Berlin Revisited (Part Two)

Excited crowd in Berlin, June 2009.
Excited crowd in Berlin, June 2009.
Better late than never, I always say!

Photos | Videos | Date: June 10, 2009

So after a late night of fun and frivolity at the Convention of the Universe, we were up ‘n’ at ’em bright and early the next morning (7:30am-ish). We had a bit of a train ride to get to the venue, but everything went pretty smoothly. Upon arriving, I was impressed by the venue, and even a awed to be able to see a show in such a historic place. I’d seen the Berlin Olympiastadion in my history text books, and there was no mistaking the two giant pillars that loomed over the main gate, the Olympic rings strung to appear as if they were floating delicately between the them. As someone who has grown to enjoy history and has watched the olympics religiously since I can remember, it was really amazing.

We were a little disturbed that there wasn’t a distinction between the Front of Stage ticket people or regular floors, though, like Leipzig had. Instead, there were about 20 some-odd gates with two turnstiles each where everyone was gathering haphazardly. We settled in behind one of the gates, next to others who had started fanning out. We saw some familiar faces from the Leipzig show, fended off line-hoppers, and got roasted by the sun. Black pants + sun = hot thighs, and not the kind you should eat with a spicy wing sauce. Interestingly, we also got surprise rain for about 10 minutes or so, mid-day. The weather was partly cloudy most of the day, with the occasional cloud bringing sweet relief to the Some Great Devoted BBQ™.

When security appeared to set-up for letting us in, it wasn’t quite as hectic as Leipzig, but people still rushed forward early. Fortunately since we were at the front of the line where they had taped off the gate, we had lots of leg room so we continued to sit. I wisely realized it would be a good idea to warm up for what appeared to be a long dash ahead (though we had no idea what the gauntlet would really entail). I did some of my old dance stretches and warm-ups and was ready to go.
Once the tape was cut, everyone rushed toward the turnstiles, still blocked by staff. Unfortunately the guy assigned to ours was a complete tool. After they were given the green light to start taking tickets, Tara had to practically beg the man to take her ticket and rip the stub while he stared at her blankly. Meanwhile, people all around us were being let in while we were being held back. He finally took hers, slow as a snail. She was off like a shot in an instant. I handed the oaf my ticket, stub side facing him, already folded, perfed and partially torn to make it an easy tear. The man stared at it like an imbicile. He flipped it around, looked closley at it, flipped it around again, then struggled to tear my stub. It was only a few seconds delay, but it felt like a century when you’re literally in a horse-race with hundreds of hardcore and fit DM fans who are gunning for the same goal as you.
I bolted across the courtyard-like area to the first checkpoint, managing to find a lady the fans didn’t seem to be noticing and I slipped right through without a bottleneck. Then into the stadium–“Holy crap, we’re at the top of the stadium! Look at all those stairs down to the floor.. Bloody hell, the stage is all the way at the other end!” Down we ran, thunkety-thunk, as hundreds of feet flew down at least a hundred metal stairs. It felt like a military excerise! And then my capris started to shimmy down my backside. Apparently I lost some weight while touring around Berlin and other cities the week prior; my once-snug pants had become loose enough that I needed a belt. I went down the stairs and flew across the floor trying to hold them up! Good thing I had worn black leggings that stayed where they belonged, but it made running full-tilt complicated. A funny spectacle, I’m sure.

Once on the main floor, we had to split left and run for the front section check-points. As we squeezed on through I was able to find Tara who had staked out some space behind the folks on the rail, about three people back, right in front of Dave’s mic. Very similar placement as Leipzig, just one row of people back. Nice!
Leading up to the gig, the crowd was jazzed. More chants and clapping than Leipzig, and even several successful waves. To get an idea for the crowd settling in and the size of the venue, here’s a vide of one of the waves. The stairs near the beginning are where we had to come in. The black rectangle on the right in the end is the stage. The crowds in Europe are so entertaining. 🙂
Ok, finally onto the gig!
This show was without a doubt one of the best DM shows I have ever seen. Exciter Sacramento and Touring the Angel San Jose were my very first concerts, and will always have a special untouchable place in my heart. Leipzig was amazing because it hailed Dave’s return from a serious illness. But Berlin was out of this world amazing. 60,000 fans and an emboldened band–the atmosphere was electric. The band could feel it. The audience could feel it. We fed off each other and the energy felt as if it could have powered the whole of Europe.

I was very impressed by the live version of “Come Back” in Leipzig, but the stars must have been aligned in Berlin. I found myself moved to tears for the whole duration of the performance. The clanging echos and tick-tock of the intro combined with Dave’s conviction in an atmosphere already abuzz sent me right over. Anyone who knows me well knows that I don’t cry easily, especially not around other people. I have to be severely shocked/overwhelmed or very deeply moved to drop my guard enough to let it go. DM shows have a way of doing both at least once per tour (usually twice or thrice, hehe). I know it’s a battle I can’t win. 😉

Dave fumbled the first verse of “It’s No Good” by coming in early, which proved to be quite an amusing turn of events. Martin was confused/distracted by it and lost his place with guitar. Dave hammed it up with a funny “Oops! My bad!” face, but hopped right in where he was supposed to be, but it took Mart several bars of standing there grinning then counting the beats to find his place again. The “Peace” sing-a-long went more smoothly here, as more people seemed to realize Dave wanted them to fill in the blanks, not repeat the words after him.
The setlist remained the same as Leipzig, but nobody minded. Enthusiasm abound, we danced and sang the night away at what felt like the party of a lifetime by another star in another place and time (pun intended, heh). In between encores, the crowd was deafening with cheers and chants. When Martin and Dave took their places at the end of the catwalk for the final song, I thought I would try to shoot some video of it. I managed film about 45 seconds of “Waiting for the Night” before I couldn’t stand being behind the camera screen–I was blubbering again and I wanted to sing along; I wanted to soak it up as much as possible. The crowd was still as electric as ever, singing along with the chorus, Martin sounded wonderful and the “bare version” piano line was heavenly, but Dave’s vocals were indescribable. For a lack of a more poetic phrase, the sound cut through me like hot knife through butter. After all these years, he’s always improving. He definitely has some vocal quirks when it comes to a live gig, the cost of the amazing physical performance and the radiating energy of being one of the best frontmen in the business. However, I think many fans would agree that this tour has had his best sounding vocals ever, if not, the best in a very long time.

My short video of “Waiting for the Night:”
After the gig and a bite to eat at McDonalds (the only place we could find), we headed back to the hotel where we ran into our Irish buddies from Leipzig, Craig and Keith, hanging out at the hotel pub. After settling into the room a bit and dropping our stuff off, we went back down to the lobby to visit with them. By the time we made it down there, Keith had gone up to his room, but we swapped stories, photos, and videos from Leipzig and Berlin as well as invigorating DM discussions with Craig for hours! Tired, I was gazing out the window when I noticed the sky had started to lighten.. it was nearly 4:30am and the sun was nearing the horizon! With this we headed to bed, knowing we could sleep in, a day off ahead with an afternoon train to Frankfurt. It was an astounding concert and an incredible night I’ll never forget.

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Amanda

Amanda is an enthusiastic, globe-trotting Mode fan who discovered the band in late 1998. Although she often feels like she got a late start in the Depeche Mode's career, she's survived nearly 20 years of the fandom, five new albums and multiple meetings with her love for the band intact (and stronger than ever). Amanda is a life-long creative, a classically trained graphic designer, working professionally as a User Experience Designer for one of the world's largest technology companies. When not at work or traveling for Depeche, she enjoys character illustration, comics, movies and Japanese Culture. And cats. Lots of Cats.