Monday, 12 February 2018

LIVE REVIEW: DEPECHE MODE, TAURON ARENA, KRAKOW, 7 FEBRUARY 2018

Chris Snoddon returns to reviewing duties for this show. His last review for the project was from a sweltering Rome in June. This time round, the weather conditions were somewhat different, so it's no bad thing this was an indoor show. Thanks very much for the review Chris and for the pictures too, all of which belong to Chris unless otherwise credited. Oh, and Chris? Time your beer breaks better...

Picture courtesy of Depeche Mode Classic Photos & Videos Facebook Group

Being a bit of a history buff and finding the happenings of WW2 extremely intriguing, I had the Polish city of Krakow listed on my to visit sheet but to date hadn't quite got around to visiting due to previous DM tours in other cities taking up the majority of my travel expenditure.  They also hadn't played Krakow before, so you can imagine my delight when I got a text from my good friend Scott whilst in my Trastevere apartment on the morning of the Stadio Olimpico gig last June, informing me that our Krakow tickets for the Tauron arena were secured. My wife, when told that morning, didn't show the same amount of enthusiasm about me booking a DM trip whilst already on a DM trip but she was again reminded “DM were in my life long before you were so , you'd need to get used to it”. After all she was getting another short break and where better than Krakow with its amazing history.

Fast forward to February 2018 and it was all aboard the plane from Belfast for the flight to Krakow. Arriving late in the evening, it was pretty chilly but didn't feel just as bad as the -7C that the taxi was showing as we were driven to our Hotel. We stayed in view of the magnificent Wawel castle about 20 minutes from the Main square, so getting transport to the gig was pretty easy as there was plenty going on around there. Our trip to the gig was entertaining as a snow shower became quite heavy and this was the cue for our taxi driver to try and drive even faster to get us to the gig with the treacherous road conditions not appearing to bother him in the slightest. We arrived at the gig and were dropped off on the opposite of a very busy road with the magnificent Tauron arena in view.



Built in 2014, the arena boasts Poland's largest LED media facade wrapping around the whole venue. It is pretty spectacular to say the least. Entry to the venue was pretty smooth with ID being shown to match the corresponding tickets which was no issue providing the names matched. That helped to curb scalpers and when inside, apart from a bit of confusion getting wristbands for the area we were to be stood in, the whole atmosphere was pretty relaxed. I found a beer stand and bought a couple of pints prior to finding my standing position ( for those of you who know me this won't come as a surprise) and was again pleasantly surprised at a pint of beer costing only £2.50. I then went and got my spot around half way into the arena slightly to the left of the catwalk. 

Chris (left)
The band came on to a rapturous reception with the now mainstay Going Backwards opening, followed by It's No Good which was gratefully received by the audience. Dave was on top form as he boomed out "Good evening Krakow!" and the Polish crowd responded in kind with their cheers of excitement. Following the path of the previous 3rd leg set list changes, I decided to make a break for the bar when A Pain that I'm Used To was up, which proved to be an epic fail as the keg ran out during my drinks being poured and by the time I'd returned to my original standing spot, I’d managed to miss both Useless and Precious. The consolation to that was that I bumped into Ronni Larson at the bar who many of you may know and managed to get a quick chat and a selfie opportunity with him. 



Back in position World In My Eyes lifted my section of the crowd to fever pitch and Cover Me did little to drop the now ecstatic mood. Every time I see the boys perform this track, it gets better and better for me and it was no different on this occasion, Dave working his magic on the catwalk at the sublime instrumental section. It was now Martin's turn to take the mic with the stunning Insight, although if I had a slight complaint it would be that Peter's Mic was quite loud during this and at times overpowered Mart. Home was its usual crowd roaring success and then In Your Room subtly followed with its (in my opinion) distracting visuals. Where's the Revolution was pretty well received with the crowd timing the clapping to the drum solo at the end very well and then my tour highlight, the thunderous Everything Counts, raised the roof in the arena with shrieks of joy seeming to come from everywhere when the audience realised what it was after the newly added starting electronics. 



A single heavy drum beat finished Everything Counts with Dave shouting “Krakow you really are the best." I thought London was, and Rome, and Dublin, ah well obviously all the crowds must improve with each show, eh Dave lol. Stripped and Enjoy The Silence were their usual brilliant selves and the epic Never Let Me Down Again didn't disappoint as the arms were all waved in sync and captured beautifully on the rear screen for everyone to see. As we know the band exits the stage at this part and Martin returned with the now common place piano version of Strangelove. I had so hoped that he would have slotted I Want You Now in there instead but sadly it wasn't to be. 

Walking In My Shoes carried us towards the finish line with its further mess of an accompanying video and then A Question Of Time maintained the energy until Personal Jesus wrapped things up with a bang. By this stage, I had moved to the exit doors so that I wouldn't be caught up in the usual end of gig stampede and seeing “PJ” from the very rear of the arena from an elevated position showcased the lighting used which I found when I concentrated on it to be pretty spectacular. The lights came on and a quick dash through the now thick lying snow got us into a taxi and back to the main square in Krakow where we all enjoyed a few more drinks and compared the shows we had seen so far on this tour. I had a fantastic time in Krakow and would recommend this city to anyone. The Tauron Arena is a sight to behold and the acoustics from where I was standing were superb. The Polish crowd sang their hearts out and everyone around me appeared to have a great time even though there were a few hostile folk that didn't like it when you returned to your original spot after going for a beer. The band were on top form and its only went and set me off again on the planning stage of my next DM excursion on the Global Spirit Tour.

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Thanks Chris!

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