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Though We May Deserve It, It Will Be Worth It

By Lizzie Borden | Music | August 4, 2009 |

By Lizzie Borden | Music | August 4, 2009 |

I’ve been a fan of Depeche Mode since I was in high school—one of my friends gave me Ultra for my birthday the year it was released, and I fell in love. I still remember the first time I heard “Barrel of a Gun” on the radio and thought, who is that?” That album is still one of my favorites. My absolute favorite of their songs is on it (“Home”, in case you wondered). They’re one of the few groups that I keep up with, buy every album, am on the mailing list — I guess I’m just saying that I’m a big fan. So of course I bought their most recent album when it was released. It was, sadly, rather disappointing; I was left with an overall feeling of meh when I listened to it. What is it with bands that’ve been around for years trying to recapture their iconic albums? You’re not going to recreate Violator, guys, so please don’t try again. Consequently, I was a bit hesitant about the concert I’d already purchased tickets for — how excited can I get to see a band on tour for album I don’t even really like all that much?

Luckily, being the interweb junkie that I am, I have been checking their website fairly regularly, and saw that they were posting not just tour pictures and video blogs, but also set lists from the tour. And most of those lists feature lots of classic DM. Thank the sweet baby Godtopus. Finding that little tidbit really lifted my spirits about the whole thing. But whatever, there was a concert to attend, old friends to hang out with, drunk fools on the lawn to take pictures of, and beers to drink.

The opening act for this leg of the tour was Peter Bjorn and John. I’d heard of them, but had never heard them and had no clue what sort of music they play. They;re three guys from Stockholm, Sweden named, incidentally, Peter, Bjorn, and John. One of my friends mentioned he’d checked them out in iTunes and wasn’t real impressed. Sort of folky, he said. Kinda weird.

Not so much, as it turns out. I guess they’re kinda poppy, a bit indie. They were really good. We were all pleasantly surprised. I love finding new bands, especially this way. I’m definitely going to have to check them out further. The crowd grooved along, but who really, truly pays attention to the opening act?

I took lots of pictures of the interesting crowd on the lawn during the opening act and the set change. It was practically a UN summit out there, all the folks speaking different languages all around us. Set change took quite a while; there were huge screens behind the stage that had to be properly whatevered, as well as a big ol’ rotating disco ball with more screens on it hovering right over the stage itself. The closer they got to set up being complete, the more excited I got.

Except for the couple of jackholes who decided to stand directly in my line of sight. I really had no desire to spend the entirety of the concert staring at some douchenut rub his hand all over his lady-friend’s ass all night long. I wanted to be able to actually see the damned stage. Assholes. Get out of my way!

I’d seen DM once before, when they were touring for Exciter several years ago. They always put on a great show. This one was even better than I remember the last one being. They opened with a couple of songs from Sounds of the Universe (the new album): “In Chains”, “Wrong”, and “Hole to Feed”. “In Chains” sounded great; “Wrong” wasn’t nearly as good live as it is as a single. “Hole to Feed” was pretty decent. From there, they move on to play the classics, starting with “Walking in My Shoes.” I love the sound of a crowd at a concert. It’s one of my favorite parts of any show, hearing the crowd’s screams as the band comes on stage, as the first song starts. I love the hush that falls when a new song starts and isn’t immediately recognizable, and the burst of sound as everyone seems to figure it out simultaneously. DM managed to tweak their older songs just enough that most of them weren’t immediately recognizable, so there was a lot of that last Tuesday.

Following “Walking in My Shoes” came four more older songs, and then Dave took a break. Honestly, this was the part I most looked forward to, because when Dave takes a break, Martin sings a couple of songs. I love Martin’s voice, and I was pretty sure he’d sing “Home”, so when Dave left I started squeeing like the fangirl I am (thankfully there is no photographic evidence of this. I have a reputation to maintain). First up was “Little Soul” off the new album. It sounded great; the arrangement was muted, so Martin’s voice was the real focus. He followed that up with a really lovely stripped down version of “Home”. It was just Martin singing and Fletcher on the keyboards, and I might have totally had something in my eye towards the end of it.

After that I could’ve gone home happy, but that was only the mid-point of the show. I will say, for three guys that have been around for nigh onto thirty years, they really put on a great show, and they really give it all the entire way through. They played for almost two full hours, and Dave pranced around that stage like a man who wasn’t still recovering from a muscle tear in his leg and hadn’t had a tumor removed earlier this year too. He looked a bit thin, but he sounded great and worked that crowd. There was crotch grabbing. I have pictures. Those screens I mentioned earlier? They changed with every song. Sometimes there was video, sometimes it was spacey video reflections of the band as they played, sometimes it was black and white. It added to the show without distracting from the music or the band’s performance.

They rounded out the second half of the show with more classics. The songs everyone and their brother knows, even if they aren’t fans: “Policy of Truth”, “Enjoy the Silence”, “In Your Room”, and they finished with “Never Let Me Down Again”. The crowd sang along the whole time.

The first encore was what I’m going to refer to as the Sexcore. They played “Stripped”, “Master and Servant”, and “Strangelove”. The video during “Strangelove”? Was definitely an Asian woman sucking on a red-head in a corset’s toes. Are there any more fetishes they could’ve worked into that? Well, probably, but they’d be shut down for it, most likely.

Their final encore was more subdued. They played “Personal Jesus”, arguably their most famous song, and did a lovely arrangement with it as well. And they closed with “Waiting for the Night (Bare Version)”, which is exactly as it sounds. It was a lovely, mellow way to end a fantastic show. I loved every minute of it. I totally forgot that I was sweaty and disgusting and simply enjoyed the hell out of the show.

Lizzie Borden lives in Baltimore. She has an extensive axe collection. Read more about her here.

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TK Burton is the Editorial Director. You may email him here or follow him on Twitter.