Sunday, April 15, 2018

Can You See Me In The Crowd?

Depeche Mode
101 -  Concert For The Masses
Live At The Rose Bowl

June 18th, 1988....this was the most anticipated concerts of the year. I was actually at this concert. Here's my ticket....

The band was coming through town to support, what was, at that time, their biggest album, Music For The Masses. The band always a had special place in its heart for Los Angeles as the local radio station, KROQ, was an early and committed supporter. In fact, they had announced the concert live on the air one morning in mid spring from the stadium with Richard Blade, the morning radio host on KROQ at the time.

Here's a picture of a few of the band members on the morning of the announcement in the empty stadium with the section I ended up sitting in in the background.....

To fill the stadium, the band would have to sell over 56,000 tickets......they ended up selling over 60,000!!! Let me give you an idea of how the stadium looked on the morning of the concert before they let the crowd in.....

That's lead singer, Dave Gahan, with his young son.

The concert was amazing. The opening bands were Wire (I don't remember them), Thomas Dolby (who was and is, Always, great) and Orchestral Manoeuvers In The Dark (great set that day). It had been hot during the day and the Rose Bowl had zero shade so we were all out in the sun the whole time. As the sun set and Depeche Mode's set got closer to starting, the crowd started to entertain themselves. At one point there was a brief trash-throwing melee which looked fun from up where I was above all of it. Then the crowd got into a fun shouting match, where one side would yell, "tastes great!" and the other side would yell, "less filling!" (its a Miller Lite commercial from the era and we were bored waiting).

Here's what the crowd looked like from just above my seat....

Now, Depeche Mode's performance was not what any of them consider to be their best (they've all said as much in interviews over the years) but you couldn't have found one person in the crowd that would agree with that assessment. The energy in the stadium was beyond electric and it was helped along when it started to briefly rain (it sure helped wash the hot air out of the stadium). The rain occasionally has been reported to have occurred during Blasphemous Rumours. I remember it starting during Sacred and continuing through the next 2 songs, Something To Do and Blasphemous Rumours. During Something To Do, the storm announced itself with a bolt of lightening that lit up most of the sky just to the south of the stadium. If you listen closely to the live album of the show, you can hear the crowd let out a huge cheer when the lightning strikes. Imagine what would happen today if 60,000 people were outside in a lightning storm.....they would cancel the show and send everyone home immediately. It would have been pandemonium. Thankfully, we lived in a less safety conscious time and the show was not stopped.

The best moment of the show was at the end of the main set during the song Never Let Me Down Again when Dave Gahan got the entire crowd waving their arms back and forth above their heads. It was an amazing, spontaneous moment and its now a permanent part of each live Depeche Mode show. The neat part is that the band was filming (and recording) the show that night for inclusion in a documentary film called 101 and so most of the show exists on video. I say "most" because the film makers didn't intend to film the whole show so there are a few songs missing from the film. But if you watch the video below, and you have really sharp eyes (like much better than me and I KNOW where I was sitting), you can see me in the crowd during the part when Dave is leading the crowd in waving their arms.

Please enjoy this amazing moment........

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