Depeche Mode – Touring The Angel

dm_touring.gif Ahoy, Rotterdam (NL).
Sunday March 26th, 2006.

For the first time in 13 years Depeche Mode returned to the Netherlands. And the audience just couldn’t get enough.

dm_touring2.gifThe last Depeche Mode concert in The Netherlands was in 1993, when they played in Rotterdam during the Devotional Tour. Rumour has it that the band skipped Holland during the next two tours, because this concert was not sold out. Depeche Mode was never that big here compared to other countries. But things seem to have changed, because their recent return to Rotterdam attracted much public interest.

You could feel the anxiety of the public waiting in the crowded Ahoy. This has never been my favourite venue, because it is large, does not have much atmosphere and often has bad sound. Support act was the young, often hyped band The Bravery from New York. They could not really convince me. Their set was energetic, but I missed truly outstanding songs.

Anton Corbijn, responsible for Depeche Mode’s visual appearance, for many years, announced the band with the words “here is the band with the best live show of the moment”. During the concert I also saw him on stage a few times making photos. The stage really looked spectacular, with the synthesizers hidden behind what resembled spacecrafts. During the concert we were surprised by the brilliant lightshow and many video screens mixing shots of the concert and artwork.

During the first half of the show the focus was completely on their latest album ‘Playing the Angel’. Just like the album, Depeche Mode opened with the recognizable sounds of ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’. Though I quite like the album, the concert really got going when they started to play some classics. Not everyone in the audience was that familiar with the new songs, and the sound quality was not optimal in the first 20 minutes or so.

‘A Question Of Time’ first raised the spirits. Halfway the concert threatened to become a bit tame with some of the slower new songs. But from the moment they played a powerful version of ‘I feel you’ nothing could go wrong anymore. A series of classics followed, like ‘Behind The Wheel’, ‘Personal Jesus’, ‘Enjoy The Silence’…

Gahan soon took off his shirt and paraded confident over the catwalk. Both Dave Gahan and Martin L. Gore (who wore a special outfit which seemed to be a cross between an angel and a bird) were in good vocal shape. I was surprised by the number of (slower) songs sang by Gore. Especially the acoustic version of ‘Shake the disease’ was a highlight.

The audience got more and euphoric and everyone seemed to be clapping and singing along. Depeche Mode returned twice on stage for a total of five encores, of which I especially enjoyed ‘Never Let Me Down Again’. For a while I hoped to escape from ‘Just can’t get enough’, never one of my favourites, but it was played towards the end and the Ahoy was shaking. The band seemed to appreciate the enthousiastic response a lot. The succesful night ended with a sensitive duet between Gahan and Gore, ‘Goodnight Lovers’.