Depeche Mode - Bong 31 (1997-03) | dmremix.pro

demoderus

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Bong 31 (March 1997)
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demoderus

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Bong 31 (March 1997)

Articles:
Catching Up With Depeche Mode (band itinerary) by Michaela Olexova
Music For The Masses (album review) by various contributors
101 (album review) by various contributors
South African Devotion by Mario Moodley
I Met That Bloke From Depeche Mode Once by three anonymous fans

Pictures:
page 1 page 2 page 3 the band in the studio
 

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demoderus

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CATCHING UP WITH DEPECHE MODE
[From Bong 31, March 1997. Words: Michaela Olexova.]
Summary: One of the Bong staff spends some time with Depeche Mode in the studio during the recording of Ultra, and interviewing the band, although the interviews themselves aren't featured here.

Monday, 21st October 1996

A Day as any other… well not for me it isn’t! I am waiting to find out when I can join Depeche Mode in the studio for the Bong interviews. So I’m in the office, talking to Lynn and waiting for a phone call from Jonathan Kessler who’s with the Band to confirm all the details. Unfortunately, for me, the Band are going to be busy the rest of the day with Anton Corbijn.

Tuesday, 22nd October 1996

Martin is in the studio with Dave trying to finish the vocals on one of the tracks, so it’s been agreed that tomorrow is the best day for everyone. I’m getting nervous already!

Wednesday, 23rd October 1996

It is shortly before 3pm and I am on my way to Rak Studios in St. John’s Wood, London. I’m hoping that everything goes well this afternoon, even though I’ve met the Band collectively and individually many times before, this is the first time I’ve joined them in the studio and I’m very excited at being present during the process of making an actual record.

I enter the building and ask the receptionist the way to Studio 3. As I walk in, the first person I see is Martin on the phone and two other people who were introduced to me later as Gareth Jones and Evelyn Halus (Dave’s vocal coach). Martin comes over to say hello and offers me a seat, Dave is in the other room saying hello and suggests I have something to drink. I have an Earl Grey tea and wait, and after about 30 minutes someone suggests we go and get something to eat, on the way to the sandwich shop we meet Jonathan Kessler and I have a chat with Evelyn. We get our sandwiches and make our way back to the studio, a few people recognise Dave and Martin but no-one bothers us.

After the break the guys go back to work, I sit on the sofa enjoying the music. Martin gives me the lyrics to “The Love Thieves”, the song they’re working on, to keep me occupied for a while longer. The time is getting on, I speak to Fletch on the phone and arrange to meet him later that evening. Dave suggests I start taking pictures, I’m even allowed in the vocal studio with him, it’s quite dark with a few lighted candles. I then take a few more photographs of Martin behind the mixing desk, then it’s time for the first part of the interview, so I go to the 1st floor hospitality room with Dave and a cup of tea! We have a chat about life, music and drugs, then after about 90 minutes we finish off and move back into the studio. It’s nearly 7pm and I rush to meet Fletch for dinner at his restaurant.

Thursday, 24th October 96

I arranged to meet Martin at 3.00pm in the studio for his interview. Except for Gareth no-one has arrived yet, so I wander round talking to Gareth and have a cup of tea.

The first to arrive is Dave, followed by Evelyn. After a while Martin turns up telling me about some new CDs he’s just bought in Camden Market. We then go to the lounge with some tea to start the interview. Martin is a very good talker, especially when it comes to his music, he speaks excitedly in detail about the music-making process and before we know it an hour has passed. Then two guys start playing table-tennis which we found a bit irritating so we move downstairs to the vocal studio. Martin, who was seated behind the piano, continues to answer my questions, I am almost out of tape when we finish!

Back in the mixing studio, I meet Jonathan and Tim Simenon. Fletch is also there, but he’s on the phone so he waves “hello”. Tim puts on a tape with a track he’s been working on for the past few days at the Abbey Road studios, it’s called “Useless”. Everyone listens to it carefully, it’s played once more followed by a discussion, I thought what a brilliant song! Before Tim left I took a few group shots, Dave suggests we use one for the next issue of BONG. Fletch and I go to the hospitality area for his interview, even though he didn’t talk as much as Martin, I was still happy with what I had, we finish after about 40 minutes.

Mission accomplished and a very successful one. I had a brilliant time!
 

demoderus

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MUSIC FOR THE MASSES
[From Bong 31, March 1997. Words: Various contributors.]
Summary: A collection of reviews, mainly from the music press but with one from a Bong member, of the "Music For The Masses" album.

OK, from the start I’ll admit I’m biased: “Music For The Masses” is probably my favourite DM album. For one, although quite an experimental album, it is one of the most complete. Like the previous albums there is quite an industrial feel throughout, however, unlike earlier ones the degree of experimentation is balanced by strong but sensitive production and well thought out lyrics. The album kicks off with the critically acclaimed masterpiece, “Never Let Me Down Again”. This song is quite simply beautiful. The melodies and harmonies weave around one another like ivy round a tree and the lyrics are misleadingly understated. Brilliant. The album continues with the demure “The Things You Said” and a toned down version of the single “Strangelove”. “Sacred” continues the favourite themes of Martin’s lyrics, sex and religion, but with renewed intensity. “Little 15” quietly but intensely concludes the first side of the album. The album rebounds with the superbly sexual “Behind The Wheel”. Although, it must be said, in order to fully appreciate this song you must see and hear it performed live. “I Want You Now” and “To Have And To Hold” take the sampling technology, utilised on the preceding three studio albums, to its full potential. These two songs may seem very doomy but they revel in breathtaking intensity. “Nothing” lightens the mood once more and prepares you for the eccentric, and Phillip Glass-esque, “PIMPF”: ‘Cold beer!’, indeed. “Music For The Masses is perhaps the most intense of Depeche Mode’s albums, however it is also one of the most imaginative and complete ones. It is also one of the first albums that I can recall getting near unanimous good press. Remarkable indeed. “Basildon Bondage” at its best.
David Stevenson
Norwich, England


I must admit that I enjoyed a brief Depeche Mode period some years ago and have since rather regarded them as a band belonging to a different era. To their immense credit they have defied many of the critics and gone on to produce a consistent chart output (some three hits a year) since 1981, and have survived important personnel changes. Certainly they have often come close to terminal predictability but “Music For The Masses” confirms that Depeche Mode are no longer a band to be passed over lightly. This album has a most misleading title and is more likely to become a minor dark classic than an LP for the masses. The chart hits “Strangelove” and “Never Let Me Down Again” and a couple of tracks with a lighter edge like “Behind The Wheel” are included but overall the mood is almost demonic and sinister with the S&M themes of “Strangelove” enlarged upon and warranting closer attention. The sexual ambiguity needs no introduction to Mode fans aware of the band’s, and particularly Martin Gore’s, fascination with the Berlin leather scene. It is certainly a brave move in these times of ever greater sexual restraint to include a track such as “Sacred”, which is a sort of religious, celebratory hymn to sex. Writing from an uncommitted point of view I feel the album could do with a little more light relief to drag it out of its bleaker and rather disturbing moments. “To Have And To Hold” is almost darkest Joy Division: “Pimpf” heavy and inescapably satanic; and often the vocal is so deep you feel his voice is going to break. Suitable stuff, none the less, for a dungeon leather sex party but then I never get invited to any these days…
Gay Times
(November 1987)


After six albums (not counting last year’s “Greatest Hits”) and a few thousand singles, you might expect the “Mode” to be full of “artistic exhaustion” and all those things that befall groups when they’re a bit old. But not for these pop chirperers! (Apart from Alan “Wild”er, that is). “Music For The Masses” is the “Mode”’s most consistently excellent record yet – as tuneful and thoughtful and moody (especially moody) as anything they’ve created before. There’s the bellowing, hypnotic single, “Never Let Me Down”, the startlingly glum “The Things You Said”, the rather threatening “To Have And To Hold” and seven other glimmering diamonds, the most shiny being “I Want You Now” – a dreamy ballad on which the “Mode” make very dubious puffing noises as though they were blowing up a paddling-pool. Magnificent!!?
John Barty, Smash Hits
(September 1987)


With the relative failure of “Never Let Me Down Again” in the singles chart, some may be ready finally to bury the Mode coffin. Yet common consensus among all, bar the record buying public, would have it that this latest D Mode 45 is perhaps the best thing they have ever done. The fact is that this dark, sensual track is probably far too disturbing for the Rick Astley fans among us and though it points to a more mature Depeche Mode, it may well be the beginning of the end of the common misconception that they are a “girly synthesiser” band. Features in “serious” music papers may have come and gone, but only stark chart failure will finally secure one of the most consistent bands of the last few years a place in the hall of “credible chart” fame. Life’s a bitch… “Music For The Masses” is, therefore, a contradictory title. It is far from that at this moment in time, for it contains an overall feeling of dissatisfaction, paranoia and vulnerability, far too warm and intelligent for that yardstick of what the masses want (ie: the charts). Instead, you find yourself once more entering into the Martin Gore vulnerability landscape, none more so than in the poignant “The Things You Said” or “I Want You Now" which features a monastic chant [1] over which Gore sings what amounts to a homage to getting your end away. The act of shagging elevated to religious proportions, ending on the most basic of human obsessions, a full coattail groan. Tracks like “To Have And To Hold” may verge on the dirge, “Little 15” may remind you of a curious Eighties Brechtian drama, but Depeche Mode still manage to make the cold warm and the electronic human. Martin Gore’s presence seems even more to the fore on this album: his voice becoming richer and more forceful, while Dave Gahan’s vocals descend ever downward and butchward into Iggy Pop territory. One reason why “Music For The Masses” is possibly the most accomplished and sexy Mode album to date. The masses may not be willing, but the flesh is certainly weak…
Eleanor Levy, Record Mirror
(Oct 3, 1987)


[1] - I'd love to know what kind of monasteries she's been to!
 

demoderus

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101
[From Bong 31, March 1997. Words: Various contributors.]
Summary: A collection of reviews from the music press of the "101" album.

Depeche Mode have been at the forefront of the revolution in musical technology for some nine years now, In that time they’ve released the odd live recording (such as the “Blasphemous Rumours” / “Somebody” EP) but these have never captured the spirit of the band in concert. 101 is the first time they’ve released a whole album of live music, and it does a far more impressive job. The packaging is nothing short of beautiful, with a booklet of Anton Corbijn photographs that set the mood for the four sides of vinyl within. The songs that make up the “set” on 101 are mainly the more recent singles and album tracks with the odd chestnut thrown in. “Just Can’t Get Enough” is the only Vince Clarke song present (no “Photographic” unfortunately), and “Pleasure Little Treasure” is the only track not to be found on any studio album. Without exception the recording quality is excellent. None of the songs sound identical to their studio counterparts, and many have been restructured – the new section in the middle of “Never Let Me Down Again” is a case in point, adding much to the original version. The band have a phenomenal amount of live experience under their collective belt and their maturity on stage is one of this album’s most obvious ingredients. Although you ultimately feel cut off by being unable to see the party first hand, there’s still a strong feeling that you’re holding an invitation. It would seem that Mute Records have decided it’s time to give Depeche Mode the big push that will elevate them into the league occupied by stadium rocker like U2. 101 should ensure there will be longer queues for tickets next time Depeche Mode come to town, but on the strength of this piece of vinyl, it’ll be well worth the wait.
Music Technology
(April 1989)


Gone are the days when artists released live LPs purely as a quick and easy way to fulfil contractual obligations. No more are we fed a haphazard collection of songs that sound like they’ve been recorded on your dad’s Fidelity music centre. Now the capturing of the “live experience” has become as techno obsessed as the studio variety and, as Depeche Mode have proved themselves at the forefront of that environment, so they’ve come up with a double LP celebrating their last US tour that’s as clean as Mary Whitehouse’s diary, but with rather more going on between the lines. So clean, in fact, that on many of the 17 tracks here, there’s little difference from the original records, with even Dave Gahan’s famed live guttural yobbo yells being mixed down to give added emphasis to his remarkably strong vocals. Most live albums try too hard to recreate atmosphere at the expense of the quality of the songs. The recent “Rank” from The Smiths being a god example. They sound, quite simply, a bit ropy. “101” avoids this admirably, making full use of modern post production techniques to deliver an energetic, well recorded – and, above all, good and loud – sound, while at the same time producing a quite exceptional “Greatest Hits Part II” collection. With only “Just Can’t Get Enough” remaining from the Vince Clarke era, later tracks like “Behind The Wheel”, “Stripped”, “Master And Servant” and the disturbingly erotic “Never Let Me Down Again” sit like a dark shroud around the group’s traditional fluffy pop framework. “101” is not so much a better than average live album. It sits as a timely reminder of Depeche Mode’s position as one of the few truly subversive pop groups around at the moment.
Eleanor Levy, Record Mirror
(March 1989)


What to make of Depeche Mode’s extraordinary ascendancy to mega-stadium success Stateside? Here, surely, is the ultimate crossover; House-style techno-rhythms meet cute white-boy pop poised self-consciously on the cusp of tomorrow. What better antidote could a reasonably intelligent Anglophile American find to the usual rock grind? The first thing to note is that, whatever their image as the embodiment of the shiny modern video-pop era, they have achieved their success the traditional way, paying dues aplenty: they were on the 101st show of their world tour – hence the title – when they recorded this live double-album (and accompanying full-length video by D. A. Pennebaker) before a crowd of 75,000 at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. I have never really warmed to the Mode in the past – something about the way they handled their questionable imagery with a lot less obvious humour than Kraftwerk – but this sounds great, virtually a complete slab of singles, with all the fluff that litters the nether regions of their studio albums left out. The secret, I think, is in the constant hysterical applause that washes over every track, and which they should consider dubbing onto future studio LPs, too. The combination of those march-time pulses and that incessant crowd noise is guiltily exhilarating – rather like, yes, a Nuremberg Rally. Did they only go for Pennebaker because Leni Riefenstahl was unavailable?
Andy Gill, The Independent
(March 10, 1989)


Nearly 90 minutes, a game of two albums, this Depeche live set has been talked about, expected and previewed for quite some time. Now it’s here, and it’s no let down either. What you get is Depeche Mode on their best, playing all the hits and more, with little to back up recent claims that they were instrumental in creating Chicago House. For sure, they have had some influence there, but the group’s live show is an effortless flood of excitement that’s only briefly set back when on side four, just before a climactic finale with “Everything Counts”, they recall their roots with one of their earliest releases “Just Can’t Get Enough”. The simple pop charm of such a song, set between the huge brushstrokes of the flamboyant “Master And Servant” and that atmospheric high of the closing “Everything Counts”, is an ironic illustration of the huge steps the group have made since their inception. Other chapters from their lengthy progression litter the four sides, creating an invigorating wash of sounds that are instantly accessible, but quite diverse in their content.
Dave Henderson, Off Beat
(March 1989)
 

demoderus

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SOUTH AFRICAN DEVOTION
[From Bong 31, March 1997. Words: Mario Moodley.]
Summary: One of the Bong staff spends some time with Depeche Mode in the studio during the recording of Ultra, and interviewing the band, although the interviews themselves aren't featured here.

Depeche Mode coming to South Africa? No way! Until then, we’ve only had has-beens (A-Ha, Duran Duran, Boney-M, etc.) coming to our country, trying to make a quick buck. Was this just another rumour? I had to find out for myself. I popped into one of the major box office outlets and was amazed to find out it was true. No advertisements, just a rumour; and I was the first person to buy a ticket for the show.
Having been a Depeche Mode fan since the age of 13, I could not believe that after all these years, I was finally going to see them live. I had never been to a concert in my life, so did not know what to expect, but what was to follow, was absolutely mind-blowing.
As old as I am (23), I had never bought any other record / artist except Depeche Mode. Being a South African Depeche Mode collector is a very expensive task, as the average cost of an imported CD / LP is often equal to a full day’s pay. I even got my first Depeche Mode tattoo (I now have 4) after the release of “Violator”. (All my tattoos are related to Depeche Mode.)
Apartheid had totally destroyed my hopes of ever seeing Depeche Mode live, or even on TV, and besides discriminating against me because of my skin colour, I will never forgive the fact that I had not been able to see my heroes sooner.

Depeche Mode – Anthology of concerts on 18th and 19th February 1994 at the Good Hope Centre, Cape Town, South Africa.

Depeche Mode had been in South Africa for +/- 2 weeks now. They had chosen South Africa as the first place to play and rehearse their new scaled-down version of the Devotional Tour. Only one large screen instead of the multiple screen layout, and a completely different set.
But, the day had finally arrived, Friday 18th February 1994. I got to the centre at 6:00am (!), felt a bit uneasy as people going to work were looking at me rather peculiarly, as I was the only person there! I had already painted my car full of Depeche Mode logos, so I will forgive them for thinking that I was probably on my way to a wedding!
The doors opened at 6:00pm and I was able to get a place right in front of the stage. A local band, The Outsiders, had been opening for the South African leg of the tour. But, at last, 8:30pm, the lights went out and I stood there all tensed up (and crushed!), waiting for the soothing tunes of “Higher Love”… But No!! I was blasted by the kick-ass start of “Rush” with Dave Gahan at his ultimate! The show was great. However, Dave did seem pissed off with the poor acoustics that this venue was notorious for.
Three quarters of the way through the show, my girlfriend fainted and I jumped over the barriers to help her and so lost my front row space. But, however, it was super. Dave seems a lot shorter than what I thought…

“Good Evening, Cape Town!”

My girlfriend bought me this ticket for the Valentine’s Day. Superb concert! Arrived at 6:00am (again!) and got a place in the front (again!).

Dave, I can’t f***ing hear you!

Both nights I attempted to get backstage but was unable to, which really pissed me off, as people whose grandmother knows so-and-so were getting in… more content with getting free food and drinks than meeting the Band. But then again, in South Africa, it’s a question of Who you know, not What you know!

Other South African Titbits!

- Depeche Mode played in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town.
- One show in Durban was cancelled, as Alan fell sick (picked up a virus). [1]
- Andy was on the edge, after being involved in a fight with a local lad who wanted his bald head autographed.
- In Cape Town, Depeche Mode stayed at the Peninsula Hotel. I spent one afternoon hanging outside the hotel, trying to catch a glimpse.
- Depeche Mode spent several nights hanging out at a local club, the Playground, Cape Town.
- The Band rehearsed at the 3 Arts Complex / Cinema in Plumstead, Cape Town.

I had a great February 1994, a time I will never forget and I don’t think Depeche Mode will either, since all the photographs in the USA 1994 Tour Programme were taken in South Africa!

Friday, 18th February 1994
6,000 people – sold out

Song set (may not be in running order)

Rush
Halo
Behind The Wheel
Everything Counts
World In My Eyes
Walking In My Shoes
Stripped
Condemnation (performed by Martin)
Question Of Lust
In Your Room
Never Let Me Down Again
I Feel You
Personal Jesus
Somebody
Enjoy The Silence
A Question Of Time

Saturday, 19th February 1994
Disappointing – 3,000 people only

Song set (may not be in running order)

Rush
Halo
Behind The Wheel
Everything Counts
World In My Eyes
Walking In My Shoes
Stripped
Condemnation (performed by Martin)
Waiting For The Night (performed by Martin)
In Your Room
Never Let Me Down Again
I Feel You
Personal Jesus
Somebody
Enjoy The Silence
A Question Of Time

[1] - Alan actually had a kidney stone which required immediate surgery. The darkly comic tale is told beautifully here by Daryl Bamonte (20th February).

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demoderus

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I MET THAT BLOKE FROM DEPECHE MODE ONCE
[From Bong 31, March 1997. Words: Unknown.]
Summary: A group of French fans recall meeting Fletch at his restaurant (Gascogne) in London. [399 words]
This was a regular feature. Try the Bong main page for more of the same, from Bong 24 onwards.

Since late 80’s, Depeche Mode have always been a part of our lives. As true fans, our biggest dream was to meet the band. We have seen them on stage a few times but that’s not enough. The feelings are different when you meet your idol(s) in person and Depeche Mode seem to be a band easy to reach.

We went to London that summer and when we arrived, we asked a friend, also a Depeche Mode fan, to join us for the weekend. One of the things we planned to do during our visit was to go to Fletch’s restaurant for lunch or dinner, but a date wasn’t fixed.

It was 14th July and as dinner time approached, we were searching for a place to eat. One of us suggested Fletch’s restaurant and we all agreed; after all, what did we have to lose? We headed for North London and shortly afterwards we spotted the restaurant.

We asked the waitress for a table and she seated us. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay for long, as something was scheduled for that evening. We had dinner and when we finished our friend spotted Andy. We looked behind and here HE was! He passed us, as he was walking inside the restaurant. We looked at him as we were really amazed at this unexpected and pleasant surprise! We didn’t dare to ask him to pose for a photo with us because he seemed busy around his guests. As we couldn’t stay for long, we paid the bill and started to leave.

When we eventually left, we stayed outside for some time, hoping that Andy might come back again. We were waiting and waiting, but as time went by we were wandering around with nothing to do. We didn’t want to leave and let this chance slip away, though.

Finally, we decided to go back inside. Our friend asked Fletch if we could take some photos and he kindly accepted. Then he started talking to us and we were all surprised by his kindness. He was really charming! We then took the photos, thanked him a lot and left. Although it was all very short, we were really happy – it was an unforgettable experience! We shall remember the 14th July for a long time! Thankyou Andy, Dave, Martin, and Alan too, for bringing a joy in our lives.

3 DM fans from France
 
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