A follow-up to yesterday’s Depeche Mode post, because if you really love a concert, you think about it for several days after. Plus, I won’t be able to do a post like this in a couple of weeks, what with the statistical evidence I’ll be using.
Unless it’s a very great omission, you rarely notice what isn’t played until way after the show. You mostly take note of all the gems they did play. For me, how good a show is is at least 75% made up of what the setlist was plus how good my seats are. It occurred to me right away that DM didn’t play their current single either night which is totally weird to me. What band doesn’t play the song they’re promoting right now? Back in the day, and that day was before Napster, the tour was intended to promote an album. You saw the show for the songs you knew and heard new ones that you liked. Then you went to the store and bought a copy so you could hear them at home. Or, to “prepare” for the show, you bought the CD a bit before. Or, you weren’t going to the show at all, but the radio station you listened to was playing the hell out of the single and giving away tickets to the 92nd caller. At some point, the song being played six times a day got you to buy the record. I know this happened in a more than anecdotal fashion because I see the sales every week. When a band plays a city, the sales go up before, during, and for a few weeks after. Then they go back to regular levels.
Now, in our world of free downloads and single-track sales, bands make most of their money from the tour itself. They don’t need to flog the album sales so much, although of course they’d like to. The single’s still meant to do that and to have all the stations playing the same song at once and TV playing the video and the band performing it on the talk shows. Based on its digital sales, I couldn’t even tell you when the current single, Peace, was released. And as far as airplay, Peace received two spins this week (yes, they’re still called spins even without the vinyl record). One of them was on my local station, WRXP, woot! But, that said, that’s pretty pathetic. In contrast, Enjoy the Silence, released in 1990, got 240 spins nationally this week. Enjoy the Silence was also DM’s most downloaded song this week (we’re talking legally here), and Peace has about 8% of its sales, ranking at #21 in DM songs. The first single, Wrong, is at #3 (Personal Jesus is #2), so that’s something. I mean, maybe Peace just failed as a single, but really, I think DM just isn’t a singles band or even an album band anymore. As savvy as they are about selling their records, they know the big bucks come from the tour and with word of mouth just seconds away on the Interwebs, why not give the fans what they really want to hear? And obviously, that’s Enjoy the Silence and not Peace.
Relatedly, they played nothing at all from the album Exciter, just two records back. I think they know no one wants to hear it. Again, it’s about you not posting on your favorite fan forum, “ugh, too much Exciter, not enough Violator,” but rather, “best.show.ever.”
Which is a good segue to me posting last night on Facebook about what a good time I had. I got in return comments from people from all eras in my life who had attended DM concerts with me. I had, in order:
1. A current friend who wants to see them in Atlanta.
2. My camp friend, a fan of classical music normally, who discovered Black Celebration through my incessant play in our bunk and still knows the words to Question of Time.
3. A friend from Musicland who was the one who did the road trip with me where I ditched high school to follow DM to New England.
Amongst others. In fact, I have at least six friends on Facebook with whom I’ve attended DM shows at some point and several more who were just fellow fans somewhere in my lifetime. As amazing as I think it is that I’ve loved the same band for 27 years, I find it even more awesome that they still bond me with my friends as well.
Title is a take-off of:
Depeche Mode – Further Excerpts from: My Secret Garden