Depeche Mode – Global Spirit Tour

Cast your mind back if you are old enough to remember 1982 and think what highlights stick in your mind?

The biggest UK news story of 1982 was the Falklands War however as I was  about to sit my O Levels that Spring I was probably – indeed certainly – oblivious to most of the burning issues of the day. My main concerns were football, music and girls. Not necessarily in that order.

Lets start with the really important stuff. Scotland had as normal – how times change –  qualified for the World Cup Finals in Spain.

Scotland team 1982 – Spain

During the finals on June 18th we had our school Valedictory Dinner but in the hours before we all met up at Thomas “The Panther” Ryan’s house to watch the Scotland v Brazil game and no doubt try and quaff a few cans of lager. With time constraints we left Thomas’ for the school farewell event before the match concluded but in high spirits. The reason for our exuberance I vividly recall wasn’t the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol but rather that we’d watched Scotland have the audacity to take an early lead against Brazil with the famous toe poke goal by David Narey and , we thought, were on our way to a modern day triumph of Scottish football over those latin pretenders.

By the time we actually arrived at the dinner at The Glazertbank Hotel less than an hour later Scotland had been well and truly thumped. But at least I had the consolation of being elegantly attired in my cream suit. Which I think went down a treat with the girls as they sipped their Cider and Babycham cocktails.

Cool Suits ’80’s Style

Musically 1982 was a year that for produced many of the tracks that to this day I still love to listen to. Groups that I enjoyed such as OMD , Duran Duran, ABC and Soft Cell all had chart success although there were other less acceptable tracks out there such as The Goombay Dance Band – extra points if you can remember their hit – or Musical Youth’s “Pass The Duchie” and of course the obligatory World Cup Song by the Scotland squad.

I had though from about about 1980 been allowed ,and funded, by mum and dad to go and see live concerts – which now strikes me as a bit strange as I was only fourteen – and in 1982 somehow got permission to go and see Depeche Mode at Tiffany’s in Glasgow.

Tiffany’s for the uninitiated had been The Locarno Ballroom in Sauchiehall Street and crucially was licensed so strictly only over 18’s were allowed entry. Clearly this was a minor obstacle to entry.

I have no real recollection of who from school went or how we got into the venue as ID would have been non-existent but attitudes were fairly lax then. I do though remember that we got into the venue without any problem and indulged in a few Cointreau and Lemonades.

As for the concert itself Depeche Mode were just emerging from their poppy melody hit period which saw Vince Clark leave and Martin Gore take over composing duties. This ultimately would lead Depeche Mode away from their synth pop origins down a darker musical route but at the time they were still relying heavily on their relatively meager back catalogue .

The internet is a truly fantastic place and I tracked down the set list from that night – 21st February 1982. It included their big hits – “See You” , “New Life” , “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “The Meaning of Love”. There are actually a number of audio recordings from that night online and all are uniformly dreadful. And if you don’t believe me then click on the link below.

That was until 2017 the first and only time I saw Depeche Mode live but they were a group I always kept up to date with. Unlike many ’80’s synth bands they continued to evolve musically and throughout the last 30 odd years have continued to put out some fantastic tracks. Widely derided in the UK in their early days they built a massive following in the USA and in mainland Europe but any opportunity I had to see them just never came about.

However this year they announced an extensive tour to promote their new album – Global Spirit – but with only a single UK date and no Asian dates I did everything in my power to get tickets for their 3rd June date in London. Eventually I managed to get six and then had to see who, if anyone, actually wanted to go with me.

Janet was clearly coming along whether she wanted to or not. Catriona Heppel who I’d been at school with I knew was a fan and along with her husband Andy lived in London so along  with Val and Andy our friends from Singapore – who had relocated home to London – I thought I had willing victims so issued out invites.Pleasantly all came back with positive replies so that was the night all set.

I ticked off another ” things to do” by booking a tour of The Houses of Parliament for both of us. On the way over to Parliament a thunderstorm forced us into a taxi. The cabbie asked how long we were down for but I explained we’d actually come all the way from Singapore not Scotland and were going to see Depeche Mode.

This guy was a bit younger than me but the blank look threw me a bit. Not a clue did he have. He had never heard of Depeche Mode and asked who they were and where they were playing?

When I said at the Olympic Stadium this was met with an incredulous “Are you sure mate? That’s a big place” .

He simply would not believe me that a band he’d never heard of were playing a venue holding 70,000 people. More of that later. Regardless we got the Parliament and did our tour there which I’d recommend to anyone. Not least to see where your tax is squandered if you live in the UK.

The night of the concert we all met up at Westfield at Stratford for a light refreshment beforehand and at this point Val’s Andy was also equally skeptical at the potential crowd size. I was sticking with 70,000 on basis that they were massive and it was a single UK concert date.

In due course we headed over to what is now renamed “The London Stadium” and primarily the home of West Ham FC. This really was much to Andy’s disgust as he’s an Arsenal man. Crowds through security were massive and it was pretty chaotic but we simply walked around the perimeter and found a largely deserted entrance.

Going by the sounds we could hear from outside the concert had already started but we got in quick enough and yes I could finally confirm there was probably 70,000 inside. Possibly more as the pitch was an extensive standing area.

One thing that was obvious from the start was that Depeche Mode having constantly put out new music have developed a fan base that spans the generations. This wasn’t some ’80’s tribute act or greatest hits show rather a band that have grown and developed immeasurably over the best part of forty years and were promoting a new album.

Most of the early tracks at the concert (Going Backwards and Revolution) came off the new list and were fantastic. Dave Gahan,the lead singer, has a presence on stage that allows him to work the audience and he was clearly having a fantastic time. The revelation though for me was Martin Gore who sang a couple of tracks and has the most amazing singing voice.

As the concert progressed and darkness fell the concert – at least for me – just got better and better and the last half hour or so was quite simply one of the best live performances I’ve attended. There are a few YouTube videos out there but they don’t quite capture the impact of the event although I have put one below for you to listen to.

Highlights for me were “Enjoy the Silence” , “Everything Counts” and a brilliant cover version of the Bowie classic “Heroes”.

At the end of the night as we made our way back to the tube station in rather chaotic circumstances rumours soon circulated of a terrorist attack and unfortunately these rumours proved to be true with the injuries and murders around London Bridge and Borough Market. This is an area in London we’d stayed on our last visit when we had attended Shakespeare at The Globe Theatre but this time we’d elected to stay in the West End at Mayfair which I guess was for us a bit of a blessing.

Absolute credit to the people leaving our event. Despite being crammed in like sardines and huge crowds with obvious fears of further attacks everyone stayed perfectly calm and patient and simply looked out for everyone else.

True Global Spirit.

 

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