Photo of Dave Gahan of Depeche Mode by Jen Ruff
There isn’t much I could ever write that hasn’t been written in the career of Depeche Mode, a band whose works span over four decades, 15 albums, hundreds of singles, tons of awards and recognition. It’s all been said. For me personally ,I’d heard and seen the video releases in the ‘80s but that was my very limited exposure to the band—until I met my wife in high school, who changed that. Unknown to few outside of our inner circle, my wife has long struggled with a lot of mental health issues. I’d come to know eventually throughout life the true meaning of “music saves,” but for my wife this was 100% due to Depeche Mode. Being a military brat moving from state to state and even out of the country, it’s impossible to make friends and feel a part of anything. Being new to school after school sets you up to be a prime target of bullies and in those times, there wasn’t conversation about it. It was just life. Deal with it. Add angsty rebel teen and the story almost tells itself. So her solace was in her cat and her music.
She introduced me little by little although I was hesitant to really ‘hear’ it because that was her thing and I didn’t want to adopt her comforts, but over time I became good at her rounds of “Name that DM tune.” While our life carried on, Depeche Mode would tour infrequently but never coming to St. Louis or close enough for us to be able to make it work. Knowing there won’t be many more opportunities, I decided to surprise her and arranged for us to travel to see their show in Nashville at the Bridgestone Arena. She took a shot in the dark asking to shoot the show and life (and The Arts) made for an incredibly emotional evening.
I could feel the emotion as tens of thousands of people filed in around me and the excitement and fun was overflowing. Somewhere in the arena, though, a photographer who always appears pretty chill was internally freaking out. It was just a dream, a thing to put on a bucket list but it’d probably never happen; yet here it was. They’d go on to be on Jimmy Fallon within a week of the show and she got to photograph them at a massive venue. She was ushered into a holding area for media and my spot was clear enough to see her well.
No one was allowed to shoot during the first song “My Cosmos is Mine” and that’s SO goth. But then the photographers were allowed to begin. I couldn’t watch the show in those next three songs much. I watched my wife, who has worked so hard to establish herself, to quiet the childhood hurt, to heal from destructive mental issues. But I heard them and felt the irony. The second song she photographed was “Walking in My Shoes” and it was far too poetic, with lyrics about the very judgement she’d felt, lyrics that spoke to that rebel teen some four decades ago were being performed by musical heroes to her:
“I would tell you about the things they put me through
The pain I’ve been subjected to
But the Lord himself would blush.”
It was at some point during that very song that David Gahan, vocalist, smiled for her camera and threw his sweat on her. I could see her face and it was a moment I don’t think either of us could ever forget.
Eventually she joined me and we enjoyed the rest of the show together. Singing and screaming along to “In Your Room” and “Everything Counts,” the singalong staple from their music documentary 101. Hearing your voice in unison with over 20,000 people will give you chills. Gahan had the absolute energy of a toddler, dancing and working every single inch of the stage with his fellow musicians, down the catwalk to the fans, everywhere. He’s an elite showman. Then he stepped aside.
Longtime friend and bandmate, guitarist, and keyboardist Martin Gore had a few songs to sing, of which the first was “A Question of Lust.” Martin’s voice is like warm icing on a cinnamon roll on a bitter cold evening. It soothes.
The Depeche Mode camp lost member Andrew Fletcher this year and they paid homage during “World in My Eyes” with images of him throughout the performance. I thought it’d be somber but it was a celebration of his life and art that fans very much appreciated. A few songs later was yet another ‘80s staple. I still remember the show Friday Night Videos or 120 Minutes and seeing the video for “Enjoy the Silence.” Seeing them perform it live was quite special.
Most bands wouldn’t have a four-song encore, but most bands couldn’t sell out Bridgestone Arena either, so here we are. “Waiting for the Night” was performed with only keyboards to back both Gore and Gahan on vocals. Their voices complimenting each other’s in this moment was nothing short of breathtaking. With the last three, we knew they came to party. “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” and “Personal Jesus” were all-out madness. It seemed every fan knew every word, wanting to desperately to sing, scream, and dance along. What a night to be alive. | Diane Ruff
Opening the show was NYC-based dream pop band DIIV. Here are some photos from their set:
Depeche Mode’s Memento Mori tour dates:
11.21.23 – Edmonton, AB – Rogers Place
11.24.23 – Vancouver, BC – Rogers Arena
11.26.23 – Seattle, WA – Climate Pledge Arena
11.28.23 – Portland, OR – MODA Center
12.01.23 – Las Vegas, NV – T-Mobile Arena
12.03.23 – San Francisco, CA – Chase Center
12.06.23 – San Diego, CA – Pechanga Arena
12.10.23 – Los Angeles, CA – Kia Forum
12.15.23 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena
12.17.23 – Los Angeles, CA – Crypto.com Arena
01.22.24 – London, UK — O2 Arena
01.24.24 – Birmingham, UK — Utilita Arena
01.27.24 – London, UK – O2 Arena
01.29.24 – Manchester, UK — AO Arena
01.31.24 – Glasgow, UK — OVO Hydro
02.03.24 – Dublin, IE — 3Arena
02.06.24 – Antwerp, BE — Sportpaleis
02.08.24 – Amsterdam, NL — Ziggo Dome
02.10.24 – Copenhagen, DK — Royal Arena
02.13.24 – Berlin, DE — Mercedes-Benz Arena
02.15.24 – Berlin, DE — Mercedes-Benz Arena
02.17.24 – Hamburg, DE — Barclays Arena
02.20.24 – Berlin, DE – Mercedes-Benz Arena
02.22.24 – Prague, CZ — O2 Arena
02.24.24 – Prague, CZ — O2 Arena
02.27.24 – Lodz, PL — Atlas Arena
02.29.24 – Lodz, PL — Atlas Arena
03.03.24 – Paris, FR — Accor Arena
03.05.24 – Paris, FR — Accor Arena
03.07.24 – Munich, DE — Olympiahalle
03.12.24 – Madrid, ES — Wizink Center
03.14.24 – Madrid, ES — Wizink Center
03.16.24 – Barcelona, ES — Palau Sant Jordi
03.19.24 – Lisbon, PT — Altice Arena
03.21.24 – Bilbao, ES — BEC
03.23.24 – Torino, IT — Pala Alpitour
03.26.24 – Budapest, HU — MVM Dome
03.28.24 – Milan, IT — Mediolanum Forum
03.30.24 – Milan, IT — Mediolanum Forum
04.03.24 – Cologne, DE — Lanxess Arena
04.05.24 – Cologne, DE — Lanxess Arena
04.08.24 – Cologne, DE – Lanxess Arena