Wednesday, June 13, 2018

break the silence

okay i'm going to get this one off quick, because it's worth writing about: i saw depeche mode here in toronto on monday night - my third time seeing them live - and it was an experience, as always.

i don't gush about them as much as some other bands (...*coughs in german*), but as i said in an earlier blog post, depeche mode are one of my favourite bands of all time. as i said to a friend after i bought a ticket to this show (kind of last minute, because i'm a brokeass, but i knew it was something i shouldn't miss), "their music has been there with me through so many phases of my life", and that's the truth.

i fell in love with them pretty late, for me - probably when i was about 22-23 - but they've been with me ever since. not always as, like, my absolute #1 favourite band of all time!!!, but they've always been there, you know? their music has always been in the background in my life, so whenever they're nearby for a concert - because they're still touring, even though the band's in its 38th(!) year of existence now - i try to make it out.

a depeche mode show is part concert and part communion (with a bit of a dance party thrown in). this time around, they played all the hits i'd hoped for - "enjoy the silence", "personal jesus", "never let me down again", "a question of time", "a pain that i'm used to", "walking in my shoes"(!), "in your room"(!!), and more (although no "master and servant" or "policy of truth", and i think i've only heard them play "just can't get enough" like once?). they covered some of their newer stuff, sure, but the crowd - one which actually made me feel young (quoth my stepfather: "that's why i don't go to concerts. too many old people my age there.") - was obviously there to sing and dance along with the classic singles.

"never let me down again", in particular, has always been one of my favourites to see live; i've said it before, but it's my favourite song of any band, ever. if anyone ever asks me "what's your favourite song?" i have a ready answer, and it's that song. not rammstein, not moist, not kill hannah. it's "never let me down again", full stop. and live, oh fuck, it's something else. i took a video of the mass hand-waving right before the final chorus, but it's nowhere near as good as this:

what really got me right in the feels, though - and as expected - was this:

how do you even explain what a song means to you, anyway? it's a tough task to try and find the right words to describe how it makes you feel, and what this collection of sounds represents to you personally. i was a music writer for years, and i still struggle with it.

here, i'll try, and clearly it deviates back to familiar territory for me: their cover of "stripped" was the first rammstein song i loved, really loved, and it stuck with me through so many of my formative late teenage years. (it was the song that got me into depeche mode in the first place, to be honest.) it was probably my most-listened to song in my freshman year of university, when i was living on my own in toronto(!) for the very first time. putting "stripped" on repeat while getting ready to go out to the bars and clubs was my ritual. it made me feel cool and invincible and badass, even though in my heart i was still this awkward farm girl who somehow made it to the big city.

so now, whenever i hear that synth line - whether it's in rammstein's version or the depeche mode original - it's the most evocative sound of my shifting state of mind and personal growth in my late teens and early twenties. i mentioned that when i saw rammstein last year, "stripped" was probably my biggest surprise in the set list, and i'm not lying when i said i nearly burst into tears. it was straight-up catharsis, getting to see the song that soundtracked some of my most turbulent years played live in front of me. i didn't expect that. i never thought it was going to happen. (when jenna and i saw rammstein: paris in the theatre last march, i turned to her and said in a hushed voice, "holy shit, what if they play stripped??" they didn't, not on the 2012 tour, but i actually didn't expect to ever see it live)

and then, there it was (see above). and then, less than a week from a year to the date, i got to see the originals - depeche mode - play "stripped" live too, and it just got me right in the heart all over again. it's everything: the synth, the darkness, the deep intoning and harmonies on "let me hear you make decisions / without your television", and how it just resonates, you know? those kind of songs are the ones that take you back to the past but also keep you anchored to the present. it's an experience, and one that's wholly unique to anybody who loves music. one foot in the past, the other in the moment.

there are so few songs like that, for me; the only other song that's come close in recent years is "amour". last fall, i was going through some stuff - that's how i'll put it, anyway - and i spent a lot of time standing on the far side of my office's building, smoking cigarettes and listening to that song on repeat. even now, just hearing the guitar line takes me back to the colder weather and the smell of smoke, wondering if i was doing the right thing. if i'm still doing the right thing.

but still - no matter what band, no matter what song. one foot in front of the other.

[ music | depeche mode, "enjoy the silence" ]