On this last day of a windy month the concourse outside the “SEC event campus” is like a wind tunnel so it is a matter of extreme irritation for BM that Ticketmaster’s “your phone is your ticket” concept just wasn’t working and BM only got in after a trip to the SEC box office and missed the first song of the support act – FFS!
The place was filling up and Nadine Shah and her band were in full flow when BM sidled up to the side barrier. Obviously dwarfed by the surroundings and a not very loud sound system she did her best on ‘Topless Mother’, strutting around the stage as she belted out the words. This was followed by another new track ‘Even Light’, which with sparser instrumentation was a bit lost in the depths of the enormodome that is the Hydro. ‘Trad’ from earlier album ‘Kitchen Sink’ maybe came across a bit stronger – “shave my legs, freeze my eggs” is such a brazenly hilarious Nadine line it must have at least turned a few heads.
BM understands that Martin Gore tends to suggest the support acts on these BM tours (Young Fathers notably got the call-up recently) so it must have been a huge boost for Nadine Shah to get this (although the new material is shaping up really well and she has plenty of headline dates herself this year after a bit of a rough patch, per recent Guardian interview which was painfully honest). Anyway she ended off with the wonderful recent single ‘Greatest Dancer’, maybe BM’s favourite track of hers to date, and closer (and earliest track of hers tonight) ‘Fool’ – so a good showing in the circumstances from a fiercely talented artist, playing with a great band.
The main event started around 8.45pm as the backing drapes came off to reveal a huge neon sign which alternatively flashed “D” and “M” from what BM could see (it was now really busy so started near the front at the side but after a quick breather midway it was pretty much impossible to get back there without barging people (not BM’s style) so the best place to watch the rest was near the back. Maybe not sold out but the 14,000 capacity dome must have been at least 90% full if not more, DM’s first show north of the border since their 2018 Barrowlands appearance as part of BBCR6M weekend. So BM was in fact a DM virgin after missing this and an earlier show at The Hydro, also previous show at maybe the SEC, but in fact they have not frequently been north of the border since the 1980s, preferring to conquer first Europe, then the US, then the world.
As the lights went up it was revealed there were just four men onstage – Dave, resplendent in a leather jaiket and waistcoat to complete the slightly deliberately vampiric look (the jacket soon came off), Martin (bare-armed, still plenty of his own hair, probably!), also touring members Peter (keyboards mainly) and Christian (drums mainly). They started with a couple of tracks from the recent album ‘Momento Mori’, made in the aftermath of Andy Fletcher’s death, and the even darker, more funereal tones of ‘My Cosmos Is Mine’ and ‘Wagging Tongue’ seem to reflect this (at least the latter has a shimmering keyboard line and sounds more like a hymn).
The first oldie is the also very downbeat ‘Walking In My Shoes’, a product arguably of Dave’s excessive years but also a bit self-pitying (“try walking in my shoes” – says the millionaire rock star etc) – it is the first time the band really gets into second gear though, and Dave starts to project his voice, still very distinctive although slightly flat through the PA at times probably due to the massive space. After this the back catalogue comes thick and fast, presumably the set constructed jointly to give a combination of The Hits, several deep cuts for the fans and to reflect the general mood of the people on tour. The new songs do get a further outing, with the again very depressing ‘Before We Drown’, laced with regret, burbling along mid-pace and the lead album track ‘Ghosts Again”‘ (actually a real grower and probably the most memorable of the ‘Mori’ tracks) appears a full 12 tracks into the set. This is several tracks after the first real banger of the evening, the vintage ‘Everything Counts’, where Dave makes use of the extended stage runway at the front to get the crowd going (“c’mon Glasgow, you’re a far better audience than Manchester the other night” etc).
In many ways it is Dave’s enthusiasm, showmanship and bum-wiggling that keeps the momentum up, goading the audience between songs while Martin and the other grin and bow when he introduces and compliments them. Is there anything from the years, almost two decades, between ‘Momento Mori’ and ‘Playing The Angel’? Nope!
Other notable moments included an acoustic ‘Somebody’ sung solo by Martin, still beautifully naive – BM still isn’t sure if it really is a classic but it is certainly bold and to still be doing this in front of thousands in your 60s, well fair play, and it was note perfect to these ears. There were also a couple from the “Depeche get a bit pervy and inexplicably popular in Poland” era (probably BM’s favourite era!) like ‘Strangelove’ (“pain, will you return it?” – er, ouch missus, stop it!) and BM can’t quite help remembering how dodgy some of DM’s previous behaviour might appear to newer audiences (there was a wide range of people here tonight, punks, goths, normals but very few kids).
The set moved on relentlessly and despite the high ticket prices it certainly was all-encompassing, a good two hours and a quarter with only a brief break before the encore. For BM’s money they might have left out a couple from ‘Playing The Angel’ (only ‘John The Revelator’ is essential in BM’s opinion) and done a few of the stand alone early singles but everyone has their favourites and nobody could fail to respond to a four song encore which started low key with an atmospheric ‘Waiting For The Night To Come’ but then flung in Vince Clarke-era banger ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ (BM assumes as footy fans they’ll know its significance in Glasgow but maybe not…) before the massive slabs of noise that comprise ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ before the unmistakable riff of ‘Personal Jesus’ echoed round the room, still a stone classic and the kind of track that still sets them apart from the rest even after all the decades and eras…
So 23 tracks (although no “happy birthday” for a fan, one of the features of recent shows – did no one in Scotland have a birthday that day?) – phew, and BM has finally scratched that 43 year old itch!