Friday, February 5th, 2010


Last December I finished off my year of gigs with a trip to see the band that have been the soundtrack to my life since I was 12 years old: Depeche Mode. I had seen some great bands, both new and old, including The Killers 4 times, during 2009 and I was particularly looking forward to seeing Depeche Mode as I had missed their last few tours for various reasons.

Now Depeche Mode generally put on a great show, for a skinny guy, Dave Gahan has bags of personality and energy, Martin Gore can pick up a huge variety of instruments with ease and Fletch happily bounces around behind his stack of keyboards egging the crowd along with him.

Although I was disappointed with the crowd reaction around me (many remained seated while I jumped up and down, cheered and applauded like a maniac), the crowd down in the stalls were going wild and the band themselves put on a great show, while it may not have come top of my list of awesome gigs of 2009, it came a close second. At the merchandise desk I was pleased to see that the ‘Mode were once again making all their gigs available as a CD or mp3 so that you could relive the moment over and over and I gladly purchased the voucher for one.

That download became available today and I eagerly plugged in my headphones so I could turn it up loud and relive an awesome gig. Sadly, not so much. The recording, while true to the music, has completely failed to capture the atmosphere and sweaty joy of the gig as I had hoped it would.

Earlier in the year I had been able to grab tickets to a special show by The Killers at the Royal Albert Hall which was recorded for their first live DVD and CD. The resulting package has managed to capture the very essence of that gig and I can relive some of the best moments of 2009 over and over. Oftentimes I will choose to listen to the live version of the song, rather than the recorded version, just because it brings back that atmosphere and those memories.

Granted, The Killers put on two special shows, specifically to be recorded and their team took several months editing and making with the pretty to put together just one CD and DVD, and Depeche Mode are recording every gig they play and making it available, so you would expect the quality of The Killers’ output to be better. Yet, it is not the sound quality that I am missing here, the quality is great for a live recording, it’s the atmosphere and the feeling of ‘being there’ that I am missing. I don’t go to gigs to hear an exact replica of the CD I’ve been listening to over and over, I go for the experience of sharing watching a great band play with a bunch of sweaty over-excited fans, and I am just not getting that with Live Here Now.

It’s a shame, because it will likely be another long while before I can see Depeche Mode again, and I was hoping that this recording would keep me going until next time.

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Having had little blogging inspiration today that does not involve more of me moaning and whining,I thought I would join in the desk description fun.

I am seated in a large, plainly decorated room with blue blinds at the windows. The blinds are there not to keep the light out, it is dark outside, but to keep the cold out. Whoever thought fit to design the building, was somehow inspired to fit metal framed windows, he was probably from the council. As a money saving exercise, they didn’t bother with the putty.

The room is populated by five sets of six position desks, that form a line down the room, one eight position desk in the corner and two, two position desks. The two position desks are for the supervisors and are in the middle of the room. The six position desks have two positions at each side and one at each end. The end positions are maneuverable so you can sit or stand as you wish. It is at one of these that I usually perch.

I am seated on a battered old chair that is covered in black leather and blue fabric. This chair has been rescued from our old office as it is the only one that will support my back fully. The fancy ‘ergonomic’ chairs they bought for the new building were unfortunately designed for man’s next stage of evolution, the one where our backs will begin to arch to the rear.

The desk is some type of beech coloured formica type substance which is amazingly still in one piece, which is more that can be said for the kitchen units. It curves around so that I sit in its arc. Directly in front of me are three Samsung, Syncmaster 171N 17” flat screen monitors, and a fourth ELO Touchsytem monitor on my right. The three flat screen monitors are displaying the various software programs that I need to carry out my duties. The fourth screen is my communication screen through which I speak to the outside world via telephone and radio.

On the desk itself is my red headphone bag which currently contains some nuts, a couple of magazines, an inhaler, a cup-a-soup (still in packaging) and some deodorant. Next to that are some olives and some grapes for snackability. Moving on you will find what passes for my ‘handbag’, a little green thing that houses some ibuprofen, tissues and my iPhone headphones and charger. Moving along is a bottle of water, Brandon the iPhone and my pencil case. Next to this is my keyboard which displays the word ‘CHERRY’ very faintly, although it is black, and two Microsoft mice, a black one and a white one. In between the mice are my ‘No Power In The ‘Verse Can Stop Me’ flask mug and the unsharpened pencil I use to stab at the touch screen with.

In between my patch of desk and my collegaue’s patch are two hand-held radios and the ‘fall back’ telephone system which are used in case of technology failure. Attached to the underside of the desk at either side is a headset port and hanging from the left side of the desk is a Stone computer tower, and on the right the tower for the communication system. In between these on the ground, and just under my feet is my ‘press to talk’ pedal and some ghastly blue carpet tiles.

Hanging from the back of the desk are a whole heck of a lot of cables.

And that’s where I sit for 10 hours a day, three days a week. Sounds thrilling doesn’t it?