vendredi 14 mars 2014

Depeche Mode

Now that the Delta Machine tour came to an end, I realize I still haven't published my photos of the concert Depeche Mode gave in Barcelona, well, two months ago... Better late than never...

I am not really sure how this is even possible, given that I've been a fan of Depeche Mode for a long time, but I had somehow managed to always miss them when they were in concert, be it in Paris or in Barcelona. Add to this the fact that I really loved their last record, which I found much more interesting than the previous one, and you will easily understand that nothing in the world would have made me miss this concert! So this is how it went...

15th of January 2014: I made my way to the Palau Sant Jordi among the crowd, quite impressive given that the concert was sold out. Reassured to see that my usual predominantly black outfit was clearly not out of context (!), I was also pleased to find myself in a rather relaxed, joyful atmosphere. Hell, we might all have been about to witness a black celebration but it was still supposed to be a celebration, right?

And was it, ever... The "celebration" lasted a bit more than two hours. The set list was a very democratic one, picking up songs from a lot of different records. Of course, the concert very adequately opened on "Welcome To My World", followed by another song from Delta Machine, the beautiful and twisted "Angel", one of my favourites from this record. Then I'm not sure I completely remember the order of the songs but it doesn't really matter: I have no doubt a quick search on the Internet would allow you to find the exact set list of this concert, should you be interested! I was particularly happy to hear "Precious", "Should Be Higher", "Black Celebration", "A Pain That I'm Used To", "Personal Jesus" and its unexpected slow, acoustic introduction, "Enjoy The Silence" that set the whole crowd on fire, etc. A bit disappointed to not hear "Soothe My Soul" in its live version but I guess you just can't have it all.

But beyond the choice of the set list, which I wasn't too concerned about (C'mon, you have to trust a band like Depeche Mode to know how to come up with a great set list!), the most important for me was simply this incredible feeling of immersion you get when you hear live music, the energy it transmits, the emotion. Suddenly, you're like in another time dimension, a parallel universe (sorry, just couldn't resist the temptation).

Not only did the two hours go by in what seemed like a heartbeat, but the band was in really great shape. Martin Gore sang a couple of songs, with just him and Peter Gordeno on stage: beautiful moments. At first, I was a bit shocked to hear him sing "Slow" because of course, after listening so many times to Delta Machine, this song is completely associated with Dave Gahan's voice in my auditive memory. But I really enjoyed "Shake the Disease" and Martin Gore's smile while hearing the crowd singing along. After seeing quite a lot of different bands and artists play live over the years, I have to say it is quite an amazing and refreshing thing to see a band that's been around for thirty years still being able to not only give a great show, but actually care about what they do, respect their audience and seem to genuinely have a blast on stage!

Speaking of... I remember reading somewhere a comment someone made after seeing Depeche Mode in concert last year and that said something like: Dave Gahan may be in his fifties but he could kick any young rocker's ass. I don't think I could have expressed it in a better way! This is exactly the feeling that the singer of Depeche Mode transmits when he's on a stage. He does not only (still) have a beautiful, powerful and eloquent voice; he's also obviously such an incredibly charismatic rock star.

(Oh, and I open a parenthesis while on the topic of beautiful voices: if you haven't already, listen to the last album of Soulsavers which they recorded with -check out the brilliant association of ideas- Dave Gahan. It's heart-breakingly emotional and beautiful, if you're into seriously depressive music. And also, these guys are killing me: they just happen to have worked with two of my favourite male singers ever).

So yes, this concert took place two months ago and obviously, I have been to other concerts in the meantime but I remember this one with a particular emotion. The emotion of seeing a genuinely great concert and show, with excellent musicians (oh, Christian Eigner on the drums...) and, a notable exception for the Palau Sant Jordi, with a really good sound, among a nice crowd of people who looked as mesmerized as I was myself. The emotion of hearing mythical songs like "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence" come to life in your ears and before your eyes. The emotion of finally seeing such a legendary band on stage, a band that's provided the soundtrack of so many moments of your life, past, present and how could it be otherwise, future... See you next time, Depeche Mode?... Yeeeeeaaaaah, that's right!

"The angel of love was upon me..."
"Never let me down..."

I also made some videos which, I'm warning you, are particularly shaky and crappy! You might still find it fun to watch them, if only for the sake of good memories. So here are the links to "Precious", "Personal Jesus" and "I Feel You". Enjoy! :-)

mercredi 12 mars 2014

I left my heart in San Francisco

After admiring the beautiful sunset over the Golden Gate Bridge and after spending the coldest night of my life in Oakland, my motivation was stronger than ever at the start of this second day in San Francisco. And that was lucky 'cause it turned out to be a rather busy day!

As if to stress even more the impression of diversity I had a glimpse of on the previous day, we started strolling about Haight Street, the "anarchic" neighbourhood still known to be one of the most unconventional in the city. Some of the beautiful old houses still have a somewhat psychedelic look about them. There even was something of a Camden Town feel about some places of the neighbourhood (that is, the pre-touristy invasion Camden Town, of course), while other places just gave me the impression of having been teleported to a kind of weird Summer of Love revival!

A walk in the Golden Gate Park provided us with a much quieter environment and allowed us to gather strength before climbing up Nob Hill to find ourselves in another radically different atmosphere. Formerly known as the "posh" neighbourhood of San Francisco, Nob Hill still has an impressively high concentration of fancy hotels and apartments buidlings. But I obviously was much more struck by the steep streets and the incredible views over the city. That was exactly the San Francisco images that had fascinated me so much when I was younger. And there I was: in these streets, admiring this incomparable urban landscape... Breath-taking!

Then down the hill to go to a much more densely populated and animated neighbourhood: Chinatown. The oldest Chinatown in North America, it is almost like a city within the city... The cluttered streets, countless shops and vivid colours kind of make you feel transported to another continent. Then we reached the adjacent neighbourbood, the "Little Italy" of San Francisco, less typical but quite nice and still home to many Italian restaurants.

I realize that a few paragraph-summary gives the feeling that we did all that in a couple of hours but of course, this walk around different neighbourhoods took us all day! And as the sun was setting, we headed towards Coit Tower (towards... and up a hill again!) from where I was, once more, blown away by the views over the city and by the colours and lights. 

So no, I probably did not stay long enough to leave my heart in San Francisco... Or did I?... :-)

Haight Street
Nob Hill
Views from Coit Tower
Along the Embarcadero

jeudi 6 mars 2014

San Francisco

After spending this incredible day -the last of 2013- in Death Valley, we were back on the road, heading North towards the second stop we had planned: San Francisco. Of course, a not-so-planned stop happened in-between because, basically, we also needed to eat and sleep! But we finally made it to San Francisco in the afternoon of the 1st of January, just in time to admire the Golden Gate Bridge in the light of sunset.

Obviously, it is difficult to say anything truly original about this city because it completely is a part of our collective imagination, be it for its history, its cultural references or simply because we all saw at some point photos of its vertiginous streets, we all saw films with the Golden Gate Bridge or Alcatraz.

So even though I'm not going to add anything new to all the things that have already been said or written about San Francisco, I simply wanted to share my enthusiasm and emotion to find myself in this beautiful city. The very geographical setting reminds of its dramatic history but the colours are vivid and the cultural diversity that became apparent to me after only a quick first tour in different neighbourhoods is quite captivating. More photos to come soon...

"Le soleil s'est noyé dans son sang qui se fige"