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Alive 13

Depeche Mode

Touring the Angel

        It was Saturday 21st of January 2006 and I was packing up things 
        to drive to the LTU Arena in Duesseldorf, where Depeche Mode was 
        going to play later that evening. The clock showed 15:30 and my 
        girlfriend and I were heading to the car to get there. Since the 
        "Boot" fair was also taking place close to it, we decided to 
        park the car a bit outside and to get to the location using the 
        public transportation. We had just entered my good old Mercedes 
        when it started raining cats and dogs. Just great... 

        We managed to catch a subway and headed to the LTU Arena, using
        the nearest available switching point. When we arrived it was a
        few minutes past five and it seemed the entrance of the hall had
        just been opened, people started running on the inside of the
        big fence to get the best places in front of the stage, while we
        took our places in the long row outside, waiting to get inside.
        Lucky enough the rain had stopped and fifteen minutes later we
        were inside the big Arena, which should contain about 50.000
        Depeche Mode fans later this night.

        We were heading to the stage and came decided to stop at the 
        right corner of it. The place seemed to be ok, only small people 
        in front of us and perhaps 5 m to either the stage or the 
        catwalk. The stage was almost set up for and contained a lot of 
        huge items which were covered with some black cloth. The 
        speakers were playing some more or less boring electro drum and 
        bass loop, which seemed to repeat over and over again.

        Around 17:30 and the place was still not even halfway filled. A
        lot of guys were running around selling beer and other drinks in
        special "Touring the Angel" plastic cups. A 0,4 l beer was 3 EUR
        plus 2 EUR for the cup. Since nobody was going to return the cup
        the refill will be cheaper :) than the 1st one. Anyway there
        were still lots of time to kill until the support act by "The
        Bravery" was going to start.

        The average age of the fans was 35-40 from what I guess, so it 
        seemed to be one of the few concerts where you aren't the oldest 
        fart in the hall :). The people in front of the stage also 
        seemed to be really nice; the mood was almost like at an Atari 
        Party, no pushing just kind people and happy faces all over the 
        place. As you know time flies when you have a good time and 
        while we were joking and talking, we hardly noticed that the 
        clock showed 19:30 already. While being distracted that way we 
        hardly noticed that place filled up more and more, the inner 
        area of the arena is already crowded with Depeche Mode fans, 
        while the seats are not yet fully used, however that changed 
        within the next 30 minutes and when finally the lights went out 
        and "The Bravery" started to play a few songs.

        I hadn't heard from that band before and I have to admit they
        were no real burner but not bad either. Their music was mainly
        guitar based and the singers voice reminded me somehow of Robert
        Smith when practising :). Anyway some of their songs were really
        nice, while others were hardly mediocre. Perhaps my opinion is
        on them is also influenced by the bad sound setup. The volume of
        the voice was too low compared to the other instruments and the
        bass was far too loud, which made me think about the complaints
        concerning the sound quality I had read about at earlier on that very day. Lucky enough
        Depeche Mode used a completely different sound setup and I am
        really glad to say that it was perfect. While listening to the
        Bravery my mind wandered back to the 2001 tour. Too bad that Fad
        Gadget alias Frank Tovey already passed away so early. I would
        have loved to see him touring with Depeche Mode again, the guys
        who were lucky enough to get tickets for the 2001 tour can call
        themselves really glad, since they got two top gigs for one.

        However a few songs later, when "The Bravery" had finished their 
        performance, another loop of drum and bass was presented to the 
        audience while the stage was being prepared for Depeche Mode. 
        The black cloths were removed, showing a big silver ball with 
        neon signs and displays on top. A few minutes before 21:00 the 
        crowd started to send "la ola" waves circling through the arena 
        to get warm also the cheering and applause started before 
        Depeche Mode even entered the stage.

        Five minutes later the lights went out and Depeche Mode entered
        the stage. I hadn't seen Depeche Mode live for ages; and to be
        honest I haven't seen a lot of bands live in the past ten years.
        Dave Gahan looked good like always, it seems the last 20 years
        hadn't changed him much. Also Martin Gore was easy to recognize
        and wearing a strange costume with somehow reminded me of a bird
        :). Andrew Fletcher seems to have gained a bit weight over the
        years, but who hasn't? Depeche Mode seemed to be in a good mood,
        laughing and making jokes.

        After a short intro, which was hardly recognizable the band 
        started playing "A Pain that I'm used to". Dave tried to 
        motivate the crowd to sing which wasn't too successful perhaps 
        because the newer songs were not so well known by the fans. And 
        I have to admit that I am not really familiar with more than the 
        refrains of the new songs even though I bought the album ages 

        The next song was "John the Revelator" and it was nice to see
        the screens behind and beside the stage were fired up, but
        instead of simple live feeds from the stage they displayed the
        images were processed with demo like effects, which was nice for
        all the people in front of the stage but surely bad for the
        people at the other end of the football-hall.

        With the first few notes of "A Question of Time" the crowd in 
        front of the stage went completely wild, while the rest of the 
        hall stayed calm. Also the 1st people started to sing and I 
        guess even the worst motion dyslexic started to recognize that 
        nodding alone won't be enough this time.

        The next songs were "Policy of Truth" and "Precious" which was
        really cool. While "Walking in my Shoes" was played, Dave
        managed to get the crowd to sing the refrain for him. It seemed
        even the people in the middle of the LTU Arena were awake now.

        "Suffer well", "Damaged People", "Home" and "I want it all" 
        followed and also "The Sinner in me" was played. Some of these 
        slower songs were surely put onto the setlist to give Dave a 
        Rest, while Martin was singing. However it seemed the band was 
        in good shape, Dave's voice was brilliant and all the tracks 
        sounded exactly like on the CD apart from the live variations. 

        When Depeche Mode started to play "I Feel You" the good mood
        seemed to have caught even the last row. Singing was obligatory
        from here on and the vibe was fantastic until the end. Even the
        last visitors on the tribune stood up and started to dance when
        "Behind the Wheel" was played.

        This continued with "World in my Eyes" and "Personal Jesus", 
        which was the starting shot for the whole 50.000 people to wave 
        their arms in the air. During "Enjoy the Silence", which was the 
        last song of the regular setlist the fans took the whole singing 
        and the vibe surely reached its peak level. However when Depeche 
        Mode left the stage the crowd continued cheering and calling 
        until the 1st encore started around 22:30.

        This time they picked some older, well known songs "A Question
        of Lust" was followed by "Just can't get enough" and "Everything
        Counts" which left the whole arena seething. After these tracks
        Depeche Mode left the stage again, but the cheering and applause

        So there was a second encore (22:45 +/-) with "Never let me down 
        again" and 100.000 arms waving in the air, and finally 
        "Goodnight Lovers" where Dave and Martin went arm in arm onto 
        the catwalk into the middle of the crowd. At the end of the song 
        Dave kissed Martin on the cheek, which would have been 
        unthinkable at earlier times due to some tensions within the 

        It's a bit sad that today's concerts don't contain real bonus
        songs, only a fixed setlist with planned bonus songs. Also the
        prices for merchandising articles with 30-40 EUR for t-shirts
        and around 100 EUR for a sport jacket are a rip off. But the
        mood in the LTU Arena was great and even the Band seemed to have
        their fun. Sharing looks, talk to each other and laugh... nice
        to see that the band seemed to enjoy the concert as much as we
        did. Personally I hope the concert was recorded for a live DVD,
        so I can dive into that memory again, but it seems they picked
        the concert in Milan for it. The DVD will be available at the
        end of September

        Thanks for a perfect evening Dave, Andrew and Martin and the 
        "guest" musicians on keyboard and drums, I'll be there next time 
        for sure ...

Appendix A


        A Pain That I'm Used To
        John The Revelator
        A Question Of Time
        Policy Of Truth
        Walking In My Shoes
        Suffer Well
        Damaged People
        I Want It All
        The Sinner In Me
        I Feel You
        Behind The Wheel
        World In My Eyes
        Personal Jesus
        Enjoy The Silence

        First Encore:
        A Question of Lust
        Just Can't Get Enough
        Everything Counts

        Second Encore:
        Never Let Me Down Again
        Goodnight Lovers

Alive 13