1980/1981 background info
Over the years, Depeche Mode and many other people who have been cornerstones of the band have shared small anecdotes of their earliest gigs. These anecdotes and trivia have been added to the pages of those gigs here on this Wiki. However, we have also gathered those same anecdotes and trivia from 1980 and 1981 below, to make for easier reading. It was not until 1981-10-31 University, Newcastle, England, UK that Depeche Mode actually went on a tour (called the Speak & Spell tour) where the gigs were planned in advance. Before that date, all gigs were announced one by one, and not well in advance. In the beginning, Depeche Mode (mainly Vince Clarke) would step into venues to ask them for a slot, and later on as they became more successful, venue owners would offer them a slot. Some venue owners, like Gary Turner of Crocs, and Terry Murphy of the Bridge House, would end up offering Depeche Mode a residency in their clubs.
Other than "real" concerts, the list below also mentions the Summer 1980 Demo Tape, the 1981-06-11 BBC Studio Session, and two TV performances: 1981-10-23 Something Else and 1981-12-03 Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester, England, UK.
Please also note that on the Support acts page you can see which acts supported Depeche Mode in 1980/1981 (just sort the table according to year).
And on the page Early live-only songs, you can find information about songs that Depeche Mode performed live during the early years, but were never commercially released.
Info about 1980 gigs
Composition Of Sound, comprising Vince Clarke, Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore, was formed around March 1980, and they would rehearse several times at the youth club in Woodlands School in Basildon. One day, they did an unpaid gig there in front of young kids. It is likely that they did this gig after a few weeks, so at the end of March, but is possible that this has happened sometime after March as well. This "gig" is often overlooked, even by the band afterwards, presumably because it hardly constitutes as a "gig", and resembles more of a "dress rehearsal". It's also possible that this "gig" wasn't even planned, but that it was more of a "Hey would you like to play in front of a class of kids this afternoon?"-thing. In any case, there are a few moments when one of the band members bring up this... event:
When Martin Gore wrote a press release for 'New Life' in February 1981 (barely a year after he had bought a synthesizer and got asked to join French Look and Composition Of Sound), he stated: "[Depeche Mode was] formed in March 1980, Basildon based DEPECHE MODE first performed live at the Woodlands School under 12's disco - but were hurled off by abusive youngsters with more classical tastes."
In May 1985, Andy Fletcher said in No.1 magazine: "Martin, Vince and I teamed together and started rehearsing in Woodlands Youth Club. The earliest Depeche songs like ‘Photographic’ were written then. We played a gig at Woodlands in front of an audience of nine-year-olds. They loved the synths, which were a novelty then. The kids were onstage twiddling the knobs while we played."'
Martin Gore in April 1985, in The Saturday Picture Show: "We did actually play at my and Andy's school, just a sort of youth club or something. We did play another youth club in Basildon, they were sort of the first two concerts that we did."
Most detailed is an interview with Andy Fletcher and Dave Gahan on BBC Radio Stoke in February 1982:
Q: So you still have the tapes of some of the original material then?
Fletch: Yes. When we first started, we did concerts around people's houses in Basildon, that's before Dave joined, and it was quite good. One of the gigs we'd played, we played in front of 7 people and 10 teddybears. (laughter) And we dressed up in eh...
Dave: - pyjamas (giggles)
Fletch: pyjamas. It was just a good laugh. We still got the tape of that concert. We've done a lot of gigs around people's houses.
Q: When doing your first gig, I believe one of your first gigs was in an under 12 disco, was that the one you were on about now?
Fletch: No, that was our first proper concert, that was quite funny as well.
Q: When you say "proper", the fact that you're getting paid for it, is that what you mean?
Fletch: No, we wasn't getting paid, it was a favour, because at that time we was rehearsing in this youth club, we played just for a favour. The funny thing was that kids had never seen a sythesizer before, and were just fiddling about with our knobs...
Q: And they thought it was all flash or something?
Fletch: Well yeah. It was a very small synthesizer as well. It was quite funny, though.
Southendpunk.com quotes Basildonian Mark Saunders, who says "I remember [...] Norman and the Worms [performing at a Friday-night disco], featuring, as I recall, one Vince Clark [sic]." Since Norman & The Worms featured only Phil Burdett and Martin Gore, this could have been Composition Of Sound instead.
In March 1980, Vince Clarke started a band called Composition Of Sound with Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore. At the same time, Robert Marlow started a band called French Look with Paul Redmond and Martin Gore. Dave Gahan was doing the sound for French Look. On one particular night, both bands were rehearsing at the Woodlands School in Basildon. It is fair to say that this coincidental night happened sometime in early April 1980. Below are some quotes that best explain this moment:
In an interview with Stephen Dalton, Dave Gahan said in 2001:
"These guys were rehearsing - they were called Composition Of Sound, and Vince was in the band. I was humping gear for this band called French Look, and one night we were just messing around; we were doing some Bowie songs and we did a cover of 'Heroes'. Paul [Redmond], my friend, was trying to get me to sing in this band [French Look]. There was a guy in the band whose name was Rob Marlow - at the time, I think his name was Robert Allen; he was a singer/guitarist/keyboard player, and he was pretty good at it. But Paul, my mate, was like, 'Dave could sing, he looks good; he can sing - I've heard him!' But this guy [Rob Allen] wasn't having any of it. Anyway, on this particular evening I sang along to 'Heroes', and next door these guys were rehearsing. And so, about a week later, I got a phone call from Vince. He said, 'Was that you singing?' and I said, 'Yes' - it was actually a bunch of people singing, but I said it was me."
Andy Fletcher in The Face, 1981:
"What happened was, we got [Dave] just on the strength of him singing 'Heroes' in a jamming session. We weren't even sure if it was him singing it, there was so many people singing!"
A private party was held here for Deb Mann (née Danahay), who was Vince Clarke's girlfriend at the time. Composition Of Sound, at the time comprised of Vince Clarke, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher, supported French Look, which featured Martin Gore, Robert Marlow, and Paul Redmond. Robert Marlow was also on Composition Of Sound's stage, which Vince Clarke described to Jonathan Miller as "Rob was on-stage, but he wasn't actually leaping about. He was just sitting there tapping in the right numbers or whatever." Dave Gahan, who had already been asked by Vince Clarke to join CoS, was doing the lighting for both bands on this night.
Deb Mann told Jonathan Miller: "Vince, I knew, because a big crowd of us used to hang around together at a pub called The Highway, as it was then, at the top of the escalators in Basildon town centre. They wanted somewhere to play, and I was having this party. I was going away to work at Butlins, so it was a going away party. It was a great party with loads of people."
Immense thanks to Deb Danahay Mann and Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos for the below photos and information.
Deb's friend Nikki Avery organised the party. She told Simon Spence in 2011: "[The party] was a bit of a surprise do. I think Rob [Marlow] rang me up, because Rob was going to be playing, and said: can Vince and his band [CoS] play as well? I said yeah, why not. Let's go for it. [...] [It] was a full house - I got in trouble because there were too many people there."
Local Basildon fanzine 'Strange Stories' reviewed both acts:
"Two synthesizers and a bass are the structure of Composition Of Sound, as well as the inevitable drum machine. Their songs bounce along with a nice feel, but the comparison to The Cure I cannot see. Some of their numbers seemed good, but with new groups - in fact every group - they need improvement as I'm sure they know. I didn't like the version of [Phil] Spector's 'Then He Kissed Me' though. French Look opened with a tape of distorted voices straight into the force of three synthesizers. They played an hour-long set which included an old Ultravox number - twice played - and Sparks' 'Amateur Hour'. They could be better and vary their set, but I'm sure with a few gigs, their numbers will become familiar."
Over the years, there has been confusion about the exact date of this concert. On Southendpunk.com, The School Bullies are stated to have played at Scamps on 1980-04-17 and 1980-06-05, but it isn't stated for which concert Composition Of Sound were the support act.
For a while, dmlive.wiki believed that it was the 1980-04-17 concert that had Composition Of Sound as the support act. For example, in Dave Thomas' Depeche Mode biography, published in January 1986, it is suggested that this concert preceded the 1980-05-30 Paddocks Community Center concert:
Although the band never used a regular name, Composition Of Sound is how they are best remembered. It was under this name they played their first gig, supporting Film Noir at Scamps, in Southend. A short while after they played a party thrown by a friend.
Furthermore, Daryl Bamonte, who is Perry Bamonte's brother and became an assistant to Depeche Mode for many years, has been interviewed about this concert several times, and he also remembered having attended the 1980-04-17 concert, with Composition Of Sound as the support act.
In 1999, for Steve Malins' Depeche Mode biography: "This was about April or May 1980, just as I was leaving school, and Perry gave Depeche Mode the support slot when they were known as Composition of Sound. At this point they hadn't become a full synth band yet. There was Fletch on bass, Martin on keyboards and Vince on guitar and vocals. Dave Gahan was actually at that gig, watching them, and that's when I first got to know him. They did a lot of songs that they ended up recording as Depeche Mode."
In 2006, for Depeche-mode.com: "I first helped Composition Of Sound with their equipment in April 1980, and then I left school in May 1980 [...]. Composition Of Sound supported my brother Perry's band at a place called Scamps in Southend in April 1980 and I was 'the roadie' for Perry's band, so I helped out Composition Of Sound as well, because Perry and I knew Martin and Fletch from school, and Vince lived on the same estate as all of us."
In April 2018, for dmlive.wiki: "I was already on nodding terms with Dave. I already knew the other three [members of Composition Of Sound] from growing up in Lee Chapel North. But it was at Scamps that we first really spoke for the first time and he gave me his phone number. I was still at school at the time [when this concert happened] (I left on 23rd May 1980). [F]or some reason I remember [this concert being on] a Thursday and late in April, but I cannot be sure."
However, in April 2019, Daryl Bamonte finds both his 1980-04-17 and 1998-06-05 ticket stubs in his scrapbook, which he presents to dmlive.wiki and Facebook group DMCPAV: The 1980-04-17 ticket stub mentions The School Bullies, Screaming Ab Dabs, and Orange Cardigan; the 1980-06-05 ticket stub mentions The School Bullies and Composition Of Sound. It turns out that, since Daryl has attended both concerts, he has mixed up the dates, many years later. Thus, it can now be concluded with 100% certainty that it was the 1980-06-05 concert where Composition Of Sound have performed, as a support act for The School Bullies.
The Composition Of Sound members recalled this gig in June 1981, when Smash Hits reported:
The three instrumentalists were old hands at [performing prior to 1980-06-14 Nicholas School], having played all of two gigs as a trio of bass and two synths – once at Scamps in Southend and another at "[This gig and Deb Danahay's party]". Vince isn't going to let anyone ask a fool question like "What were they like?" "They weren't even minor successes," he says. Andrew puts Vince's reassessment in context: "The crowd didn't react so Vince lost his temper with them – plugs were kicked out." "There were a lot of fourteen-year-olds," adds Martin, "who'd never seen a synth before, so they were fiddling with the knobs going 'What does this do?'."
School Bullies bandmember Paul Langwith said to Simon Spence in 2011:
"[CoS] didn't go down particularly well but they were brilliant. We were loving the style of music but not everyone was into their thing. I remember they did an absolutely fantastic version of 'The Price Of Love', the Everly Brothers song. A few of the punk/new wave crowd came to see the Bullies and they didn't appreciate what CoS were doing. But they were so fantastic: they were miles ahead of anything else. We were just playing for the fun of it, but you could tell from that moment that CoS were really going to be something. Vince was taking a real serious note of it all. At that gig Dave was there just to help them lug their gear around."
Steve Malins also reported in his Depeche Mode biography in 1999:
Vince Clarke invited [Dave Gahan] to come and see the band at a gig in Scamps, Southend, headlined by one of Perry Bamonte's outfits, the School Bullies. Composition's performance didn't start too well when Fletcher, who has a reputation for clumsiness, tripped over and kicked the plugs out of all the amps except his own, leaving the bassist to play a solo set for the first couple of numbers.
Former Nicholas School pupil Brian Denny said to Jonathan Miller:
"Perry's band was basically an early tribute band that played a set of Damned covers, mostly from the Machine Gun Etiquette period, plus original songs such as 'I Don't Agree With You' and 'Third World War'. They also did a version of 'Ballroom Blitz' known as 'Great Big Tits'! The audience was made up of mainly hostile hippies who heckled or said nothing. When one hippy slagged off the Bullies for ruining a Sweet song, the band simply shout, 'I don't agree,' and broke into 'I Don't Agree With You' - quite clever for some teenagers, don't you think? 'Composition Of Sound's song list included a version of 'Then I Kissed Her', and also a Roxy Music song - I think it was 'Virginia Plain'."
Brian Denny also talks a bit more about this gig in the unofficial documentary 'Random Access Memory':
"I knew [Dave Gahan] outside of school, so I knew him, in a sense, more when Dave Gahan had joined [the band] and things had moved on. They played Southend; that's the first time I saw them, it was [as] the Composition Of Sound, and they supported the School Bullies. Yeah, you know, very Roxy Music, very 'Price Of Love', very simple, very engaging, very disarming. It was quite an honest, charming persona they had."
Composition Of Sound played at this concert, with French Look supporting. This was the first concert with Dave Gahan on vocals. This concert did not take place on May 31st, 1980, as many other sources cite (including the official depechemode.com archives site); the concert took place on June 14, 1980.
Note that any recording you may find from this date and venue (which may also be labeled as 1980-05-31) is a fake recording comprised of tracks from other various early live recordings. Attendee Mark Bargrove asserts in Jonathan Miller's DM biography that they at least played Ice Machine, and Anne Swindell (Martin's first girlfriend) said she was to have a part in Tora! Tora! Tora!, quoted toward the end of this page.
Steve Burton, who was also the DJ, admitted his participation for this concert in Facebook group Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos:
"I was on the committee of the Nicholas Old Pupils Association (NOPA) who were looking to arrange an event to promote the organisation. [CoS] said to me, Oh you're on this [committee], we'd like to play a concert. I said I'd take it to the committee. I said [to the committee] that some friends of mine had recently formed a band & were looking for opportunities to perform live. I assured the committee that the band were good & that people would come along to support a gig. So it was agreed to clear the large locker room out in Nicholas School to make a stage & set big enough for 'Composition of Sound'. I did the DJing too playing a selection from my record collection in between the live music. Yes, folk did turn up. And the rest, they say, is history..."
Deb Danahay's friend Nikky Avery in 2011: "Dave brought that Southend crowd to the gig. About 50 or 60 people. I think Dave made CoS cool, for want of a better word. Before Dave joined they were just a bit of a geeky band."
Martin and Andy gave the following details in 2009 when asked about DM's first gig as Depeche Mode:
Question: So you became Depeche Mode, what, about summer 1980?
Gore: "I think it was around May 1980."
Fletcher: "I dispute that."
Gore: "You’re just wrong! There’s a friend of ours Daryl [Bamonte] who used to be a roadie for us back in the old days and he’s kept a diary which contains an official date – I think it’s some time in May when we first played as Depeche Mode. It was a school gig. I suppose in theory we would have got together at least a few weeks before that because we would have started rehearsing. But I reckon you could call the date of that first school gig the 30th anniversary."
Question: What was that first gig like?
Fletcher: "That’s when you were in both bands! There was another band playing on the bill called The French Look and Martin was in both of them so between sets he had to change his image. [both Martin and Dave laugh] That was the first time that Dave sang and he was really nervous. So nervous. It was at our old school St Nicholas."
Gore: "The main thing I remember about that night was that someone wanted to beat Vince up and one of our friends who was a good fighter had to step in for him and beat this other bloke up. [laughs]"
Dave and Andy recalled this in June 1981:
Fletcher: "You spent half an hour outside trying to calm down. You had about ten cans of lager."
Gahan: "All I can remember is saying to myself, 'I don’t want to do it, I don’t want to do it.'"
36 years after the event, Dave Gahan was asked on Polish television "Do you remember your first gig ever?", to which he (understandably) replied: "I invited a few friends... I don't really remember much about those... I don't really remember the first real concert! No, now that I really think about it, no one has ever really asked me that."
Daryl Bamonte and Robert Marlow spoke of this gig in a long interview with cornerstones of DM in German Musikexpress magazine, March 2011 (translated):
Daryl Bamonte: "The first gig with Dave took place at our school, in the Nicholas Comprehensive. The concert cost 50p as an admission fee. The bands played in a big hall [which was the upper school cloakroom] upstairs. As always, I was helping with setting it up. Dave was really nervous and Vince was annoyed about Martin playing in both bands. He was standing in our kitchen at home and said: "I will put Martin on drugs.""
Robert Marlow: "Vince was extremely angry [with Martin], because Martin would perform in both bands. But that's what Martin is like: He wants to do good for everyone. Nevertheless, Vince was expecting a clear commitment. We had put the support act, Composition Of Sound (who from this night on, if I remember correctly wanted to be called "Depeche Mode") as the headliner slot. So it was a historic night in June 1980: Depeche Mode in complete line-up for the first time; Vince, Fletch, Martin and Dave. I thought the name was pathetic, just the sound of it for starters: Depeche Mode - pay attention the French pronunciation. But we played our set, Martin went offstage, changed his shirt and is about to go back on again. Suddenly, Vince is going completely mad: he screams all around him, and actually claims that we have changed the settings on the synthesizers!"
In Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped', both Marlow and Clarke still accuse each other of changing the settings on the keyboards before the other person's performance. Marlow said it again for Erasureinfo.com:
"It was a Saturday night. The book mentions that the two bands fell out, which was true, because Depeche Mode deliberately sabotaged our set! I think we were headlining, and they were on first, and we were both using the same keyboards - Fletcher was playing my Korg, well, to be honest he didn't play much - except at this gig they messed up all the settings before we went on!"
In Steve Malins' Depeche Mode biography, it is said that Rob Marlow also had a falling out with his bandmate Paul Redmond, besides Vince.
French Look went on and during the first song, Rob Marlow had an argument with Paul Redmond and the gig collapsed because the latter refused to play his keyboards. Not surprisingly they broke up after that. Daryl Bamonte describes the gig as a "... good night. I was still at the school and we were amazed because Dave instantly brought all his crowd from Southend. All of a sudden, there in a school hall, were about thirty or forty New Romantic weirdos along with all the young local kids. That's when Vince realised that he's made a good choice."
In Simon Spence's 2011 DM biography, Anne Swindell (Martin's first girlfriend) says that she was supposed to join in:
"I was supposed to be playing saxophone on 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' I'd been practising and practising and practising, and then we turned up for rehearsal at the school and Paul Redmond was there, and Dave Gahan was there, and it completely flummoxed me: oh my God, I don't know these people and they're totally good looking and everybody knows them, they're really 'in' in Basildon! They were very sweet and I still did the rehearsal and everything, but when it came to the gig I couldn't do it. I couldn't go on stage."
Dave Gahan said in Pop Tops magazine in 1981: "Our debut together was at the Top Alex, a Southend venue that's an R&B stronghold. We went down really well - they were banging their heads to our pop."
In the press release for 'New Life', Martin Gore wrote that this performance at Top Alex had a "horrendous reception!"
“This place was above a greengrocers or dry cleaners or something. It really was. It was a room 8ft by 10ft with about 10 people in with silly haircuts and baggy trousers. I thought there can’t be a band playing here. We went in and then these four, frighteningly young boys, I mean I was young, I was only 18 or 19 and these looked like my little brother. These were skinny school kids basically standing around some ten bob keyboards. They started to play and I thought this is really good, they are going to be really terrible, cause that’s what you hoped, it was like going to see the opposition football team and they started to play and they weren’t terrible.”
Robert Marlow remembers in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' biography:
"The Top Alex was in a Southend Pub called The Alexandra. They had a room there at the top - Top Alex, see? I did the lights for that one - on or off! 'What do you want for this song? On or off?'"
These three demo tracks were recorded when Depeche Mode were known as Composition Of Sound. An unreleased track, Radio News, is included on this demo tape. Lyrically, the other two songs are identical, though Dave sings "the ice machine, ice machine" twice during the end of Ice Machine, as he similarly does during early live shows until the end of the song. Fletch surprisingly plays bass during these tracks.
At least two early Composition Of Sound / Depeche Mode demo tapes existed in 1980:
- a 4 track tape (containing Photographic, Television Set and two unknown/unnamed songs) with Vince singing, recorded before the arrival of Dave in the band.
- a 3 track tape (containing Ice Machine, Radio News & Photographic) with Dave singing, recorded after the arrival of Dave in the band.
The second demo tape was recorded at Lower Whopping Conker Company on Victoria Road in Romford, Essex during the summer of 1980 (Jonathan Miller erroneously states that the studio was called "Lower Wapping Conker Company" and that it was located in Barking). However, Dave Gahan says in this interview that he remembers it being recorded at Rockstar studios, owned by John Springate of The Glitter Band, which was on Tottenham Court Road in London. Vince Clarke and his friend Gary Smith were interviewed by Jonathan Miller in 2002:
Clarke: "I was the experienced one, because I'd been in a studio once before. From what I remember, we did four songs in the demo studio. But none of us knew what reverb was, so we couldn't work out why it didn't sound as good as the demo I'd done before, which did have reverb on, making everything sound great."
Smith: "They paid £50 for one tape at the studio and I was the only person with a tape-to-tape recording machine at home, so I made a copy for each of the band members, so there were originally five tapes in total. Talking to Fletch, he thinks they've all gone and seems to think mine is the last one. He hasn't heard it for years. Anyway, if you hear the demo, it's very... raw."
Martin Gore admitted in Sounds magazine, November 7th 1981 that he had his synth for a month and didn’t know he could change the sounds. “You know that sound that goes – WAUGH? I was stuck on that for ages. And when we made our first demo all the tracks have the same sounds on it.”
Dave will make his live debut with the band on June 14, the fourth gig of Composition Of Sound.
Two copies of the second demo tape were sold in early 2011 for a few thousand GBP.
The first copy sold for somewhere above 2000 Euros and was bought by an international team of collectors from depmod.com.
The second copy was sold a few days afterwards by Terence Murphy, the original landlord of the Bridge House, which was the club that booked Depeche Mode in their early years. Terence proposed the band as the support act for Fad Gadget, the major act of Daniel Miller's record label Mute Records. The rest is history. The band performed their first concert at the Bridge House on September 24, 1980; therefore, Terence probably received the demo tape a few days prior. Terence's tape is an older copy, and was originally labeled "Composition Of Sound", with "Depeche Mode" later written on the label. In fact, it is likely by this date that the band was called "Depeche Mode", and they were mistakenly advertised as "Depache Mode" (see right photo), perhaps because this was the first time anybody had heard the name.
The band will play their second concert at the Bridge House on October 16, 1980.
The first three photographs in the "Photos" folder are of the tape purchased by Svenner and his friends and is the source of this torrent's audio. The fourth picture is the tape sold by Terence Murphy, and has "Depeche Mode" written in ink on the tape's label and inlay. The fifth photo is a scan of an early live set list provided by Daryl Bamonte, which lists "Radio News". That song was played live at least 4 times between June and October 1980.
In the second photo, the real name of Vince Clarke, "Vince John Martin", is listed with a phone number. Vince was out of work and receiving unemployment benefits in 1980 and adopted this pseudonym in fear that with the first newspaper articles about Depeche Mode, he would lose those benefits. A friend of Dave Gahan, Paul Valentine, proposed to Vince the pseudonym of Dick Clarke (from the 1950-1960 US TV host Dick Clark). Vince decided to keep the last name only.
Thanks to Fabien (Stumm101) for providing much of this info.
Furthermore, the winner of the second demo tape anonymously contributed his story to Home:
"Meeting with Terry Murphy
London, May 13, 2011
Meeting Terry Murphy was an once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget.
Since it was such an extraordinary event Pete suggested that we all meet up with Terry as I arrive in London for Short Circuit Festival. “So you get to meet Terry and hear all about Bridgehouse and early Depeche Mode”. It was a Sunday evening when Pete spoke to me to tell me exactly what i had won and my heart started pounding like never before. I was nervous.
The following 5 days went by with my mind full of thoughts. Who is Terry Murphy? What sort of person is he? With the help of Pete’s description as well as “Insight”, an interview piece Pete did with Terry in 2006 for the Home website I got to know that he is an ex-boxer who started his career at the age of 13 in Repton Boxing Club. He won two London titles, making the first ever appearance on the Independent Television in the UK. Also he is a man who brought Composition of Sound, a Depeche Mode embryo, into the public light, eventually leading Daniel Miller to meet the boys for a single deal. An ex-boxer and original discoverer of Depeche Mode; it was a unique combination I had never heard of before.
So came the day, Friday the 13th (of May). The meeting would take place at 13:00 at Petes Hotel in Kings Cross. I arrived in London Heathrow airport at 09:35. Thinking that I would make it to the hotel well on time I took underground to central London.
Terry was bringing one of his sons, Glen Murphy. He is also an ex-boxer, a nation-famous actor, and the owner of an M. B. E. award for his charity work. “It would be such an honour to receive an autograph of him”, I thought. So I went to HMV in Oxford Street to buy a copy of “Fathers of Girls”, a film featuring Glen Murphy and Ray Winstone. Now time was passing quickly. By the time I was finished with shopping it was already past 12:10. “God, what if I would come late for the meet-up and everyone else is waiting? The deal might well be off right there!” So I ran to Oxford Street station to take another train and hurried to my hotel. Fortunately Travelodge was only 10 minutes walk from mine.
I arrived at the Hotel at 12:50. About 20 meters to the hotel I stopped and took a big breath. “The moment of truth is finally here, don’t mess this up!” I told myself.
First came Pete from the hotel entrance and greeted me. Also present was Amanda, his girlfriend. We sat in a corner near the entrance and had a nice chat about Depeche Mode and early happenings with the band. He also explained that Glen was coming with Terry because Terry was cautious of being in London with a pocket full of cash, bad things happen in London so Pete told me, so he needed a bodyguard!! Having been told of the notorious environment of Repton Boxing Club, my picture of Terry was fixed: a body builder-like athlete full of muscles and scars!
After maybe 40-50 minutes of waiting a taxi stopped by outside the entrance and two men in suits got out. Pete rose from his chair instantly to go and greet them. I felt that my heart was beating faster and louder.
Some seconds later they entered the hotel lobby and met me. To be honest I do not remember whom I shook hands with first. But I clearly remember Glen reaching out his hand and said “hello” in my language (mind you English speaking folks, English is not my 1st language)which was a nice touch. Since that moment the nervousness that I had felt since last Sunday vanished. My picture of Terry being an ex-boxer from “notorious” Repton Boxing Club was gone for good, he was a gentleman, as was Glen. Terry and Glen looked extremely relaxed and friendly, treating me with such respect and affection. We walked past the lobby to find a quiet spot at the back of the floor. All of us sat by a table with Terry on my left and Glen in front and Pete and Amanda on my right. The much awaited meeting began.
It was nothing but brilliant and unforgettable. The feeling was fantastic throughout the whole time we sat together. Terry enthusiastically talked about different groups that they had booked at the Bridge in minute detail. Glen and Pete talked about TV programs they used to work in/watch. Amanda went off to the bar and brought us drinks. Amanda and Pete were both starstruck at meeting Glen as he is a famous actor and appeared in a long running show "Londons Burning" so they took as many pictures of Glen as i took of Terry.
Much of the conversation was based on a series of pictures that Terry had brought along. They were from the Bridgehouse period (= late 70’s and early 80’s), including an unseen picture of Depeche Mode with Terry from 1982. Interestingly enough it featured Dave, Martin, and Alan in the centre. Another one was Glen on stage impersonating Elvis Presley, brilliantly capturing the spirit of 70’s rock ‘n’ roll.
Here are the bits and pieces mentioned by Terry (big thanks to Pete for refreshing my memories & apologies if they are not serving 100% correctly):
- Stevo from Some Bizarre Records was given a DJ slot by Terry. He used the same studio that Terry was using, and Terry thinks Stevo used Terry’s name to get the studio booked. Stevo was unknown at that time. So he used (stole) Terry’s name to book the studio and eventually starting his early career as a label manager (Terry did not look so pleased when he told this).
- There are no soundboard recordings of Depeche Mode available from The Bridge as they all took place on the new stage. All the old gigs (pre 1980) happened on the old stage and were recorded off the desk. One of the recorded is a show by Iron Maiden from 1977. The tape was sold for £25,000.
- One of the shows that Depeche Mode did is a secret gig in February 1982. It was announced by the name of “Modepeche” to avoid too much publicity. The show was a total success, attracting more than 1,000 people in the end. Some of them could not even get into the venue. They had to open all the doors so that the fans outside could hear the music.
After maybe an hour long talk Terry made a gesture of getting down to business, indicating that it was time to hand over the tape to the new owner. He took the tape out from a pocket of his suit. It was as if he was opening the arc of covenant. A few seconds later the demo tape of Composition of Sound was lying on the table in front of me. The very piece of history that gave the Basildon boys not only their first ever gigs in London but also a meeting with Daniel Miller.
After the handing of the tape it was time for photo shoot. Pete took pictures of the demo tape, and all of us took pictures with Terry and Glen in turn. One of them is a funny one where I pretend that I’m trying to steal the tape from him. It gave a good laugh to all of us. By this time I was so relaxed with everybody’s presence and the atmosphere was nothing but friendly. I really hoped the meeting would last longer…
So came the time for ending. We hugged each other to wish us good luck. Even though it was brief the time I spent with Terry and Glen (not to mention Pete and Amanda) was precious and it will remain one of the highlights in my life. I intend to custom-order a frame to fit both the tape and a Certificate of Authenticity that Terry provided.
Once again my huge thanks to Terry and Glen for coming down to meet me in person. It was such a pleasure to meet sweet gentlemen like you both. Also a big thank-you goes to Pete for arranging this meet-up as well as giving me the opportunity of acquiring the tape. You have my word that the tape will be well preserved and well taken care of.
For those few friends who know me, I ask you again to respect my wish of being anonymous. I have no interest in going public on this event. My intention of writing this is purely to share my experience and the feeling of joy I felt with you fans."
Crocs was named as such because there was a real crocodile in an aquarium there. Gary Turner, the owner of the club, remembered in 2011 (translated):
"I already knew Dave Gahan from previous nights together at some clubs in London, his presence was noticeable. He bought at the time many of his clothes at my Pin Up shop in Southend, where I sold just about anything: from lederhosen to bondage outfits, accessories from Malcom McLaren's shop "Sex", but also fishnet shirts and S&M toys. One day, Dave told me he's singing in a band, so I went to his earliest concerts, which now could be called glorified rehearsals. I liked them, so I gave them a gig at the Glamour Club. That's how I called my night in "Crocs", every Saturday from 8pm till 2am. The door policy was very elitist. Only those who dressed accordingly would be allowed to come in: either in leather, pants, jackets, caps, or like Boy George and his friends."
DM was the support act for Soft Cell. In 1999, Marc Almond wrote an memoir called 'Tainted Life' in which he recalls this evening. Below is the excerpt from that book:
"Things had to improve, I thought, after we'd played our worst gig ever, a headline show at the pseudo-glamorous Crocs Nightclub in Rayleigh, Essex. Supporting us were Depeche Mode, on their home turf. It would have been like us supporting Depeche Mode in Leeds. The crowd had some to see Depeche Mode, who played their set with all new equipment, improved tapes and sequences, dressed immaculately in glittering New Romantic outfits, complete with blusher and coiffured hair - Daniel Miller's vision realized: the perfect, pristine, professional pop band. Not only did they play well, you could hear every word Dave Gahan sang. They went down a storm, the audience shouting and baying for more. Then there was us.
I shambled on, dressed in black, dishevelled, drunk, and staggering around on too much cheap speed. The set seemed to start well enough, but then it all turned to disaster. I suddenly couldn't hear myself, and the backing tapes sounded distorted - like hoovers and washing machines competing with a hydraulic drill. I couldn't hear the monitors, and the microphone kept cutting out. Still I staggered through the motions. Then, through the dry ice, I saw them, slowly coming into focus - a line of the Who's Who of British electronic pop music. Members of Ultravox, Spandau Ballet and Visage were watching. I couldn't concentrate. All I could see were their faces, chatting inattentively, sneering - and then laughing. Louder and louder. And then the crowd started throwing coins. To add insult to injury, they only threw pennies. One hit me and I completely lost it. My voice faltered and gave in, which didn't matter anyway because I'd forgotten all the words. Everything ground to an excruciating halt. Well, it didn't stop exactly, just everything seemed to get slower and slower - like an old gramophone running down. I left the stage and Dave followed, both from us downcast and defeated, feeling like poor northern cousins from the sticks.
Afterwards Tony Mayo from Naked Lunch came up to me and laughed in my face. 'You couldn't make a decent dance record if you tried,' he said. I hoped his bitterness stemmed at least in part from the fact that Stevo had turned him down in favour of us. I hoped he was wrong. I learned afterwards that Rusty Egan, club promoter and drummer with Visage, had advised Stevo to drop us. Ironically, less than six months later Rusty would become one of our biggest fans, playing thirty-minute mixes of 'Memorabilia' when DJing at his club nights. As perfectly charming today as the was then, he was also part of the publishing team that we would sign to in our early deal. However, I had to admit that we were bad that night, and I would have advised Stevo to drop us had I been him."
Marc also said the same thing to 'Sounds' magazine at the time, when journalist Beverley Glick mentioned the club's name, Croc’s Glamour Club.
“Glamour? There’s more glamour in a fried egg! I think that was the worst gig we’ve ever done. Our backing tapes sounded awful, it was so cold you could see your breath, and when the bloke on the mixing desk turned us up really loud. Unfortunately, members of Spandau Ballet and Visage were there to check us out and they immediately rushed around and started slagging us off. They said we were ‘an oblique northern industrial band’. They were right – we were awful. But what a start to a career – me limping around the stage with aching legs.”
Gary Numan also attended a Composition Of Sound gig at Crocs. This could have been one of the 1980-08-16 or 1980-09-20 gigs, but judging by the info above it seems that the 1980-08-30 Crocs gig was the most hyped, and therefore it would be most likely that Numan attended this gig. Numan said to Jonathan Miller for his "Stripped" biography:
"They [CoS] were on the edge of the dancefloor - no stage, no risers. I thought they were brilliant, but didn't talk to them at the time as something happened and I had to leave. I had an idea that Beggars Banquet might be interested in them, and thought it would be cool to try and get them a [record] deal. Unfortunately, I can't remember now if I ever mentioned it to Beggards, although I think I did."
This concert has the only confirmed performance of the early live-only tracks And Then I Kissed Her and Radio News. And Then I Kissed Her is a cover of "Then I Kissed Her" by The Beach Boys. Go here to see the setlist.
This was the first concert played under the name "Depeche Mode" - or, more accurately, "Depache Mode" as seen in the Melody Maker guide to the right - versus Composition Of Sound for prior gigs. This was also their first gig at the Bridge House, and got paid £15. They supported the Comsat Angels. Depeche Mode's support act was The Fixx.
Terry Murphy recollected in 2006:
I was always looking for new sounds, having started my record company. Then I get this tape from a band called Composition of Sound that was included in a batch of around 20, which I got daily. I quite liked the name, so I played it in my office at the Bridgehouse. I would always have a few of my staff with me to get their opinion. Nobody liked it, except me. I thought it was different and more so, adventurous, because anyone with the guts to send this type of music to a rock pub must be brave and got what it takes to make it. So I told my assistant to book them, give them a gig. My thinking at that time was they come from Basildon, which is down the A13, it was one straight road then and I thought they might fetch a crowd with them. No such luck, only about 20 people came to see them. The pub was capable of packing in over 1000 people, so you can imagine how empty it looked. I spoke to them after the gig giving them their £15.00 fee. Dave said we will definitely pull more of a crowd if you will give us another gig, Vince said yes we have got a residence at Crocs in Rayleigh and they will all come down. I said I did like the band and I will give you some support slots to build a crowd up. This I did and one of the bands I thought would be perfect for them to support was Fad Gadget...”
“When the band played their first gig for me, I am pretty sure that I had advertised it as Composition of Sound. I would put posters all around the pub with the forthcoming attractions, Saturday... Sun... and so on. After the band arrived for their first gig at the Bridgehouse, Andy came and told me that the name they we’re going to use in the future was Depeche Mode. I said, “That’s a French name isn’t it?” He agreed, saying “we got it out of a magazine”. I said, “Good, wish you luck with it”. I carried on talking to them, trying to get the feel of their ambition. Dave told me that he was a regular at the Bridgehouse when Wasted Youth played, it was one of his favourite bands. Darren, the bass player in Wasted Youth, is my son and lived with us above the pub. Lucky his band was having a rest that day, so I called him down to meet and watch the band. He would be able to give me some ideas about the band. I introduced him to Dave who was very pleased to meet one of the band members of his favourite band. Wasted Youth were headlining all over England; Marque, Lyceum, Rainbow, The Venue, everywhere. After the gig Darren said to me that he thought the band (Depeche Mode) was great and I should get them to record for Bridgehouse Records. He said to me, “Next time we play here, give them the support.” Darren also said he would put the word around when they were playing. He also would give out free tickets to their fans to come to the Bridge to see Depeche Mode. This I did not know till much later, so well done Darren, he was a big help in building up the band, but cost me a nice few quid as well.”
Vince Clarke's friend Gary Smith remembers in Jonathan Miller's "Stripped" biography:
"[...] So [Vince and I] rang [Terry Murphy] and he said, 'Yeah, by all means come along.' He only gave [Depeche Mode] a chance for one night, so we got as many people as we could to go down there, and they were a big success! This guy said, 'At least you filled the place out; you can come back next week!'"
Vince Clarke said in the same biography: "[Comsat Angels] were actually better than us. When you're that sort of age, you say you were better, but actually they were probably a lot better."
The second Bridge House gig. Their payment got upgraded from £15 to £20.
A poster for this concert (go to the concert's page to see it) was once uploaded by Daryl Bamonte, and then shared on Facebook page 'Depeche Mode Information Service - 1981', where Dave Gahan's brother Phil stated that it was Dave Gahan himself who made this poster. The photo in the poster is the first photo of the band. It was taken by Martin's and Vince's friend Mark Crick. He says in Simon Spence's 2011 DM biography that it was taken in the Trinity Methodist Church in Basildon.
This concert is said by authors to have been the first gig under the "Depeche Mode" moniker: this is false, because an ad shows that this first happened a month prior at the Bridge House.
Dee Dye, who also studied at Southend College Of Technology like Dave and was an acquaintance of him, said in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' biography:
"We travelled to the gig in the back of the van with [Depeche Mode's] equipment. The mood [at Ronnie Scott's] before the gig was quite tense - Dave getting anxious because he knew that there were record company people about; Vince being cool and more concerned with his 'electrickery' as he called it. There seemed to be plenty of pacing about, beers flowing. From what I remember, the gig itself was as good as it should have been. We dance our jerky dances, whooped and cheered at the songs, and encouraged a few others in the audience to sway and tap their feet. Looking moody was the order of the day. After they did their set, Dave was pretty hyped up - he had a good feeling about that night, he said."
Another friend of Dave, Tracy Rivers, attended this concert, and said in Simon Spence's 2011 DM biography:
"I went with Boy George. I said to George: you've got to come and see my mate Dave play. It was a tiny little room at the top of Ronnie Scott's and there weren't many people there. I remember Dave coming over afterward and saying: what do you think, Trace? And I said: oh brilliant, you're going to be stars. And the next minute they were..."
Dave Gahan remembers in a 1981 issue of the NME that the lights went out during this gig.
This is the earliest genuine recording of Depeche Mode that is currently circulating, and it is also the earliest of two recordings currently circulating and available to download from the 1980 Tour. The other recording is 1980-11-14 Technical College, Southend-On-Sea, Essex, England, UK.
The band plays the Bridge House no less than 11 times between 1980 and 1982, with 7 of them being in 1980. Terry Murphy, the owner of the Bridge House, gave Depeche Mode the opportunity to play often at the Bridge House. This concert was:
- the 17th concert of Depeche Mode / Composition Of Sound
- the 13th concert with Dave Gahan in the band
- the 5th concert under the name "Depeche Mode"
- the 4th concert at the Bridge House
Included in the setlist are two tracks which were only performed during Depeche Mode's 1980 tour: Tomorrow's Dance and Reason Man. It is assumed Vince wrote these tracks, but that has not been confirmed. I asked Deb Danahay Mann, Vince Clarke's former girlfriend, if she knew any details regarding these songs, but she is unfamiliar with them. You can find lyrics for Tomorrow's Dance and Reason Man if you click on their song titles.
The track Television Set, written by Jason Knott (a friend of Vince's), was also part of the setlist as it often was between 1980 through the end of the 1982 See You Tour. Lyrics and a short snippet of Vince's original demo are available here. Deb Danahay Mann confirmed that the track does not appear on "Speak & Spell" or a single release because it was not penned by Vince or Martin. I think it is a great song and wish it made an appearance as a B-side, at the very least. The Price Of Love also appeared throughout the 1980 and 1981 tours. The track was written by The Everly Brothers. Click on the song title to learn more information.
Dave introduces the final song of the setlist, Dreaming Of Me, as "Dreams Of Me", as early setlist photos also called it. This song went on to become Depeche Mode's first single, released on February 20, 1981.
Depeche Mode's final performance at the Bridge House will be a secret gig under the alias of "Modepeche" during their See You Tour tour on February 27, 1982. More details along with a stream & download of a good audience recording from that night can be found here.
This was the first time that Daniel Miller saw Depeche Mode live. Daniel Miller had already seen Vince and Dave before: the two of them went to Rough Trade's office with their demo cassette, but got forwarded to Daniel Miller's little Mute office within the same building, but Daniel basically ignored them. Daniel in Uncut magazine, May 2001: "It wasn't that I wasn't impressed, I didn't actually listen. I was in the middle of something else, they wanted to play me stuff, and I said I can't listen to it now. I just thought they looked like dodgy New Romantics. I didn't even hear the music at that point. The first time I heard the music was at [1980-11-12, Bridge House]. I didn't even associate them as being the same group." Miller says in 1997: "They've continued to remind me of this [mistake] ever since!"
Miller explains it better in 2011 (translated):
"On the day that Fad Gadget's first album was released I was in a terribly bad mood, because the pressing plant had messed up the album cover. Suddenly I was standing at my desk in [the building of] record label "Rough Trade", which I was allowed to use, because I couldn't afford a place of my own, with [Rough Trade] colleague Scott and some weird guys [Vince and Dave]. He said: "Listen to this band, you might like it." He didn't mention their names. With the misprinted album cover in mind, I had other stuff on my mind and walked way without saying a word. The next time I saw Depeche Mode was not much later at the Bridge House, run by Terry Murphy, a pretty shady ex-boxer, who booked quite good bands. Fad Gadget was going to play there, and he had hooked up these guys from Basildon as the support act. I was occupied by Fad Gadget's sound, and normally I would have missed out on Depeche Mode, because I usually would go out to eat during the soundcheck, just to return right in time for the show. I can't remember why I didn't do so that night. But anyway, I didn't mind it when suddenly these four guys started playing. The guy from Naked Lunch was standing next to me. We listened to the first song and both thought: "Wow, that's good." And so it continued. Even more interesting was the crowd's reaction: it clicked immediately. The people were dancing and didn't even look at the band. Dave was still very shy. He stood very still, sang the lyrics and didn't move and inch, and yet, the spark flew over. After the show, I introduced myself to the band and said how much I had liked their performance. But of course I had no idea that they were still pissed off about me. Vince and the others had not forgotten about our meeting at Rough Trade and so they reacted really cool. I tried to have some small talk with Fletch and asked him what music he liked. His reply: "Anything that’s fashionable." Someone else replied to that: "No, Fletch, you listen to ELO." Before I went home I asked them where they would play next time. Dave gave me his parents' phone number. When I called the next day, his mother was on the phone. She then put Dave on the phone, whose bad mood was not to be missed. He only mumbled: "Okay, fair enough. You can come to our next gig.""
Dave Gahan said in the documentary for the Speak & Spell remaster DVD from 2006:
We knew [Daniel Miller] was there, because, I think, he was mixing Fad's found. It was a big crowd, it was full up, and Daniel came up afterwards and came up to me, thinking at the time that I was writing the songs or something. And I said, 'No, that's the guy over in the corner there.' He sat down with Vince, he was talking to him for a while, but I kinda gave him the cold shoulder, I think I told him to fuck off, actually, at the time. But he came back again and again.
Daniel Miller also recalled in 2013:
"I first saw Depeche Mode play live when they were supporting another band on Mute, Fad Gadget, at a pub in the East End of London called The Bridge House in Canning Town, roughly October 1980. I thought they were amazing. It was one of those moments when you can’t quite believe what you’re hearing or seeing. It was just three kids, really—two of them were 18, Dave was 17, and Vince was 19. They had these kind of New Romantic clothes and dodgy haircuts. And they had three simple, monophonic synthesizers teetering on the edge of beer crates. Dave had a little uplight thing to make him look gothic or spooky or something. They had a little drum machine to do the rhythms, and Dave just stood completely still throughout the whole concert. I can’t remember which song they played first; I thought, “This is amazing, but they probably just played their best song first and the rest is going to be not very good,” but it just got better and better. They were great pop songs. They were really well structured and really well arranged, based on just a drum machine and three monophonic synthesizers. The melodies, the counter-melodies to the vocals were great. It was kind of perfect, almost. Perfect in my head for what I wanted. So, afterwards, I went backstage and said, “When are you playing again, I’d love to see you again.” They were playing The Bridge House following week supporting somebody else, so I went back to see them."
Terry Murphy, owner of the Bridge House, recollected in 2006:
So we continued to promote [DM] for the next few months. [...] I was always looking for something a bit different. And I noticed in the music press that Fad Gadget were doing the rounds and getting some rave reviews. I really wanted to book them. I had seen them when they supported Wasted Youth at the Lyceum in the West End of London, so I kept an eye on the music press. Then I read that the front man’s name was Frank Tovey, the same name as one of my good friends from our working days in the Fish Market. He was also a best friend of my brother-in-law, Joe Lucy, who ran a pub gig at The Ruskin Arms in East Ham E6. I rang Joe and got Frank’s number. I called him and asked about Frank Tovey. He tells me, “He’s my son. Don’t you remember? You played with him enough when you fetched your kids around my house in Stepney.” I said, “Yes, but why did you not tell me that he had a band?” So Frank, Sr. gave me his agent’s name. I phoned him. “Yes, they would be delighted to play the Bridge.” Fad Gadget were really an up-and-coming band, and an ideal band for Depeche Mode to support... young, trendy and hip. Perfect. I ring Dave’s house and once again spoke to his mother, who was always very nice and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble [for her]. And she would always write down what I said, so as not to make any mistakes. Dave Gahan was never in whenever I phoned, but he always got back within an hour or so. When I told him Fad Gadget was playing and they could support him, he screamed out with pleasure. The night arrives, and it was going to be a good one. We never opened until 7pm, but we would let in the band at 5pm so they could set up all their instruments. Without fail, Andy Fletcher was always first to arrive. I think he was working in central London, and on finishing work, came straight to the Bridgehouse. The rest of the guys came from Basildon. The A13 was always busy that time of night, so they were always a little bit late. Not Andy... he would be banging on the back door, waking me up from my afternoon snooze.”
Steve Fisher recollected in 2006:
I think Wasted Youth and John must have been on tour, as I was hanging about in the office with [Terry Murphy] before opening up. We got into conversation about Depeche Mode who were headlining that night, and then about Fad Gadget who were headlining later that month, one of us or both of us thought we should see if Depeche wanted the support gig. Being the boy I got sent down to ask, I can remember like it was yesterday getting up on stage while the band were setting up and having a chat, I asked them if they fancied the gig, 3 members played it very cool and strugged, Vince meanwhile grinned like a Cheshire cat and replied something very close to “bloody hell, yeah!!” at which point I spotted out of the corner of my eye the other guys clenching fists in a subdued celebratory fashion. When the gig came about, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) did it dressed, I think as a Womble, right at the front of the stage for the whole gig was one Stinky Turner (lead singer with “Cockney Reject”), who stood totally transfixed by this site. So the night was here. Was I right to put Depeche on with Fad Gadget? We had no problem except trying to calm down Frank Tovey. He was so active, even during the rehearsal when there were no customers. He really put 200% into it. It was also nice to see his brother, who was a really good boxer and was there with my son Glen and Ray Winstone, members of the Repton Boxing Club. The gig went off perfectly, and because of the good feeling to the evening, Depeche did not want to come off stage. They even got an encore and came back on, which is unheard of for the support act. Frank said to me, “Let them go back on again, as many times as they like!” A true professional, Frank was. When [Fad Gadget] came on the audience erupted. He was diving all over the place... in the crowd, on the bar, smashing all the glasses. Standing at the back, I thought there was riot happening and ran round to the back stage area. I was delighted to see everybody laughing and cheering. I was introduced to Daniel Miller, from Mute Records. He was also a recording artist himself. He told me he was impressed with Depeche Mode. I told him we were going in the studio soon to get some tracks down. He was interested in that. I said I would send a copy of the recording to him when they were finished. He replied “that would be nice". We never got to get Depeche in the studio. We were very busy at the pub. The record company was releasing two albums and four singles. Wasted Youth were on a European tour so things were very hectic. Daniel spoke to the band and got them in the studio. Because of Bridgehouse Records, he did it as a one off, with no contract exchanged. So he was very fair to me. A bit different from a guy who I had given a Thursday night to for new bands, and who booked one of my regular studios, John Bassetts in Forest Gate, and recorded a compilation that included Depeche Mode’s first recording, which should have been mine. Sum Bizarrely [ed: Some Bizarre], I think the label was called.
The second earliest genuine recording of Depeche Mode currently circulating. I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead sounds radically different from later live versions and the studio version; you can listen to the entire track on the recording's subpage.
Larry Moore, part of the Student Union at Southend College Of Technology, organised a night of live music on this night. He explained in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' biography:
"Top of the bill were 'The Leapers', of whom great things were expected and who were regularly featured in the [Basildon] Evening Echo's music column. 'No. 6' was also on the bill somewhere... Depeche Mode was third from the top of the bill; they were by far the best. After the gig, I was handing out the curry takeaway riders in the sports changing room and I asked Dave Gahan if, as they were so good, they would like to come back and do another gig. Gahan glared at me and said that they would, but only if they were the headline act. 'Huh', I snorted, as I turned away. 'You're not THAT good!' Hence, I became the guy who knocked them back as not good enough to headline Southend College. I think I had a point!"
According to fan Ian Harding who attended the concert, it was a band called 'The Regulators' who headlined, and his ticket stub says the same.
This concert is another previously unknown one, found in Martin's scrapbook shown in the "Making The Universe" short film and in an NME advert. Thanks to Michael Rose for the discovery. Zeitgeist was the support act.
"I took a couple of people with me including NON – Boyd Rice – who was a big pop fan, and my first employee, Hildi Svengard. They both said: ‘Daniel, you’ve got to do this.’ I went back and said to the band: ‘Do you fancy doing a single?’ They basically said, “Okay.” I just said, “We’ll do a one-off single and see how it goes.”"
Daniel Miller and Daryl Bamonte explained this moment a bit better in 2011 (translated):
Daniel Miller: "At [this] concert at the Bridge House, I then met Stevo Pearce in the crowd. He was also interested in Depeche and wanted to bring them to his label Some Bizarre. I had already met Soft Cell before I saw the Depeche guys for the first time, and was still not sure if I wanted to work with them. Stevo said to me: "Okay, I'll take Soft Cell, you take Depeche." After the concert, I met the guys and proposed to them to record a single with them. We sealed the deal with a handshake. No contract, no attorneys, fifty-fifty. By the way, that's how we kept it until '89/'90: until then, no written contract between Mute and Depeche Mode existed."
Daryl Bamonte: "After Daniel had offered the boys a single-deal, we drove home, and no one said a word. Nothing. No screaming, no drinking. Andy and Martin simply went to work the next morning, as if nothing happened."
Vince Clarke remembers the competition between Stevo Pearce and Daniel Miller in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' biography:
"[...] Stevo came backstage and said, 'Look, we're doing the Some Bizzare tour, are you interested in doing it? And are you interested in signing to Some Bizzare?' Then Daniel [Miller] came back as well; we kind of knew him because of 'T.V.O.D.' [the B-side of 'Warm Leatherette']. It was a case of [going with] either. Stevo said, 'Look, if you sign with Some Bizzare, I can get you a support slot with Ultravox.' So it was a real heavy — duty decision, you know! But we decided, for some reason, that we'd go with Daniel. And then Daniel said, 'We'll just do a single.' We would have signed any deal, we just wanted to put a record out," said Vince. "The band unanimously conceded that Daniel Miller was the first one that we could trust; he said that if either party didn't like the other, we'd call it a day."
Daniel Miller, giving details on the proposal, in 2001:
"There was some kind of conversation, with me saying ‘you could be a pretty big pop band, what you’re doing is fantastic, it’s really new but it’s still pop. We’ve never had a pop hit. But I really believe in what you do. Let’s put out a single and see how it goes. I don’t want to tie you down to anything more than that because I don’t know what I can do.’ That was it really, it was as simple as that."
Depeche Mode agreed with Stevo Pearce to record a song for his Some Bizarre compilation album in December 1980. Photographic was recorded at Stage One recording studios, owned by John Bassett, located at 14 Sebert Road, Forest Gate, London E7 0NP. The studio was presumably Stevo Pearce's suggestion.
This was advertisted as a 'Futurist Night'.
This was advertised as "a private party", for reasons unknown.
Deb Danahay's husband Martin Mann went to this concert, and recalled to Jonathan Miller for his 'Stripped' biography:
"I was in the dressing room with [Depeche Mode] before they went on. There was a band on before them called Industrial [Muzic], and they were really heavy. I remember saying, 'They're a bit too industrial for me, this lot' - sort of like a punky, heavy -metal- type band. Then [Depeche Mode] came on, which was totally different. They started the old drum machine up, but it was playing up and stopped at one point, and someone at the back shouted, 'Put another 50p in the machine!' But they were great; I can still remember some of the songs that they played that never went on to record."
Info about 1981 gigs
Depeche Mode supported Blancmange. It was very well possible that Depeche Mode was supposed to be the main act, since they were listed as such on the advertisement bills. But it may have been explained by on Neil Arthur from Blancmange, who told BBC 6 Radio on 2017-08-02: "[...] Daniel Miller from Mute, he was looking after Depeche Mode, he came over and said, "Do you mind going on last?" We say, "Oh no, we don't mind, Depeche Mode will go on first, we go on after them. Why is that?" He says, "Because they got to get the train back to Basildon.""
Daniel Miller recollected in 2015:
"I remember, typical of the British press, that there was an article [on the next wave of supposed New Romantics]. Depeche did a gig at The Hope & Anchor in Islington: Roger Ames came down, so did Chris Briggs – all these major label A&Rs were there, all trying to sign the band. At the end of the gig, I went backstage and all these people were already in the dressing room saying: ‘Mute’s a nice little label, but they’ll never get you any success. There’s only two people working for it.’"
This concert is not mentioned in the official tour dates list, however, in BONG magazine issue #12 it is said that DM played on this date (while also saying that Alan Wilder played with The Hitmen at this venue the night before). Moreover, a concert advertisement appeared in NME at the time, confirming this. This gig was probably organised by Stevo Pearce, in the run up to the release of the 'Some Bizzare' album. DM supported Naked Lunch on this night, who were also featured on the 'Some Bizzare' album. There were other gigs organised by Stevo featuring artists to be included on this album, such as Blancmange and Depeche Mode at the same venue on 11th January 1981.
DM also seem to have played another gig on this day, 1981-01-23 Rascals, Southend-On-Sea, Essex, England, UK.
At first glance, this concert seems to conflict with 1981-01-23 Hope 'N' Anchor. However, photographic evidence by Steve Burton as well as confirmation from Daryl Bamonte's old records show that this concert did take place. DM peformed once before in this venue when it was still called Scamps, see 1980-06-05 Scamps, Southend-On-Sea, Essex, England, UK. (Thanks to Facebook group 'Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos' for this research.)
Gary Turner, the DJ at Crocs, was now part of Rascals too. Dave Gahan said in spring 1981: "Gary's now opened a second club, Rascals in Southend on a Friday night. We did the first night, five weeks ago. There's more than enough interest to support two clubs, in that area."
This concert was part of the 'Some Bizzare' evenings run by Stevo Pearce.
This concert was part of the 'Some Bizzare' evenings run by Stevo Pearce. As per this flyer, this concert was originally scheduled to take place at the Electro Disco. The Loved One was the support act.
This concert was part of the 'Some Bizzare' evenings run by Stevo Pearce. Eric Random (assisted by Stephen Mallinder as the mixer) and The Loved One were the support acts.
Fletcher and Gahan remember this gig and the Leeds gig in the 1981-10-24 issue of 'Look In'::
Andy: "[S]ometimes I don't enjoy gigs. Up North it's such a struggle. They're different to Southern audiences. They don't react because they don't know our stuff. They go wild at the end though."
Dave: "I think it's just the way Northern people are. They listen to it more, take it in more. But in London they just go mad from the start!"
Ex-Blitz kids Steve Strange and Rusty Egan organised a "People's Palace St. Valentine's Ball" at the Rainbow. Vince Clarke managed to secure this gig, and Depeche Mode were paid £50. Depeche Mode was the opening act, followed by Ronny, groups Shock and Metro, and Ultravox was the main act. Naked Lunch was also supposed to perform but cancelled due to some kind of stage accident that happened before. Marc Almond from Soft Cell was in attendance.
An uncredited DM member said in fanzine "Stand & Deliver", published in June 1982:
"We played at the People's Palace thing in London a while ago which was supposed to be a futurist thing. We thought the idea was really good, to have all these people into the same thing, under one roof for a night but with Ultravox as the surprise guests, it turned into just another Ultravox concert."
Andy Fletcher said to Trouser Press in May 1982, "When we supported Ultravox at the Rainbow, they were soundchecking for about five hours."
Spoken-word artist Anne Clark with musical support from the band A Cruel Memory, and The Event Group were the support acts for this gig. Spoken-word artist Richard Jobson performed "India Song" immediately preceding Depeche Mode's performance.
"I occasionally listen to the 24-track tapes we recorded [at Cabaret Futura]. One of my favourites is of Depeche Mode, all cherubic-faced and full of nervy swagger as they tried out their first songs, wonderful three-minute anthems such as New Life, Factory [Ice Machine] or Dreaming of Me. The first time I played the tapes back I was puzzled by what seemed to be a splashing sound on one of the tracks. Then I remembered it was the night that The Event Group did something unspeakable with hoses and fake urine on the balcony while the band played underneath."
As Richard Strange noted in his bio on Vimeo, he paid the band £15 for a half hour set. He also quotes Depeche Mode as having said:
"What's really looking forward is what's happening at Richard Strange's Cabaret Futura, not us."
In June 2018, Richard said that the band's performance "was always one of the highlights of Cabaret Futura's history."
DJ Rusty Egan told Trevor Baker:
"I met Depeche Mode at that gig, and thought they were new and original and brilliant and went mad and tried to sign them, make them stars. So I started this bit about, 'I love you, I want you to play for me, I want you to do this, I want you to do that.'"
According to Baker, Egan then invited DM to play at his club Flicks in Dartford.
Depeche Mode supported The Passions. Different advertisements list, next to Depeche Mode and The Passions, support acts Modern Man, The Associates, Il Y A Volkswagens. It would appear that The Associates got cancelled first, replaced by Modern Man, and then Il Y A Volkswagens got cancelled too. DM was probably second on the bill, after Modern Man.
In October 1982, Dave Gahan told Flexipop magazine that this was the "best gig" so far.
Rusty Egan invited Depeche Mode to play on this night at his club Flicks, after having met them at The Rainbow.
This was the second gig at Dave's college. By this time, Dave was "politely urged to leave" his school due to a poor attendance record. It is surprising that DM returned to this college for a second time, since the a member of the student union said after the first gig that he refused to make them the headline act.
This seems to have been some private party or some other function that Depeche Mode were invited to perform at. No details about the set list are known at this time.
Daryl Bamonte has told Depechemode-live.com in 2018: "I think this was something to do with Sonet, a company which published Vince and Martin['s songs]. The main guy was called Rod Buckle. But I can't remember what it was for."
The occurrence of this concert has been first discovered in August 2016 by yours truly and Michael Rose, as administrators of the Facebook group 'Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos'. Through Facebook's Graph Search, we found a photo album on the Facebook profile of a person named Roz Bea, who seems to have collected several clippings about concerts that happened at The Embassy, including one by Depeche Mode. Mr. Rose has then dived into his extensive magazine collection, and managed to find "fairly conclusive evidence" that this concert took place on April 21st 1981.
All three clippings only focused on the (then-)well-known names that attended the gig, which were: Charlie Harper, Gary Numan, Department S, Nicky Tesco, Rose Tattoo, Scars, Holly And The Italians, Rusty Egan, The Yachts, Tony Hadley, Ramona Carlier, Clem Burke, Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, members of Siouxsie and the Banshees, members of Spizzles, and Bethan Peters.
The Three Laws was the support act. Synth player Steve Pond said: "When we got to the Cedar Club gig, the PA didn't have any DI boxes which you needed to plug the synths into. The sound man said DM had some so I wandered over to Vince, and said "can we borrow your DI boxes?" Vince: "If we can borrow your light show." The deal was struck. We used their DI boxes and they had our big white sheet and liquid light show. But we took the gels out, so DM had a Bowie-esque white-light-only light show that night."
This night was organised by Mute, called the 'Mute Night Silent Night'. Furious Pig, Palais Schaumberg, NON, Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget played in that order.
Daniel Miller told the NME beforehand:
"I fought against the idea of a Mute night for years. There were all these Rough Trade tours and Factory nights – I hate all that corporate idea. But Fad Gadget and Depeche Mode wanted it, [Lyceum's promotor] John Curd phoned me up and in a moment of weakness I said yes. There aren’t even enough Mute bands to fill the whole bill!"
Jäki Eldorado, tour manager for DAF and tour manager for DM's first tour in Germany, said:
"I went with Palais Schaumburg to the first Mute festival in London. Called 'Mute Night, Silent Night at the Lyceum', the event took place on one Sunday in April in '81. Frank Tovey, a.k.a. Fad Gadget, headlined, and I met Depeche Mode there for the first time. Boyd Rice had not received a visa for England so he instead played over the telephone. He punished the audience with his white noise and everything, and all done over the phone. Next on the bill was Depeche Mode, who looked exactly like their own fans; they'd secured a support slot with Daniel's help."
Thomas Fehlmann elaborates:
"I first met Depeche Mode in 1981, when they'd just released the first or second single. Daniel Miller had invited the band I was in at the time, Palais Schaumburg, over to England to play the Mute Night, Silent Night at the Lyceum. The headliner was Fad Gadget; we played first, then Boyd Rice did a contribution over the phone from America — which I think went over the heads of the audience because it was just some static noise and some noise noise — then Depeche Mode, then Frank [Tovey, Fad Gadget]. It was the same day that Computer World by Kraftwerk was released and we all had the record under our arms, keen to get it on the turntable. Obviously, meeting Depeche Mode at this point in their career felt like a normal thing, there was nothing spectacular to be thought of it; you couldn't predict the kind of obverse curve they would take with their music, their career, not in the slightest. This was the first time that I heard their music too, and I wasn’t even super hot on it; these were the first singles which were super electro-pop. But because of Daniel, we certainly had an open mind. We felt that he had something to contribute to the world of music. And we were very pleased that he asked us to go over, it was our first gig in England, and therefore a happy meeting, but as I said it wasn’t really something dramatic."
Seymour Stein, co-founder of Sire Records, has attended this concert. He has written in his autobiography 'Siren Song':
"In the early hours of April 28, 1981, I was wide awake in bed, reading a copy of NME, when one review glowed in the dark. Its headline read 'Basildon à la Mode' and profiled a new English group named after French fashion magazine 'Depeche Mode'. This was the kind of reading that'd usually slip you into the Land of Nod, but what kept me up all night was the name of their producer, Damiel Miller, the guy I'd first met in Rough Trade three years before. Since then, I'd released his second record, under the name Silicon Teens, a pretend group that was all his work. It hadn't sold much either, but I thought the guy had brilliant ideas. It was about 2AM, but alarm bells were ringing. I knew enough about Daniel Miller to know that if he was taking the giant leap from artist to producer, this new group had to be exceptional. The other detail that gave me the heebie-jeebies was the date of the article. I'd just picked up whatever was next to my bed, but when I examined the cover, this copy of NME was three weeks old - an eternity in A&R time. So, at 10AM English time, I called my man in London, Paul McNally, to find out if Depeche Mode's American rights had been signed. He called me back saying that no, America was still up for grabs and that Depeche Mode were playing that night in some nightclubs in Essex, about an hour east of London. I called up British Airways and booked a seat on the next Concord - eight grand, an obscene amounth of cash in those days, but I smelled something cooking. With the five-hour time difference, it was already evening in England when my flight landed. Paul was waiting in arrivals and drove us straight to Basildon, a dead suburb where we had to ask directions to the concrete box of discotheque called Sweeney's. In the crowd of about two hundred kids, I saw Daniel Miller standing behind the mixing desk; he was the gig's soundman. There wasn't even a dressing room, and the boys were getting changed in a stairwell, where I dropped by to say hello. This was their local nightclub, they hadn't even put out a single yet, and here I was, in their teenage eyes a powerful record executive who'd just flown in from New York City by Concorde. God knows what they were thinking. They got up and launched into what I can only describe as an electronic cabaret show. At that time, there were a few synth acts out, notably Gary Numan, who'd hit the big time with his 1980 smash 'Cars'. There was Visage, OMD, and others, but any time I'd seen any of these so-called new romantics in concert, I couldn't keep my eyes open. Synthesizers created impressive soundscapes on record, but keeping a crowd bopping for over an hour is a very different business. To my delight, Depeche Mode weren't standing around looking enigmatic in heavy makeup; they had bubbling rhythms, singable tunes, and a dancing singer who put in the effort to entertain his crowd. I looked around and thought, 'If all these Essex kids are dancing like this all night, then surely Depeche Mode could be big all over England.' Of course, there's only so much you can take in when you see a band for the first time, especially when you've just stepped off a plane and haven't slept in two days. I'd love to be able to say that I had visions of Depeche Mode selling out football stadiums across the world. I didn't. I mean, you really couldn't. They were four teenagers poking synths in a dump in the English suburbs. Getting on Top Of The Pops was probably the sum total of their own wildest fantasies. Truth is, when I booked that plane ticket, I was banking on Daniel Miller. Deep down, I just knew he and his Mute label were headed for major success. Sometimes it's bands, sometimes it's the people behind them, and if you're very lucky, it's both."
He also said in Simon Spence's DM biography:
"[...] I said: Daniel, I want to sign this band. Rod Buckle was there. We did a deal right there. I was very excited. I knew I had signed a band that would become very important. I just felt it in my gut. I remember feeling so good about it."
Andy Fletcher said in the March 1993 issue of American 'Raygun' Magazine:
"Seymour Stein supported us from the very beginning. He was actually there before Stevo [Some Bizarre] and Daniel. He came to see us in some small club in Basildon. Here was this big U.S. record company president that signed the Talking Heads and the Pretenders coming to this small club that held about 150 people. We didn't even have a dressing room. We had to meet him on the stairway. He signed us from that first single. He's quite an incredible character. Warner Bros has been really good for us [in America]."
Martin Gore said in the documentary for the Speak and Spell remaster DVD in 2006:
Martin: "We were really shocked that someone from New York would bother to come all the way to Basildon to see us."
Daryl Bamonte in Steve Malins' Depeche Mode biography:
"He came to Sweeney's disco in Basildon in late April '81. This New York guy who'd discovered Madonna - he came to Basildon! Sweeney's wasn't a very leftfield kind of place. It was a full-on Basildon disco but the manager of the place realised Depeche Mode were happening. The band love characters and Seymour Stein was a riot. I remember he took us out for a Chinese dinner and held court with all these fantastic stories about the music business. He became very fond of the group and felt very involved in them, although once they became big the Warner Brothers machine started to take over."
Vince Clarke remembers in Jonathan Miller's biography:
"When Daniel was sorting out different deals for us in Europe, Mute wanted to get an American deal, so Seymour flew over to a gig in Basildon. He said, 'By the way I like that song 'The Price Of Love' that you do - it's REALLY good!'"
It is most likely that Anton Corbijn's brother Maarten (also a photographer) traveled to this concert to shoot some photos for Dutch magazine "Vinyl", under his pseudonym "Kooos". That means that he shot DM about three months before his big brother did (which was for the cover of the August 22nd 1981 issue of the NME).
Tim Michael Williams, a Basildon photographer, says:
"When Depeche Mode had played [on this night] at what was billed as a 'Futurist Night', the venue was barely a quarter full. On that night many of the people attending had been photographed and appeared in the early issues of Style magazine I.D. The futurist subculture had just become mainstream."
Andy Fletcher's sister Sue wrote in a Facebook group:
"I remember sneaking my mum in there. Andy was nervous and said he didn't want mum there, but hey, she had a great time, and Depeche Mode were great [...]"
Depeche Mode and Shock were listed as a double bill for this night in the advertisements, with Furious Pig as the support act. According to Essex photographer Tim Michael Williams, Furious Pig got replaced by Siam this night.
Depeche Mode (as well as an unknown band named 'Siam') were the support act for The Psychedelic Furs. They supported The Psychedelic Furs again in 1983-03-26).
Here is BBC Radio 6 Music's host Tom Robinson's memory of this night:
Back then I used to read the NME religiously from cover to cover, and early in 1981 their single of the week was an indie release by a new young all-synth band called Depeche Mode. The gig guide showed they were opening for The Psychedelic Furs at Hammersmith Palais that week and I bought myself a ticket. The Furs were a big noise back then, with a debut album on CBS Records, posters everywhere and gigging on a grand scale thanks to lavish tour support from their label.
The Palais was rammed with their fans, and the support band had been crammed into a small apron of stage, hemmed in my giant amplifiers, guitar stands, PA stacks, monitors, keyboards, drum risers and - at the back of the stage - a SuperTrooper followspot mounted on a stand like a machinegun.
Depeche Mode turned out to be four small shy skinny youths with three cheap bottom-of-the-range synths on makeshift stands and no backline at all. There was no sign of Vince's drum machine - instead at the front of the stage Dave Gahan had a radio cassette recorder that was wired into the PA system. As he announced each song, he would pull a cassette out of his shirt pocket, put it in the machine and out would come a plinky DR-55 drum pattern at exactly the right speed. A foolproof lo-tech solution to the tempo problem.
Their sound was young, fresh, sexy and quite unlike anything I'd seen or heard before. The Furs were as heavy dull and predictable as a Sherman tank and after two numbers I slipped away. As to what happened next... New Life went to number 11 that month on the unknown indie label Mute - while later in the year, for all the Furs' touring and promotional push, Pretty in Pink failed to even dent the UK Top 40.
This session was originally recorded for Richard Skinner and broadcast on BBC Radio 1.
Excerpts of playback performances of New Life and "Shout" were broadcast on the following episode of "20th Century Box":
Robert Marlow said in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' biography:
"[Daniel Miller] struck me as painfully shy [...]. But the bloke who ran Crocs, who was a bit of a ducker and diver, wouldn't pay Depeche Mode. They'd pulled a lot of people in there, so Daniel apparently pulled him over the bar! I just can't imagine it, because Dave was always ready to give someone a dig, but Vince swears it's true!"
Apparently, Tony Mayo of Naked Lunch suggested to 20th Century Box that they should feature Depeche Mode on the same episode as them.
The Three Laws was the support act.
This concert was Depeche Mode's first London concert following the huge success of New Life and was a compete sell-out. It also happened to be Martin Gore's 20th birthday.
The concert was notable for a number of reasons. It was the first time the band wore their new stage costumes put together by Vince Clarke's mother. Prior to this, the band had basically worn whatever they fancied, with leather jackets and leather jeans being the most common. Only Dave had regularly made a point of dressing up in a stylish way. Vince had decided that the band should look more professional with smart fashionable outfits.
This concert also saw the unveiling of the first new songs to the bands set since the beginning of the year. Dave announced the 2 new songs as "Operator" and "Pretty Boy". By Autumn and the release of the debut album Speak & Spell, these titles had been changed to Puppets and What's Your Name?, respectively. This information is mentioned in the Smash Hits magazine, issue October 1, 1981 review by Mark Ellen who attended the gig at 1981-09-19 The Venue, London, England, UK.
The night also had the first ever real example of fanaticism in the ranks of Depeche Mode fans. One young woman managed to climb onto the stage and grab and hug Dave before being bundled away by a member of the stage crew.
The first concert outside the UK. A local band called Check The Computer played before DM, and DM played before Tuxedomoon.
This concert had the same "metallic" intro that was played at 1981-08-02 Jenkinsons, Brighton, England, UK (which has a complete recording available to stream & download). The intro sounds like a slowed down version of Shout.
In the documentary on the DVD in the 'Sounds Of The Universe' boxset, Martin Gore stumbles upon a poster of this gig, and he and Daniel Miller have the following exchange:
Daniel: That was the first gig outside of the UK, wasn't it? Where I was told that it was gonna be 30,000 [people] or something?
Martin: Yeah. Daniel was telling us, "it's 30,000 people, we gotta get all the way to Holland."
Daniel: It was a festival.
Martin: Yeah. And it was like, 300 people. And half of them had come with us, because they thought they'd come to some huge festival in Holland!
Deb Danahay wrote for Electronic Sound magazine in 2013:
The stage at the Zuiderpark was on an island. It was surrounded by a moat and the only access was over a little bridge. The headliners of the event were Tuxedomoon, an experimental new wave band from California, who were very popular in the Netherlands and Belgium. They were also Andy Fletcher's favourite band and I remember Fletch was very excited that Depeche were sharing a stage with them. It was a lovely sunny day and the gig went without a hitch. The band got a great reception as they'd already managed to attract a number of Dutch fans.
Swie Tio had interviewed the band in 1981 for Dutch magazine in 'OOR'. In 2007, he remembered a nice anecdote (translated):
Question: Do you have any funny anecdotes from your career?
Swie: Depeche Mode were a long time ago [in 1981], when they were not so big, playing at Zuiderpark in The Hague. There was this open-air theatre in the middle of the park, with a little lake in front of it and behind that, the public can stand/sit. Clearly this is a super nice location. Before Depeche Mode started playing I did an interview with two of the band members. After a while they were getting a little fidgety and they suggested to go walking in Zuiderpark. We then did the the interview while walking. It was such an animated conversation that we totally did not pay attention to where we were walking and, you guessed it, we became totally lost. This was not so great since Depeche Mode had to go and perform. There were no passers-by to be seen. The only people we met were people who had no idea where the theatre was located. Eventually we arrived too late and the band members had to run to go on stage on time.
It is said by fans who attended this gig that some of Depeche Mode's crew (including Daryl Bamonte perhaps?) dived into the moat while 'Just Can't Get Enough' was being played.
Depeche Mode played a secret gig on this date. Photographer Tim Williams' recollected here:
The previous weeks, the 'New Musical Express' contained a cryptic clue in the regular 'Bridge House' block advert for forthcoming bands. For the 29th it said 'MODEPECHE: Dreaming of a new life'. I jokingly said to Martin Gore, "That's not very secret, I would have thought it was obvious". But clearly I was wrong because although there was a respectable turnout, maybe about 200 people, it was not a repeat of the mania of the previous week's sell out London 'Venue' concert. The 29th of July was a national holiday, the wedding day of 'Charles & Diana' and I spent the day looking forward to this unusual opportunity to see the now famous Depeche Mode back playing a small venue. Arriving at about 7:15pm, there was no sign of the band. Eventually the support act 'Voice of Reason' came on stage but there was still no sign of Depeche Mode. The band finally arrived having just recorded 'Top of the Pops' at BBC TV Centre in Shepherds Bush and had had a long and difficult journey across London. With the audience already in place they had to do a basic soundcheck in front of the assembled fans. It wasn't the first Depeche Mode soundcheck I had witnessed and it certainly wasn't the last but it was definitely the shortest. After a few minutes break they came back and with Dave's apology "sorry we were late" they launched into 'Television Set'.
Dave Gahan recounted to the NME in early August 1981 a strange conversation happening at a 'home gig', which is most likely to have taken place on this night:
"There was this bloke come to see us the other day and he said to me after the show – I think it's really bad the way you have all your friends in the audience talking to you and that, and then we’re all over here and you don’t react to us. I said well what do you mean? He said: I think it’s really bad that you have like all your friends in the changing room. I said well what do you want me to say c'mon all the audience into the changing room. He said – well have you got lots of friends? I said well I've got a few. He said – well I haven't got any. Well pity you mate! Isn't that a friend, a guy who was with him. He said – yeah he's a friend, but not a friend like that. It was really weird! I couldn't be bothered talking to him. He thought that we should be like Gary Numan and have the distant lonely look and image. Because we play synthesisers and we’re supposed to look strange at people, and not smile. The bloke didn’t like the way I smiled at people!"
There were two concerts played at this venue on this date: an early one at 5pm, and a late one at 8pm. A recording from this date exists, but it has not been verified if this is of the 5pm or 8pm concert. The recording contains two performances of Boys Say Go!, as the second and thirteenth song of the set list. Since the quote below states that the 8pm concert ended with 'The Price Of Love', it is likely that the recording is of the 5pm concert. This concert is also notable for having a complete recording of the "metallic" intro that sounds similar to a slowed down version of Shout.
Attendee Nick Linazasoro has said here on Facebook:
"The matinee show was for the younger fans and the evening was for the older ones. Luckily I blagged both. On entering the door on the left hand side, you walked in and the stage was in front of you but to the right, slightly. To your immediate right was the bar with a few chairs and tables. OMG, at the furthest table on the right were three of the band (no Martin Gore) with their girlfriends. I stood there behind them and then Dave Gahan's girlfriend lightly whacked Dave on his right arm as I had been hovering and he hadn't noticed. He turned and said "Oh Sorry!" to me - awesome! I got my half ticket stub signed by him Fletch and Vince Clark. It made my month! As far as I can recall, both sets were exactly the same, except at the end of the evening performance they added the Everly Brothers 'The Price Of Love', which I believe they never released! They started the set both times with 'Television Set', which I don't think got released either. One of the best gigs ever!"
Another attendee, David McLean, commented here on Facebook: "I think this was the [concert] where the tape for their drum machine broke." Since the audio recording contains no evidence of a drum machine breaking down, and since the recording is most likely of the 5pm concert, the mishap with the drum machine must have happened during the 8pm concert.
When Dave Gahan was asked in August 1983 about his most embarrassing moment thus far:
"Once, it was at Brighton Jenkinsons, I was thrown out of the dressing room with no clothes on, only my pants, and found myself right in the middle of the gig. I was banging on the door and there were all these people asking for my autograph. They let me back in after a while."
Steven Morrissey wrote this concert review for Record Mirror (allegedly, Morrissey was friends with support act Ludus):
Depeche Mode may not be the most remarkably boring group ever to walk the face of the earth, but they're certainly in the running. Their sophisticated nonsense succeeds only in emphasising just how hilariously unimaginative they really are. At once we recognise four coiffured Barry White's (a nauseating version); "cain't git enough of your lerve" they profess too dull to be even boring. They resurrect every murderously monotonous cliche known to modern man, and "New Life" looms as nothing more than a bland jelly-baby. Still the man from 'Jackie' was impressed, knowing that, at least, these boys have nice hair... and the conveyor belt moves along.
Ludus, plainly wishing they were elsewhere, hammered out a passionate set to an audience possibly hand-picked for their tone deafness. But Ludus like to wallow in other people's depravities and therefore their music offers everything to everyone. Linder was born singing and has more imagination than Depeche Mode could ever hope for. Still Depeche Mode get the Jackie spread. No justice!
Depeche Mode played two gigs at this venue that day, one was a matinee for people under 18, and the other was for people over 18.
Support act was The Danse Society.
The Institute of Contemporary Arts showcased 18 bands over six nights. DM played on the second night, with The Chefs and Tarzan 5 as the support acts.
Attendee Tim Williams wrote here:
" [B]y the time of their gig at London's ICA on 26 August they had introduced their new professional 'reel to reel' tape player which on that occasion led to some teething troubles."
This concert had a three track FM broadcast consisting of the tracks Boys Say Go!, The Price Of Love, and Dreaming Of Me. The entire concert, along with the other bands performing over the six nights, was reportedly video taped, according to a newspaper review of the concert; see right. To date, the video of Depeche Mode's performance is not available.
The event was notable as Depeche Mode played twice on the same night playing two identical sets. The first performance was at 17:00h and the second at 20:00h. The early show was organised for under 18's only who couldn't usually enter licensed premises (soft drinks only). Proceeds of this show went to a charity chosen by the band - 'Amnesty International'. The later show was for over 18's only.
In 2011, German newspaper Welt and Musikexpress magazine did a long interview with cornerstones of the band to ask them about DM's early days. Here's what they had to say about DM's first concert in Germany (translated):
Rainer Drechsler, photographer: "In September, Depeche Mode gave, as part of a mini-European tour, a concert in Germany, in Hamburg's Markthalle. I was allowed to photograph them during the soundcheck, and there I noticed just how serious they were about it all. It surprised me. Personally, I didn't like their Synth-soundstyle at the time, seeing as I was more into Hardrock. But anyway: in the evening at the concert, it was actually already too full. The Markthalle was actually too small for the guys. The line was violent, the mood was euphoric. Everyone could sense that something special was happening here. The British Wave had flooded Hamburg entirely."
Daryl Bamonte: "The people were dancing, singing, holding each other. People, who didn't even understand English, would sing along, feel the music. Madness! I was standing there and understood just how much potential my friends' band could have.
Daniel Miller: "The four concerts went exceptionally well, Depeche Mode and the European continent seemed to be a perfect match. Especially in Hamburg it seemed to be love at first sight. Still, something was wrong. I was still mainly busy with the sound, and on top of that I was the driver, and so I noticed that Vince would rather sit with me in front of the van and stared at the streets, than hang with his colleagues and their girlfriends in the back. He barely spoke a word with them. Then it became clear to me that this would not go on for long."
Thomas Fehlmann a.k.a. Palais Schaumburg, said:
"I remember when they first came to Hamburg and played at the Markthalle and it was alright: not empty or anything, but it wasn’t like they were the new hot shit either. It was really something we saw develop."
Paris Match asked Andy Fletcher in 2008 if DM still remembered this gig: "Yes! It was the Bains-Douches in Paris in 1980. We were very young. This place used to be a swimming pool, and it became one of our favourite places when we were in Paris."
Tim Michael Williams wrote on Facebook page 'Basildon: New Town - New Life':
"[...] The French audience where clearly into punk and indie music and suprisingly quite aggressive in their dancing compared to the UK. One member of the audience was shouting quite aggressively (who knows, it might have been complementary) causing Dave Gahan to angrily dedicate 'Just Can't Get Enough' [our new single] "to the heckler down there". [...]"
Deb Danahay Mann, Vince Clarke's then-girlfriend, wrote on her Facebook page 'Depeche Mode Information Service - 1981' in 2014:
"1st October 1981: After the successful Mini Euro Tour, the band with Daniel Miller, Daryl Bamonte, Jo[anne Fox] and Anne [Swindell] had gone back home. Vince wanted to stay and 'sight see' for a couple of days. I have a lovely collection of photos taken, like this one at the Notre Dame and on the Eiffel Tower.... It was during these two days that Vince told me he had decided to leave the band... but an announcement wasn't made for a few weeks..."
This concert is not listed in the official tour dates list. Fan Michael Rose a.k.a. 'Marblehead Johnson' has been the sole discoverer and investigator of information regarding this concert. He has presented his findings on HOME in 2010 and in the Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos Facebook group in 2013. Based on all evidence, he reckons that this concert most likely happened on October 16th.
In 2010, Michael Rose heard a caller on Radio BBC London talk about Depeche Mode performing at her school in 1981. Her details and the details in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped' matched: "Both he and the caller above recall that a teacher [Mr Tony Arnold] at the school took photographs, and that they were on display in the school. He even managed to get one of them from the teacher when he left school in 1985", says Michael. This made Michael look up the school on Friendsunited.com, and he indeed sees former pupils talk of this gig, along with two photos, shot by the teacher as well as by someone named Julie Shopland, uploaded by former pupil Andrew Winter. Winter: "I am sure it was October as I'd only just joined the school in the September and Just Can't Get Enough was in the charts. I spoke to Fletch back in 2004 about this gig and he remembers the train breaking down at Earls Court. I'm sure my headmaster, Mr Baker, introduced them."
Michael Rose: "It was organised by a teacher at the school, Mr Paul Warburton. He was able to manage this because his sister, Clare Warburton, knew Martin Gore and was a friend of Anne Swindell [Martin Gore's first girlfriend]. Teacher Mr Tony Arnold sent the photos to the Melody Maker, and although they didn't print any, they did mention the gig in their issue the following week: Do you want Depeche Mode to play at your next school concert? All you've got to do is emulate the example of Paul Warburton, teacher at Christ's School in Richmond, whose sister knows one of the band. The Mode played at the school's last charity function for nothing, to raise money for the school fund: £500 in all."
In April 1982, three pupils who worked for the school's magazine "Black & Gold" interviewed Martin Gore in Basildon, and Martin said: "All I can remember [of this gig is] seeing lots of kids who looked really small, jumping up and down as if they couldn't dance properly."
According to a former pupil from Lawrence Weston School, Tony Blackburn and Peter Powell from the Radio 1 Roadshow introduced the gig. This BBC radio schedule says that it was aired on October 19th, presumably live.
A pro-shot DVD recording of this seven track television performance which is often attributed to being from 1981-11-06 University, Liverpool, England, UK was actually recorded on this date. The confusion arises due to the fact that it was broadcast on November 6, 1981. Further backstory and information is provided thanks to the Facebook group Depeche Mode Classic Photos And Videos:
1981-10-23 - TV Recording, 'Something Else' . October 23rd 1981 .
Broadcast date: 6th November 1981
The video footage usually credited as live at Liverpool University on 6th November 1981, is actually footage shot for the TV show 'Something Else'. The mistake has come about because this is the date the show was broadcast.
I started investigating this after spotting Deb Danahay Mann and Jo Gahan in the audience. When I pointed it out to her, she said it wasn't her, and what's more, she wasn't at the Liverpool gig. I was confused, but hey, she should know, right?
Some time later, Deb had another look at the footage, and realised that it was in fact her in the audience, with Jo and Anne Swindell. Confused, she checked her diary, and she definitely was not in Liverpool on 6th November.
Remembering the 'Something Else' footage, I decided to look into this further. With the help of Deb's archive, these pictures came to light, detailing the schedule for the 'Something Else' show. It was recorded on 23rd October, edited on 24th October, and broadcast on 6th November. Another check in the diary revealed that Deb was indeed at the recording!
Some YouTube clips, correctly identify the performance from the TV show, but it has been missed that these are one and the same. The supposed 'Liverpool' footage is a timecoded, unedited copy, that even has two performances of Tora! Tora! Tora! and Nodisco, further proof that this was not a gig. If you compare the footage, you'll see that it is fact the same performance. You will also see it credited as 'Something Else' on the 'Speak & Spell' remaster DVD.
This was the first gig of the "proper" British tour of this year, with the tour being called the "Speak & Spell tour". Blancmange was the support act for this entire tour.
Daryl Bamonte recalled in 2006:
"I remember that [Andy Franks and JD Fanger, working for a sound company called ShowTec] traveled in a car with two lighting technicians, and it was broken into and Franksy had all his clothes nicked... he was gutted. There must have been a very stylish thief walking around Manchester..."
Listen here for an interview with the band before this concert.
Tim Michael Williams, a Basildon photographer, says:
"First on the bill were 'Film Noir' from Basildon and this was their first live performance. 'Film Noir' included Robert Marlow and Perry Bamonte. [...] Film Noir played about 6 original songs this night while including a storming version of the 'Velvet Undergrounds' 'White Light, White Heat'. [...] When Depeche Mode finally came on stage at 10.00 pm the girls crammed against the safety barriers in front of the stage went wild. This was a new experience. [...]"
Robert Marlow remembered in Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped':
"It was quite funny, because Vince said to just ring up this promoter, who was a real cowboy of a fellow, and he said, 'They've already got Blancmange supporting them.' I said, 'But Vince said we can play,' and he said, 'Well, you can play, but you won't get any money for it.' In the end, Vince gave me the money - 50 quid, it was. But that wasn't important; he'd asked us to play, so we went on before Blancmange, and then it was Depeche Mode. It was nice for me. I really enjoyed supporting them. I played guitar and we had a synthesizer player; Perry [Bamonte] was playing bass, and we had a tiny [Boss DR-55] 'Dr Rhythm' drum machine - one of the programmable ones. It was good; we went down well. Blancmange were excellent - I'd never seen them before; they were really, really good, and they were nice guys as well. The Modes were themselves, but Vince was quite withdrawn and not very happy. It was quite funny. Vince had a dose of diarrhoea! They'd been on tour up and down the country for a while, and so I think he was happy to be home. But I remember going around his flat during the day for a chat and he said , 'It's alright; I've been dosing myself up with syrup of figs. Silly arse."
Tim Michael Williams, a Basildon photographer, says:
"First on stage were Palais Schaumburg from Germany. A band ahead of their time, they cut across traditional song structures and challenged perceptions with a nod to dadaism and the industrial Avant Garde. Positive Noise were a bunch of guys trying very hard but delivering very little. Their main keyboard player had no less than 3 synths on his keyboard stand while Depeche Mode had only one each. Immediately forgettable, it proved it isn't about kit, its about the songs. The two piece Blancmange, Neil Arthur and Steven Luscombe were the most sparse but considered of all the support bands and proved themselves as serious contenders with an extraordinarily thoughtful, melodic and powerfully delivered set. Depeche Mode gave another note perfect flawless performance."
Dan Silver said in the documentary for the Speak & Spell remaster DVD in 2006:
[...] "Actually, talking of memories, those two nights at the Lyceum were awesome. And I remember pulling the promoter and the hall manager into the venue and pointing at the rear balcony and saying, "Can you see how much that balcony is moving?" Because, it was bouncing up and down, because the kids were bouncing up and down at these two rammed shows. Huge success."
This was Depeche Mode's last gig with Vince Clarke, and the short gig was broadcast on TV. Both the soundboard audio and the DVD of the concert can be streamed and downloaded on this site.
In Jonathan Miller's book Stripped, Vince is quoted about this gig as saying "I did loads of speed and then I drove home".
- So if the gig at Woodlands School was the first "proper" concert, then those concerts at people's houses would nevertheless be the true first concert(s)! The only other info on these house gigs is to be found in Simon Spence's 2011 DM biography. Martin Gore's school friend Mark Crick, who later also became friends with Vince Clarke, said in there: "When CoS started, I remember them playing in Martin's front room. There would have been a small crowd watch: me, Fletch's pal Rob Andrews; Martin's sisters, Martin's mum." Anne Swindell, Martin's first girlfriend, also said in there: I've got some photos of one of the first CoS gigs in Fletcher's front room. It was more for rehearsal really - to get a sense of what it would be like to be lined up and feeling like there would be an audience." Rob Marlow: "CoS were playing gigs in people's front rooms - each other's front rooms, basically. I seem to remember a memorable CoS gig where the audience was made up of Martin's sisters' teddy bears. There'd be people like Anne Swindell, Denise Jekyll, Steve Burton, and Rob Andrews there. We would come around and join the teddy bears. Fletch played a bass guitar, Vince played guitar, and Martin played the Yamaha CS5 he'd bought. They were a bit like the early Cure: all the songs were in place, the ones in the early Depeche Mode set." Nikki Avery, Deb Danahay's friend: "I had seen CoS play at Martin's house. They'd play in each other's front rooms on a Sunday afternoon or something. It was like that."
- Please note that this was not the only time that both bands were rehearsing at Woodlands School, so it is extremely hard to pinpoint an exact date on this night. As per a press release that Martin Gore wrote in February 1981, Composition Of Sound was formed in March 1980, and Martin stated in 2009 that "in theory we would have got together at least a few weeks before [our very first gig] because we would have started rehearsing", so this famous night could have happened anywhere between early March and Depeche Mode's first gig. If it's any help, Robert Marlow does claim that this night happened on a Wednesday.
- Many people, including Robert Marlow and even Martin Gore now think that Dave Gahan actually went to Compostion Of Sound's rehearsal room to sing 'Heroes' with them, but this quote from the Stephen Dalton interview should prove that it is not true. It is not exactly known in which room Martin Gore was, seeing as should have been rehearsing in both bands that night, but if he remembers watching Dave Gahan's performance (and now erroneously thinks that Vince and Andy were in the same room), and he never confirmed to Andy and Vince that it indeed sounded like French Look's mixing guy who was singing 'Heroes', then perhaps Martin was rehearsing with French Look. P.S.: It was also said by Robert Marlow and authors that Dave Gahan could join CoS without auditioning any further. However, Vince said to Jonathan Miller "Because no one came to our gigs, we decided that because Dave Gahan was very, very popular, we'd get him in the band. He really looked the part, so we decided to audition him to be the vocalist. I remember the interview we did with him, and I remember him singing. We gave him three songs - two that I'd written and one cover of a Bryan Ferry song... a Roxy Music song. He sang both of the original ones badly, I remember, but he sang the Bryan Ferry one quite well, because he was obviously quite familiar with it. So then we decided that he'd be alright for the job."
- This last part is plain wrong, seeing as they supported The School Bullies. Film Noir's first gig was on 1981-11-10 Raquels, Basildon, England, UK.
- In 1991, a retrospective on Speak & Spell appeared in Bong magazine issue #14, and this retrospective was ironically mainly compiled from Dave Thomas' Depeche Mode biography, and while it contains some errors it does echo this claim: As Composition of Sound, Vince, Fletch and Martin played their first show together supporting The Bullies at the Southend bar, Scamps, in May 1980.
- Jonathan Miller states that Vince Clarke and Dave Gahan had already gone to Beggars Banquet at this point, and got rejected.
- Source: Dave Gahan - Depeche Mode & The Second Coming
- Source: http://www.comsatangels.org/live.htm
- It doesn't seem like this ever happened, but Darren got to DJ before Depeche Mode at 1981-04-06 Bridge House, London, England, UK.
- Source: Dave Gahan - Depeche Mode & The Second Coming
- Fad Gadget's first album Fireside Favourites was released on 1980-09-01, so this meeting had to have taken place on or shortly before this date.
- Roger Ames then wanted to have a meeting with the band. There are some quotes on this meeting, but the details vary. Andy Fletcher in DM's 'Stripped' biography: "He came down to have a pint with us in a pub in Basildon, to try and sign us with Chris Briggs and a guy called Martin Dean. Martin Dean later signed Wham! to the worst deal of all time, and WE could have been signing that worst deal of all time!" Neil Ferris in the documentary on the 2006 Speak & Spell remaster DVD: "[...] Roger Ames, who was an A&R man at Phonogram in those days, approached the band and wanted to sign them. And I sat with the band, I remember Dan sitting quietly in the corner, and I was saying, 'Guys, stay with Daniel. Daniel is really gonna look after you and all.' And it was quite incredible because they were... And I'll always remember Vince Clarke in those days, because Vince was still in Depeche at that point, and Vince said, 'Yeah, it's alright, but if we get famous and we do Top Of The Pops, do you think we can do that in the afternoon so I can get back on the cheap day return of Basildon?'" Neil Ferris again in Simon Spence's 2011 DM biography: "I always remember we had a meeting round at my office with Roger Ames, who was at Polygram in those days, and who wanted to sign the band. Obviously, Daniel didn't have a deal with the band - it was a handshake. So Daniel said: can we have the meeting at your office? The band came to my office, with my wife and myself and Daniel and Roger Ames stood there and said: you guys should leave Daniel and sign with me at Polygram, I can do this that and the other... Fletch sort of said: well, you know, I've got to think about it. And then Dave said: if we get on Top Of The Pops do you think we can get a cheap-day return from Basildon?"
- Source: Jonathan Miller's 'Stripped'.
- Source: shapersofthe80s.com. You can read a report of that night there.
- This YouTube link is Jobson's performance of "India Song" from this very concert.
- This quote was partially used in Q magazine, published 14th January 2005, for a Depeche Mode special written by Dave Thompson. The whole interview with Mr. Strange from which this quote was taken appears now here, but this is not the original source. The original source is unknown.
- E-mail conversation between Richard Strange and DMLiveWiki, June 2018.
- In a large interview done by German Welt newspaper and Musikexpress magazine in 2011, Daniel Miller said that when the album came out, "[Stein] liked what he saw, thought "Speak & Spell" was great and so we were negotiating about the conditions under which he would release the album in America. Nevertheless I got into a complete panic about the possibility that Seymour might have heard about Vince's departure. Thankfully Vince agreed to not make his departure public until the album was out on the market and the tour was finished."