Wednesday, 31 January 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE. MEDIOLANUM FORUM, MILAN, 27 JANUARY 2018

For this review we welcome back Luisa Carones (@tanisluis) , fresh from her Berlin experience and ready to face the trial of Early Entry in her home city of Milan. As you'll see, Luisa displayed devotion on a level many of us would get no near to and was rewarded both in terms of her place in the queue and by Mr Gahan himself. Thank you to Luisa for the great review and thank you also to Roberta Sotgiu (@RobertaSotgiu) a photographer from Genoa who has provided the pictures. She and Luisa got talking at the gig and Roberta suggested the blog could use her pictures which was very kind. The Depeche Mode family at work!



Where should I start? By telling you that Milan is my hometown and, as such, a DM gig here is a special event for me? Or by apologising for not being as articulate as I would want, as I skipped rest, nights, meals and everything else in normal life, for 4 days in a row, and so my brain is not really functioning? Or simply by stressing that Saturday gig has been the best experience I have had on this tour so far – hence my brain working even less efficiently?

If you have read my previous review, you know that I’ve been to multiple shows on the Global Spirit Tour, and Saturday's concert in Milan was number 14 for me. As you can guess,  the gig in Milan on Monday 29 was number 15, but reviewing that one is someone else’s job, luckily... 

Thus, by now, I have acquired quite a nice amount of experience in preparing that military operation aka queuing for EE; besides, being at home and thus not needing all the logistical support normally required for a woman travelling alone abroad, I could focus on the basics: what time should I start queuing? As I said for Berlin, I knew that German people are crazy and would camp outside venues starting the night before the concert, but I also know my hometown and my fellow citizens too well, so I was ready for something big. And that’s what I got: the queue started not just the night before, but at 9a.m. ON FRIDAY...yup, that means that people, including me, waited outside the arena, in the cold and in the rain, for 36 hours!

The nice thing is Italian fans are very well organized (you wouldn’t expect that, would you?) and the checking of names and numbers at regular times really works well. There is even a fan – and a big shout-out to Nicola here is absolutely required – who prepares wonderful “passes” with numbers and dates of events, each with the title of a different DM song on it. It’s a great souvenir of the evening, one especially foreigners appreciate a lot, and I can barely figure out the amount of time and love he puts into this, for free of course, even for gigs he does not attend. I hope you can appreciate Nicola’s work in the photo of my badge.



As you can see in the photo, I had number 8, which means that I managed to be in the first row and in my perfect spot facing Dave and his nice little moves...And this time it paid off! As you will see...

On Saturday, the Forum was absolutely packed and people were filling their seats well ahead the beginning of the show. Right after EMA had ended with their act, the crowd started chanting and clapping to the rhythm of the DJ set. When the charity video was shown, the arena boomed with thousands of voices singing Where’s The Revolution and when the band appeared in the clip for those 2 seconds, the roar from the audience was almost as if the boys had actually got on stage. I knew my town would not disappoint.



When they did get on stage the party began: we all know that Going Backwards is a very strong opener, but this was the first time I had felt so much energy coming from the crowd, as if everyone’s heart had burst in unison releasing the tension and anticipation they had kept inside. The voices of people singing every single word with Dave filled the place, and it was clear that even the band thoroughly felt that strong reception: Dave was laughing as a child right from the second verse of the song (not very appropriate, though, considering the lyrics...)

That energy and pouring of love kept on building and building throughout the night, and all the guys on stage were clearly pleased, happy, entertained and even moved by what they were getting from the audience, and gave their all to please and move the audience in turn. Barrel Of A Gun, for instance, was so strong and aggressive that, even though it has never been a favourite of mine, I could really feel how deeply Dave lives it, especially in the final bridge when he sings about “the holy one”.

Precious is another example of how the band senses the mood of the crowd. That song has always been a fan favourite in Italy, possibly because it has a melody which suits the Italian ear for music, and Saturday it got the best reaction I’ve heard on the tour: as in response to that, the rendition of the melody and Dave’s flawless vocals produced a magic and moving vibe in a section of the set which normally gets a little overlooked by fans around the world.



Even the usually not-so-sponateous final oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh chorus to Home – let’s face it, Martin often has to work a bit hard to get the people going – this time sounded really unprompted and, of course, it became an ovation when Dave got back on stage and conducted it. We could have gone on for hours, and actually we kept on for a good 3 minutes, even after everyone on stage had stopped. The same happened at the end of Enjoy The Silence, when people erupted in a spontaneous chorus, never heard in other cities, taking up the melody of Matin’s guitar riff for several minutes and with the band silent, happy and almost astonished on stage.

And this leads me to underline the singing and chanting so typical at concerts in Italy. Every word of every song was sung, not only by the hotheads in the first rows, but virtually by every person in the audience, and that sound was so powerful that, at times, it almost blew the roof of the MediolanumForum off. We have all heard crowds all over the world singing the chorus to Enjoy The Silence when Dave asks for it, and we also know that Martin’s backing vocals can still be heard above the voices of the crowd during his section of the chorus. Well, in Milan, for the first time, the sound coming from the audience had such a mighty punch that it overwhelmed Martin’s own voice, and the arena just reasounded with 13000 happy voices....simply amazing.

The same level of sound was kept throughout most of the songs, with Stripped sung at the top of everyone’s lungs as much as any of the fan favourites. Stripped is another song I have often felt gets overlooked at several venues, as though it suffered its positioning in the set and for that reason it sometimes comes across somewhat flat. Well, that was not the case on Saturday: people just kept the flow and level of energy at the top, without missing a bit the whole concert.



And then there are the stadium like chants (Depeche Mode – Depeche Mode in-between songs or po-poro-poro po-poro-poro at the beginning and end of Walking in My Shoes) for which Italian venues are famous. The boys clearly enjoyed that part too: Dave kept laughing all night, Martin was smiling and, surprisingly, looking at people in the eyes, and even Fletch danced more than usual showing off his skilled moves.... Everyone was having a blast and dancing and singing like mad.

The only exception to all that was Cover Me. But do not get me wrong, it was a mindblowing exception. As if by magic, with all that sound and singing, everyone just kept silent all of a sudden: 13000 pair of eyes were simply captured by Dave’s wiry figure in the spotlight and 13000 mouths lip-synced to the song without uttering a sound, enraptured by the sheer beauty of that song, which has clearly reached the status of a DM classic hit by now.

I guess I do not need to get into details of what happened during the most popular crowd pleasers, as I have run out of words and adjectives: I can just repeat myself by saying that everyone danced and sang and screamed and shouted and jumped up and down like crazy. In a word a real and thoroughly entertaining mayhem...with a band so energized by the instinctive reaction of the audience that it just responded in tune. An astounding flow of passion, love and enthusiasm going back and forth between audience and stage.



Where’s The Revolution, though, deserves a few more words. I know that some devotees think that that song has had it by now, and, actually, I felt the same. But on Saturday it sounded absolutely powerful, raw and meaningful – maybe because of the special bond of love and energy I have been trying to describe – with many people in the audience rising their left fists during the chorus, really kind of calling for a revolution.

As for the remaining songs of the usual setlist, I can’t find anything else to add which you do not know already, I just loved every minute of it and I can say – without sounding a patriotic junky, which I am not – that a DM gig in Milan is an out-of-this-world experience.



On a not-so-side note I have to add that standing in the front row has A LOT of bonuses: I could feel part of that living body of passion without being distracted by anything else (as finding room to breathe or to move), I could study the expressions and little gestures of everyone on stage and the way the guys interact with one another, with Dave always playful and in an excellent mood. But, most important, I got the chance to often lock eyes with Mr Gahan and to enjoy his beautiful childlike smile (oops...here I go again with my fangirlish side...). You all know that he always looks for eye-contact with the audience in order to engage everyone, but when it happens to you he just makes you feel like he is singing for you, and for you only, and, geez, that’s positively amazing! 

Then, at the end of the concert, when all five of them got togheter front stage for the final bow, I showed Dave my little banner which just said “thank you”, he aknowledged it and when he came forward to wave the last goodbyes he thanked me, blew a kiss to me and made the heart gesture with his hands: I just melted on the spot and ended up as a puddle....

A pretty nice ending to a great evening, uh?

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Thank you Luisa!

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