Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Depeche Mode and OMD: May 21, 1988

Since this was an outdoor show, I'm surprised to see it happened in May. The weather was good, as I recall. I went with my high-school friend Laurie and a few of her girlfriends. On the ride there, one of them mentioned that her brother or someone had asked if OMD was a rap group. "Yeah, Run-OMD," I laughed, unwittingly creating one of my own all-time favorite jokes. (Yes, I frequently amuse myself.)

This show was part of the tour for Music for the Masses, some of which was captured in D.A. Pennebaker's film Depeche Mode 101. The tour marked a special moment in the history of Depeche Mode and alternative music in general. Little did we realize but both were about to blow up big-time and "alternative music" would soon evolve into a totally different monster. (I don't think there really is any "alternative" music anymore, but that's a whole other story, not fit for this blog!)

OMD were alright, but nothing great. I prefer their older material, but they still had some great songs at this point, but were pretty lacking in the stage presence department. Although to some extent the same could be said of Depeche Mode, Dave Gahan really worked it, and the whole vibe of the show was pretty exciting, since it was a big outdoor thing that made you realize, "Holy cow, there are a lot of us... alternative people."

DM did a lot of great songs that night, but not "People Are People." I guess they were feeling contrary. My one big memory of the night was a girl who was so drunk she was face-down on the ground for most of the show. Her friends just left her there for people to throw grass on, and I kept one eye on her most of the time because I remember how Jimi Hendrix died. I was thankful I was a) not hanging out with a bunch of jerks like that (what would likely now be called "frenemies") and b) not drunk.

Funny postscript: One night much later I was at (where else?) Denny's dressed in an all-black outfit that was typical for me at the time. The waitress asked me if I liked Depeche Mode and when I answered affirmatively she said, "You look you would like Depeche Mode." She didn't say it maliciously or anything, but it got me thinking about how I presented myself. I decided I didn't want anyone to assume they knew a lot about me based on the way I looked. I think not too long after that I bought a pink polka dot shirt just to be an asshole.


  1. I went to this concert! It was an amazing experience having both bands in one concert! I love DM and OMD so this was a blast for me. If I remember right, the concert was in New Jersey?

    Manila, Philippines

  2. Hey guys & I too went to this awesome concert in Houston @ the Southern Amphitheater at Astroworld; very glad WE all went there to represent this type of music which was so different then & from the junk that is out there now ... it was a great experience- did anyone see them Dep.mode afterwards when Nitzer Ebb opened up for them too ?? wow, memories ...

  3. I guess I'm the only one that was at this exact Pine Knob Mode concert in 88'. Drove all the way from Grand Rapids with a couple of friends. I know we were right up front. I don't remember OMD playing. For some odd reason I thought it was Echo and the Bunnymen, but I was pretty stoned. That was the second time I saw them - 1st at Royale Oak Music Theater outside of Detroit in 85'. Maybe a couple thousand there. Anyway, I do remember Martin dangling his feet off the stage, singing Things you said. Very powerful ballad. Seen them 6 times overall and always enjoy the shows