Friday, 24 March 2017

Catching Up With Depeche Mode



With Depeche Mode playing Glasgow Barrowland this weekend (I don't have a ticket) I got thinking about the first time I saw them live.

When my friend Jamie and I were at school and then university he was initially the Depeche Mode/Pet Shop Boys fan, whereas for me it was all about New Order.  These two opposing camps didn't last long and we swapped cassette tapes frequently. At this time the gateway albums for New Order being Substance, and for Depeche Mode it was Singles 81-85.  It wasn't long till we both shared a love of lots of 80s electronic music.

In the years ahead university grant cheques (remember them?) were promptly spent on an ever growing collection of 12" singles.  New Order and Depeche Mode excelled in producing 12" singles with new tracks amd remixes of great quality.

This lead to our first Depeche Mode pilgrimage together when I was 20. Parents with credit cards were called upon to purchase tickets which cost the grand sum of £18.50 each (seemed like a lot at the time!) for the 1993 Crystal Palace concert which was the culmination of the European leg of the Devotional tour supporting the album Songs of Faith and Devotion.

Moody student that I was I could often be spotted on campus sporting a Sisters of Mercy t-shirt - so they were an added bonus on the bill (they featured the ex Sigue Sigue Sputnik bass player Tony James in their line-up at this time - another plus for me.)

Jamie and I borrowed my folk's Citroen BX and set off on Friday afternoon for London.  I can remember finding a tenner on the pavement, then stepping on a nail just before we set off on the journey - random facts, not portentous.

That night we parked in a service station, and then zig-zagged across the motorway to some mirage like lights in the distance we hoped would be civilization - me still limping as I'd ealier cut my foot. Turned out to be an out of town shopping centre closed for the night, but we spied lights further in the distance which turned out to be a Pizzaland (remember them?).  Some pizza and several bottles of Becks later we navigated the motor-way again and crashed out in the car for the night.  This must all have been in gentler times when you could do this with no one caring, and no heft parking charge.

Saturday we arrived in London, parked the car nearby and found ourselves in several of the pubs near the venue - packed with DM fans and blaring out music.  I remember it as a hot sunny afternoon and Jamie enjoying lots of cold beer with 36,000 other Depeche Mode fans, while I, the designated driver, sipped colas all day.  I'm not quite sure why we did, but we started the drive home straight after the gig, rather than crashing for the night.

I don't remember much about the gig itself now - the throbbing of "Rush" for some reason sticks in my head and an a rather out of place introduction from Harvey Goldsmith to events, and everything seemed very far away.

We got out of town that night and slept in the car again in some outskirt of London before heading home, totally hooked.

I've seen them since in Manchester, London and Glasgow several times now, so I decided to give London a miss this year and go a little further afield.  Copenhagen at the end of May beckons.

They play Glasgow Barrowlands on Sunday night for those lucky enought to have a ticket.  I will be at Oran Mor enjoying Howard Jones - there was less of a rush for tickets for this one, but Depeche Mode in the other side of town will be in the back of mind.

There are a few Depeche Mode events on this Sunday at The Solid Rock and Flying Duck - I'll see if I can pop in to one for a bit.


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