I cheated. I cheated again. Yes, this seems to be a pattern of mine lately. I can blame Duran downtime for my cheating. I really can. If they were on tour, for example, I’m sure all of my time, energy and thoughts would be focused on getting ready for the tour or being on tour or recovering from being on tour. Nonetheless, I will take responsibility for my actions as well. I went to see Depeche Mode last night in Chicago. I won’t lie. I have always enjoyed Depeche and have seen them a number of times in my life. In fact, my very first concert was Depeche in 1990. Therefore, when I found out that they were touring close by, I had no choice but to go.
My friend, Sara, and I had a nice plan for the show. I would pick her up in the afternoon and we would drive down to the concert, stopping to grab food on the way down. It was going according to plan until we stopped for food at an oasis (a rest area with restaurants). Then, everyone serving us seemed to go v….e…..r….y slowly. Finally, we were back in the car and ready to be on our way with plenty of time to spare. I start backing up and notice that some other car was backing up, too. I stop and hook my horn to alert the other driver that I’m there. What does he do? Of course, he keeps on going. Of course, he does. Obviously, he hit my car. Thankfully, we weren’t hurt and my car doesn’t have a lot of damage but still. We called the police and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, the police show up, get our information and fill out the accident report. This takes about an hour. Seriously?! At this point, we are frustrated, hot from sitting in the car and stressed about now being on time. Did we make the show? Yes, thankfully, we did. We missed the opening band completely, though.
Due to the lack of time before Depeche started, I didn’t have a chance to really look around and observe the scene too much. I’m a little sad about that. I do like to study any situation where fans might be found. Anyway, we had 11th row seats right on the aisle, just slightly on the left. These are definitely the best seats I have ever had for Depeche. As Rhonda pointed out to me, correctly, they were great seats unless they were for Duran. Then, they would be unacceptable! (Yes, we are now spoiled. It’s true.) This, of course, marks the real deal for me. I couldn’t help but to watch the entire concert through the Duran Duran filter. Heck, even if Duran wasn’t my fandom, I would still probably compare simply because I have seen a lot more Duran shows than I have of Depeche. It is bound to happen.
Depeche puts on a great show. I always think that. Always. You sense that they give everything they have, every time, especially Martin and Dave. Martin does so much from singing to playing keyboards to playing guitar. He is constantly working on stage. While he doesn’t work to get the crowd involved in the same way that Dave does, it is clear that the show simply wouldn’t work at all without him. Dave, on the other hand, is the true definition of frontman. He is constantly moving and getting everyone’s attention with his very…let’s say…sensual dance moves. While we all know that Simon is able to seduce the audience, it isn’t from his dance moves whereas Dave does. Yet, it is interesting how both men are able to woo the audience so well and get the audience to participate so frequently. Dave, like Simon, asks the audience to sing various parts of songs, clap, or move arms in a certain way. At Duran shows, though, John and even Dom, help to get the audience involved. For Depeche, it really is mostly Dave with small contributions from Andy and Martin. Duran is more equal in this respect. While on the topic of Simon and Dave, both feel the need to spit during a performance. I get it. I’m not criticizing. I do appreciate Simon’s “spit cup”, though. It is a lot less noticeable to the audience. Another very large difference I noticed between Duran and Depeche is the interaction with fans. Last night, there was no interaction with the fans in the front. I saw Dave notice one person once. That’s it. There was no other interaction at all with those fans. Duran, on the other hand, is constantly interacting with the fans, especially those in the first 10 rows or so. There is eye contact, smiling, flirting, etc. They move to the front of the stage right in front of fans to get the fans into it. Depeche doesn’t do this. When they are in the middle of the stage, they don’t move close to the front. While Dave moved from side to side, he did that to get the overall crowd into it, not the fans that he could see. I’m sure this is fine for the general audience. That said, if I was a big fan in the front, I would miss those possible interactions. Then again, maybe, those fans don’t know that other bands do it differently.
I also paid attention to Andy, the other member of the band. As I’m sure most of you might be aware, he stands in the usual Nick location of the stage. I have heard some comments about how Nick doesn’t do much on stage, which is why he is able to take so many pictures and not sweat. Well, from what I saw, Andy does even less. A lot less. There was another keyboard player who did a lot more, which I found fascinating. In fact, at one point, during the song, Shake the Disease, it was just Martin and the backup keyboard player performing on stage. Why wouldn’t Andy want to be in the spotlight during a real special moment of the show? Beyond the backup keyboard player, there was a drummer as well who really threw me, at times. There were a few songs that my attention drifted towards the drummer when it shouldn’t have. I wonder how long the drummer had been playing with them.
Beyond what was happening on the stage, I did pay attention to the fans around me. I was amazed at how many people near me wore wristbands that said VIP. I’m not sure if those were VIP seats through the more expensive VIP seats, a fan club thing or what. I would say this…if they were VIP seat purchasers, meaning that they paid a lot more money than I did, I wouldn’t be happy. The seats were good but not that good! Depeche’s audience was definitely a mixed crowd with a lot of people around my age but some people much older than me and some people with children. I also noticed a lot of accents in the crowd. Thus, it was a much more diverse crowd, at least in nationality. A lot of people left during the encore to beat the rush of the crowd and the big traffic jam. I thought that was weird. I can’t imagine a lot of people in the front of a Duran show leaving during Rio, for example. Strange.
Obviously, there are some similarities between Depeche and Duran. They both have dedicated fan bases and definitely put on great shows in which the audience gets involved. Yet, I wonder if Depeche fans are as likely to travel, especially since I know that Depeche rarely mixes up their set lists at all. I also wonder if the fans are satisfied with the lack of personal interaction during the show. Does this mean that Duran does pay attention and do things to enhance the experience for those of us who do travel and do go to multiple shows? Maybe. I like the idea of that. Maybe, beyond seeing a great Depeche Mode show, I can better appreciate what I do have at a Duran show. That’s definitely worth the price of admission and the price of cheating.