Depeche Mode at Madison Square Garden- New York, NY

Depeche Mode 2017 Tour
The older Greek man with the front-butt talked louder than necessary to his friend sitting next to him. It was louder than I would want even if he was talking to me. Unfortunately, I was a row in front of him. Then he got a phone call. He spent 10 minutes trying to be seen by another friend in the 200 section across the venue. He described his clothes, waved his phone, and got his friend next to him to stand with him (for the first and only time that night) in hopes of being seen in a poorly lit MSG. Warpaint was about to go on and I knew what sort of experience I was in for. He would complain when I stood for the main act. He would announce to all around that he smelled pot if and when he did, and he would continue to talk throughout the night. Luckily, he stopped talking for most of Depeche Mode. Otherwise, I was spot on.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the fans partly because I only knew I was going to the show 30 minutes before it started. That is, there was no time to mingle and watch people filter in. My trip to the city was for a meeting at 5:45. I always get in early and my client’s assistant was excited to leave the office because she was going to a concert. My jaw dropped when I heard it was Depeche Mode. There were only a few minutes to browse Cash or Trade and StubHub before the meeting started. Soon as the meeting ended, I picked some decently priced tickets (knowing the “convenience” and “service” fees were close behind) while on my way to MSG. I was heading there any way for the train home. Tickets purchased, breeze through security (it helps to know what they look for and what not to bring), a quick glance at the merch, and I’m at my seat to hear front-butt call his friend “malaka”. No time to browse the audience. Lots of dark clothes of course but nothing like Saturday night at a goth club or even a NIN show.
I had heard Warpaint a number of times and they’re often recommended to me on Pandora. Mostly on a channel built on Sufjan Stevens’ Vesuvius. They have a few songs I knew I’d recognize from their three albums and sure enough, they were played during the 40-minute set. They left the stage after promoting Depeche Mode as one of the best shows they’ve ever seen. That made me question who else in the audience was at their 80th show of the year. Maybe not even Depeche Mode.
As a Monday show, the seats were relatively empty till near 9 pm. Greek guy was skeptical it would fill. I started to get nervous about being the only fan nearby. A woman sat next to me who was twice as excited as me and four times as excited as the man she dragged there. He seemed content with his Bud Light. My fears were quickly squashed. Looking back, it was a Monday night show; of course fans are coming out.
The show began with a video about the charity work the band does to provide clean drinking water to villages around the globe (mostly Africa and India). Then we listened to part of Revolution by the Beatles before the band took the stage.

Hit after hit blasted through to phone screens taking it all in. People were on their feet, singing, cheering, screaming, and fully engaged all night. There were remixes, tempo changes, and a touching version of Bowie’s song Heroes dedicated to the 9/11 responders played before a black flag waving on the massive screen behind the stage. The amazing Amanda Plamer was in the audience and she captured this shot:

Video of the band came and went on the large screen as did short films. One was a person dressing for a performance. Another was a couple dancing in a wonderfully choreographed piece. All this helped add movement to an otherwise stationary band. 2 keyboards, drums, guitar, and vocals left Dave Gahan doing much of the running around. Note to self: Christian Eigner is an amazing drummer and really tied things together nicely.
One other element of this show I must note was that the music was what you’d expect in a club. It’s what you hear in passing or in a dark venue somewhere. It always had an intimate vibe to me but they filled MSG on a Monday after selling out the previous Saturday. The place was packed, the fans went nuts, and the sound filled the space. It’s certainly not arena rock like an 80’s Van Halen show and the only band with a similar vibe I’ve seen at MSG would be The Cure. The music was great there, the band looked like they had fun, and the fans were smiling the whole way out.

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