A little over a week ago, my wife and I were able to get out for the first time in ages to see a concert, none other than Depeche Mode at the Slavia football stadium. The tickets were a Christmas gift and we had family babysitting our boy we were as giddy as school kids that we would finally, after a long while, be able to go out.
The event didn’t disappoint. Slavia’s is an open-roof stadium so luckily the day’s rain slowed to a drizzle then stopped completely before Dave Gahan and co. took to the stage. We also had ample time to look around the sold-out stadium from different vantage points: on the ground to high in the bleachers. Many fans, not surprisingly, were in their late 30s and 40s, streaks of gray but no lack of enthusiasm, many with brand-new Depeche Mode T-shirts, and many of course wearing only black.
Then there were groups of much younger attendees, many of whom must have been toddlers when Depeche Mode were in their heyday in the 80s and early 90s when arguably their best albums were released. One of the often-repeated remarks about this group is that unlike many other performers who have been around for years whose fan bases gradually shrink, Depeche Mode are just the opposite, inspiring new listeners (as well as newer and newer bands) with their music. From songs like Stripped and Master & Servant to Never Let Me Down Again and newer material such as Precious and Wrong; their fan base continually grows. In short, they have aged really well and still put on great performances.
On stage in Prague, singer Dave Gahan was a whirling dervish, inspiring the crowd of thousands to join in the choruses of numerous songs. But unusually, sometime after ten pm, it was all over – although there were five FIVE! encores. Because it is in a residential area, concerts at the stadium to wrap up fairly early, which at most times I’d consider a drawback. I’ve never seen a major band come on at 8 pm and finish by ten pm or so – ever. But with our child at home with the grandparents, without our attention for the first time, it was perfect for us: my wife and I were able to get back before he had missed us. As the concert ended the crowds filed out into the night, ready to continue a perfect evening at nearby clubs and bars. We headed home.
Seeing Depeche Mode was a real experience. They’ve played Prague six times and have a lot of fans here (including well-known faces in the crowd Czech bad-boy artist David Černý and TV interviewer Václav Moravec). It is not a concert I will soon forget. The next day at home my wife and I listened to many of Depeche Mode’s albums on the stereo again, this time with our toddler bouncing to the music. Usually we sing him Kočka leze dírou or Kolo kolo mlýnský (popular Czech children’s songs). This time we opted for Enjoy the Silence. Our boy didn’t mind one bit.
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