Depeche Mode Press File


Photo of the group by unknown photographer. Reproduced without permission



by X. Moore
New Musical Express, 17th September 1983

Depeche Mode hit Dublin in the midst of a political talkwave. X. Moore spends 48 hours mouthing off to the last gang in Basildon.

THE GRAFFITI on the walls is what you’d expect – mainly because you’ve already read the headline and seen Boot’s snapshots – "T.O.H.", "THE CLASH", "THE PROVOS"… But when you’re driving through samesville urban outskirts (less like the streets of a capital city, more like Yeovil on half-day closing), the locals’ choice of noisy, kick-ass rock’n’roll groups seems somehow… strange.

Dublin is a surprising town.

In the city centre, crude, roughshod bars, empty of video accessories, full of drinkers, sell porter and lager through the afternoon, while fruit-sellers hustle outside on the streets, carting crates of grapes around on prams. Anti-Amendment posters are plastered on lampposts, trees and hoardings, and bookshops seem to fill up most of the remaining available space.

Everywhere monuments to Irish history, workers’ history – Parnell’s statue, plaques to commemorate the "armed men of Ireland", the vast granite front of the General Post Office from where Pearse proclaimed the Republic in 1916 – everywhere the signs of a people proud of their history.

Seeing "Smash The H-Block" printed neatly on a lamppost next to "Fuck A Mod" makes for a double take and a half; in Ireland politics keeps catching you unawares.

Last week the contrast with Sun-bingo crazy Britain was even more acute. From sitting on a plane next to John Hume (SDLP MP from the North), driving in a cab to and from the airport, to drinking in a bar, everyone everywhere’s talking politics.

A strange coincidence has brought Basildon Bolshies Depeche Mode to Dublin while Ireland is in the midst of a stormy political debate. Garbled pre-election promises by both parties have precipitated this strangest of referendums on a move to have an anti-abortion clause written in to the constitution. The 42 words of the Amendment stand up only as a tribute to utter confusion, the will of the people subject to the wiles of the legal profession. Till the paragraph of inspired confusion is interpreted by the courts it will mean all things to all men, but mainly just bad news to women.

This week’s issue of Ireland’s music paper Hot Press carried two articles within the first six pages arguing against the Amendment; Irish popsters like Moving Hearts, The Blades and Adam Clayton of U2 held a press conference for the Anti-Amendment Campaign; even the music biz has stopped talking shop.

Into this seething arena came Depeche Mode, in Ireland for two gigs – one in Dublin, one in Belfast – with the first night of the tour and a rather less than ephemeral third album under their belts. Their presence in Dublin last week could not have been more appropriate.

"Let’s take the whole of the world
The mountains and the sands
Let all the boys and the girls
Shape it in their hands
- "And Then"

THERE IS nothing more beautiful than seeing attitudes change, seeing scabs turn militants. Depeche Mode were, not to put too fine a point on it, ugly as sin.

If ever applause was the echo of a platitude, Depeche Mode deserved a standing ovation. Their first album’s content was as trite as its cover – "Just Can’t Get Enough", "Boys Say Go", "I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead". With Vince Clarke at the helm, they seemed doomed for a rosy pop career as plain pin-ups, good only for a gag. Even the gag was miserable – less beefcake, more beef and tomatoes, they looked vegetables to a man.

Hard-nosed investigative journalism on the part of Chris Bohn early on revealed that Depeche Mode came from none-too-lively new town Basildon, a one-horse shopping precinct in search of a city. During their second NME interview they revealed that they’d once played Ronnie Scotts and all the lights had gone out. By the time of their third interview, they’d been asked to record the soundtrack of a Tizer advert… Phew! They were, as Record Mirror once pointed out, a "happening band"!

When "Broken Frame" was released after Vince had left to form Yazoo – synth pop’s very own Sonny and Cher, indeed – I assumed that their newly found political profile was merely the tip of the ice cube. But no! "Everything Counts" proved a bitter gem, a sparkling vocal analysis. Even my mate Martin came round shouting about it.

They followed it up with their third LP, "Construction Time Again", a record that fair bellows – Nothing Can Stop Us! Go For The Peaks!"

No more gags – it’s time to listen.

Dave Gahan, tattoos and cockney banter, ex-soulboy, clubber and one-time punk, is the raucous bugger. Andy Fletcher, freckles and one-time Christian, and Alan Wilder, Vince’s replacement, are more subdued – Fletch content to joke quietly and chat amiably while Al, set apart from the other three lads by his different background, plays high-handed.

Martin, tho’ shy, is the sharpest of the bunch. He’s well read in George Orwell and whiles away time between being accosted by pre-pubescent photographers reading Brecht’s Funf Lehrstücke.

"Hope alone won’t remove the stains"
- "Shame"

DEPECHE MODE are a surprising group. When they finally come to bury their electro-wimp image they do so not by firing off a couple of vitriolic anthems but with an album that argues patiently for organization. Unlike too many pop polemicists, Depeche Mode have recognised that merely scattering the word "hope" amongst your lyrics makes for pretty flabby propaganda.

From Brian Griffin’s re-constructed celebratory image of workers’ power on the album’s cover, through Ian Wright’s crewcut sketches on the inner sleeve, to the sly materialism of Martin Gore’s lyrics, the theme of "Construction Time Again" is crystal-blatant. But why choose The Worker?

Al: "The general tendency of the album is very socialised and The Worker sums it up – it’s the obvious image to get across socialism.

"It’s like, the first thing you think seeing the cover is that the hammer is smashing down the mountain, but not to destroy. Because he’s a worker, it’s to rebuild it, it’s positive. That was the overall idea of the album, to be positive – that’s why it’s construction time, not destruction time."

Dave: "With the hammer on this one we wanted to symbolise the force of a worker. It’s a very powerful force, it needed a very powerful image, whereas I think the sickle was a little bit more subtle."

Depeche Mode isn’t a name that exactly springs to mind thinking about socialism. Somehow "The light shone down from their synthesisers" doesn’t quite have the same ring.

Al: "When we decided on the theme for the album, the first word that came up was caring, and that’s the main idea behind it. We’re not out and out, you know… but we are socialist and we are caring."

Dave: "We do feel for those things and it’s a bit more important to sing about something of substance than sing about nonsense. If you’re in a band in our position, you’re in a very strong position to write about those things, so why not do it?

"Obviously, for a lot of bands that aren’t so successful, it seems an obvious thing to do. Whereas a band in our position could quite easily sing about nonsense – I think a lot of people just expected us to sing about nonsense."

I think it’s been the blatancy of "Everything Counts" that has turned heads. It isn’t subtle.

Dave: "Some people have thought it was about different things, like eating too much, or it was just about the music business but really though it’s about multinational corporations, y’know, that they’ve got too much power.

"But it was a conscious move to come across fuller and more definite and not just floating through. People used to think before: "Depeche Mode? Oh yeah, they’re that band that just sorta float by." "Everything Counts" was a definite move to make something stronger, more lasting.

"I think a lot of bands try and do it too obviously though. I suppose The Clash… but they’re really into what they’re doing. I used to listen to The Clash years ago, I really liked them. I wasn’t really into what they were singing about cos I didn’t really understand that first album at the time, but I used to go and see them because I liked the attitude and the energy. They was brilliant. Coming away from all those gigs with your ears RINGING and telling all your mates in school the next day…"

"Everything Counts" seems, oddly, a literal successor to "Remote Control", more than anything because it’s quite clear, quite brutal.

Dave: "Yeah, but the thing is people wouldn’t expect that from us, whereas they would from The Clash. A lot of people had no idea that we was capable of writing something like "Construction Time".

"We’d been portrayed for ages in one way. Like, we did every interview going and just sorta said exactly the same thing. "Yeah, we started in so and so…" y’know. But then we suddenly realised – what are we doing? If we want to carry on, we’ve got to do something a little more lasting.

"I think Martin and Alan have both got a lot more substance in their writing…"

Than Vince?

Dave: "Yeah, I mean, nothing against Vince, but I think Vince would agree with that. Martin and Alan’s lyrics are a lot more involved, whereas Vince is more interested in a tune. Vince is very clever at writing very, very catchy tunes."

"Everything Counts" scores on all sides, as opposed to the first album which was just bleeeeuurrgh! Naff.

Dave: "When I hear tracks from that, I get embarrassed. Though at the time we thought it was great. Then on the second album, it was very hard in the studio, people were letting us drift, there was a lack of enthusiasm… but then with "Construction Time" it was very UP in the studio, everyone was really working to make it happen."

The single in particular works musically and politically, whereas with The Gang Of Four, the politics and the music never really meshed. When music really matters to me is when all the elements are there, like with James Brown or The Temptations. A band like Crass fail to score on a whole side… tho’ I’m not sure which is more of a pain, the music or the politics.

Dave: "Obviously with someone like Crass, all you can get drawn in by is the lyrics and that’s it. The music is so hard that a lot of people won’t go near it. But something like "Everything Counts", they’ll give it a chance, they’ll give it a hear and then they’ll listen to the lyric."

Al: "If it’s not musically accessible, then it’s just not going to get across."

You’ve stressed the need for construction not destruction. What needs to be built?

Al: "Whole new ways of thinking."


Al: "Well, coming down to specific details is pretty difficult. But if the world stopped spending all the money it spends on arms for just two weeks, you could feed the starving millions for two years."

But how do you force that? Would you link your music with political movements? Say, would you have done a gig for something like Rock Against Racism?

Dave: "Maybe we would, maybe we’d do it, but most times we wouldn’t even get asked. They might ask us now, but people don’t associate us with that at all. And that’s what I think’s got to change – I think this album will change a lot of that."

"All that we need at the start’s
Universal revolution (That’s all!)"
- "And Then"

THE GIG at Dublin’s SFX Hall is, inevitably, sold out. From mid-afternoon a crowd of 60 or so screamin’ teens gather at the entrance, frantically gunning for pole positions, only to later assault all the road crew while the band leave the hall unnoticed after the soundcheck from the rear exit. The crowd happily spend most of the day mistaking lesser mortals for band members – "What’s happened to your fringe?" they keep asking me – but that all seems part of the scam…

The audience that finally filters into the hall is surprisingly varied in age, sportily-attired teenies standing shoulder to kneecap with badly dressed beer boys ("spans", as Dave will insist on calling them). Daniel Miller, Mute godfather, has arrived in the meantime and sits obelisk-like in the corner of the dressing room, a monument to this electro-pop thang, while the band pass time before the gig scuzzily taking the piss out of U2, Simon Le Bon, Midge Ure and other pop phenomenables. When the horseplay stops and the DMs troop on stage, the welcome is rapturous.

The performance itself is patchy, peaking only occasionally: the hammering opening bassline of "Everything Counts", the glorious B-52s Tupperware timbre of "More Than A Party", the tripping-treble motif of "Photographic" (the only winner on that ulcer of a first album)… Dave’s dancing sets the hall moving and the effect of that sequence on "Photographic" was, truly, dance carnage, but there are too many ponderous troughs, too many songs extended beyond their means.

Afterwards, the group are smuggled out of the rear of the building towards the hidden tour bus and straight into the path of a horde of teenies who have, somewhat understandably, been attracted to the row of security men trying to look innocent forming a human corridor in front of a coach. Back at the hotel, the adoration of Basildon’s electro-polemicists continues. In a hall next to the lobby is a Deb’s Ball, the debs in this instance being a legless gaggle of dolebound Dublin school leavers, not chinless clothes-hangers with voices like faulty disc brakes. They soon discover the group’s presence and flock Depeche-wards taking it in turns to shriek, fall over and have their picture taken with Dave Gahan. Most of them round off their performance by asking me "What’s happened to your fringe?"

The hysterical reception is, in truth, quite fickle, the desire to flock to the famous is less grovelling reverence for the star, more a neat appropriation of their fame – a welcome spice to dull lives. As soon as the group has gone, the school leavers drop the act.

"Bring me my gun of itching desire
Bring me my bullets and I will fire
- "Told You So"

FOR MOST of our lives politics is kept firmly off the agenda, so for Depeche Mode to take it up as a weapon is valuable, even if it’s not yet clear how they will use it.

In Britain in 1983 it seems an unnatural step to take – working class culture has been insidiously taken apart, history and political traditions buried beneath Thatcher’s warped vision of little England and The Sun’s shoddy hyperbole. As Bill Graham, a journalist on Hot Press, said on our first night in Ireland, "The problem with you English is you’ve forgotten your own history. You’ve allowed it to be taken from you."

And yet "Construction Time Again" is no vague desperate counterblast. Its roots are in something everyone in the band has been saying for the last 48 hours – The Worker. As Dave said, "Martin, Andy and me all come from working class backgrounds and that’s starting to reflect in the lyrics."

Depeche Mode’s songwriting seems now rooted in everyday life, day to day struggles, particularly Martin’s lyrics, their rough mix of "Jerusalem"’s exultant vision and Orwell’s early internationalism, underscored by a material theme – work-breadline-contract-profit – a discernable economic thread in marked contrast to Alan’s ecological whimsy.

But how hard would he push analysis, how specific would he get?

Martin: "It’s difficult to say. I think it just happens when you come to sit down and write it – if it turns out hard, it turns out hard; if it doesn’t it doesn’t."

Do you rate any political pop lyricists, like Weller?

Fletch: "I like Paul Weller’s style of writing, but I don’t like his music. I thought the music on "The Gift" was terrible but I was really impressed by his lyrics."

Martin: "Same with me. I really like all of his lyrics, anything I’ve ever read, but not the music. "Money Go Round", fer’instance, I really liked that."

Does playing Belfast mean anything to you? Is there any significance in Depeche Mode playing Belfast?

Fletch: "To me personally, yeah. Cos I feel they miss out on a lot of things. I admit I’m worried about going there but I think it’s good for us to do it cos hardly any groups go there and I think they deserve better than what they’ve got.

"The problem is you’re always going to have violence and armies ‘n’ that unless you eliminate countries totally. I mean, that’s the only thing to do – in a perfect world there would be only one nation."

Under a groove!

Fletch: "It would, yeah. That’s the only way to make sure that, fer’instance, everyone had food."

Dave was saying the inspiration for "Shame" was Thailand. Was there any specific motivation for "Everything Counts"?

Martin: "I think that was partly going to Thailand as well – that’s where the oriental flavour comes in, like Korea ‘n’ all that.

"But you go over there and all the hotels are full of, like, businessmen and basically they tend to treat people as though they’re nothing. All they’re interested in is their business – that’s what I really hate about big business, people just don’t seem to matter. Just money.

"You see all the women over there ‘n’ they’re all prostitutes – that’s the only way they can make any money. ’Course, the businessmen love it."

In "Shame" you wrote "Hope alone won’t remove the stains". What will?

Martin: "Work. It’s no good just sitting back and hoping things’ll change, you’ve got to actually work together. The material’s there; it’s like, there’s enough food in the world to feed everybody and then half the world’s eating three quarters of it and the rest of the world’s starving. But the food is there. There is a solution.

"The thing is, the people in power don’t care about someone with a low wage, they only care about their own power. But I think people should care about other people, y’know, cos from the moment we’re born we’re put into competition with everybody else.

"I really don’t understand why people go into politics – what makes someone at 16 or 17 decide to go into parliament?"

You don’t think parliament can change things?

Martin: "It’s got to be people themselves. People’s attitudes have got to be changed. For instance, when I wrote "All we need’s universal revolution", I didn’t mean, like, everyone to take up arms, but more a total change of attitude. That’s what’s needed. People’s attitudes have got to be changed."

"Could take a long time
Working on the pipeline"
- "Pipeline"

DEPECHE MODE are a curious balance of forces – Fletch’s Christian guilt, Al’s slightly precious West Hampstead liberalism and Martin’s socialism. It’s hard to tell which way the balance will fall.

After one staggering album inner sleeve and an inconsistent gig, I’m not sure about Depeche Mode. But I am won to Martin – he has winning inspiration. Depeche Mode’s next album may possibly run shy back to flitty pop, but in the end Martin Gore will pull through. No question.

"You’ve got to look at the world to change things," he said at the end of the interview. "Attitudes in the world, poverty in the world. The thing is when we talk about socialism, we don’t mean "English Socialism" we mean "International Socialism"." He has too firm a hold on the world to let it slip.

Depeche Mode have taken the first step – to challenge, in a climate which bawls "Accept!" As Adrienne, one of the school leavers, shouted outside the hotel in the street of a city cowed once again by the Catholic church.

"Fuck the Amendment!"

Phew! "Let’s take a map of the world
Tear it into pieces
All of the boys and the girls
Will see how easy it is."

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

SEE ALSO: Up For Grabs


Dream And Scream

Ulster Hall, Belfast - September 10, 1983
Construction Time Again Tour

"Everything counts, particularly in the pop star vacuum of Belfast, and tonight everything added up to pretty near perfect. Because so far this year all we’ve had is a succession of major cult figures – great for crooning along to Costello or for watching the solemn antics of the Bunnymen, but not too much fun in the way of fully-fledged teenage and underage heroes.

And there is, after all, a conflict in every human heart. A conflict between the fun and games enshrined in the doctrine of eternal pop, and a slightly heavier attitude which is expressed through the more oblique work of the gentlemen just mentioned; and a conflict which has been fought out in a most one-sided way with the old and the wise winning hands down.

Up until last Saturday night, that is, when a superb performance by the wonderfully poppy Depeche Mode finally brought a big smile back to what in terms of live experiences, can truly be called a lost generation.

Not that the Basildon Boys are purely and simply an act for the scarves and sweat market. They are, however, undeniably pure and simple, at least for most of their hour-and-a-bit on stage. There is the occasional moment of strange behaviour, especially when heart-throb Gahan leaves the action in the hands of his grumpier companions, and they go all industrial for a while, conjuring up the kind of nonsense which is best left to people like the ridiculously po-faced Ultravox.

There is also from time to time the dangerous whiff of a growing conspiracy afoot, at its strongest when dreamboat Dave wiggles his bum – a gesture which brought about rampant hysteria from all sides – and suggests that the excellent musicians in this band could well be inclined to go off and do a Vince, perhaps feeling that nobody is taking it seriously any more. Such a move would undoubtedly be interesting but very fatal and should be counselled against at every available opportunity. Don’t go, lads.

Apart from these rare sinister moments, however, it was a night for the screamers, with the hits coming out in mint condition and even the odd filler track being considerably enlivened by disco Dave’s inspired footwork across the floor. It’s probably bad form playing the couple of gems that rightfully belong to old Vince, but then nobody round here is going to tell them.

There are very few bands who can produce two songwriters of the quality of Clarke and Gore, and even fewer who can produce the end product in a manner so flawless and powerful as to overcome any lingering accusations of tweeness or monotony.

Tonight the long lonely months of waiting for someone to go quite daft over were soon forgotten and there were many here who had the wisdom to appreciate the rare quality of what they had just seen. Namely, an inspired live performance by the best and most grossly underrated young pop band in Britain today."

Barry McIlheney
Melody Maker, 17th September, 1983

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only. Photo by unknown photographer. Reproduced without permission.

See the original review here


LOVE IN ITSELF - released September 19, 1983

"Another big hit, and nothing short of driving a rusty meathook through David Gahan's malformed cranium will prevent it."

Geoff Barton
Sounds, 24th September, 1983

"A sober tune marks their continuing willingness to puncture any preconceptions you might have about them."

Chris Bohn
New Musical Express, 24th September, 1983

"Nice tune, nice tune! I like these guys. It's a very moody production and, hang on, did I hear someone playing guitar in there? And some (gasp) real piano? Guys are you OK ...? Guys ...?"

Unknown reviewer
Smash Hits

"Appealing little melody that's sort of halfway between an anthem and a nursery school song, like Big Country doing 'Kookaburra Sits In The Old Gum Tree'.

Unfortunately, the record as a whole, though 100% less weedy than 'Everything Counts', is just so cluttered. Someone seems to be throwing cutlery around in the chorus break, Sweep makes an appearance on the last verse. And is that a train on the fade-out?"

Unknown reviewer
No 1

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"Once this reviewer hurled darts at pin-ups of the fluffy Basildonians; laughed at their weediness; sneered at their hopeless lack of sex appeal; threw up when my friend's mother said she wanted to hug David Gahan to her bosom like a lost kitten.

Then someone played me some 12-inch mixes of their early hits and I choked, feet moving so solidly sharpish that I could almost forgive them for being so cute and so indecently nice. They weren't so bad after all, well, sort of; I settled into an unhurried, uncaring ambivalence, sometimes up, sometimes down.

This time it's up.

"Love In Itself" is a fabulous pop song that purrs with the humanity and sex and prowess and power that has always lain dormant inside their machines just waiting to be discovered. There's an obvious maturing process going on here, a growing toughness that doesn't sacrifice their vulnerability much as make it seem more touching, more acceptable, and less like a synthpop soundtrack to an Andrex advert.

Now how about a free copy of their new album? (Writer ducks to avoid flying boot ...)"

Unknown reviewer
Melody Maker

Click image to enlarge


A Brick 'N' A Promise

Colston Hall, Bristol - September 12, 1983 (Supported by Matt Fretton)
Construction Time Again Tour

"To the land of Teeny-Bop, with an audience which was a cross-breed from the pages of Jackie and Smash Hits. The school term may be starting soon, but the kids here wanted to forget about that prospect and put their hopes and dreams in the direction of the stage.

But first, in true show-biz tradition, there was the opening act. Matt Fretton played the part to perfection, a clean-cut, blonde, blue-eyed boy, all bouncing enthusiasm and smiles, sporting a daring light maroon suit. The girls loved him, those swaying hips suggesting something naughty as he skipped between the two white screens used as a back-drop, singing over some surprisingly tough soundtracks.

The music ran through haunting safari trips, Caribbean calypso and rock-the boat funk frolics, with ‘So High’ (secretly one of my favourite pop singles of the year) bringing out the best response. The kids had warmed to Matt and he’d carried out his ‘warm up the audience’ function to a ‘T’.

Screams of anticipation, the opening bars of ‘Everything Counts’, on came the stage lights and Depeche Mode were visible! A crescendo of screams and cheers as a thousand herds galloped out of control.

It was a good policy to start with the current hit single. Straight away, a mass of bodies performed their own version of the Electro Jerk, with Dave Gahan urging them on with his unique bum-wriggling dance. But Depeche Mode were clever, gave one hit single for every two LP tracks – be they from ‘Construction Time Again’ (usually) or from their other two albums – reflecting that the group have toughened up the contents of the package. No longer are they just candyfloss and thump, there’s now an edge to the slicing slabs of synthesiser and a move towards digging their own souls a bit deeper.

‘Two Minute Warning’, ‘The Landscape Is Changing’ and ‘And Then’ are important examples of that change, all received with the appropriate amount of attention. There was a special cheer, too, when Martin Gore took over the vocal honours on ‘Pipeline’ which, with its Gregorian chants, Japanese chimes and thumping tubs, might have left a few of the numerous pig-tails in the audience on end.

The solemnity was brief, though. It was the Love Songs for the Hi-Tech Age that were the centrepiece and they were what counted: ‘See You’ (cheers), ‘Get The Balance Right’ (more cheers)’, ‘Bright Lights, Dark Room’ (big cheers and frenzied clapping) and the re-vamped ‘New Life’.

For the encore, more demands were satisfied by ‘The Meaning Of Love’ and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, rounding off a show that was professional in the best sense of the word. Depeche Mode had made every boy and girl feel that they’d had the group’s personal attention, making that poster on the bedroom wall seem that much more real."

Dave Massey
Sounds, 1st October, 1983

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

Mode-rn Love

Hammersmith Odeon, London - October 6-8, 1983
Construction Time Again Tour

"Matt Fretton, bless his peroxide locks, can’t dance. But it would be fair to assume that Dave Gahan has taught Matt all he knows about shaking it up. He grinned wildly, shook it all about, executed dangerous backward shuffles and went down better than any support act I’ve ever seen. Dave Gahan’s been at the reverse shuffling a bit longer, but he’s no less fresh and zestful.

Perhaps Depeche Mode have found the secret of eternal youth. They’re no less bouncy now than three years ago at the Bridgehouse, no less able to convey their obvious enjoyment while playing synths than when they rested their Wasps on cardboard boxes.

Their audience has grown up with them, and they’ve grown up with technology. They have it and know how to use it. All this means that a more mature person can enjoy the plethora of Mode mega melodies and newly densed-up electro-textures without risk of teenyboppered eardrums. Barring the odd squeal at the sight of DG’s gyrating bum, of course.

"Everything Counts" was a good warm one to kick off with, its beefy dance rhythms setting the tone. It really didn’t matter that there were three static keyboards and a grey slabby Habitat stageset – the tunes (just count ’em) kept everything well mobile. A great, chunky "Love In Itself" and "Two Minute Warning" saw the four lads reach Beach Boy standards in the harmony dept, but the sweetest moment was dear Martin coming stagefront to sing "Pipeline", to rapturous applause.

The joint, not surprisingly, really started jumping during the updated, meatier versions of "See You", "New Life" and "Photographic". Just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be another cracking uptempo stormer, along came another, right through to encores "Just Can’t Get Enough" and "Boys Say Go". Even the chaps on the monitor were clapping along.

Dep Mod don’t distance themselves from their fans. There’s no star trip, no contrived audience participation – the whole thing stood on the quality of the songs. I didn’t look at my watch once and went home gaily humming that seemingly endless catalogue of reflective but infectious melodies. To say they had the balance right would be the understatement of the year."

Betty Page
Record Mirror, 22nd October, 1983

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"The atmosphere is relaxed and the crowd unusually good natured. Once the lights dim a groundswell of clapping and cheering fills the air. At the foot of the stage the bobbing heads cut a faintly surprising outline. No spiky tops here, mate, and the bottles of pulsating pink crazy colour have most definately been left at home. An air of normalcy prevails.

The curtains part to reveal Dave Gahan bobbing and weaving like nobody's business to the deep driving bass sound of "Everything Counts". In the shadows, trapped between banks of keyboards and massive slabs of stone scenery, shuffle the other three Depeche-eys. All kitted out in combat togs, the whole set-up is geared towards their new harder and more mature image.

The show is immaculately well paced. The more familiar clean crisp and choppy numbers like "See You" and "Just Can't Get Enough" keep things racing along nicely. Newer material is more atmospheric, utilising a menacing metallic sound reminiscent of Japan and Tears For Fears in one of their more reflective moods.

The diversity of tonight's show finally proves that Depeche Mode have grown up."

Unknown reviewer
Smash Hits, October 1983

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

To read another live review from the 'Construction Time Again' tour, click here


This item almost certainly appeared in the 1983 Christmas/New Year special issue of Melody Maker.


To be honest, it looked like Depeche Mode would always be the musical equivalent of bum-fluff: light, insubstantial, not quite the real thing. To be even more honest, few experts imagined they'd even have a future without the guiding digital genius of Vince Clarke programming their juvenile circuits.

"Broken Frame", their first post-Vince LP, was confused, scrappy, unfocussed; the album title seemed prophetic. If they carried on like this, surely they'd soon be out of the picture, a memory in the margin, their commercial impetus cruelly clipped.

Wrong again, chaps!

In 1983, Depeche rolled up their sleeves, toughened up their perspectives, went all political and what's more sounded like they meant it. "Everything Counts" and "Get The Balance Right" were stern contradictions of the Mode's previously frivolous public image. Darker, more worried than earlier essays in synthesised pubescent angst, they addressed themselves to more general concerns; jangled to new tensions.

Released in August, their "Construction Time Again" LP was one of the year's most unexpected surprises; a socialist manifesto set to a dramatic plugged-in beat, it was unglamorous, determined, flagwaving, a quite courageous step forward on all fronts.

This was a long way from "Just Can't Get Enough" and no doubt a lot of their earlier fans were left at the bar while Depeche were already running for the barricades; but they didn't seem to be worried; they'd made their point and were obviously going to stick to it.

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On to 1984