Depeche Mode's Hollywood Bowl Takeover: Martin Gore Is The Bombdizzle

Yesterday morning someone said to me, "Why would you go see the same band two nights in a row? Wouldn't that be kinda boring? Same songs, same music. Sounds like a waste of money."

I can confidently say that only a person who has never seen a live Depeche Mode show would say such a thing.

Besides, when you go with different people, that alone makes it's a totally brand new experience. One of my seriously old-school Chicago friends, Delara, (and by old-school I mean I've known her since I was eight or nine) emailed me yesterday morning.
"I know it has been AGES since we were in contact. I feel sad about that, but I'm hoping maybe we can connect today! I'm actually in town specifically for the concert tonight at the Bowl - my brother Farren bought me a ticket for my birthday and we're going tonight. I thought it would be a HOOT to see you there. Might you be up for that?"
I absolutely was up for that! We met up at the Starbucks at Hollywood and Highland before the show and it was so great to see her and reconnect with her. What an amazingly wonderful surprise!

I also met up with Los Angeles' other black Depeche Mode fan, Diane, (just kidding, there are more than two of us!) as well as my dear friend Suzy. After much chatting and strategizing about how to hide our cameras from security, we walked the mile up Highland Avenue to the Hollywood Bowl.

Suzy and I sat together in the "N" section where we successfully avoided being vomited on by the drunk, Hawaiian shirt-wearing fools on our right. Seriously, I think those guys missed 50% of the show because they were either in the bathroom or staring into their beer cups.

We also got to sit in front of two Depeche Mode concert virgins -- both women in their 40's who'd NEVER been to a show before. Halfway through the show, I peered over my shoulder and saw one of them with her eyes closed, hands clasped in front of her chest, a gentle smile on lips, her hips gently swaying with the music.

Seeing other fans feeling that sort of spiritual emotion is not uncommon at a Mode show. At the end, when I asked her how she liked it, she could only gush, "I wish I could do it all over again tomorrow!"

In addition to playing tracks from their new album, Sounds of the Universe, Depeche Mode once again cranked out the big hits from their 1990 monster smash, Violator. I know some fans moan about hearing them on every tour but "Enjoy the Silence" and "Policy of Truth" never get old for me. And the retooled version of "Personal Jesus" is setting the crowd on fire.

I have to say I'm particularly enjoying hearing FOUR songs from my second favorite Depeche Mode album, 1986's Black Celebration: "Fly on the Windscreen", "A Question of Time", "A Question of Lust" and "Stripped". But, like Sunday night's show, only one song from Mode's last album, Playing the Angel was performed, "Precious".

I cried during "Precious" on Sunday night and again last night. Interestingly enough, the backing imagery for the song features a poem "I Have Learned So Much From God" by the classical Persian poet Hafiz, but it's translated/interpreted by American poet Daniel Ladinsky. The imagery of the poem + the song = EPIC!

I have not seen footage of "Precious" from last night, but here's from Sunday night. It's worth watching.

They also played a song I positively can't stand. "Hole to Feed" from their latest album, Sounds of the Universe just gets the fast forward button every single time. Unfortunately, I could not fast forward at the concert. Maybe it will grow on me and in five years I'll think it's alright, but right now it is a runaway winner in the race to be my least favorite Depeche Mode song EVER.

So you want to know if last night's show was better than Sunday night's show, don't you?

Better is such a relative term when it comes to Depeche Mode simply because they always perform at such a high level. Lead singer Dave Gahan's voice was probably a bit stronger in places, and because of set list changes, there was a different intensity, a different energy that made this show really magical. And for me, most of that magic was coming from band member Martin Gore.

Let me explain a bit about who's who in the band because I realize the average person may not know.
  1. Dave Gahan rocks the lead vocals and has, in the last two records, ventured into songwriting,
  2. Andrew "Fletch" Fletcher plays bass/synth bass and eats bananas on stage, and
  3. Martin Gore is the Depeche Mode member I'd like to be stranded on a desert island with sings lead/backup, plays guitar and keyboards, and is the main songwriter for the band.
Martin didn't write Mode's first hit, "Just Can't Get Enough", but he's written every other Depeche Mode hit. He was stunning last night, just "on" in every way imaginable.
When Dave sings lead, Martin plays guitar or synth and backs up Dave vocally. But a couple times each show, Dave takes a break and Martin gets his solo on like he's an angelic torch lounge singer .

To give you an idea of how unique this is as far as bands go, I'll bet you can't imagine Bono taking a break during a U2 show and The Edge coming up and singing a ballad like this:
(Thanks to the very generous DavesMichele for the footage!)

In fact, Martin sounded SO good, and I was so into his performance, I made a hashtag for him on Twitter: #MartinGoreIsTheBombdizzle. Yes, I know... I have problems.

Sadly, before we knew it, the second encore was over and the band was taking their bows and saying good night. Sigh, Depeche Mode shows are always over too quickly for me.

As I walked toward the exit with my friends, I spied the walled off area where the after party was going on. And there, on the other side of the wall was Fletch. He was hanging out, chatting with people and looking like, as Diane put it today, "a hitman". I snapped a bunch of non-flash pictures of him from 25 feet away... And then Martin Gore walked by!

That's him in the white jacket. Sure, I've been in the 2nd or 3rd row at a Depeche Mode show so I've been "close" to Martin Gore before, but it was really special to see him with all his stage makeup washed away, smiling, laughing and looking completely relaxed and natural.

You'll notice my picture of Martin is slightly blurrier and it's 100% because by that point I was actually shaking! Yes, SHAKING! I have never met any member of Depeche Mode in person. Never. And I am not exactly sure what I'd do if introduced to them. I've always pictured myself forgetting how to talk. Or babbling something totally ridiculous and embarrassing like, "Omigod, I've loved you since I was 11!!!"

Fortunately I was spared the possibility of such a humiliating scene by a burly security guard who told us to stop staring across the wall at the band members like they were animals in the zoo.

No, he didn't say that. But he should have. And so back down Highland Avenue we went, inhaling the scent of onions sizzling on portable hot dog carts and hearing bootleg t-shirt vendors hawk their wares -- all against the backdrop of hundreds of cars exiting parking lots, windows rolled down, almost 30 years of Depeche Mode hits playing on stereos.

If you want to see some GREAT pictures of the show, fellow fan, Housegirl, has some as well as the aforementioned davesmichele. I especially like the one Michele snapped of all Martin's guitars.

I really enjoyed myself at this show and, after two days of back to back shows, I was a zombie all day. My exhaustion makes me appreciate Depeche Mode even more. Being able to keep their energy up in the way they do, night after night, is really impressive.

Dave, Fletch and Mart, if you ever come across this post, thank you. From the depths of my heart, thank you.


Anonymous said…
Thank you for this wonderful post, Liz! Your love for this band mirrors my own, but you express it so much more eloquently. It was a privilege to hang with you before and after the show! Both nights were magical, and I'm glad you've captured the moment here on your blog. Big hugs, Diane
Kar said…
Fantastic comment!!! (it made me miss LA...lets hope the vegas show lives up to the hype) :)

If you havent already...see a NYC will not be disappointed...

ps. becoming a vegan is hard...ive pondered...tried...failed...tried again....failed again...ugh...
Anonymous said…
Hi, I found your post by goolge news rss and I think your comment is very great!
You LOVE DM and I can see it through your words.
I sow the show in Milan (Italy) in June, and I will see them in Torino next November... an Yes...Martin gLEEtterman Gore is the best songwriter in the world ;-)
This is my tribute on Flickr...

Kiss from Italy Ivana
Lucrecer said…
Enjoy the Silence is my favorite DM song of all time. I love it and never get tired of hearing it. You have got to be their number one fan.
Liz Dwyer said…
Hugs to you, too! Both nights were definitely magical! And we must hang out before/after Santa Barbara, too!

I hope Vegas is great for you all. The last Vegas show at the Hard Rock was amazing -- probably the BEST DM show I've ever seen! Sigh, why does being a vegan have to be so hard?

So glad you found me! Thanks for your kind words. I really do love Depeche Mode a whole lot and I agree, Martin really is the best song writer out there!

Loved your flickr photos... and some of your other ones of food as well! :) Kisses from LA back to you!

I never get tired of hearing ETS either! It still sounds fresh even though it's almost 20 years old!

In my heart I always feel like their number one fan but then I wonder how we measure such a thing. Lots of folks love Depeche Mode like I do, that's for sure. I think our culture measures fandom by how many times you've seen a band and, moreso, by how much "stuff" of the band you own: records, posters, t-shirts, coffee cups, and I definitely lose in that regard. That's ok though, I'd rather have the heart fandom over the material one.
Jen said…
It's such fun to read your Depeche Mode posts - you're just. so. excited!


I'm glad you had a great time.
Liz Dwyer said…
I'm probably a little TOO excited, aren't I? ;)
melissa said…
i feel this way about duran duran. but depeche mode is a close 2nd.
i love your blog! i found my way here through jessica your comment was exactly how i felt about blogher. i loved it. but was disappointed in the fact that i didn't learn how to take it to the next level!!
i'll be back!!
melissa said…
i feel this way about duran duran. but depeche mode is a close 2nd.
i love your blog! i found my way here through jessica your comment was exactly how i felt about blogher. i loved it. but was disappointed in the fact that i didn't learn how to take it to the next level!!
i'll be back!!
Unknown said…
We all wish we were there with you and thanks to your posts, we almost are :) Thank you so much for sharing your DM experiences with us!! They are incredible and Martin Gore's songs do sing to my heart. My favs are Enjoy the Silence, But Not Tonight (they hate it, but I love it), and Behind the Wheel.
Liz Dwyer said…
Thanks for coming over here to visit me! I was pretty nuts about Duran Duran back in the day. I wasn't feeling their last album though.

With BlogHer, I've wondered if my level of expectation was too high, or if I needed to strategize more about how to spend my time there. Somebody I know said there was more swag than in-depth content. Come see me again soon! ;)

I am so happy to share my experiences with everybody! There were many tours I was not able to go to, either because of my work schedule/having just had a baby. Those were in the age before blogs and I didn't know about any DM forums online back then. But gosh, I would've LOVED to hear about concert experiences back then. Besides, if I write my experience down here on my blog, I also get to re-live it!

I'm a big But Not Tonight lover and Behind the Wheel was the 1st Depeche CD single I ever bought!
ragnhild71 said…
Aaw, so happy to find this blog, I am yet another fanatic DM fan, and I'm black as well, so now there's five of us! =) For your information though; if you ever end up on that deserted island with Martin, expect my company! ;D
Evelina said…
I bet you'd enjoy my photos from Depeche Modes concert in Horsens Denmark!
And oh yes I've meet Martin Gore back in 2006 in Stockholm. Makes my heart go a little bit faster when ever I think of meeting him and getting a hug!

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