Depeche Mode + RE-Tros @ Birmingham Arena – 19 November 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Sunday Nov 19, 2017 Under Alternative, Electronica

Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown and photography by Ken Harrison.

So in the high season for gigs and night after night of some of the biggest names in music – one of the most inspirational and iconic of British bands visit Birmingham Arena, to hoards of expectant fans. This tour is massive. The Global Spirit tour is set to continue til Summer 2018, and it will have been experience by well over 1.6 million fans at 110 concerts. Welcome tonight  the legendary Depeche Mode.

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As we gather, we are greeted by Re-TROS – (or to give them their full title Rebuilding The Rights Of Statues), a Chinese band, who rose from the ‘China rock explosion’, pushing boundaries with their hydrid of post-punk, electronica and art-rock. They have a new outing ‘Before The Applause’  and second track for tonight, ‘Pigs In The River’ is not far afar from Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ – yes, the Peaky Blinders theme. Indie hard core electronica, reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails via Nick Cave, playing support to Depeche Mode on this tour is definitely the right thing to do. Keep an eye out for them – they are well worth catching up with.

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So. A quick interlude, and a couple of messages. The screen fills with a message from Depeche Mode and partner Hublot as they raise monies in support of charity:water featuring ‘Where’s The Revolution’. (See below). And then a ‘safety’ announcement, one I’ve not heard here before, instructing on safety measures should something go amiss. Message over and an electronic beat fills the arena, cranking up in pace, dry ice permeates from the stage and an expectant buzz fills the air.

Lights down, and to The Beatles ‘ Revolution’ marching legs appear on screen (taken from their ‘Spirit’ album), as individual members take to the stage; touring musicians Peter Dean Gordeno and Christian Eigne, then to huge cheers Andy Fletcher and Martin L. Gore.  First track ‘Going Backwards’, the lead track from latest release ‘Spirit’ strikes up, and we hear Dave Gahan’s preening vocals, as he preens on a gantry, higher than the main stage.

Then, as you expect, Depeche Mode delve into their massive back catalogue from the outset; ‘It’s No Good’; Gahan encourages the crowd and spins and twirls. To screams from the masses. Gahan’s dancing, swirling, wiggling that arse of his and even a rap mid song during ‘Barrel of A Gun’: “Don’t push me cos I’m close to the edge.... ”

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“Thank you very much – good evening Birmingham…” crowd are already in the palm of Gahan’s hands. A bass beat, and not for the first time an Anton Corbijn video. ‘Useless.’ ‘Precious’ gets us clapping, the classic ‘World in My Eyes’ gets us dancing.

And Gore’s time. ‘Home.’ The “woohoo”s ring out around the stadium as the song completes  – Gahan returns to ensure our compliance in singing, conducting us like an orchestra. Back to dancing ‘In Your Room’ and  the politically motivated, flag waving, rallying cry, ‘Where’s the Revolution.‘ – “Where’s the revolution, com’on people you’re letting me down….”

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‘Everything Counts’ is remixed and we dance and indeed our grabbing hands are in the air. Including a lyric that seems to have come a full circle: “The graph on the wall, Tells the story of it all, Picture it now, See just how the lies and deceit, Gained a little more power, Confidence taken in by a sun tan and a grin…”

“Birmingham Arena you are the best.Thank you very much….” Gahan is on fire. That motor bike growl as the track strikes up ‘Stripped’;  ‘Enjoy the Silence’ brings us a surreal Corbijn video with pigs and sheep. As you do. Arms in the air, and wave side to side: “Never Let Me Down Again…”

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Breathe. It’s boiling in the arena, as an hour and forty has flown by. And it’s not over. Gore plus keyboards gives us his take on ‘Strangelove’ (the original recording was Gahan), and then – BOOM – a trio classics: ‘Walking in My Shoes’, ‘A Question of Time’ and ‘Personal Jesus.’

Legendary. Inspirational. Influential. Iconic. I first saw DM in ’84, in Brum at the Birmingham Odeon. And, hey I’m one of the devoted, I’ve seen them more times than I can mention, including earlier this year at their massive London Stadium gig. Why are they such a force live? Because they give the fans exactly what they want;  the old and the new. Gahan’s vocals are the best they’ve ever been and his physical commitment on stage, put people half his age to embarrassment. The infectious enthusiasm of Gahan, twisting, twirling, dancing; very probably one of the most charismatic lead singers out there. A man of few words but with the ability to control the masses with his total commitment, a wicked grin, a flick of a finger or that wiggle. Any Depeche Mode gig just leaves you wanting more. They never let us down. We just want more. Right now.

For more images from tonight’s gig visit our Flickr page.

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Hublot has created the limited edition watch to celebrate the band’s new album Spirit and their upcoming Global Spirit Tour. The sale of the watch will raise funds for charity: water, a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries. Hublot and Depeche Mode have been partners since 2010 and have supported charity: water on three other occasions since 2013. During this period, the funds raised by Hublot and Depeche Mode have given life to 229 projects in Nepal and Ethiopia, with 220 standpipes and 19 wells drilled and dug by hand that now bring safe, clean water to over 30,000 men, women and children. For this new campaign, Hublot and Depeche Mode have set the goal to beat this previous achievement and bring clean water to 50,000 people around the world. In addition to the watch, there will be additional opportunities around the upcoming tour for all fans to join the band in supporting charity: water.


Setlist:
Going Backwards
It’s No Good
Barrel of a Gun
A Pain That I’m Used Too
Useless
Precious
World in My Eyes
Cover Me
Insight
Home
In Your Room
Where’s The Revolution
Everything Counts
Stripped
Enjoy the Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Encore:
Strangelove
Walking in My Shoes
A Question of Time
Personal Jesus

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