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From: frequently asked questions
From: Erdeg Silvester
What are the differences in your approach to producing a track for live performance, as opposed to an album version?
There are many subtle differences one would apply depending on the nature of the track, what you're trying to achieve with it, and where it comes in the set etc. Generally, live versions can take more dynamic contrast, longer dance sections and a big ending!
From: Niels Kolling
I've just come back from Berlin, where I saw DM 2 days in a row. I was disappointed that they didn't change the set list for the second night so I was wondering if it was your idea to change the set list when you played the same place twice? And how did you go about it? Did you have different tapes with the entire sets, or could you pick out one song that you wished to play on the night?
When I was in the group, it was standard practice to change the set if we were playing one venue over 2 or more nights or if we were revisiting an area already played on the tour. We had 8 separate tapes - basically 4 different set-lists (red, green, blue and yellow I think) which were each split into two halves and broken up by an acoustic song somewhere in the middle - which allowed for the tape change. Effectively therefore, we could mix and match any combination of Ist and 2nd half tapes. Along with a few different alternatives for Martin's acoustic songs, this gave us the opportunity to perform many different running orders although all of them had the same overall shape and structure. So, for example, a quick chat beforehand might result in "let's play the blue / red set tonight with 'Somebody' instead of 'I Want You Now' in the middle." We could also change tapes for the encores, if necessary.
Depeche Mode will be taking a drummer with them on the forthcoming tour which I think is a mistake. It worked fine on selected tracks for the 'Devotional' tour with you on drums but I really can't imagine songs like 'Stripped', 'World In My Eyes' and 'Enjoy The Silence' with live drums. What is your opinion?
I've have no idea what the live versions of the songs will be like or whether they will work. I'm sure it's possible to interpret the songs in many different ways.
On the 'Devotional' Tour you played a conventional drumkit. Did DM ever consider dropping most of the drum machines and perhaps use an electronic drumkit which could produce the same sounds but was played by a drummer? And do you think it could have worked just as well?
Well, the main pleasure gained from drumming is the response you get from real drums and at the time a lot of the 'SOFAD' songs were recorded with real drums. To have played the older songs on an electronic drum kit would have been very difficult since many of the parts are unplayable (I'm thinking of the fast hi-hats etc.). I also don't think it would have been as much fun. I did have a couple of electronic pads which were incorporated into the kit for triggering samples - 'Personal Jesus' for example. That's the nearest we got.
From: Aaron Henderson
You mentioned that originally DM didn't want to use a guitar on stage, for fear of looking like every other band. So, what was it that eventually changed your minds, especially to the extent where you eventually began to use a drum kit on stage?
It was simply that the music dictated it. We couldn't reproduce the sound of the records faithfully (particularly 'SOFAD') without incorporating drums and guitars. We also thought it would add to the dynamics of the show as well as giving Martin and myself an opportunity to move away from standing behind keyboards all the time. As DM's popularity increased, it was necessary for the music and shows to grow - it would have looked pretty ridiculous to have 4 blokes bleeping away on little synthesisers in a massive stadium. Visual dynamics and depth are important considerations too.
From: Scott Coolidge
Are there any DM songs you would prefer to never hear again? Does playing a song several hundred times live make you grow weary of it?
My least favourite DM song is 'It's Called A Heart'. There are some other very poppy ones like 'But Not Tonight', 'Meaning Of Love' and 'Photograph Of You' which all come pretty low down on my list. It's unfortunate but it is true that playing the same thing over and over again makes you tired of it.
I also wanted to know why the band stopped performing 'Strangelove' after the 'World Violation' tour. They're not performing it this time around either. I think this is a favourite track amongst many fans.
You can't please everybody otherwise you'd have to play every song ever recorded. It's never been one of my favourites so I probably wouldn't have voted to play it either.
I notice that in '101', none of Depeche are wearing in-ear monitors. Playing arena gigs like those, how were you able to hear yourself - it must be thunderously loud on-stage? If you were to venture out live today, do you think you would choose stage monitors or something more controlled?
The 'SOFAD' tour was the first where I could actually hear what I was doing. This was down to the in-ear monitoring which is the most controlled form of foldback available. The main advantage for me was the fact that it blocked out Dave's side fills which throw out his vocals at ball-busting decibel levels. The volume of his voice used to be so loud that it could sometimes obliterate all the rhythm tracks as well as our keyboards and vocals. In my headphones, I would only listen to a mix of certain tape channels and my own keyboards, drums and vocals. I didn't need to hear anyone else's performance or any other vocals. I also had a floor monitor for low bass frequencies. Even though it takes a few gigs to get used to this enclosed listening environment, the headphone route is easily the most accurate monitoring set up you can get.
'Little 15' has always been one of my favourite DM tracks. As far as I know, it has never been performed live. Is this true and why?
To date, DM haven't performed 'Little 15' live. We never thought it would come across particularly well in that context.
From: Javier Pecyner
Well, first of all, I'd like to correct you (and Nicky's message). 'Little 15' was indeed played (at least once) during the 'World Violation' tour in Paris on 23.10.90. It was an acoustic version sung by Martin.
I stand corrected Javier.
From: Christian Toribio
E-mail: verge, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have been searching endlessly for the version of 'Somebody' you always seemed to play live (namely on the '101' tour). I can't seem to learn it by ear quite yet but hopefully I will someday. If you can give me a transcription of it, I would be very grateful.
I don't have it transcribed I'm afraid. It was slightly different every time I played it. I just played whatever version came out within it's chord structure.
What were you doing during 'Clean' on the World Violation tour? I've heard like 500 different things, from bongos to dancing! ;)
I used to breakdance at the side of the stage in an all-in-one, leopard-skin leotard.
From: Rosa Torras
If you had to, what would you choose: playing in a massive stadium or in a cosy night club?
From: Anton Floriano
I'm curious to know what the Roland product was that gave out during the 'SOFAD' backing tape programming sessions and what was the result of the lawsuit?
The name escapes me for the moment. After a long battle, they refunded the purchase price of the two machines. I can't remember the exact price but it was a lot (possibly £20,000). The problem was that we had also invested in loads of Data Dat back-up equipment which became redundant. Also, at the last minute, we had to aquire two digital multitrack machines to take on the road instead - so we still lost out financially.
From: Brian Hodge
I think that 'Higher Love' is a superb opening track for a live show and the way the song was rearranged at the beginning made it even better. Was this due to you and was it your choice as the opening song on the 'Devotional' tour?
All the live tracks on that tour were re-structured by myself although the running order for the show was a collective decision.
From: Chris Watkins
I always thought 'Higher Love' was one of the stronger tracks on 'SOFAD' and was an incredible opening song during the 'Devotional' tour. Why wasn't it released or played during the summer `94 show?
For the European and 1st leg of the American tour, in Spring and Autumn respectively, we knew it would be twilight when the show kicked off so it seemed a good idea to capitalise on this. I think the resulting opening sequence of thunder and lightening preceding Higher Love and accompanied by the huge curtains, appropriate light show and the magic hour itself, was one of the most dramatic moments of the whole tour. For the 2nd U.S. leg, the show needed to be different from the first, primarily because many people would have attended both shows but also because the dates coincided with lighter months of the year and the 'Higher Love' introduction wouldnt have been as effective -hence the second leg opening with an upbeat version of 'Rush' with live drums etc.
How long did it take Daryl Bamonte to learn Fletch's keyboard parts when he took over during the second leg of the 'Devotional' tour?
While everyone else was sunning themselves on the beach and enjoying a well-earned rest, Daryl and I spent a week cooped up in a hotel room in Hawaii where I taught him the entire set. He subsequently played it perfectly for the rest of the tour - pretty good eh, considering he'd hardly ever played a keyboard before in his life.
From: Neil Lindsay
I've lent out my video of 'Devotional' to many of my friends (most are DM sceptics) and they are really surprised with just how professional and slick the show is. How much time went into the planning of the shows?
Check out the singles feature in Report - editorial / August - November and ALL will be revealed.
From: Robert Sokolowski
What percentage of music was in fact played 'live' during a DM concert?
From: Carsten Vogt
Don't you think that DM could have played much more "live" during a gig than 50%? I've always had the impression that especially Martin was somewhat underemployed (let alone Andy but that seems to be a different matter.)
Our policy was to always play as much as we could manage (without bringing in lots of extra musicians).
Can you describe how different it is to play at the Rosebowl in front of 75,000 people compared to a European hall with 8000. Is the atmosphere more intimate in the smaller places?
There's not actually a great deal of difference between 8000 and 75,000 from our perspective. 8000 people is still a large audience and you can only see so far back into the crowd from the stage.
Were you nervous before '101'?
Do you remember a special gig in Denmark?
I remember one particular outdoor festival where Talk Talk were also on the bill.
From: Igor Cech
During a concert in Tokyo (1985) you started to play 'Somebody' but Martin begun singing 'It Doesn't Matter'. What happened? Were there any more such mistakes?
I'm sure there were but I'm afraid I can't remember all the individual shows over the years - you view a DM performance from a completely different perspective to me. Each show becomes part of one massive tour experience when you play the same thing night after night over such a long period.
It's said that in 1989 there was a DM secret show. Is this true and if so, in which town or country was it?
I've got a feeling we played a low key show at Universal Amphitheatre in L.A at that time but don't quote me on that. I could be mixed up with my dates.
view part 2
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