Crystal Palace was the scene of the finale of the European leg of Depeche Mode’s “Devotional Tour”. Having played their 1990 ‘Violator’ album to death they were a band I’d long wanted to see live – and the bonus at Crystal Palace was that The Sisters of Mercy were supporting them! So wild horses weren’t going to stop me going to this one.
Myself and Sue met up with a couple of friends, Michael and Carolyn, at Waterloo Station at 2pm and headed over to Crystal Palace to meet up with another couple of friends, Martin and Michelle, before heading into the grounds. Gates opened at 3pm but the first band wasn’t on for a little while so we had plenty of leeway.
The opening acts were Dub Syndicate and Marxman. I’ve zero recollection of either of them, apart from some notes that had them as pretty mediocre. To be fair I’m not sure how much attention we spent on either of them other than ‘background noise’. But given that Marxman were hip-hop and Dub Syndicate were more reggae/dub neither band was exactly in our ball park of listening tunes at the time either.
The Sisters of Mercy, who were arguably the band most of our little group wanted to catch, came on opening with ‘Ribbons’ followed by ‘Floorshow’. There was a fair number of people who had definitely come out to see them but they were far outnumbered by Depeche Mode fans who didn’t have the shared interest in the Sisters. This created a bit of an odd atmosphere as you had pockets of enthusiasm squashed between crowds of people who wanted to be close to the front to see Depeche Mode but didn’t want to be jostled by people dancing to the Sisters.
The Sisters still played a fantastic set – full of hits such as Temple of Love, Alice, This Corrosion and wrapping up with Vision Thing. Eldritch was seemed to be less than pleased by the overall crowds reaction (even if we and probably a few thousand others loved the set) and famously told the crowd to “Enjoy the puppet show” at the end of his set in an apparent dig at the headliners.
The crowd really came alive for Depeche Mode who put on a great set of their more modern (at the time) hits such as Personal Jesus, Stripped, Walking in My Shoes, Never Let Me Down Again, Enjoy the Silence, and so on.
It was a fun day out and whilst Depeche Mode were good, I preferred Sisters on the day. I have caught Depeche Mode a few more times over the years and they were brilliant live so I suspect part of my preferring Sisters at this gig was possibly influenced by getting annoyed by some Depeche Mode fans telling us to stop dancing and generally pissing us off a bit.
One odd thing, that I just discovered is that the ticket stubs for this gig are currently on sale for £27 on auction sites like Ebay…. more than the £18.50 they cost at the time to actually see the band live! Now beginning to think that some of my ticket collection might be a little retirement fund (or atleast might pay for a few takeaways or tickets to new shows ;p)