Xs Noize contributor David McElroy's blog Almost Predictable Almost is running The Global Spirit Tour Project which is featuring a review of every gig on Depeche Mode's Global Spirit Tour written by fans. For full details of the project, see HERE. The band's show at the O2 in London on 22 November was reviewed by XS Noize's Amanda Stock - here it is.
I was in the security queue at 8:45 pm. I wasn’t too frazzled as this would be my third time seeing Depeche Mode on this tour – I was one of the lucky few to see them at The Barrowlands, Glasgow back in March (best DM gig EVER) and at London’s Olympic Stadium in June when we were treated to Everything Counts in warm summer rain which was pretty damned special. A new thing for me was handing over the whole e-ticket before entering the arena – “that’s one less for the scrapbook” I thought. Do people really go back and reclaim a ticket afterwards? It’s an almighty task just getting out!
I was a bit late to the gig because as all The Devoted know – the Mode experience is as much as about catching up (i.e.drinking) with DM pals beforehand, either “real life” ones or friends that have been made on social media. I love the effect social media has had on making new friendships with fellow fans. For a long time - well, from 1983 to about 2011 for me, I thought I was the only one. But, didn’t we all? So a pre-gig meet-up in a local drinking establishment always sets the night off nicely. I caught up with some good twitter pals at “The Slug and Lettuce” and there is always such an air of excitement about what the night will bring. But I seem to forget about the time and end up walking in just as Dave takes to the stage.
This gig was particularly special for me as I was accompanied by my girl, Georgia (as my sister, Sue was with her daughter, Hannah) both girls experiencing Depeche Mode for the first time. A Depeche Mode “circle of life”……
If someone had told us back in 1983 (when Sue and I saw Depeche for the first time on the Construction Time Again tour), that just a little over 34 years later the band would still be going, performing at sold out stadiums across the world AND we would be bringing our grown-up daughters to see them, I would have found it all hard to believe. But here we were. And it was all rather poignant.
So, like I mentioned earlier, we were a tad late and I didn’t really take in the first couple of songs – Going Backwards and It’s No Good until we found a position. I didn’t have a great view of the band but I thought, “Never mind, there will be the big side screens” - but apparently they were missing for tonight’s performance. Okayyyy. That just left the big screen behind the band which mainly showed the “always interesting” Anton Corbijn visuals. They both enhance the songs but distract my attention and I would rather see more of the band on the big screen, to be honest, but, you live with it. It’s a minor quibble.
So, let’s go over the wonderful highlights. The songs that made me a bit emotional and the songs that made me jump up and down on the spot – hence why I ache today… It was lovely hearing Precious, one of Mode’s more tender, “straight from the heart” songs but I wouldn’t mind if Barrel Of A Gun was replaced. It’s never been a favourite of mine and I would prefer to hear something else – although the addition of the snippet from Grandmaster Flash’s The Message is a bit quirky.
Just as an aside, I’ve been spending time today looking at song stats ( as you do) and Never Let Me Down Again has been played, in total overall tours 897 times. Scum has been played once. Furthermore, one of my favourite DM songs, Lie To Me has been played 78 times – this could do with being bumped up a bit - but I digress. World In My Eyes followed – this song is just brilliant live. It always gets a huge crowd response and my spine is utterly tingled on hearing the opening rich tones of that bass synth. Like all the favourites, it never gets dull or tired. Halo would have been a perfect addition.
Cover Me was next – THE stand-out song from Spirit and played to a backdrop of a beautiful “Spaceman Dave” visual. It’s a gorgeous song. Just three songs from Spirit were played and whilst this doesn’t worry me, it’s been a discussion point for fans and there are many differences of opinion whether this is right or not. I don’t actually care, as long as the band still continue to perform live, but it may be an indication that the central theme of Spirit – disparity in wealth, living in terror, the current state of the world doesn’t translate for those wanting “Dance Mode”. That said, most fans will agree that Spirit is the best album since Ultra – which interestingly had five songs played last night. So it appears it’s the Global Ultra Spirit Tour which I think is pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty, good.
Martin’s solo songs Home and Strangelove (an adorable acoustic version) went down really well with the crowd although, for me, I would’ve preferred another song other than Insight – I have missed the treat of the appearance of Judas on this tour and that would’ve been awesome.
Where’s The Revolution got an amazing reaction - the crowd’s hands in the air, shouting back at Dave with real passion: “WHERE’S THE REVOULUUUUTION? COME ON, PEOPLE YOU’RE LETTING ME DOWWWNN!!” The atmosphere was intoxicating at this point and from here the night just got better and better.
Then – Everything Counts. *heart*
This tour is all about Everything Counts – the song resonates with fans like myself who have followed the band all their lives. I had it constantly playing on my Sony Walkman during the summer of 1983 and it still gives me goosebumps now. This latest tour version is a real delight, with an introduction that is designed to throw you off the scent. Three chimes of synth – just the same three simple keys ring out for the first few minutes and then…. the grinding, pounding, industrial introduction arrives and by the time Mart joins in with the famous “Melodica-like” synth notes, the crowd are going wild. A roar almost blew the roof off the arena as the crowd clapped, danced and sang the chorus as I have never heard fans before. The band was on fire and so were we. Literally and metaphorically. I have never heard London like this, certainly at the 02 and although my legs ached at this point and I really felt very hot indeed, I was so glad I went for standing tickets.
The night rolled away with the ultimate classic favourites of Stripped, Enjoy The Silence and Never Let Me Down Again – and I have to mention Dave’s energy levels at this point. I am always, always blown away that at the age of 55, he puts in a stunning performance every single night on a world tour as if it was his first (or maybe his last?) He is up there as one of the best frontmen ever and I hope he knows how much he is loved. I really do.
Walking In My Shoes and A Question Of Time received rapturous applause and the almighty Personal Jesus closed the set. I looked over at my girl and she was joining in with the words, indeed reaching out to touch faith and I think, at that moment, she got it. I absolutely loved having her by my side.
So, that’s me done for another four years – the speculation will start I expect about whether this is the last tour or not – I hope not. But we shall have to wait and see. I was so proud that London showed Depeche Mode all the love last night. They never disappoint live and I think they are, like us, having the time of their lives.