Depeche Mode + Soulsavers @ Birmingham LG Arena – 13th December 2009

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There’s a definite air of expectation in the air throughout the LG Arena tonight as one of the world’s most legendary bands returns to Birmingham as part of their Tour Of The Universe. Almost 14,000 people are here to see the mighty Depeche Mode and, if past performances are anything to go by, we’re in for a special night.

First off though there’s the surprising but welcome appearance of tonight’s support band, Soulsavers. Fronted by the enigmatic Mark Lanegan, they deliver a stellar set of gritty, brooding rock n roll which goes down surprisingly well with Depeche Mode’s audience. With a group of black-clad, accomplished musicians behind him, Lanegan does little to entertain the crowd before him except use his unique voice and a superb set of songs, choosing to remain almost motionless for the entire time he’s on stage.

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Pulling material from this year’s “Broken” album as well as 2007’s “It’s Not How Far You Fall, It’s the Way You Land”, the band do what they do superbly without any showiness, just great songs and slick musicianship.

While millions of people at home await the result of the X Factor final and 3000 people fill the Academy for Marilyn Manson, a capacity crowd inside the LG Arena is only interested in one name – Depeche Mode. Having sold over 75 million albums worldwide, the band remain one of the most influential groups in music history and have a fiercely loyal fan base who regularly travel huge distances to see them play live.

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Kicking things off with “In Chains” from their latest album, Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher and their touring bandmates play before an enormous, dazzling video wall which illuminated the entire stage. Gahan is a striking frontman, pulling shapes and toying with his audience like a true showman. He’s also in fantastic shape for someone a couple of years off being 50!

The first three songs of the set are the first three songs from the new album and all sound great but it was always gonna be the older tunes which received the biggest response. The first of those is “Walking In My Shoes” which is followed by “It’s No Good” and then…

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Ok, here’s my big problem with Depeche Mode, and I may be upsetting a large chunk of the devotees here, but I know I’m not alone in this. In many ways, there are two very different bands on show tonight. Firstly, there’s the classic, dark, menacing, mighty band fronted by Dave Gahan. Then there’s another band which plays while Dave disappears backstage. Martin Gore takes over on vocals and the music loses every inch of its vitality in my opinion. My friend, who is at the gig, says the songs Gore sings on sound like Broadway show tunes or something written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. And I agree. Whereas I love the band with Gahan, I’m thoroughly bored when Gore takes over vocal duties. “Insight” and “Home” seem to go down well with the majority of the crowd, but I know I’m not the only one who’s simply watching politely until Dave Gahan returns.

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When he does return, for “World In My Eyes”, the show gets back into gear and all is well again with the world. It’s not long before the classics start to roll in. “I Feel You” sounds immense and sees Dave & Martin headbanging in unison. It looks a bit silly, to be honest. An extended version of “Enjoy The Silence” shows Depeche Mode at their finest and has the entire crowd moving and singing as Gahan gazes out from the end of the walkway which stretches into the front of the audience.

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Only one song could really follow that and it is, for me, the ultimate Mode tune – “Never Let Me Down”. Anyone who has witnessed this song live will know how spectacular it is, as Gahan leads his followers in a simultaneous arm waving ritual in time with the music. It’s an amazing site!

The encore sees another dull offering with Gore on vocal duties before “Stripped” brings Dave back to show how it’s done. The contrast could not be more striking as the opening chords lead us into another dramatic and epic tune. And then, two full hours from them appearing on stage, “Personal Jesus” closes another fantastic Depeche Mode live show.

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The band are about to celebrate 30 years in the business. They’ve come a long way since “New Life” but, on tonight’s performance, there seems to be plenty of life left in them yet.

Set List
1. In Chains
2. Wrong
3. Hole to Feed
4. Walking in My Shoes
5. It’s No Good
6. A Question of Time
7. Precious
8. World In My Eyes
9. Insight
10. Home
11. Miles Away
12. Policy of Truth
13. In Your Room
14. I Feel You
15. Enjoy the Silence
16. Never Let Me Down Again
Encore:
17. Dressed In Black
18. Stripped
19. Behind the Wheel
20. Personal Jesus

Review & Photos – Steve Gerrard

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14 Responses to “Depeche Mode + Soulsavers @ Birmingham LG Arena – 13th December 2009” Subscribe

  1. Ohwhoajulie December 14, 2009 at 8:39 pm #

    I cannot believe your comments about Martin, there would be no depehce mode without him and last night he sounded the best ever…

  2. Glenn Raybone December 14, 2009 at 8:46 pm #

    Quality pictures and a great review. I have to admit it’s not the best performance of DM i’ve been to. The new album is luke-warm and the songs were no better live.
    Fletch is just a souless figure, he doesn’t even play keyboards for Martin’s solo songs.
    Gahan is the main man but i felt even he seemed off. The songs just lacked the power they normally have, and why they had a walkway that was hardly used is beyond me.
    The ‘old’ stuff is the best, but with such a huge back-catalogue there was stuff missed (nothing from Exciter) and at an hour and a half (and £40 for the ticket) I did feel a lot short-changed.
    They could (and have) done so much better.

  3. SG December 15, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Don’t get me wrong Julie, Martin is a star and DM wouldn’t be much without him. I just wish he’d stay away from lead vocal duties.

  4. Iain & Vicky December 15, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    Me and my wife went to the gig on Sunday Night…it was only my 2nd concert ever. I saw DM back in 1990 on their world violation tour when i was 17 (36 now).
    Had an absolutely brilliant night, couldnt believe how quickly it went. Didnt think warm – up act soulsavers were up to much but the atmosphere prior to DM coming on stage was fantastic.
    As with most true DM fans the best songs were the older ones. For me Enjoy the Silence and Personal Jesus were great but World in my Eyes and Never Let Me Down were the real show stoppers. I was in full arm waving “mode” during NLMDA. Totally lost it much to my wifes amusement.
    It still frustrates me, and DM know this, that they only have a core following in this country yet remain huge in the US and Germany.
    Oh well after 20 years of following them they remain a truly inspirational band and wonder if Ill ever see them again on another tour.
    Cheers Iain

  5. Aaron December 15, 2009 at 5:56 pm #

    My first ever show, it was amazin, loved everys econd of it, and Martin rocks.

  6. Mark Chancellor December 16, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    I have ben to a few Depeche Mode concerts and have never been so close as Sunday night. Just to the right of the walkway. I got a few great photos not as good as these but having Dave look directly at me and smiling as i was waving and then smiling and posing for my girlfriend who missed a cracking photo of him only to mess it up was disappointing but i can guarantee i will be ther on there next tour. They still look great and dave still has so much energy. I’m glad that the crowd managed to get well involved around me and it has been a great early Christmas present to be able to see them again.

  7. sharron December 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm #

    I was there on sunday with my 22 year old son ,this being my second concert I truly was amazed by the show even though I was way at the back my son is now a dm convert fantastic voices live

  8. Susana Tomasio December 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm #

    I saw Depeche Mode on Sunday with my boyfriend. It was a fantastic concert! Great music, great quality! Probably the best concert I ever seen! I loved it!
    There were many songs that I would have enjoyed listening to, but they have so many good songs..
    I think they are a great band and I wish all the best for DP and I look forward to seeing them again!

  9. Steve December 16, 2009 at 9:09 pm #

    I have been a DM fan ever since I bought the vinyl single “New Life” back in 1981, and have been to every single tour … always in Birmingham … remember the Birmingham Odeon gigs anyone?! (Dave Gahan often said in the past they got the best response from a crowd in this city). The concert on Sunday was great, but I have to say not one of the greatest. I agree with other posters here, something was missing … and I even thought the whole sound produced was not loud enough. I also have never thought much of Martin Gore’s stage presence & vocals, but credit where credit is due, I thought he was fantastic, and “Dressed in Black” was one of the highlights … never thought I would say that! It brought back memories of the Black Celebration Tour in 1986, which if you are as unfortunate to be as old as me, was the best show ever!

  10. Michaela Hilton December 17, 2009 at 12:12 am #

    I had a fantastic time, it gave me goose pimples!

  11. Peter December 17, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    OK, I just found a great site for show reviews, and it looks like you get some pretty big bands coming through.

    I saw DM in Hollywood, and was completely blown away. Gahan’s voice hasn’t changed in three decades. I agree that they lost me every time Gore took over the mic with his wishy-washy adult contemporary act, but overall it was an experience.

    I will be paying attention to this site from now on, and cheers again to Steve for the world-class pics!

  12. Susana Tomasio December 18, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    You’re absolutely right Peter!
    Gahan’s voice hasn’t changed like it happens with some singers when they get older. He as such a strong and distinct voice!

  13. Ted_Maul December 26, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    Firstly let me say the photographs of this concert are absolutely stunning, sharp and vibrant and really do capture the visual element of the night. However, the review is a let down.
    Your personal grievances about certain elements of the show (Gores songs) really need not have been aired. The vast majority of the crowd (as you briefly point out) were in raptures during Martin Gores performances, in fact there was just as much, if not more audience participation during those songs than at any point of the night. I feel your review briefly brushes over these ‘huge’ moments, and in fact you almost make them sound substandard. You mention nothing of the fact that after Home was played Dave Gahan had to tell the crowd to “calm down” after they continued to sing the outro back to Martin. And as for them sounding like “Broadway/Webber show tunes”, I suggest a rethink on your friends part. A review should be a review of the concert as it was, and not a litany of your own personal niggles.

    Still, I cant knock you too much as the photo’s are A1.

    P.s this website is great too for Midlands Music – I applaud you for it.

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