Photos + Review: Depeche Mode at Mattress Firm Amphitheatre (Chula Vista, CA)

Depeche Mode (Basildon, Essex)
October 6th, 2016
Mattress Firm Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, CA

Just a few days following the horrific terrorist attack in Las Vegas at the Route 91 music festival, me along with thousands decided to put aside fears, anger, and disbelief.  We decided not to hide behind the aftershocks of this horrific cowardly act and filled the amphitheatre to the brim, hopeful that perhaps we could all find a way to still lose ourselves in the moment and just rise above the hate together.

This for me marked the 94th time seeing Depeche Mode -I like these guys quite a bit, and historically the first time ever photographing them.  I have to tell you, emotions were running high and it was a very tough shoot for me.  I mean the fact alone that I was standing literally 1/2 a foot away from them was simply an unbelievable moment that I will never forget.  Locking eyes with Dave Gahan literally brought tears to my face and my lens -I do find professionalism to be highly overrated.

But I think that what really got to me was the drive over to Chula Vista.  My husband, the kids and I blasting mixed Depeche Mode recordings that would cover nearly 30 years of their amazing career.  Me spying on my 7 year old son through the side mirror, staring as he bumped his head shouting along to “Personal Jesus.”  You know, just getting amped about being able to share something that has been a huge part of my life with my minis.  All of this excitement just halted in one tiny second.

We stopped the car to pick up some slushies (DM literally brought the heat to San Diego) and as my husband and daughter went to get us the snacks my son’s face just started getting kinda serious.  All of a sudden he whimpered, “I’m anxious.”  Of course I thought it was kinda strange, so I asked what about and he proceeded to explain how he was very nervous about being around so many people that he didn’t know.  Then he asked if he could just sit in the back of the concert venue and when I just wouldn’t stop pushing he finally explained.  They had discussed the terror attack in school that week and he was afraid that he would get shot at.
Those words alone were enough to change the entire feel of the evening and left sort of a bitter taste in my mouth.  This was supposed to be a memorable night of pure bliss and fun and suddenly it was tarnished and rendered heavier so to speak.  I never in a million years would have ever thought I would have to reassure my kids about their safety at a Depeche Mode concert and I am hoping I will never have to again.  With the initial tears wiped away, we entered the venue and just lost ourselves watching this immense diverse crowd all gathered in one spot -united so to speak.  It gave me hope as I managed to carry myself toward the photo pit shaky hands and all.

Depeche Mode opened their set with “Going Backwards” off their latest release Spirit and I have to say this was in a way perfectly fitting.  I found a more somber and heavier Depeche Mode that has kept inline perfectly with the current turbulent times. A Depeche Mode that has masterfully taken current events and turned them into a hopeful new starting point rather that a defeat point.  A Depeche Mode that instead of turning away from socio-political controversies in fear of alienating some fans, has come out and stated a loud and clear message of unity and equality above all that echoed deep in my heart.

Their showmanship is second to none, they are literally capable of synchronizing arenas night after night.  I could hear the thumping of feet right from the barricade, accompanied by fans singing every word of “Barrel of a Gun,” myself included (I believe I snapped maybe 5 shots during the song). Dave Gahan masterfully blends soulful baritone vocals with larger than life theatrics that are capable of pulling you right out of reality.

It is difficult to pinpoint to specific highlights of the show because honestly I feel that a Depeche Mode concert is an experience that must be experienced from beginning to end.  That’s ultimately the only way you can feel the progression of a setlist and fully realize how powerful of a tool it is -aligning your emotions with the band’s and creating an illusion of an intimate magical show even in a huge arena.  Although I have to say their Bowie’s tribute cover of “Heroes” brought me to sobbing tears.

I do have to talk about the visuals though.  Their collaborations with visual prodigy, Anton Corbijin is as part of Depeche Mode’s greatness as their songs, so it seems only fitting that the visual backdrop of the tour reflected this.  There were plenty of times during the show when I caught myself just looking at the screen behind the band, the first time being during “Going Backward.”  Especially during the first half of the song where the band was not right upfront but purposely veiled by the screen.  The second time being “In Your Room” with the dance video playing which was simply breathtaking.  And last but not least (I recorded all of this one on my cell phone and so did my 12 year old daughter) the short film that played during “Walking In My Shoes.”  I purposely chose not to use the term video because it seemed too simplistic for this.  The film showed a transgender person getting dressed for a night out, a concept so simplistic that echoed a very loud and clear message, which following the newly elected neo-puritan feel of the US, seemed perfectly timed as an underlying breath of fresh air.

Martin L Gore, the mastermind behind the timeless success of Depeche Mode swayed fans during his solo performances of “A Question Of Lust” and “Somebody” with his bari-tenor voice that is angelic to say the least.  It gifts perfect balance during the rest of the show playing in harmonious contrast to Dave’s voice.

Bottom line is as great of a band as they are in the recording studio, Depeche Mode live is an unbelievable experience that reaches further than my words could ever express.

Setlist:
*Revolution ( Beatles)
*Cover Me (Instrumental)
1-Going Backwards
2- So Much Love
3- Barrel Of A Gun
4- A Pain That I am Used To
5-Corrupt
6-In Your Room
7-World In My Eyes
8-Cover Me
9-A Question Of Lust (Martin – Acoustic)
10-Home
11-Poisoned Heart
12-Where’s The Revolution
13-Wrong
14-EverythingCounts
15-Stripped
16-Enjoy The Silence
17-Never Let Me Down Again

Encore:
18-Somebody
19-Walking In My Shoes
20-Heroes ( Bowie Tribute)
21-I Feel You
22-Personal Jesus

Thoughts?