Wouldn't you know that mother nature threw another curve ball at ol' Betamike this week, albeit a good one. Those poor folks from South Florida, due to the fact that they still are without power, Depeche Mode moved the kick off to their Playing The Angel world tour to TAMPA!!!! Okay, so not only do I get to see Depeche Mode for the first time (so sue me for being a newbie), but I also get to taste a bit of the ol' world tour kick off thing ... something that just doesn't happen to a guy like me. How can I be so fortunate?
I'LL TELL YOU HOW!
The picture above? TAKEN FROM MY SEAT!!!!
I could see Dave Gahan's erect nipples from where I sat for most of the show. And Tielets, there ain't nothing better than that! Since it only kicked off yesterday and there isn't much on the internet about the show, I will give you my recap.
First of all the folks at the Times Forum in Tampa are just about the sweetest people in the world. No disrespect to our TD Waterhouse ushers but really, take a lesson. They were polite, dressed up in jacket and ties and (!!!) had entertainment ... FREE entertainment ... before and after the show all across the Times Forum promenade ranging from a band who sang Live (the band) songs but sounded like Pearl Jam to a guy composing a rhythmic symphony on paint cans. Plus, we were invited to a Depeche Mode after party but that was not so much compliments of the Times Forum but rather some random guy who was making his roommate DJ at their house. But still ...
Opening for Depeche Mode were The Bravery who will be pulling some major double duty as they play dates in between the Depeche Mode shows. For instance, I will be seeing them again tonight at House of Blues before they join the tour again in Atlanta tomorrow. I will have to say that they had a marked improvement over the first time I saw them this Spring at Coachella. This time, their Power Mac worked and were able to do more than Smiths covers. I thought that they were an interesting choice in opening bands as many of the crowd had kids who are now listening to the Bravery but who came themselves for Depeche Mode. A good blending of the generations, although Muse would have been the ultimate opening band for Depeche Mode if you ask me.
The Depeche Mode set in short: MOTHER FUCKING AMAZING! That came from the 48 year old woman in front of us. And quite frankly, she underscored it a little. It truly was more than I ever could have imagined, BETTER than I ever could have imagined, CLOSER than I ever could have imagined (I still can't get over that one). The tour was in support of their new album Playing the Angel and if you haven't taken a gander at it yet, you really need to as it harkens back to the style of songwriting and power ballad we heard on Violator. But last night, everything was encompassed. From what I remember, (in no particular order and I know I will leave something out) the set list went like this:
A Pain That I'm Used To / John The Revelator / A Question of Time / Policy of Truth / Precious / Walking In My Shoes / Suffer Well / Damaged People / Home / I Want It All / The Sinner In Me / I Feel You / Behind The Wheel / World In My Eyes / Personal Jesus / Enjoy The Silence / ENCORE /Damaged People /Never Let Me Down Again /Policy Of Truth / ENCORE / Somebody /Just Can't Get Enough /Everything Counts /Goodnight Lovers
As soon as I can get my hands on the actual set list, I will replace the one above, so check back.
The stage is a well thought out multi-media experience, although it resembled something that came out of an Austin Powers film...but cool still. Now, I have seen some pretty amazingly well put together shows, Nine Inch Nails for instance gives just about anyone a run for their money with not just the way the stage is lit, but in its integrity and The Faint have the best use of video screens anywhere! But Depeche Mode borrows a lot from both and melds those aspects into a pretty nice visual package. In what appeared to be the globe from Illuminations at Epcot, the words "Enjoy," "Sex," "Hate," "Pain," and "Love," each light up when the appropriate "mood" of a song is played, of course based on how Martin Gore was feeling at the time that he wrote them. This was intercut with these really cool jagged panel LED video screens showing live footage being filmed right there. I was very much into the "Emotion" globe except several songs never lit up or if they didn't really have a category it was "ENJOY!"
Another great aspect of the show was how much Depeche Mode rocked! And I don't mean that in the stoner sensibility, I mean that where you might hear a clean discotechnified sound on the album, you were assaulted with actual drum beats, crunchy guitars and booming bass. I can safely say that I have never "felt" a show like this before, they flat out pummeled my senses.
All About The Angel Wings
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't say that the highlight of the show was seeing the legendary Dave Gahan, Andrew Fletcher and Martin Gore in the flesh, the latter being one of my musical idols. Martin, ever the showman, comes out in (Mike Britton you would have loved this) an all black outfit complete with kilt, feathery Mohawk hat and black angel wings. You can kind of see it in the pictures here but not so much as I was using my new camera phone and couldn't quite capture the elegance of it all. By the way, the folks at the Times Forum take it on good faith that you don't have anything in your pockets so (hindsight 20/20) you can go ahead and bring your camera with you! Dave Gahan was everything I thought he would be and more, I was just so glad to see him actually enjoying the performance as you hear him self destruct when the status of the band is discussed in many of the articles you read. I feel that his sobriety and the strength of this album will do him some good. Let's hope anyway. Let me tell you too, the man looks great! I was as giddy as a school girl when he would come over stage left and (I was eye level to him at this point) sing at you! It is just one of those things where you have idolized someone for so long and then to be in the same room in that close of proximity to them and have them look at you!!! EEEEEK!
Thanks for letting me gush over last night's experience. I feel as though I am complete now that I have seen Depeche Mode and have just renewed my faith and devotion to them.