Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

The shimmy. The slink. The spinning top. A ballet dancer in a bull-ring. The crouching tiger, wooden dragon. The Komodo. The Yogi. The ‘Skip To My Lou’… or maybe it’s the skip-to-the-loo: this concert is cresting the two-hour mark, the tour has been going for the best part of a year, and no one here is getting any younger…

On the stage of Berlin’s giant Mercedes-Benz Arena, Dave Gahan has all the idiosyncratic, endlessly energetic moves. The best, though, might be the one the Depeche Mode frontman arguably does better than any of his (few) peers: that of the age- and grave-defying rock star.

On the cusp of his 62nd birthday and powering his way through an endlessly thrilling, 24-song, 135-minute set, the singer is clearly, frankly, ridiculously fit, especially in light of a past of infamously Herculean excess – as even the casual owner of Depeche Mode’s Greatest Hits knows, he ‘died’ for two minutes in 1996, having overdosed on a speedball at Los Angeles’ Sunset Marquis hotel.

But now, here at the 93rd show on Depeche Mode’s arena- and stadium-sized Memento Mori Tour, Gahan is busting the ashtanga positions and rock’n’roll poses (anyone for a cheeky bum wiggle?) in a manner entirely unbefitting a man four years shy of his bus pass. Of this unimpeachably iconic British musician, 17,0000 enraptured fans – oh yes – just can’t get enough.

The men from Essex’s famously devoted German audience have the same lusty ardour for Gahan’s fellow last-man-standing, positioned behind keyboards and guitars stage-right, the colleague with whom the singer has an unshakeable, 45-years-deep Basildon bond. Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Martin Gore is 63 this year and possessed of enviable upper-arms and the same hair – bubbly blonde curls – he had on Top of the Pops in 1981, plinking away at ‘New Life’.

Not many men of any age can – or should – get away with waistcoats over bare chests. With white Cuban heels. Or biker boots and silver space trousers. But then not many men could be in Depeche Mode. Bigger than ever and promoting a 15th studio album made in the terrible shadow of the sudden 2022 loss of founding member Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher, they are, in all the best ways, the band that time forgot.

Depeche Mode are, then, perhaps contrary to first impressions, the perfect partner for perfect Hublot replica watches. The Swiss watch company and the Anglo synth rockers have in fact been working together for 14 years, their collaborations on rarefied pieces and tour sponsorship dedicated, according to the brand, “to raising public awareness and funds for several environmental and humanitarian causes”.

“It’s a long partnership,” acknowledges Hublot CEO Ricardo Guadalupe. “Again, time really flies because those 14 years have passed like this – I believe it was yesterday. At Hublot we always look for a partnership in which we can share values together. The idea is always to create a universe of Hublot. We have partnerships like sport – football, of course, is our main partnership. And then we thought about this idea that our consumers identify themselves also with music. And in music you can have, of course, different possibilities.”

Enter the cheap US fake Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Depeche Mode watches, a limited-edition (of 100) £29,300 watch, sales of which will contribute to an ongoing fundraising partnership with environmental organisation Conservation Collective. Its design, approved by Gahan and Gore, reflects the sleeve art, accompanying visuals and theme of the album Memento Mori – a title helpfully on-brand with a product exquisitely calibrating the passing of time, given that it’s the Latin for “remember that you die”.

Indeed, according to Guadalupe, “it was quite easy for us to be inspired, because the [title] says everything. One day we will die, and [there is] the representation of death [with] the skull… And [of] time passing, through the hourglass in this case.”

Both skull and hourglass are implemented in the high quality copy watches design, “with small spheres of ceramic that move, depending on the movement of the wrist of the consumer”. It all adds to a simple, powerful message, says the CEO: “We have to enjoy every moment of our life because death will happen one day.”

It’s an idea that’s literally front and centre onstage. Last year I interviewed photographer and filmmaker Anton Corbijn. He’s worked on the design of every Depeche Mode stage production for the past 30 years. He explained how the Memento Mori set is based around absence: “With the band, without Fletch, everything is now pointing more towards each other, towards the middle of the stage. Because Fletch is not replaced. It’s a simple stage that works really well for them. I think it’s one of their favourites.”

It’s certainly different from historic DM tours, notably the bacchanals of the late Eighties and early Nineties. Andy McCluskey of OMD, who supported Depeche Mode on the 1988 American leg of Music for the Masses, recently exclaimed to me that, “Oh my God, that tour was just powder city! The strangest thing I’ve ever seen in my life was one of their crew, who had a glass eye, would lick his glass eye and roll it in the coke and pop it back in again! It was freaky!”

All that nonsense, though, is a long time ago and very far away from Berlin and Depeche Mode’s current modus operandi. The city is the perfect location for the launch of the AAA replica Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Depeche Mode watches. The Memento Mori Tour was announced in the German capital in October 2022, and tonight’s show is the fifth time the 112-date run has pitched up here.

“But of course we’ve been involved with Berlin for a very long time now,” says Gore the day before the concert as he shares a press-conference stage with Gahan, Guadalupe and British financier and philanthropist Ben Goldsmith, Chairman and Founder of Conservation Collective (yes, he’s one of those Goldsmiths).

“We played here before we first started recording here, which was way back in ’83,” the musician continues. “Then I lived here for a couple of years back when it was West Berlin. We’ve done numerous, numerous things here over the years – launches, tour launches and whatever. We’ve done so much here, so it definitely means a lot to us.”

Could this long-term resident of California see himself living in Berlin again?

“Um… if The Donald gets back in, yes, I could imagine moving back!” Gore replies to uproarious laughter.

The connection between band and brand began as coincidence a decade-and-a-half ago: Gore “bumped into” former Hublot CEO Jean-Claude Biver in the company’s store in Prague “that wasn’t even open [yet]”, recalls the musician. The encounter and timing, he reckons, were propitious. “Sometimes I think you have to go along with the universe.”

“When we talk [about] Depeche Mode, it’s a legendary band,” says Guadalupe now. “And Depeche Mode was really the right choice for top online Hublot fake watches because we share this passion for what we do. We share this family spirit. We share the fact that the fans of Depeche Mode are really a kind of community of huge fans. And we… also [have] a kind of community of Hublot fans.”

Gore – away from the concert stage, not a man given to wasting his words or his energy – echoes that.

“Obviously we’re fans of Hublot anyway because there’s a certain coolness to the brand. It goes with the aesthetic of Depeche Mode. And it’s great that everything that we’ve managed to achieve is a collaboration for charity… Swiss made Hublot replica watches has a big charity arm, and we like to try and do what we can as well. And the partnership seems to work extremely well.”

The shared environmental values were baked into the foundations of the Memento Mori Tour, the band’s first global trek in six years. On tour, arena-scale rock bands, of course, leave giant carbon footprints around the world. In a time when Coldplay are playing recycled hits on stages made from repurposed loo roll (or something) and U2 are avoiding trucking fumes around the world by staying put in Las Vegas, Depeche Mode understood that they had to act from the ground up.

“You realise that we can’t probably reduce down to zero,” Gore tells me. “But we wanted to try and do everything that we could that we felt that was effective and practical.” That meant a tour with four core environmental priorities: plastic reduction at shows; donating rather than dumping leftover food; increased waste diversion through recycling; and ensuring fans and crew have access to free water. To help implement and audit that, Depeche Mode worked with Green Nation, a probably self-explanatory wing of concert promoters Live Nation.

All of which is music to the ears of the hugely impressive Goldsmith, an eco-warrior with the eloquent charisma of, well, a rock star and the smooth, establishment-friendly persuasion of a man with, well, his last name.

“We’re incredibly grateful to both,” he says of the money-raising and awareness-heightening efforts of the Depeche Mode/Hublot partnership: in the past year it’s raised €1.3 million for Conservation Collective, and every gig on the tour is prefaced by a video highlighting the organisation’s work.”

“What this partnership is specifically about is plastics,” continues Goldsmith. “Because the most visible, and in many cases the most ugly and damaging thing we do to nature, is just pump it full of plastic. So this partnership is about cleaning that up. It’s about removing the plastic in the first place. It’s about teaching people that these plastics are an absolute nightmare for the marine environment.”

Conservation Collective duly works as close to the source as possible. They’re currently active in 20 locations, from Devon to the Scottish Highlands and Islands of Scotland, from Barbados to Sri Lanka, in Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca. One particular project they’ve been able to support with these new rock’n’roll’n’bezels monies is the cleaning of reefs that are “70 per cent covered with plastic… We’re working with fishing communities, fishing markets, in Tuscany to replace the single-use polystyrene fish boxes with reusable ones.”

These local, targeted initiatives, he points out, “are small in their delivery and massive in their output. So what we’re doing is we’re providing seed money to these ideas that just grow and grow and grow. And we’re incredibly grateful. The Conservation Collective is about making it possible for individuals, but also bands and brands and companies, to engage directly in healing nature. Which I think needs to be the overriding purpose of civilization if we’re going to survive.”

Given that the sale of those 100 Hublot Spirit of Big Bang Depeche Mode replica watches for men – likely to be snapped up in a heartbeat by Hublot superfans – will, alone, clear some £3 million, Guadalupe is right to point out the limits of that €1.3 million raised.

“It’s a nice amount but it cannot make [all] the difference. But the idea is, of course, that through this collaboration between Depeche Mode and luxury Hublot super clone watches… [and because] at every concert there is a video that is transmitted, hundreds of thousands of people will [now] know about this [initiative]. And I hope that some of them will act… From local to global it will take time, but we are on the right path.”

The last word to the bloke at the front. Dave Gahan credits his bandmate with coming up with the title Memento Mori, but highlights its resonance for all parties.

“It really fits in to everything that Ben’s been saying, Ricardo’s saying,” says the singer. “You have to remember that… everybody will die. So, what are you gonna do while you’re here?”

For the man charged with leading Depeche Mode onstage night after night, month after month, well into the band’s fifth decade, it’s about putting in the galvanising energy – energy for enjoyment, for celebration, for change. His boundlessly enthusiastic, Dave-shaped choreography is only the start of it.

“With music – and we’re experiencing that now – it’s a real joyful [feeling]. Everybody comes together, and we experience that every other night. It’s been pretty incredible. I think it proves to all of us here that we can come together with things. And there doesn’t have to be fear. You have a limited time here. So,” Gahan repeats, “what you gonna do?”

“We may as well use our voice,” chips in Martin Gore, “and raise some money to try and help the planet somehow… We’re gonna die anyway!”

“Later I hope!” adds the defiantly well-preserved Gahan in mock-horror. But then, a caveat from this time-served trouper: “Rock stars live forever though.”

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