When Depeche Mode announced last October that their Tour of the Universe would only take in stadium venues across the globe my heart sank as most stadium venues are rubbish for gigs, not least due to the usually awful acoustics. However, when I heard that the band would play at the historic Olympic Stadium in Berlin (where they'd held their press conference last October announcing the tour), the once swastika-clad stadium where, in 1936, black athlete Jessie Owens set world records and grabbed four gold medals and humiliated the Nazi ideal in the process, I realised this could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance so just had to be there.
Having never been to Berlin before, my wife and I used the gig as an opportunity to play tourist for a week. A planned tour of the famous Hansa studios (used by Bowie to record Low and Heroes and by Depeche Mode four times, the first time to record the 1983 album Construction Time Again) didn't happen and an acoustic gig by Noblese Oblige the same week was unfortunately cancelled at the last minute. However, we did get to go to a DM convention the night before where label mates Nitzer Ebb were headlining, whilst Mode's Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher lent their support from the audience. The roles were reversed tonight with Nitzer Ebb helping to make up the reported 68,000 fans filling out the vast Olympic venue. By far the biggest gig I've ever been to and, give or take a few (and depending on your source) it matches or even exceeds the epic Rose Bowl gig in Pasadena in 1988 featured in the Depeche Mode documentary film 101.