This special benefit concert was organized by Crisis, with proceeds designated for their “Crisis at Christmas” as well as their Year-round services throughout the UK. The stellar line-up featured Bastille, Foxes, AlunaGeorge, Michael Kiwanuka, and Jake Bugg, with presenter Clara Amfo from BBC Radio 1Xtra managing the event on stage. It was a high energy show that drew a young and enthusiastic crowd, and was certainly in line with the festive spirit of this week leading into Christmas. The night kicked off with a great performance from the charity organization’s own Crisis Starlight Band and that moment carried through the night. A great evening for a great cause.
Last night’s Depeche Mode concert was the last for me, representing the fifth show in the past two weeks. The second of two concerts back-to-back at the O2 Arena in London, as with the night before, I elected to take a spot in the front row center at the end of the catwalk extending into the vast general admission standing floor. Waiting for the band to come out, it was a bit of déjà vu, but it turned out to be anything but… with the prior four shows, the set list was exactly the same at Bratislava, Slovakia’s Štadión Pasienky, Zagreb, Croatia’s Zagreb Arena, Budapest, Hungary’s Puskás Ferenc Stadion, and the prior night’s show at London, England’s O2 Arena. The signal that last night’s gig had something different in store was the familiar sound of distorted guitar feedback that marked the opening of Depeche Mode’s “In Your Room”, which opened into the awesome Zepyhr Mix version of the song. A friend of mine from California also turned out for the two O2 shows, and we turned to each other at the same time with a “holy shit!” expression on our faces. We knew at that point we were going to be treated to an amazing – and unpredictable – show put on by my favorite band on Earth, and they did not disappoint. An epic conclusion to an amazing personal (and literal) journey with the band and their music over the past two weeks, spanning a number of countries all over Europe and coming to a close in their home of England.
“Welcome To My World” – the song Depeche Mode has been using to kick off each gig for the European leg of their Delta Machine World Tour – took on a whole different meaning for me tonight as I had an opportunity to see Depeche Mode play in their native home country of England. Playing two shows back-to-back at The O2 Arena in London, this marks my fourth consecutive Depeche Mode show in the past two weeks (having seen them previously at Bratislava, Slovakia’s Štadión Pasienky, Zagreb, Croatia’s Zagreb Arena and Budapest, Hungary’s Puskás Ferenc Stadion. Surprisingly, though the set list has not changed show to show, the concerts themselves have all been pretty different from one another, and completely different experiences on a personal level to be sure. One thing I didn’t expect with the London shows was that what seemed like a majority of the concert goers (close to stage on the floor at least) were not from England, but other countries, so it was quite a multicultural affair. I’ve also made a concerted effort to change my own point of view – literally – with each show, and with this first O2 gig planted myself at the foot of the catwalk that extends out into the audience (and is much shorter in the indoor arenas compared with the outdoor stadiums), and it was really a fantastic experience. Seeing the expression on Dave Gahan’s face as he came out to the end for “Never Let Me Down Again” – close up and in real life – made this relentless two week country-hopping adventure worth it just for that amazing moment (which I managed to catch on video as well). As I’ve mentioned over and over in the reviews leading up to this, Depeche Mode has long been my favorite band, and these concerts have been nothing short of epic.
So this is the second of five consecutive Depeche Mode concerts that I will be covering as part of the European Leg of their worldwide Delta Machine Tour (having covered Budapest two days ago, with Bratislava and two London shows still to come). With the last review I gave some background on my own views on Depeche Mode, and a general overview of this tour. Last night was a totally different experience from the first, so I will compare and contrast and share some thoughts for those who might be looking for some insights to prepare for upcoming shows. As was the case with Budapest, their appearance in Zagreb was nothing short of amazing, and while I was up front for the first show on my itinerary, for this one (after shooting the first three songs directly below the stage) I headed to the back of the huge indoor arena to get the “distant” experience, the highlight of which was taking in Anton Corbijn’s amazing (as expected) video collateral that filled the displays during some of the songs.
While contemporary rap music is not a subgenre at the forefront of my attention and music collection, generally speaking, I’ve always had a lot of respect and admiration for Jay-Z as an incredible artist and really intelligent business man. I loved “old school” (to me) rap in the 80s (Run-DMC, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, etc.) but to me, it was much more pop-oriented and hooky (and, well happy) compared to a lot of what is produced today. But I would definitely put Jay-Z in a class of his own, and he’s really innovated his own personal brand and genre of music, and it was awesome to finally see it and hear it live, and with this opportunity, the added bonus of this special tour with Kanye West born of their collaboration on the studio album Watch The Throne, naming this tour the same. I missed the U.S. swing through the east coast late last year as I was in England at the time, and funny enough, caught it now here in England at the second to the last show. Stellar. [Read more…]