Depeche Mode - Mansfield, MA 7/31/2009
[music | Eddie Murphy & Rick James - Party all the Time]
Twenty years ago, my boss saw Depeche Mode at Great Woods, with Nitzer Ebb opening. Last night I thought that that must have been the show to see. An archived Globe article tells me I'm wrong. Nitzer Ebb would have made a much better opener than Peter, Bjorn and John, though. PB&J just pretty much annoyed us. The best part of their set was my SMS conversation about it. ("they're playing "Party all the Time", swear to god". "Hey, they're doing the Jitterbug into my brain". "PB&J (HAH) are doing Erasure covers".) before it devolved into Scandinavian bands that should have been on the stage instead. "Hey, at least the Ace of Base girl was stacked, the PB&J guy is kind of doughy, but it's just not the same".
Update: My copypasta review at Last.fm has gotten a couple of comments which made a really good point. Looking back it looks like we didn't enjoy or somehow regretted this show. Negative, it was awesome, it could have sounded better, and I'm willing to accept that it might have been our position in the venue. Let me know if you were in the middle and it sounded great to you. I still have high hopes for the CD!
DM played for 2 1/2 hours, and tried to hit all the bases from the last 30 years. There was plenty of stuff people wanted to hear, but what can you do. My problem was really with the sound, it was just bad. It's easy to blame the venue, and I did think about how the pavilion might work better if they nailed some sides on it, maybe covered up the concrete and made it into what we call a "building". But we've several better-sounding shows there. Sometimes when I bitch about how a band sounds, Natalie accuses me of being jaded by going to too many shows, this time she mentioned it to me. I suppose it could have been our position in the venue, and if we were dead center it might have sounded fine, but I doubt it. Personal Jesus (final encore) sounded phenomenal, so I'm pretty sure the rest of the show just sounded bad.
We did buy the live CD of the show, and hopefully that should sound like the show we wish we heard last night. Let someone take it, work on it, and mail it to us. With Bauhaus, the CD was available immediately after the show, and both sounded great. With the Pixies, they took it in and worked on it, then mailed them out. Let's hope this show came off the line better than it was able to make it to my seat. I'm sure the CD will sound terrific, and restore my faith in the show.
The show looked great, but I have to agree with the Globe all those years ago and their headline: A STATIC SHOW FOR DEPECHE MODE. Dave Gahan was about the only thing moving, period. I go to lots of electronic music artists. I understand that NIN doesn't actually HAVE to play their music live. I've seen Reznor smash away at a clearly fucked keyboard. However, there seemed to be a lot of backing tracks, and lots of "keyboard player pushes one key, lots of sounds happen". It could be that a human actually did cause the sounds to be made, but it's just as possible that a lot of it was backing track. There were more Macs on stage than there are in my house. I kind of didn't expect that. It kind of reminded me of the mc chris show, only his DJ was phoning it in because it was his 2nd or 3rd to last show ever. It took effort for me to take pictures of Martin Gore with his left hand on a guitar. At a couple of points I leaned down to Natalie at the beginning of a song and just said "Shouldn't someone be DOING something to make this sound happen"? because they were pretty much 4 guys standing around and a drummer.
All in all, we were really happy we went, got to see DM, and we were very glad Gahan looked healthy and put on a great show for himself after all he's been through. I half expected to see him show up in a wheelchair, which would have been rad in its own right, BB King style, but he definitely looked and sounded healthy enough.
I took lots of pictures. Considering how far away we were, they came out a lot better than I would have thought. I think this vindicates the NIN/JA retardery that I can't apologize enough for. Here are some of them: