Dave Gahan bei den Telekom Street Gigs
(Dave Gahan at the Telekom Street Gigs)
Dave Gahan bei den Telekom Street Gigs (or Dave Gahan at the Telekom Street Gigs in English) is a live concert featuring Dave Gahan & Soulsavers. It took place at the Admiralspalast in Berlin, Germany and was livestreamed on the website, MagentaMusik 360, on December 13, 2021 as part of the Telekom Street Gigs event. The band performed all of the tracks from Imposter as well as a few other Soulsavers and Depeche Mode hits.
The livestream also featured an option that allowed viewers to rotate the camera perspective 360 degrees in real-time, allowing for a more immersive experience. Note that my review of this show is based on the default camera configuration rather than the interactive 360-degree one.
Presenter Jenny Augusta gives us an introduction of the show. While she is speaking, we can see the Admiralspalast auditorium behind (and below) her swathed in a dark blue light as everyone there gets ready for Dave Gahan & Soulsavers to take the stage. While they are waiting, the view switches over to various perspectives, showing us the audience, the empty stage, etc. while the haunting introductory music ("Dal Mare" from Il Segreto) plays in the background. The band then enter the stage as the audience erupts into applause and cheers, and the bluish light changes to a very warm red, signaling that it is time for Soulsavers music!
The Dark End of the Street
We start with the very first track off of Imposter, and as indicated by Dave in various interviews, these shows are live performances of the album in its entirety and in the same running order as the album. Everyone here looks smartly dressed and nicely polished- especially Dave, as he literally shines in a dark bluish-black suit covered in a sparkly sheen, looking like tiny bright stars on a night sky. And here's something new: He's wearing his thick-rimmed, purple-tinted glasses on stage, giving him a scholarly rather than rock star appearance. Dave just launches right into the song, and sings with the same passion and soul heard on the album.
Just before launching into this song, Dave checks in with the audience, saying, "I hope you enjoy tonight! This is Imposter." And we are eased into the languid Mark Lanegan number. Dave has no trouble singing this one, and I get the feeling that it serves merely as a warm-up for him in preparation for the vocal gymnastics he's going to have to pull off in the very next one. Anyway, we also get treated to some nice slide guitar courtesy of Tony "Doggen" Foster (who also played on The Light the Dead See). It is also now that I notice that someone is absent, and that's James Walbourne, their main guitarist responsible for those crazy licks that were heard on the album! That's disappointing, but as we'll find out soon enough, it is Tony who fills in all of those parts in this show.
The proverbial gloves (and literal glasses) now come off. It's time for those vocal gymnastics that I was talking about. I can almost sense the immense pressure that Dave is under to perform this song well, as it is quite demanding in many ways. There are a couple of moments on this one where his lungs just seem to give out a second too early and there is a hint of struggle. He also sings with full vocal power for most of it, giving it an angrier sound than on the album. I should be worried about what this bodes for the remainder of the concert, but...here's something I've always noticed about Dave's performances (and good live musical performances, in general). He can start out a night sounding a little rough for the first few songs, but as the night goes on, he just begins to sound better and better. It's like his main instrument needs ample time to warm up, and then before long, it becomes like a well-oiled machine capable of producing flawless output. And we are going to see and hear that soon enough here.
I Held My Baby Last Night
I think Dave is silently breathing a sigh of relief after getting over that previous hump because we now get to the fun part! Dave brings out the harmonica, finally, something I wish he had actually done on the album, but we get to see and hear him on it now, and we also get to see and hear him transform into a sort of Elvis Presley/James Brown figure as he takes us through a rockier version of an old blues hit. Full disclosure, I did state that this was my least favorite song on the album, itself, but I do think part of the reason was because I felt a sense of distance listening to it on the album. I don't know if it was the mixing and/or some post-production effects applied to it, but it felt like I was listening to the band from very far away on there. Here it sounds very intimate and warm, as it should, and I actually like this song much better when performed live.
A Man Needs a Maid
What did I say about the well-oiled machine earlier? I think we are now beginning to witness that here. This performance is basically flawless, though this song admittedly does not require the level of vocal gymnastics that "Lilac Wine" did. But with the minimal and quiet instrumentation, Dave's voice is still allowed to shine here, and shine it does.
Before Dave launches into this song, he asks the audience, "Everybody doing okay?" And of course, the audience responds with fervent cheering. Dave, when would we not be okay with you around? (Except if we couldn't hear him, I guess). He then asks, "We'll get through this, right?" and now we get a better idea of what he perhaps meant. Of course, he could just mean the show, itself, but that would be quite odd, as a Dave Gahan show isn't an ordeal to "get through"...no, I'm sure he means the pandemic and this fucked up situation we all find ourselves in. Yes, Dave, we will get through this, and your music is more important than ever to help us get through it.
So now, we launch into the song. Dave's love for this song and his love of performing it is so palpable here as he really lets loose and moves quite a bit around the stage, something we don't really see him do a whole lot during Soulsavers shows. But slowly and surely, "Mode" Dave is starting to come out now, and we and the audience are having it! This performance is a banger as it always is, but I do have to confess that the best performance ever of this number goes to the one done on The Late Late Show with James Corden, in part thanks to the shredding guitar solo by James Walbourne.
Shut Me Down
There is always someone out there in the audience with an interesting and relevant sign. This time, it appeared to be a couple of people holding up a multi-part sign that reads "MISSED YOU SO MUCH." Yes, yes indeed we missed Dave performing on stage so much. We missed concerts so much. We missed...well, everything being normal so much, though now I'm getting to the point where I'm questioning what exactly is normal. Anyway, I love hearing this song performed live just as much, if not more, than I do hearing it on the album. I noticed that Dave got the first part of the lyrics right this time so that it matched the original "the stars above me" line, not that it was that noticeable in the first place. Also, what is that hand motion that he does just before the first chorus? Some people have said that it looks like he's doing a "mic drop," and to others including myself, it appears that he is pretending to fire a six-shooter revolver like a Wild West cowboy, which I think is fitting for the overall sound of the song.
Where My Love Lies Asleep
It's time for the slide guitar to be brought out again and for Dave's voice to shine (which it does). We get to see him do a little interpretive ballet while Tony plays his slide guitar solos and we are gently reminded again that Dave is not only a singer but a dancer and mover, as well. We'll get to see him let those hips loose later, though. For now, the focus of this show seems to mostly be on the aural experience. I also thought I'd mention that every time we're treated to a clear view of the audience, their eyes always seem to be fixed on Dave and not anyone else on stage. Haha...well, is that such a surprise?
If Dave never sings another song again, then I would be as happy as a clam if this were the last one I could remember him by (actually no, just kidding, I would not be happy at all if he never sings another song again, but I hope you get what I'm trying to say). This is just perfect in every way. Pianist Sean Read and bassist Martyn Lenoble are the only 2 musicians who accompany him on this song, so his voice is absolutely front and center. And it rings so clearly and melodically, with not a single flaw to be heard, in my opinion. And I really love the camera closeups showing him smiling at select moments throughout; how can anyone watch this and not feel happiness and warmth well up within them? Methinks this performance belongs in my Top 5 Live Vocal Performances list!
The Desperate Kingdom of Love
Like "Metal Heart," you can tell that this song is Dave's groove by the amount of energy he pours into this performance with his highly-enthusiastic singing and dramatic body movements. And dare I say he looks quite relaxed, too, not in the sense that he's bored or tired at all, but just that he's so comfortable with his performance of this song, as if he rehearses it every single day to the point where he could practically do it in his sleep. This is Dave absolutely in his element!
Not Dark Yet
The harmonica comes out again for this one, and I must say that I'm surprised that he didn't bring it out during "Where My Love Lies Asleep" since the original had harmonica on it. But perhaps that would've just been too predictable? After all, Dave has said again and again that he isn't trying to merely cover the originals but that he is instead trying to put his own spin on them and make them sound like they are truly coming from him, and I can respect that. And speaking of putting his own spin on things, he definitely did so when he replaced "London" with "Berlin" in the lyrics, making it more personal for the audience there, which was nice. Now that we're on the subject of these lines in the song, I did actually wonder if his tour schedule was intentional since they fit the original lyrics of this song perfectly!
Always On My Mind
Before going into this song, Dave smooths his hair back and asks the audience if it looks all right, which begs the question, since when has Dave cared about what his hair looks like during a concert??? Well, one theory is that maybe he wants to do justice to this very next song and looking like a disheveled rock god would sort of ruin the mood, I guess. He has a good laugh about it, though, and we launch right into the very last song from Imposter. He sounds absolutely divine, eliciting a few screams from the audience, the same kind that we usually hear when he shimmies his bum during "Strangelove" or "World in My Eyes," mind you. Someone also brings out a sign that reads "IMPOSTER or NOT DAVE YOU ARE TOP! ...and HOT" with what looks like a thumbs-up emoji and winking emoticon. There is so much adoration being expressed here that I'd almost expect people to start throwing their underwear on stage next. After the song is over, Dave and the whole band take a bow and Dave thanks the audience again, saying, "We had fun! I hope you enjoyed tonight. Thank you." Then, the band all depart from the stage. But rest assured, the night is not over yet!
After the red backdrop curtains are dropped, the band return refreshed and ready to party, as well as the audience. Dave is all smiles as he declares, "We're going to play a few more songs for you, okay?" and off they go with this Soulsavers track from 2007 (before Dave joined). I have to admit, it's a strange choice as it doesn't seem to pep the crowd up that much, plus I also didn't think that fans from the Mark Lanegan-era of Soulsavers were even interested in this concert or figured they were at least in the minority. But hey, what do I know? At the end, Dave does acknowledge his predecessor, dedicating the song to him.
Ironically, it is not the previous song which conjures up a revival, but rather this one for obvious reasons! I'm sorry to say that Depeche Mode is just so ingrained in Dave's identity now that it cannot be separated or overlooked. And yes, I feel like apologizing because like so many others, I, too, am guilty of perpetuating that idea despite how much I do love Dave's non-DM works.
Anyway, they start off playing the song very, very slow with Tony playing that Western cowboy twang on the guitar which seems to be so natural for him, and when the beat finally picks up, all previous theater decorum goes out the window and Dave transforms into the dancing and shouting fiend that he is known as while the audience comes alive like they are at a major sporting event.
John The Revelator
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this one. This is one where I am really attached to the original with its heavy electronic sound and its slightly syncopated beat. Plus, I really dig that demented-sounding music box jingle heard at the beginning and end, so it is really hard for me to accept any other rendition. But Dave sounds amazing on this Soulsavers version, too, so I guess that it is just the rhythm and instrumentation that will take a bit for me to get used to. I will say, though, that Tony finally coming out of his country/folk rock shell and tearing up the guitar the way he did on this one was amazing, too, and I think he has shown himself to be just as a versatile player as James. So then, there is just one last thing that I need to mention...When Dave sat at the piano and started banging on it like he was trying to channel Little Richard or something, it honestly both amused me and made me slightly cringe at the same time. On the one hand, I was delighted to see him let totally loose and make like a hyper little kid, but on the other hand, it also threatened to grate on my musical sensibilities somewhat because I know that he was merely doing it for theatrics as he was just banging out random notes (for that reaction, I blame the stuffy older lady who once yelled at me when I did something similar on the church piano when I was about 8 years old. "Play something real!" was her chastisement. "Not that awful noise!"). So, what the hell...Dave's shenanigans harmed no one, therefore who am I to rain on his parade?
I have to admit, the running order of songs during the encore seems a bit odd for me. I feel like they should leave the more energetic Depeche Mode songs for the end and play "Personal Jesus" last as it seems like a great one to go out with a bang on. Dave actually sounds a little tired here, and no wonder since he had just belted out a couple of a bangers and was jumping and frolicking around. While I wouldn't call this one a banger, it still requires a considerable amount of vocal energy.
Take Me Back Home
Before going into this finale, which Dave says is "one of his favorites," he sincerely thanks the audience for coming out. Criticize the man all you want for his singing and musical work, but I don't think anyone can find much fault with the way Dave interacts with his live audiences; he is truly a genuine and generous gentleman (try saying that 10 times fast)! Anyway, he does a great job with this song, and despite what I said above about "Personal Jesus" perhaps being a better show closer, this one suits just as well. He encourages the audience to sing "home" with him at the end, and for a short while, the voices alone take center stage, making for quite a magical moment. It is then over, and Dave thanks everyone one last time and says, "See you next time!" Oh, I sure hope we do, Dave. Note that at the moment of this writing, this was the last concert on the Imposter Tour, with no new shows having been announced yet.