Most blog posts on Gammon & Chips are about family fun. But not this one. Oh, no, no, no, no. Well, it’s not that it’s not about fun – it is. But it’s not about fun with the family. This one is about a rare night out in the big smoke of London to see my favourite band of all time, Depeche Mode, at The O2 Arena (you know, formerly The Millennium Dome – that early noughties funding embarrassment that has now redeemed itself bigtime to become London’s most mahoosive gig venue).
My very lovely friend, Miss T, agreed to accompany me, so we teed up our respective husbands to take over early on parenting duties, and boarded the choo choo to London armed with two green plastic picnic cups, a quarter of a bladder of pre-mixed Mojito and some G&Ts in a tin – yep, classy stuff, I know!
We were excited! Depeche Mode were the first band Miss T saw live. She happened to live on the same continent as them, so managed to see them at the Mayfield Leisure Centre in Belfast in 1986. Me being an Aussie, on the other hand, first saw Depeche Mode on the 12th March 1994 at the Sydney Entertainment Centre as part of their Songs of Faith and Devotion tour. In fact, I think that was the last time they toured Oz, and is (although it sounds silly to admit it) one of the many reasons why I choose to live as an Aussie expat in the UK, because I’ve managed to see them live every time they’ve toured since I arrived here in Blighty in 1999.
This time they were touring their new album, Delta Machine, and they didn’t disappoint. After 33 years of hip-thrusting practice, Dave Gahan has it all pretty much down pat – and performs up there with the world’s most charismatic performers, like Iggy Pop, the late Michael Hutchence, Johnny Rotten, Mick Jagger, Bono, and even (don’t shoot me, you must admit he IS good) Robbie Williams. Dave’s voice is raw and base but lathered in golden honey.
While Gahan is playing the frontman, Martin Gore is generally full of bouncy enthusiasm placed a little to one side, but then comes into the front of stage spotlight for a session of his own and Dave goes offstage for (presumably) a coke (no, not that sort of coke – he’s been a reformed man for years now!). Pretty much every time I see them, Gore provides me with my highlight – the beautiful solo ballad ‘Home’. While it generally isn’t a song I listen to much on recording, it works so well live, with the audience ‘woah’-ing into the night for a good few minutes after the instruments have cut their power.
Andy Fletcher has perfected the art of looking cool behind a keyboard and nods nonchalantly in time to the music as if he’s chuffed to be in the band but totally happy for the other two to steal the limelight.
As an album, Delta Machine is better than their last offering, ‘Sounds of the Universe’, but not as good as ‘Violator’, ‘Songs of Faith and Devotion’ or ‘Playing the Angel’. It’s maybe on a par with ‘Ultra’.
Delta Machine is Depeche Mode’s 13th studio album, and as a tour promoting this new album, inevitably they have to play quite a few songs from it (which obviously means they have to leave out lots of the absolute classics) – and boy, do they have a lot of classics to choose from! I notice that each time I see them play live (and their back catalogue grows), they seem to be having to cut out more and more of the corkers.
Not that this impacts on the quality or enjoyment of the show at all – it is still packed with blinding tunes, including the anthemic ‘Personal Jesus’ and my favourite song of all time, the ultra-primal ‘I Feel You’.
A testament to what massive Depeche Mode fans we are, Miss T and I stayed right to the last guitar strum, despite knowing that we were going to miss the last sensibly-timed train home. Instead we had to meander our way to Victoria rather than London Bridge, change to a bus at Three Bridges station, and finally arrive on our respective doorsteps at an hour usually only reserved for drunkards and cat burglars (it was gone 2am).
If you feel like you missed out not catching Depeche Mode at The O2 this time, then worry not – they are playing The O2 again as part of the Delta Machine tour on Tuesday 19th November, so get your Depeche Mode tickets here.
In case you’re interested, I’m going to leave you with the set list from The O2 show on 29th May 2013 – rock and roll!:
Welcome To My World
In Your Room
Behind The Wheel
World In My Eyes
Should Be Higher
Barrel Of A Gun
When The Body Speaks
John The Revelator
Soft Touch/Raw Nerve
Enjoy The Silence
But Not Tonight
Just Can’t Get Enough
I Feel You
Never Let Me Down
Disclosure: I purchased the two tickets to see Depeche Mode at The O2 myself, however I received an e-voucher as compensation to write this post.