Tag Archives: halo

(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.

Another new Halo cover version, Goldfrapp-esque

Very few cover versions of Depeche Mode songs get the universal thumbs-up from fans (and probably the band).

Johnny Cash’s Personal Jesus is certainly one.

it is therefore perhaps rather difficult for artists to gain too much appreciation from the wider Depeche fan base when creating their own versions of songs.

The devotees are just extremely protective of their idols’ work…

Anyway, here unto the breach once more, comes US singer Roniit, with her take on Halo.

There are some nods towards the Goldfrapp remix of the song – a track we all know clearly went down well with the band as it was later modified for one of the encores on the on the Delta Machine Tour in 2013 and 2014.

Here it is:

Some DJ scratching on Halo works rather well

Ever thought Depeche Mode track Halo would work with some old school DJ scratching whirring away in the background?

Nope, me neither.

But Los Angeles synth band band Fr3qu3nc3 performed the song at a recent gig and, well, added some classic, hip hop-style turntable work over the top.

It’s essentially the existing Depeche song, with what sounds like some beefed up strings in the background and a live vocal (purists should probably try and ignore that last element).

The scratching kinda works though 🙂

Pic via Pixabay

A quick update on Halo

Greetings, all…

A few people have asked directly, on the Halo book Facebook page and in various forums about the book – so thought it was worth sharing a quick update.

OBVIOUSLY, we missed getting Halo out to coincide with the March anniversary of the 1990 release of Violator.

Sorry about that 🙂

This was mainly due to a wildly optimistic deadline set last autumn. Coming out on the 19th March would have been a “nice-to-have”, but was clearly unachievable given my day job.

Since then, more interviews have taken place (two, in fact, just a few weeks ago after finally tracking down some more interesting people involved in the studio during the making of Violator) and there have been periods of intensive writing put on the clock.

But the reality is that I essentially lost around three months of the year due to some major rebuilding work at home and, more recently, changes at the Tnooz travel site where I work as a journalist.

Thankfully all that “real life” stuff is now out of the way and I am motoring towards the finish line, with a release date hopefully available quite soon.

It’ll be worth the wait.

Alongside turning the interviews (some on, some off-the-record) and research into some kind of narrative, there will be a collection of terrific first-hand accounts and stories from various fans around the world.

I’m thrilled so many of you want to help out or contribute in some way.

Promise a publishing date very soon, plus there’ll be the usual musings here on the blog.

In the meantime (as I’m a huge supporter of it), anyone looking for a Daily Dose of Depeche (#DDoD, for short 😉 ), make sure you head over and request a membership to the wonderful and immaculately maintained Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos Facebook page.

Cheerio, everyone… Enjoy the silence for a little while longer.

Kev x

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Depeche Mode and Violator, played on the harp (oh, yes)

Many Depeche Mode fans will recall Michal Matejcik from an unusual appearance in 2013.

The Slovak harpist showed off his bravery (Depeche fans aren’t particularly well known for their appreciation of support acts) and talent when he struck out on his own as the opener for the band in Vienna.

Invited at the request of Martin Gore, Matejcik performed to mark the launch of the Delta Machine album in the Austrian capital.

An earlier performance in 2012, where Matejcik played a dozen Depeche Mode songs, was captured for Solvak station Radio FM.

The full performance is here (featuring a medley including Personal Jesus), but there are three complete (and outstanding!) Violator songs on the “set-list”.

So, here is Halo (7m 05s) (the best of the three):

Clean (25m 25s):

And, to wrap things up, Enjoy The Silence (46m 40s):

Check out this interview with Matejcik on The Electricity Club. And his Facebook page.

Harp image credit.

Top tip – Listen to Violator in the dark, VERY loud, on a kick-ass system

Imagine you have no distractions for 47 minutes.

And, then, can listen to a piece of music intensely, giving it your full attention.

Yeah, quite a rare opportunity for many people.

And this isn’t about plugging in an MP3 player on the train ride to work – you can still find yourself looking out of the window or checking a mobile phone for messages.

Let’s face it – total immersion in music is a unique experience nowadays.

Add to the equation the chance to listen to that body of work on a high quality soundsystem, and the chances narrow even further (using decent headphones on a home music system does not count).

Last weekend, the Classic Album Sundays event was a good opportunity to get out on the road and start evangelising about Violator and the Halo book.

Organised by the wonderfully energetic and knowledgeable Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy, CAS showcases a landmark album with a mixture of a presentation, audience Q&A, with a play-back on a soundsystem brought in specially for the event.

And so, with 25 years from the release date coming up soon, it was Depeche Mode and Violator’s turn.

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The discussion part of the event was interesting and fun to do (but will leave others to comment, as Murphy and I are obviously biased!), covering the history of Violator from the production to its impact on the band and fans.

But it was the play-back section which, I suspect, most people will remember fondly for a long time to come.

For the pros or the curious, the “audio menu”, as Murphy calls it, was as follows:

Audio Menu: Dynavector D17D3 MC Cartridge, Rega P9 Turntable, Rega IOS Reference MC Phono Stage, Audio Note Jinro Integrated Amp, Chord Signature Speaker Cable, Chord Signature Tuned Aray interconnects, ISOL-8 Substation Integra Power Conditioner, Klipsch SW-115 Subwoofers and Klipschorn Loudspeakers.

On other words: extremely powerful.

So the audience of about 70 people sat in silence (phones switched off!), in the semi-dark (just a few ribbons of lights on the floor for company), listening to all 47 minutes of Violator… on vinyl.

Zero interruptions – apart from flipping over the record between Waiting For The Night and Enjoy The Silence (remember having to do that?).

The beauty and enjoyment of listening to Violator in such a unique setting was extraordinary.

Quite often, when a piece of music is played extremely loudly in an open environment, a lot of the original intricate parts are lost to the acoustic reverb in the room, natural elements when outside, or the system simply being unable to cope very well with the volume.

As someone later told me:

“It’s quite a privilege to hear an album that you know so well on a soundsystem like that – incomparable to MP3s!”

It is difficult to identify all the stand-out moments of the playback – the overall experience was fabulous and fascinating.

But in particular, Policy Of Truth (for the rhythm section), World In My Eyes (is there a better opener to any Depeche album?), Halo (for the strings) and Clean (for the grinding bass).

Even the hardcore Depeche fans in the audience appeared quite moved by the experience 🙂 .

It was, in short, a wonderful event to participate in.

– – – – –

Murphy deserves a lot of credit for the CAS concept. So huge thanks to her for organising the event and the opportunity to chew the fat with people about Violator (and the Halo book).

Check out the website for forthcoming sessions, when another long-player will be reviewed and get the fantastic CAS audio treatment.

The events take place regularly in London, New York and Oslo.

There are more pictures from the event on our Facebook page (thanks to @kaybar007 for the above shot).

Thanks to all those who came and said hello, especially those who I I’ve met “virtually” on the numerous Depeche forums and groups.

Funnily enough, at the exact moment whilst we were celebrating a landmark album, Andy Fletcher and his son Joe were celebrating a Chelsea win at Wembley Stadium.

Oh well, nobody’s perfect… Sorry, Fletch 😉

A photo posted by Joe Fletcher (@joethefletch) on

Where are they now – Halo video dancer

Careers have to start somewhere – so what better way for actress Jenna Elfman to begin her acting path than appearing in the video for Halo.

The then-19 year old was one of the two dancers who featured in the video recorded as part of the Strange Too compilation.

Speaking 24 years later on the NBC day-time Today show, Elfman said:

“They told me to dance badly! I’d spent my whole life trying to dance well, so that was really hard.”

After some low-key appearances in Murder, She Wrote and Roseanne, Elfman eventually went on to star in a sitcom called Dharma & Greg in the late-1990s.

Her Depeche Mode fame came to light again in May 2014 when she was promoting her role in a new US show called Growing Up Fisher.

Sadly for Elfman and her fellow cast members, Growing Up Fisher never made it past the first season, but she did get to star alongside J K Simmons, who won the Oscar for the best supporting actor this week for his part in Whiplash.

Here is Elfman talking on the Today show:

 

And way back in 1990, dancing badly in the Halo video:

Poll: What is your favourite video from Violator?

It’s time for the second of our polls.

By the time Violator came around, Anton Corbijn was fully on-board with Depeche Mode as their visual and artistic director.

Alongside creating videos for the four singles (Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence, Policy of Truth and World In My Eyes), Corbijn directed a further two (Halo and Clean) for the Strange Too collection.

Here is your chance to tell us which one is your favourite.

Click below to select a clip!

You can also still vote on our earlier poll: favourite track from Violator.

Also check out the outtakes from Enjoy The Silence.

Halo – try an apathetic motion version

Difficult to improve on a classic, so why bother?

This doesn’t stop others out there trying their hands at remixing Depeche Mode songs, of course.

Halo is no exception, yet perhaps only the Goldfrapp version really challenges the original from the album – so much so that a Dave-led outing was performed during encores on the Delta Machine tour.

Still, here is the Apathy in Motion Remix of Halo.

It’s a simple reworking, mainly on the percussion side of things. Neat and tidy, nothing spectacular.

* Fans of Depeche trivia will note the pic above is from the Halo video made by Anton Corbijn  for the Strange Too compilation, with a cameo appearance from the Dutch lensman.

Strongest mix of Halo?

Very good and simple remix (and one which didn’t appear on any of the official compilations of track mixes) of Halo.

The accompanying video mashes up footage from Halo being performed on the Devotional Tour in 1993 with collapsing buildings, presumably to symbolise “when our worlds they fall apart”.