actually know in which case you will simply know him as Glen. In the odd world of the internet, Glen is one of those people who has become a friend even though we've never had the opportunity for him to pretend he can understand my accent face to face. I'm delighted he's written a review for the project and here it is. There's also no need to apologise for anything Mr H. All words Glen's, all pictures from Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

First thing, I can't believe I have taken this long to get this to to David. I am embarrassed and very sorry and publicly apologize to David for turning in my review so late. He is always so generous and supportive of my projects that I am thoroughly annoyed with myself that I have let him down like this. It's no reflection of him, my view of the blog, or anything other then life/work getting in the way. "Weeks turn into months, Months turn into years..." 

While I do write for Home, the last thing I am is any kind of writer. Most of the time I feel like I am just stumbling trying to find the words to present things there in a some what interesting way. It's often a struggle and a confidence trying experience most of the time, so much so that I have to start this review expressing my self awareness of my limitations. That being said, I hope you'll hang in there with me as I share my thoughts on Depeche Mode's stop at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA on October 8th.

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Writing a review is tricky, it's just my personal perspective of the night and anyone in the arena could have had a completely different experience then mine. That being said, here's my view of the night. Now, I want to start my review with a story of pure Devotee kindness. Originally I wasn't even planning on seeing the band that night. I had really good seats for the next show in Oakland and decided no to get tickets for San Jose. The morning of the show I realized I had to go and jumped online and got a ticket. I have never missed any of the bands Northern California gigs since the Violation Tour and even if my seats were awful, I would be there. I bought a cheap nose bleed seat and headed out to the show. I was sitting up there watching Warpaint, whom I love, and I text my friend Hector a quick "hello from the nose bleed seats". He text me back asking if I was alone, I was, and he text me back offering me ticket right down closer to the stage! Someone didn't show and he happily upgraded my seat for the evening. How generous is that? A big thank you Hector and you made the experience of the evening and the Global Spirit Tour just that much better.

Now there's no such thing as a bad Depeche Mode show. There just isn't. But.... (there's always a 'but') like the last few tours, the experience was one of conflict. Not in a bad way, but in a form of evolution and me struggling with my own preferences. I get it, the band has evolved through the years, especially live, and they want to present the songs in a way they see best serves the song live. Fine, but if I am being honest... there were moments in the show where I was having mixed feelings. I had seen the set list and a few clips and spoilers online, the norm these days, but I didn't sit and watch endless clips on YouTube just so I could experience it for myself.



(above - Breathing In Fumes 005 : A Spirit Tribute DJ Mix by Glen Hammarstrom)

I'm not one to sit and focus on the negative, I'm just not. I do, however, want to point out two negative themes that bothered me through out the show and those were Dave and Christian. That was not an easy sentence to write mind you, but I want to be honest. Dave is single handily the greatest front man of his generation. That's not even up for debate. And while I understand and admire he can engage the entire audience in those giant stadiums, he could tone it down a bit in the smaller arenas. At times, he came off as a little campy and trying too hard to be some "character" and it took me out of the moment more times then I care to admit. Not the entire show, but it was a bit much at times and he really doesn't need to do it. It's never been something I have noticed before, so it really stood out to me this tour. It bothered me more then his "yelling" singing style on the Exciter tour to be honest. 

I had more of an issue with Christian's drumming then anything. He just went a little to heavy on the drum fills and kind of ruined a few songs for me. I'm not anti live drums by any means, but he needs to dial it back... especially during Enjoy The Silence. I don't think the live drums work on some of the older songs and, to be honest, it kind of ruined Everything Counts for me a little bit. That amazing intro is one of the best things in years, literally, then when the drums kick in.. it was really anemic and would have been better suited with a programmed drum to really give it the right kick at the moment. Stephen Morris steps away from the drums on the songs that don't work well with live drums, why can't they? And I know, I watched all the Kerry Hopwood interviews and know they put the filters on the drums to make them sound more electronic. It wasn't that, it was like it just didn't fit right. Over all the drums were fine, but it was just more then it needed to be or not enough at times. That being said the drums add so much to other songs that I can't imagine them being performed without them. I don't normally notice the live drums bothering me at the show, it tends to be something that I notice later when I listen to the live albums or the Live Here Now releases. Which is the point, it's more about experiencing it live at the show then anything. Like with Dave... I just noticed it bothering me a the show for the first time rather then later if that makes any sense. Again, that's just me dealing with my inner conflict of their live evolution and my expectations. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group
The only other downer were the people in my section. I know we're getting older, but seeing the fans sitting in my section for a majority of the set was kind of a let down. I even had someone behind me ask me to sit down as I was in their way! Which I didn't of course, but being asked was both silly and annoying. The section didn't really get moving until Everything Counts. San Jose is always a lively crowd, so that really caught me off guard. Once they got into it, the energy was amazing. I thought the over all pacing of the show was great and I was very pleased with the set list, visuals, and stage set up. Highlights were Corrupt and "Heroes" by a long shot for me with World In My Eyes, Going Backwards, and In Your Room being right up there. Not gonna lie, I got a little bored with the set list anchor songs like Walking In My Shoes, Personal Jesus, and  I Feel You, but they're so epic that by the end you kind of forget that you were eyeing the beer stands when they start. I feel like my review of the show is so negative. It's really not, the show was fantastic! I just wanted to share some elements of it that I was struggling with. Those same things were bothering me the next night in Oakland as well, but at least my section was into the show the entire time there. 

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

My last thought I want to share is one thing that really stood out to me and, again, another thing I just consciously started to notice recently was Andy. This really kind of stood out to me as I stood there watching in San Jose. As the live set up changes over the decades, I love that Andy is always that one constant element that's so deeply rooted into their DNA by being up there behind the keyboards the whole show. It reminds me of the past, but it's also a common thread that connects them to who they are today and how they used to perform their music live. They've added a drummer, Martin is on the guitar more then ever, Peter of course, but seeing Andy up there from the live band's original line up bringing that Kraftwerk element to them really is something I embrace and appreciate. 

Like any DM show, it's always nice to bump into fellow fans you have known through the years. Some longer then others, but always great to see so many familiar faces there.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks Glen.

1 comment:

  1. WHY BE ANNOYED BECAUSE SOMEONE ASKS YOU TO SIT DOWN? IT IS SO ANNOYING WHEN YOU CANT SEE BECAUSE SOMEONE IN FRONT OF YOU IS STANDING UP, IT CAN COMPLETELY RUIN THE SHOW FOR YOU IF YOU COULD SEE PERFECTLY WELL BEFORE, BUT THEN LOSE YOUR VIEW BECAUSE OF SOMEONE STANDING.

    ReplyDelete