All posts by Kevin

London O2 gig review – Joyous contradictions for the adoring masses

Depeche Mode’s gig at the London O2 illustrated something that fans perhaps do not often think about, as they wave their arms and sing the songs.

Musically, visually, as a group of musicians – Depeche have always been a band of contrasting elements, both strange and complicated.

And, yet, 37 years into their career, the 2017 incarnation of Depeche Mode is at peak levels of contradictions, everywhere you look.

These disparities are not to their detriment, they are what make Depeche Mode, the individuals, the band – the phenomenon, even – what they are.

They are what have lured 20,000 people to a sometimes soulless arena in South East London, again (there will be millions by the end of the Global Spirit Tour in July 2018).

They are what drive the fans to buy the reams of merchandise and the multiple formats of albums and singles.

And, most importantly, such contradictions are perhaps what continue to inspire the band to create music.

depeche mode london o2 2017 2

But why does the Spirit “era” feel different?

After five gigs this year – the London O2 show was my final one for 2017, perhaps for the entire tour – it feels as if there’s a different mood in the elements that make up the world of Depeche Mode.

It started in March this year.

After a fairly formulaic introduction to the band’s return from their traditional hiatus between long-players (a press conference a few months before, a single release for Where’s The Revolution, followed by the album release for Spirit), fans could perhaps be forgiven for thinking the Spirit segment of their history would be fairly similar to those that proceeded it.

Single-album-tour-single-tour-single-tour-single-tour, etc, sprinkled with some reasonably benign press coverage featuring the same old questions each time.

But then the album started getting some good reviews in the music press and, better still, the band’s biggest and fiercest critics (i.e. the fans) seemed to be getting behind it.

“Best work since Ultra“, “better than anything Hillier ever did with them”, “found their musical mojo again” – you get the idea.

It’s not worth debating here where Spirit ranks in the catalogue (personally, it’s the strongest album since the underrated and vastly different, in terms of tone, Exciter in 2001), but the general reaction to it perhaps triggered something in the minds of fans and the band.

The interviews to coincide with the album launch were some of the best they’ve done in years (Andy Fletcher in Ireland’s Hot Press and this terrific one-hour podcast with Dave Gahan for Nerdist are two particularly good ones) and – here’s one of those contradictions – they sounded incredibly happy about being Depeche Mode again.

Yes, despite the album’s gloomy take on the world we live in, and life in general (!), written almost in despair at times, the trio seemed to be in anything but a state of melancholy.

A few TV promos in Germany and France showed the band were in good shape (Christian Eigner and Peter Gordeno in tow for now pretty much their 20th year), and then Depeche Mode went to Glasgow.

The performance in the city’s Barrowlands venue, headlining the BBC 6Music Festival in front of barely 1,500 or so fans, will probably become a legendary gig for many reasons, not least for those that were there, but most importantly it showed the outside world (it was broadcast live and then found on YouTube within days) how good new songs such as Cover Me could sound live, how much fun Gahan seemed to be having, and a reminder how uplifting the band can be.

Eight months on from that night in Glasgow and they’re back in London for a solitary show, ending a four-night jaunt through Ireland and the UK before heading to Europe for a few more months either side of Christmas.

depeche mode london o2 2017 5

The London Stadium gig in June was an event, not a gig. For many fans, it was a landmark moment, proving to the UK music scene, press and public, that they genuinely are one of the biggest bands on the planet. It was a Rose Bowl moment, just for the locals.

But the O2 is more natural territory for Depeche Mode – indoors, dark, tight-knit crowd (although the venue is still vast), intense, controllable.

The crowd feels different tonight. There’s an overwhelming, celebratory vibe in the air, something that’s always there to some degree at gigs but not this intense.

Here comes another contradiction. By the time set opener Going Backwards is in full swing, thousands of people are gleefully singing about “piling on the misery” and “we feel nothing inside” – it’s utterly wonderful.

As Gahan laments how as a society we are “armed with new technology”, thousands of mobile cameras are in the air and he himself pouts and preens and grins for them all.

This is what makes Depeche Mode such a fascinating and joyous band – they pull in different directions, both musically and lyrically (Going Backwards, the magnificent In Your Room or Barrel Of A Gun do not feel like they’re created by the same band as the one that made, say, Precious, Strangelove or Stripped); they ignite moods and reactions in people who fail to be moved, one suspects, in similar ways by much else.

In the O2, fans are bordering on the riotous at various points.

A Pain That I’m Used To has become a brilliant live song during this tour and sees large sections of the standing area merrily bouncing around.

It also showcases the bass playing skills of the often unfairly maligned Gordeno, who follows up immediately with similarly excellent fretwork on Useless, complete with a new Subterranean Homesick Blues-style video.

The contradictions continue… and crowd loves it.

Cover Me may not make it to another tour in the future, but it’s become one of the finest moments on Spirit and on the accompanying tour.

Gahan, lest we forget, is 55 years old, yet the yoga (apparently), clean lifestyle and positive attitude to performance means he does things on stage for two hours that people half his age would struggle to do once a week, let alone three or four times in the space of seven days.

The cliches in the media are endless (“lounge lizard” seems to be a particular favourite this tour), but he defies his years with energy and a presence that are unmatched.

depeche mode london o2 2017 1

Something has happened to Martin Gore, too – he seems so much more comfortable and at ease in a sober skin than his brooding, often glum-looking younger self.

Perhaps it’s also recent fatherhood (x2) and an acknowledgement that through his songwriting it’s actually okay to have been an important part of so many people’s musical history.

The odd juxtaposition of the live show versus the lyrical intensity of the songs is everywhere.

Where’s The Revolution is an apparent call to arms to end the troubles of the world, for sure, but here at the O2 it’s just another opportunity to sing as a unit, to vocally share with thousands of others what it means to be part of something else – a movement of people utterly devoted to a single entity.

This is no more apparent with the gloriously reworked Everything Counts, which pokes in the ribs of those who “grab all they can” but triggers a terrific sing-along at the end.

Gahan, Gore and Andy Fletcher are no longer three blokes from Basildon (one of those other cliches), pioneering their form of synth music and trying to gain acceptance from their detractors.

They moved beyond all that many years ago (not least with two of them living nowhere near their home-town).

Depeche Mode are entertainers, obviously, but they are more than that.

Gore said recently that the fervour from the fans and the community that surrounds them is almost religious in nature.

He’s not wrong. And perhaps for the first time, fans at the O2, in the often low-key capital city of their birth country, stood up and worshipped with an intensity that perhaps they’d been meaning to demonstrate for many years.

The national and global mood can be fairly sombre to many, but somehow, Depeche Mode provide a form of escapism for thousands of people.

depeche mode london o2 2017 4

I have read on many occasions that Depeche Mode strike a chord with those that feel as if they are not part of the mainstream, whether that’s at a cultural or emotional level – Music For The Misfits, perhaps.

As the final two songs of the evening (A Question Of Time and Personal Jesus) play out, there’s the last chance to feel part of the Depeche machine, swaying and waving and bellowing out the words, before filing out to their normal lives once more.

This odd, uplifting but sometimes dour, thoughtful, inspiring and confusing band, who really can’t be pigeon-holed musically because they’ve been so varied in their output over many years, have brought their array of contradictions to the masses again.

And they’ve won.

If Depeche Mode stick to their now well-trodden strategy, Gahan, Gore and Fletcher will be entering their fifth decade as a group when they embark on their next tour.

Until then, London and those who come to the O2 for their shows, it feels, will miss them a lot…

(Don’t) Get your air guitar out – Halo, rawk style

Please make it stop, some might argue.

British metallers Weak13 have turned one of Depeche Mode’s finest moments into a root and branch attack on our senses (and sensibilities).

The West Midlands three-piece are perhaps better known for their songs Go Away and Sex Pest, as well as their solitary studio album They Live.

Halo, somewhat fortunatelyhas been largely spared of a deluge of cover versions over the years.

US singer Ronitt had her rather more sedate take on Halo a few years back.

Yet most fans will have the wonderful Goldfrapp remix of the song on their minds when they think of different versions.

Depeche Mode were presumably so impressed with it (beyond including it on the album Remixes 81-04 album) that a version was played for an encore during the Delta Machine tour in 2013-2014.

Note: Look out, in HALO, for some inside knowledge about rockier versions of the  Violator classic.

Paris gig review – Depeche Mode spreading the word to boys and girls

NOTE: The original version of this review of the Paris gig appeared as part of the Spirit Tour series on the Almost Predictable, Almost site.

* * *

I am making a fairly confident guess that the vast majority of those both writing and reading these reviews of the Global Spirit Tour are not newbies to Depeche Mode.

They probably range from hardcore devotees who go to ten or more gigs on a tour and collect every format of every bit of new material, to those who probably take in one show each time and buy the latest album.

We, both readers and scribes of the wider series on the Almost Predictable, Almost website, generally know our stuff and can relate in some way to most of the reviews, and we all certainly have an opinion about the band and how they are performing.

For this review, my second in the series for David McEloy’s site (I penned a piece about night #2 of the tour in Amsterdam – and the HALO site version), I wanted to come at it from a different angle, primarily because I had two newbies in tow.

And this particular pair of Depeche debutants happened to be my two kids, aged 12 and 9 respectively.

They certainly know of the band (their father is obviously a fan and just happens to be writing a book about them – so there’s a fair amount of discussion at May Towers about all things Depeche!) and they both have opinions of sorts about songs.

Ella, the more senior of the two, is typical for her age – she likes Katy Perry, Little Mix (she saw them at the O2 in London a few years back) and Justin Beiber, claiming they are all “AMAZING” compared to the 1980s-formed boys from Basildon.

Sam, alternatively, recognises many songs and even says he has a few favourites: World In My Eyes and Personal Jesus, for example.

I’ve shown them many live clips and enthused about how seeing Depeche at a gig is a wholly different experience to listening to the recorded output.

At this point, I usually get something along the lines of “well, i’m too young – I’m never going to get to go” or “yeah, whatever, Dad”.

I was determined to prove them both wrong at some point…

* * *

Late last year, as the first gigs on the tour were announced, I figured it was time to act – getting some money from a speaking engagement, snapping up tickets for the Stade de France show and deciding to make a weekend of it, with both elements kept as a surprise.

Through a combination of stealthy tactics and a few small lies here and there (they were told I was doing a speech in Manchester for my day job), eight months later, we found ourselves getting off Metro Line 13 at one of the stations close to the stadium.

I’d already had a funny conversation earlier on the Metro with Ella, who was asking “huh, how can something be ‘almost predictable’?” when she noted the t-shirt for David McElroy’s blog that I was wearing for the evening.

I explained it was a line from a Depeche song – “oh, right, okay…”, she remarked before, in that way kids do so well, moving on swiftly to something else of more interest to her.

The game was nearly up though.

Having already been taken aback somewhat as they boarded a train to Paris, rather than Manchester, we got within a few hundred metres of the stadium before my daughter asked why a group of men (old school ticket touts!) were holding up bits of paper with Depeche Mode written on them.

It was time to confess.

Within minutes of them slowly absorbing the news that they weren’t going to be “watching a sunset from a famous hill in Paris” after all, but seeing Depeche instead (“NO WAY?!?!?!”), they were immersed into the pre-gig world of hundreds of fans milling around the stadium.

“I can’t believe how many people are smoking!”, says Ella. Welcome to France 🙂 …

Sam, innocently and rather amusingly, asks: “Are they going to sing all the songs in French?”

It’s easy to forget, as fans of music generally for many years and regular gig-goers, how alien and surreal the experience might be for a kid.

The Stade de France and its surrounding pedestrian areas are easy to navigate, and within minutes of moving quickly past the merchandising stands (come on, lads, it’s pretty hard to feel revolutionary against the “system” when being bled dry for a tour t-shirt – sorry, rant over), we are in our seats.

As fans, especially during active periods for the band, it is fairly typical to get wrapped up in the Depeche Mode universe.

Many live and breathe the meanderings of life for the band – examining set lists, checking pictures on forums, wondering about the crowd configuration at shows, looking for hints of strains (or not, it seems, at the moment) between band members.

But in the heads of two kids who are about to experience Depeche Mode for the first time, the questions come thick and fast, covering every type of issue:

  • “So, there are three in the band [looks at my DM-branded beer cup], but five are going to play? I don’t get it.”
  • “Does the song Personal Jesus mean they are really religious?”… Let’s not get started on that one!
  • “Will the neighbours complain if it’s too noisy?”
  • “What happens if they need the toilet?”
  • “The front cover of your book has four people on it. Why did the other guy leave?”… Let’s also not get started on that one!!

Thankfully, Algiers (who are excellent as the support act) create enough noise and visual interest from our vantage point on the second tier, between the stage and halfway line of the pitch, to stem the flow of questions.

It is perhaps the general atmosphere of the huge stadium that they absorbing like sponges by this point, as the Martin-curated techno set builds ahead of the first strains of Revolution by The Beatles.

Much to their delight, after exchanging messages, I point out a friend who waves up at us from the Golden Circle.

And then, Depeche finally arrive shortly after 9pm (giving rise to perhaps the most frenzied reaction I’ve seen so far on the tour, at least from where we’re perched), with the now well-known run of songs that make up the first half a dozen songs of the set.

depeche mode paris 1

A Pain That I’m Used To is the first where the crowd appears to unanimously get to its feet, including – much to my surprise – both of the kids.

There is clapping and cheering, a few questions here and there (“Does he always wiggle his bum like that?”… “Err, yeah.”), but, perhaps most wonderfully, they have taken the plunge into our little world.

Never underestimate the impact of live music, whatever its form – it can truly surprise and thrill, especially to those that rarely experience it or, as in this case, are witnessing the power and passion of a Depeche Mode on top of their game and clearly enjoying themselves.

The wonderful In Your Room triggers the first “that’s a bit weird” about Anton Corbijn’s visuals but any confusion or distraction is soon forgotten as the opening bass line of World In My Eyes rings out and both the Stade de France and son Sam cheer loudly.

depeche mode paris 6

Dave’s first foray on to catwalk at the close of Cover Me brings about a huge cheer, plus an “oh no – is he going to fall in at the end?!?” from one of the kids.

Some brief fan punditry coming up:

Judas is a very welcome addition to the set, replacing A Question Of Lust and ensuring Martin gets a gentle and genuinely moving “if you want my love…” chiming around the stadium in northern Paris.

Home has its usual and loud sing-a-long at the end but I feel there is (after seeing three gigs so far on this tour) an awkward dialling down of the momentum, not least after two slower numbers from Martin.

Perhaps this is the point where Everything Counts or another old fave (maybe even Where’s The Revolution) should get their airing, rather than the plodding and lesser-known Poison Heart.

By now, close to 10.15pm, Paris has finally fallen dark enough for the light show to really kick in.

It’s a bizarre sight to see both kids singing “WRONG!” at the top of their voices and pointing to the sky, clearly picking up on what the crowd is doing around them.

By the time we get to Enjoy The Silence, a song that the kids actually know the words to, much to my surprise, enjoyment and total immersion in the show takes over.

Ella leans over and shouts: “Will they sing the ‘I’m taking a ride with my best friend’ song?” – again, surprising me somewhat as I never realised she even knew the song.

Martin still says how incredible it was seeing an entire crowd waving their arms in unison for the first time on Never Let Me Down Again, back in 1988, so it must be equally breathtaking for a child to witness 70,000+ people doing it for the first time.

I’m not usually one for hyperbole, but it is a moving experience for a parent, seeing their children lapping up the experience, waving frantically along with everyone else – perhaps finally getting what all the fuss is about.

The encore (“oh, they’re coming back – YES!”) glides through with the rendition of Somebody, with mobile phone lights twinkling everywhere, a stomping Walking In My Shoes and a gentle Heroes before the final pair of I Feel You and Personal Jesus.

depeche mode paris 3 depeche mode paris 5

As the final “reach out and touch faith” comes and goes, with both jumping in the air and shouting at the tops of their voices, there is the immense relief that eight months of mild subterfuge and planning worked out, and pleasure knowing that it really was worth the effort.

It is arguable that they would perhaps have the same level enjoyment at any other large gig – experiencing an enormous crowd and the passion that live music can create amongst the fans attending.

But this is something else – there is also an emotional connection for them as they know how much this band and the buzz around it (not least with my decision to spend a lot of time writing about it) means to me.

And, yet, weirdly, the most satisfying part of the whole experience in Paris was not something that happened in the stadium on the night of the gig – it was the following morning when all I could hear was them quietly talking about it and sharing their favourite moments as they woke up.


It was only later during this trip that I realised – after glancing upon a post on the Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos page on Facebook – that my own first visit to the French capital was almost 24 years to the day.

By bizarre coincidence, I was also there to see Depeche.

They played two consecutive nights, on the 29th and 30th June, at the Paris Bercy Arena on the Devotional Tour.

Full of hair (and bearing an Enjoy The Silence t-shirt), beside the Pyramide du Louvre in Central Paris before the first gig:

depeche mode paris 4

And just to demonstrate how times have changed for a certain rock’n’roll band, Dave Gahan is the new face of Dior.

The Paris-based fashion house has posters of the Depeche frontman in the windows of some of its stores in the city.

Luckily, the band’s new fans aren’t taking it too seriously 😉

depeche mode paris 7

MIA will make you a believer if you lift up the receiver

“Lift up the receiver… I’ll make you a believer” – one of the most instantly recognisable lines in a Depeche Mode song.

But the famous lyric from Personal Jesus has recently reappeared, in a context and genre about as far removed from Depeche as you can imagine.

UK-based MIA is a bundle of creativity, covering music, production, fashion and photography (she’s overseeing this year’s arty Meltdown Festival in London), with her roots originally in a curious fusion of hip hop and “world music”.

She came to mainstream attention when working with A H Rahman on the soundtrack for Danny Boyle’s film Slumdog Millionaire, fronting the hit song Paper Planes.

Not only is her music inventive but the live act is terrific (Glastonbury, a few years back, was a rather feisty affair).

Ahead of her curation duties for the Meltdown Festival, MIA has released a song straight to YouTube, called Goals.

MIA’s dark and extremely lo-fi rap features a slight variation on the Personal Jesus line (swapping a “lift” for a “pick”) as part of a hypnotic series of verses and choruses.

It’s essentially a love song, tinged with anger and venom. It’s a terrific and unusual type of track.

MIA has a habit of creating music that is strangely addictive, especially because her use of melodies and harmonies often do not conform to conventional standards.

Even the “video” for Goals is oddly compelling, in a very simple way, using a series of stop-motion shots from a gig.

Many Depeche Mode devotees, given the general reaction to countless reintepretations of material from their idols, are going to hate it.


London gig review – Almost a Rose Bowl moment for Depeche Mode

Even before London, I’ve been saying since the mini-gig at the Barrowlands in Glasgow that Depeche Mode are in-form.

This is a term obviously more commonly used by sport writers and pundits, but it can be applied here to Depeche.

Dave Gahan appears to be wonderfully energised for his 55 years and clearly is enjoying himself immensely (he broods and stomps around on-stage but with a cheeky glint in his eye); the “band” sound tight and the production is superb; and there is a confidence from both Depeche and fans in the new material.

All these elements go a long way towards, outwardly at least, showing that things are pretty good in Depeche camp at the moment – something that comes through in the live performances so far.

Gahan’s interview with the British political magazine New Statesman last week hinted at some of the usual issues behind the scenes, but for the time being there do not appear to be many signs that they’re only going through the motions of being back in “band mode” (a lot of credit must go to Martin Gore in this regard, who has become a new dad twice in the last 15 months and must find it difficult being on the road).

A few changes to the song line-up (perhaps throw in the Ultimate Set List!) from night to night might appease the fans who are irked by such things, yet it generally feels as if the fanbase is really enjoying having the band back on tour again.

* * *

I read and heard a fair amount in the weeks and months leading up to Depeche Mode’s show at the London Stadium that it was a risk for the band to try and pull something off on that scale.

Does that sound familiar?

Fans will remember an American interviewer in the 101 film asking Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore as to whether the Pasadena gig was a “risk for this band”.

It was a risk worth taking, as we all know – it was a triumph, in fact, with that memorable night in 1988 going down as one of the most important milestones in their eight-year history at that point.

They’ve had other milestone gigs since then, too, of course: the double-header at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles in 1990; Dave Gahan’s “return from the brink” for the Ultra parties in London and Los Angeles; and perhaps even the Crystal Palace show in London in 1993.

But nothing compares to that balmy night in California (“there’s probably not been like a gig like again for us”, Gahan later said).

Back to London in 2017, with the Global Spirit Tour now a month old and Depeche Mode playing their biggest ever outdoor gig in the UK at a venue in London’s East End that is already known for many celebratory nights during the London 2012 Olympics.

This was a big event for the band, in many ways.

It’s probably a bit of a stretch to say that the London Stadium gig was Depeche’s “Rose Bowl in the UK” – but it was fairly close.

Saturday night in London was our intrepid trio’s defining moment in their home country – a reminder (two fingers up, even) to the doubters in amongst both the press and non-believing, so-called music aficionados which they have accrued over the years that, whether the cynics like it or not, the UK has produced yet another one of the biggest bands in the world.

That Depeche Mode can still crank out music both from the studio and in a live setting that entertains their fans is something that will no doubt be a cause for celebration for as long as the band continue to make records.

It’s perhaps hard for fans outside of the UK to really appreciate the significance of the gig in London.

But for those of us here that have been to the gigs (at home and abroad), bought the records and merchandise, followed their every move, even written about Depeche… we know that a gig like that in London, in front of 70,000 people, was a proud moment not only for the band but also us as well.

As supposed “hardcore fans”, we can sometimes lose sight of how awe-inspiring the band can really be, especially for debutants at a gig.

Depeche trigger things at shows that do not happen with many other bands (mass sing-a-longs, crazed arm-waving, etc) – but perhaps the most noticeable is the fervour and passion that they inspire and the sense of community that is a genuine part of the overall experience.

In London, for thousands of fans, this was a chance to celebrate that sense of belonging to a movement that surrounds a band that has, frankly, not had the recognition they deserve in their own country.

It was against this backdrop that will ensure the gig remains a memorable one for the tens of thousands who sang, danced in the rain at various points, laughed with and hugged their fellow Depeche comrades.

In short: Depeche’s show in London was as much a reason for the fans to have a party as it was for the band to signal to their compatriots that have been a force in music for an exceedingly long time and the cynics should wake up and at least have the good manners to congratulate them.

A post shared by Alan Bautista (@mr.bautista) on

* * *

After three gigs (the mini-show in Glasgow and the second night in Amsterdam) on this tour, some of the highlights haven’t changed.

World In My Eyes is probably the moment in the set where things start really ramping up (although, to be fair, just their arrival onstage was greeted with a noise to remember for a long time), even with London it still being dusk rather than the dark enclosure of previous gigs.

Those closer to the front would have had a ring-side view of Gahan’s trip over Gore’s synth stand, sending the lead singer sprawling and his mic needing a swift replacement.

Perhaps the chuckle between the pair was compounded by recalling just an hour or so earlier, when Gore was known to have taken a tumble himself during one of the fan meet-and-greets, much to the amusement of his fellow band members.

Depeche karma in action right there.

What else?

There is a genuinely joyous moment during this tour when those that have avoided any clips from earlier shows realise what the hypnotic intro to Everything Counts actually is.

Corrupt and Wrong are far dirtier than on record and have become brilliant songs, whilst the last 30-45 mins of the show is simply a riotous run-through of classic tracks.

Again, although it doesn’t move me to this extent, despite its brilliance, I have seen people in tears during the rendition of David Bowie’s Heroes during the encore.

Yet the biggest moment of the night was not concentrated on a single song, or how the crowd participated in something, or the rapturous cheers the band received at the end.

It was the sum of all of its parts – how everything came together for one single evening when a band, their families, the travelling circus of an entourage and thousands of fans all participated in a good ol’ fashioned knees-up, as those down the East End of London would have once said.

FOOTNOTE: Part of this post originally appeared in a collection of reviews from fans, collected following the gig by the Almost Predictable. Almost blog. The site’s editor, David McElroy, has set himself the colossal task of trying to get a review of every gig on the Global Spirit Tour!

Depeche Mode and the Utopian set list (voted for by fans)

Depeche Mode fans – forget the general election in the UK for a moment, this is THE result that everyone has been waiting for… 🙂

As mentioned a few weeks ago, we’ve been running a poll to find out what are the songs that Depeche Mode fans would love to hear on their ultimate set list.

Most importantly, these would be the 20 songs that are the best songs for a gig, not necessarily a fan’s favourite songs (an important distinction).

David McElroy from the wonderful Almost Predictable… Almost blog and I were asked by the London Stadium (venue for the gig this coming weekend) to pull everything together for an article for their site.

That’ll be posted in the next day or so. David’s post about the results is here, too.

But here are the results and some mini-analysis (I’m not an academic researcher, by any means, so my slicing and dicing of the results is rather rudimentary 🙂 ).

First of all, we had a three-way tie for the 20, 21 and 22 spots, so we increased the set list to 22 songs (surely no-one would complain about getting an extra two songs on the night?!?).

Chosen by dozens of Depeche Mode fans, here is the ultimate set list in order of popularity:

  1. Never Let Me Down Again
  2. World In My Eyes
  3. Personal Jesus
  4. Everything Counts
  5. Enjoy The Silence
  6. Stripped
  7. Behind The Wheel
  8. Fly On The Windscreen
  9. Cover Me
  10. Shake The Disease
  11. Halo
  12. Walking In My Shoes
  13. Going Backwards
  14. The Sun & The Rainfall
  15. In Your Room
  16. It’s No Good
  17. Wrong
  18. Scum
  19. You Move
  20. Lie To Me
  21. Blasphemous Rumours
  22. Nothing

waiting for the night live

What we suspect will delight many fans is the inclusion of some classic tracks (but not necessarily the obvious ones): Lie To Me and The Sun & The Rainfall, in particular.

Also, perhaps the strength of Depeche Mode’s new album, Spirit, is showing through a bit, too.

The increase of the set to 22 songs, to account for the three-way tie, meant that a personal favourite of mine, Nothing, made it to the final list as well (much to my enormous amusement and Nothing-hater McElroy’s dismay!).

We then set about trying to put the 22 songs into some kind of perfect running order.

Amazingly, we had little to disagree over (unusual for opinionated Depeche Mode fans, some might say!).

  • Going Backwards
  • Behind The Wheel
  • Halo
  • Walking In My Shoes
  • Lie To Me
  • Scum
  • Stripped
  • It’s No Good
  • Cover Me
  • Wrong
  • Fly On The Windscreen
  • You Move
  • World In My Eyes
  • In Your Room
  • Blasphemous Rumours
  • Personal Jesus

Encore 1

  • Shake The Disease (Martin solo)
  • Nothing
  • Everything Counts

Encore 2

  • The Sun & The Rainfall
  • Enjoy The Silence
  • Never Let Me Down Again

Sorry, Martin – just the one solo slot. Sorry, Dave – no mid-set respite for you on this gig.

Feel free to leave your feedback in the comments below 😉

barrowlands depeche mode 2

So, what else?

If the boys had a few extra Shredded Wheat one day and played an epic set of The Grateful Dead proportions, say with 50 songs, these are the next 28 songs that would make the list.

  • Leave In Silence
  • Something To Do
  • Black Celebration
  • Here Is The House
  • The Things You Said
  • Strangelove
  • Rush
  • Useless
  • Where’s The Revolution
  • So Much Love
  • A Question Of Time
  • Suffer Well
  • Photographic
  • Told You So
  • People Are People
  • I Want You Now
  • Policy Of Truth
  • I Feel You
  • Barrel Of A Gun
  • Home
  • Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • Just Can’t Get Enough
  • Ice Machine
  • Get The Balance Right
  • It Doesn’t Matter
  • Somebody
  • It Doesn’t Matter Two
  • Clean

Eagled-eyed fans will notice that there are still some glaring omissions, so here are some final factoids to digest:

  • First single Dreaming Of Me failed to receive a solitary vote.
  • A Question Of Lust, returning to the Global Spirit Tour set list this year, was in 75th position in the list of 200+ songs.
  • Fewer than half of the songs on A Broken Frame received one or more votes.
  • Songs from the Exciter era were the least popular with fans, with even the bouncy I Feel Loved in a lowly 82nd spot.
  • Everything Counts took three times as many votes than any other song from Construction Time Again.
  • Polarising 1985 single It’s Called A Heart also didn’t capture the, err, heart of any fan in the poll.
  • Many voters requested the 1994 Exotic Tour version of I Want You Now.
  • A mainstay of the World Violation Tour encore, Route 66, also didn’t register any votes.
  • Songs from the Spirit album captured almost as many votes as all the tracks on Playing The Angel, Songs of the Universe and Delta Machine combined.
  • Waiting For The Night, somewhat surprisingly, was the only song from Violator to not receive a single vote.
  • Dangerous got four times as many votes as fellow b-side Happiest Girl.

My huge thanks to everyone that took part, especially to David for helping out (and being so gracious about the inclusion of Nothing!) and to the London Stadium for getting involved.


anton 101


In case anyone wants to know, these are the 20 songs that I selected for my ultimate Depeche Mode set list, in running order:

  • Policy Of Truth
  • Behind The Wheel
  • Leave In Silence
  • Fly On The Windscreen
  • My Joy
  • Blasphemous Rumours
  • When The Body Speaks
  • Home
  • In Your Room
  • If You Want
  • Halo
  • I Want You Now
  • Cover Me
  • Nothing
  • Told You So

Encore 1

  • Judas
  • World In My Eyes

Encore 2

  • Never Let Me Down Again
  • Personal Jesus
  • Shout

Where’s The (French) Revolution – Carla Bruni covers Enjoy The Silence

Not content with a glittering career as a model-turned-singer and being married to a former president of France, Carla Bruni has turned her attention to singing Depeche Mode songs.

The 49-year-old, who has five albums to her name and was one of the most sought after faces in the fashion world in the 1990s, has a new long player of cover versions being released later this year.

And, yep, Enjoy The Silence gets the wispy Bruni vocal treatment and is the first song to be released.

Explaining her reasons for picking the Depeche classic in an interview with Billboard, Bruni says:

“What I like very much about the song is the lyrics. It’s such a perfect song that it really didn’t need a cover.

“The lyrics are quite dark, but they’re made stronger because, nowadays, noise is everywhere.

“We need silence. Silence is healing.”

Indeed it is, not least for the former-First Lady of France who has moved out of the limelight as such and returned to her singing career after spending four years in the Elysee Palace.

She married French president Nicolas Sarkozy in 2008 and became a French citizen (she was born in Italy) after an apparent whirlwind romance shortly after he took office.

Bruni’s version is by no means the best take of Enjoy The Silence but it’s probably not the worst either.

In fact, there are many, many versions kicking about these days, recreated with varying degrees of quality.

But it is certainly the first cover of a Depeche song recorded by a figure who has seemingly sped through a hugely successful, high-profile professional career and private life with few blemishes (she has even caught the eye of musical icons Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton, before settling down with a politician and having a family).

I’m sure someone once said “Fast Fashion” is a great name for a band. No, they didn’t 😉

Curate the ultimate Depeche Mode set list

By their own admission, Depeche Mode have a thorough and reasonably democratic process that they go through to create a tour set list.

And, yet, as the catalogue gets bigger with each new album, this mechanism presumably gets harder every time.

But fear not, gents.

In conjunction with the London Stadium, where the band play on Saturday 3 June, we thought instead it would be fun (and intriguing!) to get the fanbase to help out the boys with their dilemma instead.

Obviously, the Global Spirit Tour is already underway and the set list locked down – but ahead of what will be a landmark gig in the UK for Depeche, let’s find out what the masses would love to hear if the band had a clean slate again… just for the homecoming show.

Here on the HALO website and elsewhere, such as the Almost Predictable. Almost blog, we’ll be collecting the TWENTY songs you want to hear.

The full Depeche Mode catalogue is listed below for reference 🙂

Remember, this isn’t necessarily a list of your own favourite songs (though it may well be), but the TWENTY songs that you think should be on the ultimate Depeche Mode set list – tracks that would help create the best gig ever.

You can leave your list of TWENTY in the comments below, on the HALO Facebook page or via email.

The results will be posted on the London Stadium website and other participating sites in the days before the gig.

With many thanks in advance for your suggestions 🙂

The full discography is listed below.

PIC: Paris promo gig set list via Depeche Mode Live Wiki.

New Life
I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead
Boys Say Go!
What’s Your Name?
Tora! Tora! Tora!
Big Muff
Any Second Now (Voices)
Just Can’t Get Enough
Dreaming Of Me
Ice Machine
Any Second Now

Leave In Silence
My Secret Garden
Nothing To Fear
See You
The Meaning Of Love
A Photograph Of You
Shouldn’t Have Done That
The Sun & The Rainfall
Now, This Is Fun
Oberkorn (It’s A Small Town)

Love, In Itself
More Than A Party
Everything Counts
Two Minute Warning
The Landscape Is Changing
Told You So
And Then…
Get The Balance Right
The Great Outdoors
Work Hard

Something To Do
Lie To Me
People Are People
It Doesn’t Matter
Stories Of Old
Master And Servant
If You Want
Blasphemous Rumours
In Your Memory
(Set Me Free) Remotivate Me

Shake The Disease
It’s Called A Heart

Black Celebration
Fly On The Windscreen
A Question Of Lust
It Doesn’t Matter Two
A Question Of Time
Here Is The House
World Full Of Nothing
Dressed In Black
New Dress
But Not Tonight
Breathing In Fumes
Black Day
Christmas Island

Never Let Me Down Again
The Things You Said
Little 15
Behind The Wheel
I Want You Now
To Have And To Hold
Agent Orange
Pleasure, Little Treasure
Route 66
Sonata No. 14 in C#m (Moonlight Sonata)

World In My Eyes
Sweetest Perfection
Personal Jesus
Waiting For The Night
Enjoy The Silence
Policy Of Truth
Blue Dress
Happiest Girl
Sea Of Sin

Death’s Door

I Feel You
Walking In My Shoes
Mercy In You
In Your Room
Get Right With Me
One Caress
Higher Love
My Joy

Barrel Of A Gun
The Love Thieves
It’s No Good
Sister Of Night
Jazz Thieves
The Bottom Line

Only When I Lose Myself

Dream On
The Sweetest Condition
When The Body Speaks
The Dead Of Night
I Feel Loved
Easy Tiger
I Am You
Goodnight Lovers

A Pain That I’m Used To
John The Revelator
Suffer Well
The Sinner In Me
I Want It All
Nothing’s Impossible
Damaged People
The Darkest Star
Better Days


In Chains
Hole To Feed
Fragile Tension
Little Soul
In Sympathy
Come Back
Miles Away\The Truth Is
The Sun And The Moon And The Stars
Oh Well

Welcome To My World
Secret To The End
My Little Universe
The Child Inside
Soft Touch\Raw Nerve
Should Be Higher
Soothe My Soul
Long Time Lie
Happens All The Time
All That’s Mine

Going Backwards
Where’s The Revolution
The Worst Crime
You Move
Cover Me
Poison Heart
So Much Love
No More (This Is The Last Time)

Amsterdam gig review – Behold an infectious Spirit in the Depeche Mode camp

The Global Spirit Tour is underway, so a quick flight to the Netherlands from the UK was arranged for the gig in Amsterdam.

The Almost Predictable, Almost blog has set itself the ambitious but fun task of trying to capture fan reviews from as many gigs on the tour as possible!

This is my review of the Ziggo Dome show on Sunday 7 May 2017, which first appeared on David McElroy’s terrific site on the following day.

Thanks to David for the opportunity to contribute to his series and for also allowing us to republish it here.

+ + +

A post shared by Ziggo Dome (@ziggodome) on

I remember reading an article a while ago that analysed how the opening night of a tour is never the one that causes the most anxiety.

It is always the second show, and perhaps the two or three after that.

Sure, debut nights have very high stress levels – the months of preparation across every area of putting a band in the road need to come together and work seamlessly for two hours.

Staging, AV, merchandising, ticketing, VIPs, press, etc. Not forgetting, of course, the weeks of rehearsing and trying to make the live sound as good as possible.

There must be a huge sense of relief when it does all work – or appear to – on the opening night.

The reaction (on David’s blog and social media) to the Stockholm gig, the first of Depeche Mode’s new Global Spirit Tour, has been extremely good.

Yet it is said that the second night can often show the frailties of taking a massive production on the road – getting the stage, lighting, screens, computers, etc packed away and then back in place in a new venue, in a new city, within a day or so.

The first airing ofa new set can also cause headaches: poor reaction from the crowd (let’s face it, reasonably unlikely in the case of Depeche), realising that some of the arrangements or the video backdrops need to be tweaked, concerns over the running order and countless other creative elements of putting on a two-hour gig.

Still, it appears that – as Depeche Mode roll into Amsterdam, two days after the gig in the Swedish capital, with a 14-hour drive – things are going extremely well so far.

A post shared by Anastasia (@kalinka_m) on

The Amsterdam Ziggo Dome is a terrific venue – fairly big (17,000), airy, but still manages to be more intimate than some of the often soulless atmospheres within the identikit mega-arenas of Europe, such as the O2 in London.

Danish band The Raveonettes, the latest in a long line of brave souls to support Depeche, are loud, creative with how they use guitars alongside other instruments, and extremely good.

Some Devotees will moan, inevitably, but their grinding rhythms, superb close harmonies, heavy bass and wall-of-sound guitars seem to somehow capture a mood of both edginess and expectation.

They go down pretty well with the Amsterdam crowd (and me). Fair play to them. I’m a new fan.

The lights dim after what feels like an interminable wait to the strains of Revolution by The Beatles – cue the first of many sing-a-longs of the evening.

If the aim is to get the crowd whipped up into a frenzy, it works.

The first strains of Martin Gore’s guitar on Going Backwards ring out and it is soon very obvious that thousands of people already know the words of this and every other song from the new Spirit album, released just seven weeks ago.

It is, as has been noted in numerous forums and blogs, one of the best opening tracks from a Depeche album for a long time and, in this setting, the perfect song to kick off the gig.

This is no low-key Welcome To My World and Angel from the Delta Machine Tour – we are in full-on audience participation (and appreciation) straight away.

They stride through the first half a dozen or so songs like a well-oiled machine (including a wonderful Songs And Faith And Devotion album version of In Your Room) – the tightness of the show and the AV showing no signs of a lack-of-practice as it’s still early days in the tour, or following the 1,400km drive south from Stockholm.

As mentioned in my review of the Barrowlands gig at the end of March, Depeche Mode in 2017 seem very much at ease with themselves.

It’s noticeable in their confidence in the new material and their body language, especially between Martin and Dave.

There are hugs in the semi-darkness between songs (cue a huge roar from the crowd stage-left) and Dave even performs a “we-are-not-worthy” action to his band mate after a song later in the set, again triggering cheers from the Amsterdam masses.

Dave is in his element, as always – spinning, pouting, grimacing and grinning his way through songs.

The extended catwalk stage gets a visit on a few occasions – the soaring brilliance of Cover Me has Dave conducting the crowd participation from its end and Martin encourages the crowd yell-a-long at the end of his perfect rendition of Home.

amsterdam depeche mode 2

So what stands out?

Wrong has a new synth-led intro and generally grinds away merrily in its own repetition. Corrupt has finally won me over – perhaps due to it getting an extremely dirty feel to it for the tour.

Everything Counts creeps up on a few people, as the famous melody is introduced quietly against a low-fi, trip hop-style beat.

Still, when the song gets going, it’s pandemonium in the crowd (the second biggest cheer in the first half of the set after a rapturous World In My Eyes). It’s a wonderful moment, especially with the 101-style participation from the crowd at the end.

So, here’s a minor wrinkle – we’re not in full Devotional-style, split-level with the stage design but Dave Gahan does use a higher platform on a number of occasions, like a preacher’s pulpit (borrowing from the Where’s The Revolution video) that sits about a third of the way up the giant screen behind the main playing area.

Maybe I missed it in Amsterdam, but he’s never lit fully by the spotlights, just a silhouette.

This could well be the point, of course, yet it often took a while for the crowd to notice he was actually up there (“Oh, THERE he is! “Yeaaaaaah, Dave!!!”). I suspect that part of the performance might change as the gigs pile up.

The stage projections by Anton Corbijn (who is seen in the crowd tonight in Amsterdam) will polarise opinion, as always, but they’re bright, creative (especially so for the brilliant So Much Love), often weird or surreal, but do not take anything away from the performance.

They close the main set with Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again – such staples of the Depeche live act these days but, let’s face it, it takes a heart of stone to not be moved both by their brilliance as songs and, in a live setting, how uplifting it can be having 15,000 people singing and waving along together.

Martin returns with Peter Gordeno for the encore to sing a pitch-perfect version of Somebody (I hear “I think I’m going to cry” from behind me somewhere). Walking In My Shoes, with its new intro, follows.

It’s easy to forget that not every fan in the Ziggo Dome tonight would have known what the setlist was likely to be, had watched footage from the previous gig or – shock, horror – simply doesn’t use social media to find out every detail about the band and the tour.

This is why, for me, perhaps one of the moments of the night is when it finally dawns on thousands of people, as Dave reaches the first or second line, that Depeche Mode are indeed playing their tribute to David Bowie with a version of Heroes (Peter is also out front again on the bass guitar).

“Oh my god! Is that Heroes? Oh my god!!!” screams a woman behind me.

Somewhat ironically, given that you’re reading this, there’s something to be said for not reading this or any reviews of the Global Spirit Tour!

A powerful Personal Jesus ends the night (I’d love to know where the loudest “Reach out and touch faith!” is on the tour) and then it’s all smiles, bows, hugs between the band (Fletch gets a huge roar when he saunters over stage-left), and they’re gone.

It’s still (very!) early days on the tour, but if they keep up this level of the intensity shown in Amsterdam, then fans are going to be in for a treat over the course of the next 12 months.

Someone asked me after the gig why I thought it was better than my experiences of the last few tours.

It’s two-fold: firstly, the new songs from Spirit that sprinkle the setlist are all extremely good, meaning the overall quality of the songs is arguably higher than in previous tours. A personal view, but I think there’s something to it.

Secondly, there’s what appears to be a very positive and buoyant mood in the camp – the pre-tour interviews have been some of the best the band have done in years, for example – which comes through on-stage.

Depeche Mode appear to be very comfortable in their current skin – the energy both in the performance of the songs and their physical presence (especially Dave) is higher than I can remember for many years.

And, best of all, they know it and they can see what it means to the fans who are clearly lapping up what could eventually be seen as Depeche’s most passionate and celebratory gigs in a very long time.

It’s a good time to be seeing Depeche on the road again.

A post shared by delle101 (@delle101) on

Faithful And Devoted book review – Depeche Mode, the world we live(d) in, and life in general

Faithful And Devoted could be about any band, not just Depeche Mode.

The book’s author, Jenna Rose Robbins, could have been a Nirvana fan (another of 1993’s high-profile acts), or a follower of Smashing Pumpkins, Blur or Pearl Jam.

The premise could also be the same – young, slightly obsessive fan heads off to Europe to follow her chosen idols for a few weeks; gets into a few scrapes; learns a lot about herself along the way; and, for the most part, has a great time.

This is the scenario that many of us have either dreamed of or have experienced in some way over the years.

(I caught four gigs in seven days during the chilly UK December of the Devotional Tour in 1993. Rather disappointingly, they were nowhere near as incident-packed as the trio of gigs in the earlier scorching Spanish summer for Robbins)

Still, Faithful And Devoted is centred on Depeche Mode and one fan’s wonderful recollection of a jaunt across the Iberian peninsula.

The fact that the American author’s trip coincides with the infamous Songs of Faith and Devotion-era Depeche Mode, rather than, say, Delta Machine-era Depeche Mode, gives you a bit of an idea as to where some of her adventures go.

faithful and devoted 3

As Johnny Black later wrote in Q magazine in 1998, Depeche Mode, in 1993 and 1994, were spearheading the “most debauched tour ever”.

But a note of warning: readers who are expecting a warts-and-all exposé of the shenanigans that went on should put their desire for gossip to one side – Robbins has penned a much more important and heartfelt piece of work than that.

Sure, you’ll read about her alcohol-fuelled exchanges with Alan Wilder (her youthful adoration increases with each gig and meeting), Dave Gahan’s champagne-swilling and Martin Gore’s hypnotic dancing at techno clubs.

But this isn’t really a book about how she plotted and contrived (with her Spanish pen-pal) to meet Depeche at their notorious after-show parties (with one being a particularly wild and memorable night at a nightclub in Madrid following their gig at the city’s bullring).

faithful and devoted 4

Instead, Robbins has cleverly used Depeche Mode and the three gigs in Spain (starting at Pontevedra, ending five days later in Barcelona) to be the background narrative for other things.

She covers growing up, leaving home, the relationship with her parents (in particular, her father), the expectations and experimental phases of being young, travelling and being in a new country, and of course, being a fan of a band.

Robbins is a terrific storyteller (as well as a shining example of why keeping a detailed journal can be so rewarding, especially at that age) and manages to balance the Depeche Mode elements with the personal elements of her tale extremely well, alongside being funny, nostalgic and poignant in equal measures throughout.

Some fans will read Faithful And Devoted through rose-tinted spectacles, perhaps remembering fondly the era when Depeche Mode were certainly wilder, infinitely more accessible and, well, young (the third item on this link is TimeOut’s review of the same gig in Madrid).

Yet everyone grows up (including Robbins and her idols).

Her book is a snapshot of a young person’s life – when we begin to understand what matters and what doesn’t, with Depeche Mode being a soundtrack to it all.

  • Many thanks to Robbins for the advance review copy of her book.
  • Faithful And Devoted is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats.

faithful and devoted 2