If you happened to be anywhere near Hollywood Blvd in Los Angeles yesterday you may have noticed the heavy police presence, some even mounted on horses, keeping a watchful eye on the estimated 10,000 people standing in the middle of the street to catch English electric group Depeche Mode's appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" to promote their new album, "Sounds of the Universe."
The heavy police presence was warranted as the last time the group held an event this big in Los Angeles, back in 1990, 15,000 fans showed up at a signing for their album, "Violator." What followed was something the City of Los Angeles was hoping to avoid last night, a riot. But everyone present — be it the police or the press core (which clearly consisted of many DM fans) — knew this was going to be a special night that no one, fan or not, would ever forget.
As helicopters flew overhead and the crowd continued to grow, the energy on the boulevard became electric. The crowd stood for hours, some since the early morning, under a dark and gloomy California sky, to see the band perform. Fans showed up, appropriately dressed in black, carrying homemade signs displaying their devotion to the band, wearing t-shirts that read "Girls Gahan Wild," (a clear reference to front man Dave Gahan) and hanging roses (a symbol of the band's 1990 album "Violator") in the air… all the while making new friends as they shared their favorite moments from the band's nearly 30 year career.
And looking out into the crowd, one would think a group this young came to see the wrong band. It goes to show how much Depeche Mode's music makes them a relevant band to this day. In fact, the nearby construction crew working on the new W Hotel & Residences stopped what they were working on midway through the band's opening number to enjoy the evening.
Though the crowd of thousands began to show some restlessness as the "Kimmel" people came out to let them know that the band was near, there was never any sense that it would get out of hand. Some fans did take it upon themselves to climb on roofs of cars and the roof of a close by building to get a small glimpse of the empty stage. Security was called in to prevent the barricade from falling and from the situation getting out of hand.
Finally, as the band took the stage at 8:25 PM, the crowd erupted, throwing their hands in the air waiting for the first note of the evening. It was so loud that you could not hear Jimmy Kimmel's toss to the band, even though it was a rehearsal. Once DM went live, the crowd went all out, and not a single word could be heard coming out of his mouth. But then again, everyone was there to see the band play — and did they ever!
There was no doubt that they would kick off the evening with their new single, "Wrong," but no one could have foreseen the reaction the band received from the song. From the get go, the crowd was into it and singing each lyric loudly (including those in the press core), never missing a beat and showing the band how much they meant (by knowing the lyrics). After all, the album has only been out for two days, but one would think this was a song pulled from the band's rich catalog of songs. What followed was one of the richest concert experiences I've ever witnessed.
For the next hour, the band went on to play four classic DM songs mixed in with two additional tracks off the new album: "Personal Jesus," "Walking In My Shoes," "Come Back," "Peace," "Enjoy The Silence," finally bringing the evening to a close with "Never Let Me Down Again." As the song neared its crescendo, looking out into the thousands of eyes focused on them, DM was greeted to a sea of swaying arms longing for the band not to stop, but rather to continue the evening. And even as the "Kimmel" personnel came on stage to thank the audience for coming out, you could see the audience studying the stage, hoping THEIR band would return for a few more songs. Sadly, they didn't.
Following last night's performance, the band will next head to New York for weeks of rehearsal for their sold out "Tour of the Universe," before heading to Luxembourg for full production rehearsals prior to kicking off their tour on May 10 in Tel Aviv.
And then, Depeche Mode will make a return to Los Angeles for two sold out shows at the Hollywood Bowl in August.
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