Today's soundtrack - Depeche Mode - Songs of Faith and Devotion
(Especially for Kevin.)
A bitterly cold Manchester night. Packed streets, last minute Christmas shopping for the masses, standing room only in the bars and restaurants of the city.
Met up with Kevin at the office, collected Ade and headed off to the Printworks for sustenance. Hard Rock seemed appropriate, especially with the 'Mode on loop. The staff obviously knew who tonight's headliners were!
A leisurely meal, waiting for Mark and Jane to arrive. Then - eventually - off to the MEN. Slightly nervous about missing the support band - after my unfortunate Joy Division incident I never miss support bands - but on this occasion I went with the flow (and luckily don't think we missed much. Nitzer Ebb are the support on the next leg of the tour - now that would have upset me!)
Now I have to admit that I've never been the biggest DM fan. Yep, I like the band, have a few albums, but have never seen them live and wouldn't necessarily turn to them first when putting the music on. So to be going along with some really big fans was a bit unusual for me - it's normally me who knows all the songs and the trivia. Not this time!
In our seats (seats!) in plenty of time for the main event, with a good view of the action. After a build up of some thumping techno, the lights dimmed and on came the band. Gore and Gahan out front, Fletch stood behind a keyboard, occasionally poking at a key or two, a drummer and a proper keyboardist.
Confidently (and bravely) the band started with three songs off the new album. I guess you can do that when your fanbase is as loyal and devoted as theirs, but it did seem to get things off to a tentative start with the audience. But with the fourth song - 'Walking in my Shoes' - things really got going. One of my favourite DM songs, Gahan in good voice (as he was throughout) and the audience really woke up.
Other highlights - a thumping 'I Feel You', a delicate solo section from Martin Gore, and a rousing climax of ,Never Let Me Down Again', synchronised armwaving and all. Back for a four song encore, inevitably climaxing with 'Personal Jesus'.
Enjoyed it immensely, even waving my arms around like a loon. Dave Gahan is a perfect advert for a life of debauchery and substance abuse, Martin Gore is clearly more than a fey synth dilletante and Fletch is quite simply the luckiest man alive. Kev asked me why they had stayed together so long - why indeed? I suspect that being mates before they were a band is a large part of it - and also their ability to reinvent themselves, growing up as a band as they did as people, and finally I suspect their ability to release their personal pressures and concerns through their music.
Depeche Mode. Grown up music for the masses. Listen without prejudice.
Here's 'I Feel You' - filmed from the crowd on the night in question.