25 years ago today Depeche Mode stood in front of 70,000 people and performed their most important concert. This is when music mattered. This is when underground synthesizer music took over. Depeche Mode showed the world that they were no niche. I was in the front row and backstage. I never heard a crowd so loud. I doubt a crowd ever loved a band as much as on that night in California.
“The largest but also the most prestigious concert we’ve ever played as a headline act.” – Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode)
Here we have the story of the song Television Set. It was a song Depeche Mode performed live at the beginning of their career. Interestingly, no one in the band wrote the song which is probably why it never appeared on an album. I love that the song was recorded on the cassette above over a Cure track.
“Probably the most famous un-released Depeche Mode track is ‘Television Set’. Television Set was a song played by the band at virtually every gig during 1981, usually as their opening number in the first 6 months of that year. It was a firm favourite amongst fans at live gigs during that period. At the time many considered it DM’s best song. When asked why it wasn’t being released as an obvious choice for a single, the whispered reply was “Vince didn’t write it”. The origins of this classic song remained shrouded in mystery for years but the songs existence has always been well known to Depeche Mode fans through live bootlegs from this period. ‘Television Set’ was written by Basildon musician Jason Knott. Jason was in a local band called ‘The Neatelllls’ (spelt with 4 L’s) which also included well know Basildon drummer Peter Hobbs. Although they never actually formed a band together, Jason, Peter and Vince Clarke did rehearse together a number of times and this how Vince got to hear the song. Vince took the song through a number of incarnations, firstly a recording with friend Sue Paget ( his bandmate in “No Romance in China”) with Vince on guitar & vocals and Sue on Bass. The second version was a solo demo track made by Vince, sounding completley different, made with a synthesiser, drum machine and Vinces vocals. Finally, Vince introduced the song into his new band Depeche Mode. The photo shows the original cassette by ‘No Romance in China’ that contains their recording of T.V.Set. As you can see its has been recorded over a copy of ‘The Cure’s Three Imaginary Boys’, Vince’s favourite band at the time. Many thank’s to Sue for providing the photo.” – Basildon: New Town – New Life
What we have here is one of Depeche Mode’s earliest recordings. Some say is Vince Clarke on vocals however I’m not certain. YouTube commenters also say Fletch is the one playing the bass. What a great version and it shows right out of the gate these guys had “it”. I love how when the vocal “Resurrect, as a feeling…” comes in the first time it’s off/minor and then they sing it straight right after to show it’s power. That part is just wonderful. It also comes to a great crescendo towards the end.
“Resurrect, as a feeling, on my window, Of a past reunion.Resurrect as a feeling on my window Of a past reunion. Mission of a picture like the city and the air we breathe. The air we breathe. Air we breathe” – Depeche Mode
So if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter you know that a good friend of mine got me a ticket to see Depeche Mode last night at the Ed Sullivan Theater. The theater which David Letterman uses as his set only seats 461 people so no matter your close to the stage. The show was set for 8PM with doors opening at 7. I got there about 6:15 and to my surprise there was only about 30 people on line. One thing I noticed was that the crowd was definitely older. I didn’t see anyone under the age of 25 and most people were upper 30s/40s. Everyone was stressed boringly in black. There were no freaks and only a few people were even wearing DM shirts. I asked a few people online what they wrote in as their answer to the “What does Delta Machine” mean contest question. To my surprise all the answers were random and different. I knew right then my Vince Clarke theory was probably wrong. The stage was lit beautifully and was full of keyboard rigs. There was a quick announcement letting us know it was ok to use our phones to tweet and update facebook. They also stated we would be filmed and could watch ourselves later that night. Then just like that Dave, Martin, Fletch a drummer and additional keyboardist walk on stage right in front of me. The songs they played honestly left me a little bewildered. All of them were upbeat and rockish. There was nothing slow, and nothing with Martin as the lead vocal. I heard Barrel of a Gun, Enjoy the Silence, Personal Jesus, Walking in My Shoes, Heaven and I believe three other new songs. One of the new songs was very good. I can tell it will be great on the album. Walking in My Shoes was the old song that had my eyes watering a little. Martin changed his guitar every song which I guess shows some sort of fetish for the instrument. Of course I would have rather enjoying them swapping synths. On that note there was an Access Virus and some controller/composer type of keyboards on stage. No real analog or modular stuff. You could say it doesn’t matter but I would have enjoyed it. I was thrilled to be there seeing old friends; people who still bring me much joy. You can watch the complete broadcast here: cbs.com/shows/liveonletterman/artist/209798/depeche-mode
Our next guests are an influential band and their career spans three decades and still going strong selling over one hundred million albums. Ladies and gentleman welcome back Depeche Mode.” – David Letterman
First off I apologize in advance if this is untrue. However I believe this is happening. Here are my reasons.
1. Depeche Mode is performing tonight (Monday, March 11th) at the Ed Sullivan Theater. It is a special concert in the 461 seat venue that will be webcast for CBS. They will also apear on the David Letterman show later that night. To win a seat fans were asked to mail in an explanation of what they thought the new album title “Delta Machine” means. After looking up the word Delta I found it is the Greek number 4. A friend of mine wanted a ticket and I said to her why not guess Alan Wilder is rejoining the band? Then I paused and some recent events which I list below all flashed across my eyes and it came to me: No, it’s not Alan it’s Vince! Here’s the kicker. My friend wrote to the contest that Delta means the original band members are rejoining. Vince Clarke is rejoining the band. She won a ticket and is going to the concert tonight.
2. I would guess it takes DM about a year to make an album. May 22, 2012 the Slicing Up Eyeballs blog posts a photo of DM and Vince at dinner together (link). The article states that of course Martin and Vince at that time recently released VCMG their techno project. In January Popmatters reported while reviewing Heaven and discussing the upcoming Delta Machine that, “Ex-Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke is also rumored to be working on some remixes.”. What if this entire time he’s simply been in the studio recording Delta Machine as a band member?
3. March 7, 2013. The Quietus does a track by track preview of Delta Machine (link) and in the preview they state, ” It’s really starting to feel as if some of the VCMG sonics have rubbed off on Depeche Mode. There’s a great breakdown of drums and a one-note keyboard line..”. Rub off? Or?
4. Here’s my own personal wake up call. I buy a lot of synthesizer stuff. I’m really into a special type of modular synth called “Eurorack”. There is a store in Brooklyn called Control (link) that sells these special modules. Guess who’s been in there recently? Daniel Miller, Martin Gore and Vince Clarke.
5. Take a look at the recent photo above. Was Vince Photoshopped out of this keep the secret?
“Vincent John Martin (born 3 July 1960), better known by his stage name Vince Clarke, is an English synthpop musician and songwriter. Clarke has been a member of a number of groups, including Depeche Mode, Yazoo, The Assembly and Erasure. He is often credited as being the King of the Synthesizer.” – Wikipedia
Here is my review of the new Depeche Mode single Heaven. There is clearly now two Depeche Mode’s. The old New Wave band that gave us Black Celebration and Strangelove and the post Violator DM. All the molecules in a humans body change in about 10 years and Dave, Martin and Fletch are clearly not the same people they once were. When they first changed to the new DM it was hard to understand, disappointing and I don’t think anyone knew what they were going for. A few albums went by and here we are. What if I judge this new single as if it were not the old Depeche Mode? Wipe my memory of Shake the Disease for a minute and press play on Heaven. The new single sounds like a gospel rock song but with an analog drum machine, sharp eq’s and 60s style panning. I actually think it’s a good song. In fact I enjoy the slow folding pace of it and I think the lyrics are good. The lyrics can even speak to me personally. I can imagine myself on a sad rainy night walking slowly under city lights just escaping some sin. However there are three problems I have with this song. First, if I choose to listen to music I’m going to want a song about love, sex, pain or danger. The overall theme of this song Heaven and much new DM is well just too past the fight. I guess these guys all have kids and are looking for redemption or justification for some bad stuff they must have done along the star road. Next, Dave sings this song well and I love following his voice along each pitch except for one line which is repeated a few times, “I’m In Heaven” and later “Up to Heaven”. The main line which to the song builds to is somehow blundered and sounds weak. It really ruins the song from ever going to be on major repeat. The last problem is the band’s name is still Depeche Mode and all their old songs ARE still on repeat at my house. So I can’t forget the perfection that once was and the disappointment Heaven is. 6/10
The new Depeche Mode single is now available to listen to online: click here.
“I stand in golden rays radiantly. I burn a fire of love, over and over. It sets in endless light, relentlessly. I have embraced the flame forever and ever.” – Depeche Mode
More proof a huge part of what made classic Depeche Mode so wonderful was the amazing dark melodies. Michal Matejcik from the Czech Republic performs PIMPF, Question of Time, Something to Do, People Are People, Master & Servant and more. I want this guy playing in Macy’s this Christmas, at the weddings I go to and everywhere else please.
“Sometimes I don’t blame them for wanting you. You look good and they need something to do. Until I look at you and then I condemn them. I know my kind. What goes on in our minds.” – Depeche Mode
Dave Gahan and the song People are People star in Volkswagen’s new advertisement. The Golf is VW’s most important car. It shows how freakin huge DM are in Germany. Really huge. My only question is: Why didn’t they use the song Behind the Wheel?
“You have to know people to build the one car — Der Golf. Das Auto. Enjoy the new tv commercial and discover different cover versions of the famous Depeche Mode Song “People are People”. If you look closely, you might spot a celebrity.” – volkswagen.de