Oh how original I hear you cry, yet another bloody JC music post eh? Well, it’s my blog so you’ll just have to suffer the consequences, and this sounds great in full HD;
He’s confirmed he’s doing many of the classics alongside his new material, I eagerly look forward to the setlist when the tour begins, and it should be interesting to see how else is in the crowd at the Troxy come Halloween given that its his only UK date. Now, if the BFI can get their act together and convince him to do a Q&A when he’s in the vicinity……
My first and probably only music gig of the year this week, the almighty Depeche Mode at my local Greenwich squatting venue. The Basildon bred boys are on the road to promote their latest album Delta Machine, the closest they’ve come to my mind in equalling their two most prosperous albums Violator and Songs Of Faith & Devotion a mere twenty years and change ago, to be charitable their output has been somewhat erratic ever since musical bulwark Alan Wilder fled the scene after the obliterating Devotional tour which left one of them in a loony bin, and the other two of them in rehab – you can take the boys out of Essex etc. So as I’m sure I’ve previously mentioned I’ve seen them on tour every time since 1990 (apart from the greatest hits tour which doesn’t count – I was on holiday OK?) and this was one of their strongest performances in line with one of their strongest albums of the past two decades, so here’s a few selected highlights of the night;
One of my favourite post 1990 tracks there, and the first time they’ve played in live in quite a while. Similarly for the first time in a very long time I actually quite enjoyed the new album tracks, the openjng chords of ‘new stuff’ usually signal a run for the bar to replenish dwindling alcohol stocks, but they worked this time around and actually filled the space, with this little bruiser being quite effective in getting the crowd going after the mid-set ‘slow’ track Martin Gore section – although he did serenade us with a terrific stripped down version of Higher Love.
I’m guessing most people don’t pick up on these things and pay attention to parochial things such as the music and performance (I’m joking) but as always the visual design of the tour is fantastic, something that the band is renowned for pioneering with their groundbreaking early world tours, with a through line in triangular graphic design which runs through the lighting patterns, screen projections, set design and marketing compositions of sleeve design, posters, t-shirts and other merchandise – although what really got the crowd roaring was of course the music, specifically some of the older stuff;
I do like the O2 as a venue, all too often with stadium gigs the tension of the music can get lost in the cavernous space (Earls Court anyone?), Dave Gahan’s tumultous vocals were clear and powerful, and they were smart enough close the main set with arguably their two best known singles Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence, possibly the best version of the latter I’ve ever seen them perform;
OK, I’m starting some (forgive me) ‘Blasphemnous rumors’ here as they actually finished the main set with this which is a new one and it was alright, I’d have preferred something a little more upbeat but here we are. Overall the set list was solid, although I’d have preferred some substitutions you can’t have everything, and even the presence of one of their very early bubble gum pop didn’t quite elicit the groans it normally does – although I do wish they’d look into reviving more of their 1984 – 1986 material for future shows. Good interview here, gig review here, but let’s finish predictably with one of the all time greatest audience participation tracks – yup you guessed it they finished on the obvious;
Inspired by my impending Philip Glass assault I’ve been revisiting some recent muzak documentaries, here are a couple of the better ones of recent vintage;
This was pretty much one of the soundtracks to my mis-spent youth, before I left home when this sort of plinky, beepy nonsense kicked in when I was supposed to be studying for a future career;
And now I spend a small fortune going to the bloody opera – who’d have thought? Well, there is a thread of timbre, tone and repetitive arrangements which has always appealed to my musical palette, even without the assitance of mind bending narcotics. Regular readers will be happy to learn I’ll be back on the cinema front very soon, I’ve got a couple of visits planned just as soon as I’m a little more comfortable staggering around in my newly acquired moon-boot, and closer at hand I have a cunning plan to visit a certain cabin in the woods…..
Just about a third of the way through the year and only now have I managed my first gig – criminal. I do have five other concerts lined up throughout 2009 so can’t complain, I kicked proceedings off with an event centering on the more avant garde area of my musical tastes, a glitch festival called Ether 2009 which was held at London’s Southbank. The line-up for the evening was CM Von Hausswolff (who I’d never heard of), Rosy Parlane (who I’d never heard of) and perhaps the glitch scenes most high-profile act Christian Fennesz. As it was the most beautiful day of the year so far we actually missed the first act and most of the second act due to being distracted by sunshine, cold beer and a glorious view of the Thames from the Royal Festival Hall, we did manage to catch the Fennesz set and an encore of all three acts performing together.
I don’t have a great deal to say about this as, well, it’s honestly not an area of music I know anything about other than a gut reaction to the discs my friend has supplied me over the years, he’s the real fan. What I do like about this music live is that when you’ve got no lyrics to absorb, no bass chords to connect to, no drum rhythms to ‘centre’ the music then your frittering imagination expands to fill in the gaps, like some sort of group meditation session. Perhaps it’s the recent passing of JG Ballard being on my mind but I can recall thinking of how curious it is that a bunch of shaved monkeys works all day for another bunch of shaved monkeys in order to obtain some nice shiny things to exchange with other shaved monkeys to watch one monkey manipulate our monkey senses with machines invented by dead shaved monkeys. OK, OK, I’d had a couple of drinks, alright?
It’s either genius or one of the biggest con jobs in modern times. How do they know, when composing their pieces that they’ve got it right? The correct level of pitch, the right chord that harmonises with the other layers? Are these musicians even classically trained, can they read chords or do they take a mathematical approach to the material given that it all conjured up through top range imacs? Even the usual live performance conventions are subverted, no-one knows when to clap as you’re not actually sure when a piece has finished, there is no interaction with the audience from the musicians other than a courteous bow, all in all it’s quite a different live music experience and hey, like Woody Allen said, ‘I’ll try anything once, except incest…or Line-Dancing’. I enjoyed the evening and I’m sure it will serve as a amusing counterpoint to my next planned gig.