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Monday, September 9, 2013

After I used the refund from Neil Young’s canceled show to buy tickets to Depeche Mode‘s concert at Barclays Center on Friday, I was thinking about the last time I saw the band. I was positive it was at Radio City Music Hall in the summer of 1983, the day that I returned from a trip; I remember being tired from traveling. I liked the idea that I’d be celebrating a 30-year Depeche Mode concert anniversary at Barclays.  But as I was getting ready to write this post, I couldn’t find any evidence of a Radio City concert at the right time. There was a concert in March 1983 at The Ritz but that seemed off. I wouldn’t have been returning from my first visit to England at that time. I wouldn’t have even been in England yet. But how could it be later? I couldn’t think of any other big trips.

I eventually found a June 11, 1986, New York Times story that said Depeche Mode had sold out three shows at Radio City “without the benefit of a hit single or top-selling album” having “amassed a large and fervent cult following through a shrewd mixing and matching of styles.” It finally hit me that the “trip” I was returning from was my first year of college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. (I transferred to Columbia University for my sophomore year.) So, it turns out that I marked a 27-year concert anniversary, which is not the nice round number of my dreams, but still impressive.

On Friday, I did my best to dress in something I might have liked at the time of my first Depeche Mode concert. I didn’t have the right bottoms, though. I’m not a fan of “jeggings,” and in 1983, I wouldn’t wear anything except the skin-tight, dark-blue jeans I bought in England. By 1986, I was probably wearing black leggings exclusively, so knowing the right year wouldn’t have helped.

Then wardrobe therapist/designer Stacy Lomman reminded me of the short, baggy pants worn by Alannah Currie of Thompson Twins when that band had a hit with “Lies” — which, in the U.S., was in 1983.


The Twins were actually a trio. That’s Alannah on the right. It warms my heart to see those ’80s hairdos.

At that time, a couple of my friends wore loose, cropped jeans (preferably with a “paper bag” waist) too. So loose and cropped it was. Then I wondered, “What jacket would I have liked in the ’80s?” The answer was obvious.


What Wendy Wore
Jacket: Steve J & Yoni P (2007)
T-shirt: Splendid
Jeans: J Brand (2013)
Shoes: Opening Ceremony (2013)}
Purse: Prada (2008)

It turns out my idea of what I would have gravitated to in the 1980s has been consistent throughout the 2000s. I didn’t realize till later that I wore the same look to see Madonna in 2008. Ha! At least I styled the jacket a little differently when I wore it to see Lady Gaga in 2010. Clearly this jacket has become my go-to fun concert look. Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I ended my streak of awesome concert photos with Depeche Mode. We had floor seats, but not at the front. I always have mixed feelings about floor seats. If it’s not a general-admission concert and I can’t fight my way to the front, the view isn’t necessarily that great.


Tiny and blurry Depeche Mode lead singer Dave Gahan in front of big video images of himself.

The sound was awesome though!


The tiny guys taking a bow at the end.

I like that the 1986 New York Times article’s description of Depeche Mode’s music still fits:

“Influenced by the West German band Einsturrzende Neuubaten [Wendy’s note: the correct name is Einstürzende Neubauten], whose music incorporates the sounds of industrial noise, Depeche Mode has evolved a clangorous, crunching style of pop that at times verges on heavy metal. Its mechanized dance rhythms are shot through with abrasive, often ominously metallic sound effects. In concert, even its most cheerful music suggests a merry-go-round playing at half speed.”

But I would say Martin Gore, the main songwriter and occasional lead singer, at age 52 no longer “cultivates a look whose mixture of satanic spikiness and pouty glamour resembles that of the pop star Billy Idol.” That was then …

Paul Natkin Archive

Martin, back in the day.

… and this is now.


Photo courtesy Electronic Beats. Click for source and interview.

He’s still working the shiny clothes, black nail polish and eye makeup at least. I approve! And singer Dave Grahan twirls, struts, and shakes his thang with his shirt off. Sex-ay AND emo? A (grown-up) teenager’s dream. I’m going to make a point to see Depeche Mode again in exactly 27 years. Someone tell those boys to take their vitamins! They need to stay in shape for me.

UPDATED TO ADD: I added this to Not Dead Yet Style’s Visible Monday post. Click here to see the other visible wimmins.

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32 Responses to “What Wendy Wore: Depeche Mode and a False Memory”

  1. Marguerite/Chicspace says:

    I saw Depeche Mode at the Kabuki in SFO in May of 1981…one of my first concerts, and way before they had taken off. It was them and a reel-to-reel. Pretty awesome, but I remember I was so tired I could barely stay awake (thank god it was LOUD).

  2. Sheila says:

    Oh man, I was such a Thomson Twins fan back in the day! I altered a pair of my dad’s suit pants to make a paperbag waist and sewed them really tight at the ankles. So stylin’!

    I still have my vinyl LP of “Some Great Reward” (shhh…I lost my virginity to it!). Memories!

  3. mct says:

    Being the german I am I can’t resist to correct you. The name of the West German band is “Einstürzende Neubauten”. Sorry for being a smartarse.

    • WendyB says:

      Ooh, thank you, it’s actually the New York Times’s ancient error! So no need to apologize to me 🙂
      Let me figure out how to correct something that appeared in a direct quote. I think I will take it out of the quote to do it!

      • mct says:

        Wow, you could even squeeze in the Umlaut. Something I did not expect 🙂
        (I thought so that it was the NY Times error.)

      • WendyB says:

        I must admit I usually copy and paste words Umlauts and accent marks, though I know there is a way to do them on a U.S. keyboard.

      • Wendy if you have a Mac all you have to do is hold down the key you want to add the accent to. For example to get the umlaut you’d hold down the “u” and you’ll see a little popup that has all the different accents you can use. For the umlaut, its the second one so you hit the number two & get this: ü. When I write Idée Fixe, I hold down the “e” and again the correct accent is the second, so I do the same thing. Works on all Apple products you can use a keyboard with (iPhone, iPad.) Don’t know about Windows though. XXX

      • WendyB says:

        What, so easy?! Wait, do I have to uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse a function key too? LOL, don’t tell me, I’ll look it up and figure it out!

      • Easy peasey, no function key, just make note of what order its in and hit that number. As soon as the little popup appears when I hold down the “U” I see the umlaut is the second one so I let go of the “U”, hit the number 2 and voila! “Ü”! Hey now you can be all fancy and say “français”! (btw that was number 1) XXX
        PS forgot Welsh, everything sounds good in Welsh too (you should hear how they say “fuck off” brilliant!) Damn Rosetta Stone for getting rid of Welsh, I’m dying to learn it!

  4. You look fantastic! I saw Depeche Mode in the nineties, I was going through a hideous break-up at the time so didn’t enjoy the gig much – but my friend who was sane thought they were fab.

  5. I’m glad you figured out the dates, as I was first reading I thought no way would they fill Radio City in 83, they were still on the club circuit. Haha yesterday I just mentioned Einstürzende Neubauten! You know what it means right? XXX

    • WendyB says:

      We’re soulmates?

      • Hahaha! No it means “collapsing new buildings”! I just like saying it every once in awhile, kinda rolls off your tongue weirdly & feels fun! (They were a cool band too!) Oh heck everything sounds better in German… meine Schmerz, schadenfreude, leibling, hexe katze! (Calliope the kitty speaks German so I’ve been practicing.) XXX PS You know cats had to have invented schadenfreude!

  6. nikki says:

    Great jacket! You look fab 😉

  7. Jean says:

    Parallel universe!! I’ve been channeling the ’80’s big time recently, and actually chose to go there for my yellow skirt debut. I love your iteration of the time, and enjoyed your photos of big hair. The concert must have been a lot of fun.

    Should I be disturbed that my name recognition word for this comment is sucker? I think I prefer words like oligarchio, or splendida. The number 10 is always good, too. XXOO

  8. Not sure what I’m more jealous of – all of your amazing concert experiences or that jacket! Totally Gaga/Depeche Mode worthy.

  9. thanks for sharing this awesome jacket with Visible Monday!

  10. Gabriala says:

    Love the shoes, jacket and that bag WendyB. I was hearing Depeche Mode the entire time I read this post. I used to pound it into my head and couldn’t get enough back in the day. For sure, that jacket ain’t broke and needs no fixin! xo

  11. Oh, sweet Wendy … the memory thing doesn’t get any better. But sometimes the mashup of events as we remember them is a truer picture of a life!
    You look grand, and very cute-puffy. Great era, yes?
    I haven’t been to many concerts (life at armpit level can be unpleasant) but I did see the Thompson Twins open for the Police at Tacoma. Fun night, but friends we went with were too stodgy to make it really fun.

  12. I was just discussing on facebook how Alannah Currie was my hair idol at the time! Tremendous jacket and bag, and I especially love how you mined your memory and news sources for historical accuracy. Glad to hear DM continues to turn out a quality performance!

  13. stacy says:

    You looked adorable! And Dave looked H.O.T.