What actually was a rather “badly” scheduled concert, in the beginning of June, 2009, turned out to be the almost-last concert of Depeche Mode for their World Tour 2009/2010, Tour of the Universe!
Unfortunately, due to illness of the singer, Dave Gahan, some parts of the world tour had to be moved, postponed and for a few concerts it was not possible to reschedule.
Back in June 2009 I already visited one of the concerts, around the corner, in Frankfurt, when he just recovered. There was something missing then though, a sparcle, the energy. After the first “new bits” were played, some older stuff was played. Only then the “sparc” came back, and with “A Question Of Time” they were back in the shape I have seen em before. Funny detail was that Dave, normally running around with jeans only, apperantyl had lost quite a bit of weight and had to pull his pants up every time. He is a busy bee on stage, not bad for someome who is almost 50 :)
The location of the (2nd) gig we were going to was the Esprit Arena (FKA LTU Arena) in Düsseldorf, which is normally a 2,5 hour drive from here.
Not far above Frankfurt, on the A3, we got stuck though in a nasty traffic jam.
Apperantly, 20km ahead, some cars decided to crash and therefor caused this trafficjam. By the time we drove by the “Unfallsstelle” all was gone already.
This caused us to be just in time to also queue up around KÃ¶ln and Bonn, the default trafficjam places, especially at the start of the weekend.
Near Düsseldorf we got sent on a D-tour, which in the end did not make much difference. We happened to merge on the same Autobahn again, and very interesting detail, just before the car we drove behind when we went on the D-tour. Yeah, it was a black VW Passat, all covered with Depeche Mode stickers, not easy to oversee.
The last bit of the trip on the road was trafficjam only, it took us about 30 minutes to drive 1km. A little grin to the Polizei standing at the side of the road with their speedcheck cameras, while everyone rolled by with about 5km/h
Still, if we could park quick, we would be able to go into the Arena and see Nitzer Ebb, someone that I was curious to see on stage.
But then, the worst bit of the traffic was actually the parking place of the Esprit Arena.
Although they had 4 lanes open for traffic coming in, they managed to be unable to spread the load of incoming traffic. They opened only one parkingrow every time, waited until the whole row was filled with lined up cars, and then opened the next gate. That did not really speed up, 15 cars everytime, then having to walk back to open up the next gate to be opened.
With the over 1 hour spent waiting there, we were hopelessly to late for the Nitzer Ebb concert.
We quickly walked with many others to the Arena, hoping we would not miss the first bits of the Depeche Mode concert
When we got in, it was light, so it had not started yet. The “pre-set” music was already playing though. After we had found our seats, somewhere in the middle on the right side of the podium, I realized how hughe this stadium was. I have no idea how many people were there, but it was absolutely amazing to see the number of people standing in the middle, sitting on the tribunes. Not even 5 minutes later, after we had something to drink and eat, the lights went dark…. and the volume of the voices from the people in the arena raised to a peak.
Not much later the 5 guys entered the podium, from what I had read from their tourblog they were rather overwhelmed by the hughe stadium as well:
From one extreme to the other. Horsens = 4500. Düsseldorf = at least ten times that. Wow, this place is big. Wow, the stage is big. Wow, the crowd is big.
The stage itself was built with 1 mega LEDscreen behind the podium, with in the top middle half a ball, also with LEDs for display. On both sides they had built hughe screens as well, about as wide as the podium, but a bit less high.
One “catwalk” on the more right side of the podium.
What they do during a gig is filming everything live, and immediately editing the output, which is sent to screen. This gives a great almost real-time effect, sometimes black and white, sometimes with a blur, or other special effects.
On top of that they have pre-recordings, which they play on all screens, using the ball as a special-3D effect for some recordings (e.g. the astronauts, the birds eye, an “in screen” walking person, or the earth itself, in the middle of a startrail).
Next to that, ofcourse, all the lights and spots and the usual stuff. Even if you are far away from stage, it is very well visible what happens, even more overwhelming by the hughe screens and the light effects being spread over the crowd.
There was no “bit of holding back” feeling I had in this concert. The guys were happilly trotting over the stage, interacting with eachother, and sometimes clearly making fun.
I can imagine that if you are on the road for a long time, having to perform every evening on stage, that it might be difficult to get the energy for another gig with sparcles. I was a bit afraid that after the great ending the Frankfurt concert had, this would be a rather “empty” concert, also watching the latest setlists which became shorter and shorter.
Nothing of what I feared came true. The concert was great, from start till end, even though in the beginning there were some tuning problems (the sound got “reflected” too much from behind, so sitting in the middle caused almost an “echo”)
Another great implementation of the “ball”, being used as a typewriter here.
or even better, as a basket full of balloons, which the crowd already had prepared, so they grabbed their own balloons, going all over the place (soooo great :))
One of the great things the singer does, is becoming a loony on stage, spinning around with his microphone standard. It is great to watch, and I always wonder how dizzy I would be, or worse, where on stage I would fall off.
The ball now being used as a helmet for astronauts. They switch places, so all are “in the picture” in 3D. I still have not seen what Space Agency they work for, maybe the new UK Space Agency?
So it finally happened, Dave took his shirt off and showed off with his tattoo. Amazing how the crowd reacts to this, they were shouting out loud.
The concentrated face of Martin while playing. As he does quite a lot of the instruments, and sings next to it as well, it must be quite exhausting to think of all the things that have to be done.
That does not say that “only singing” is a lot easier though :)
A very good and positive thing from Depeche Mode is that they allow digital cameras. No more checks for forbidden material, they even promote it! Via their website they link you to flickr, where you can tag and upload pictures you made from their concert. For this concert the tag is dm_20100226
Instead of the boobs shown in 2006, or the SM-like roleplaying shown in the Frankfurter concert, here only the “brave” version was shown. Which was good, in a way :)
As the crowd knew most of the songs anyway, they quit singing and let the crowd do the singing.
And as with all good things, the end comes way too quick. After saying thank you to the crowd for being such a good audience,
they gather and bow for the audience.
So, after buying some goodies we did the same thing as we started with this trip:
again being stuck in the trafficjam, this time to get away from the parking lots.
Instead of the 5+ hours it took to get there, we conquered the 232km drive in 1:38, accompagnied by some well known songs that guided us through the night.