Depeche Mode Live In Hamburg (1984)

Depeche Mode may well have undergone a million transformations since this live video was shot back in 1984 and have released other live videos such as 101, Devotional or Live in Paris – but this is still the one, out of all of them, that is simply incredible. This is The World We Live In And Live in Hamburg – the first video release by Depeche Mode, featuring almost an entire concert from their 1984 Some Great Reward Tour at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg, Germany on 9th December 1984.

In their early days, Depeche Mode were plagued with a fear of their live shows appearing boring compared to more conventional rock bands at the time. This was particularly due to the fact that they had just one guy upfront while the three other band members were hidden behind huge banks of synths and computers further back. What they ever so slightly misjudged was that the “one guy upfront” just happened to be the infinitely charismatic and relentlessly hyperactive Dave Gahan.

Amidst blatant melodies, gratuitous pipe-bashing, tight vocal harmonies and Gahan’s energetic stage domination, this set proceeds at a rapid pace with all the songs effectively bearing a very close resemblance to their vinyl. The only criticism anyone could possibly level at this performance is that the pace – apart from Martin Gore’s “Somebody” interlude – is consistently elevated. But then you watch the more refined rhythmical variations of Devotional and you realise it’s not as simple as that. Hamburg’s huge energy level and raw passion are not to be dismissed so arbitrarily.

Strangely, despite Gore’s prowess as a songwriter – which was starting to really take off around this time – Alan Wilder’s two songs: “Two Minute Warning” and “If You Want” are amongst the set’s most outstanding moments. “Two Minute Warning”, in particular is a very important piece of Depeche Mode history because it was the first song to firmly establish the structure of a short verse/layered male vocal chorus/verse that was to consistently reappear through “Enjoy the Silence” and even later, “It’s No Good”.

The set charges to a brazen conclusion and it is during the encore that the diamond moment occurs: “Shout” – another non-Gore song and proud holder of the title of “most ridiculous song to have ever been called a B-side in the history of popular music”. Here the fusion of the simple, pure pop tune with haunting, almost spooky electronic effects springs fully to artificially resuscitated life. As the song itself so correctly states: “dangerous and beautiful”.
The only summary for this concert: A truly overwhelming onslaught of electronic perfection and an absolute classic of the first order.

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