Depeche Mode in Fair Park: Reliving My First Concert with My Mom, 12 Long Years Later
On July 17, 2001 my mom took me to see Depeche Mode. I had just turned 12 years old, and it was my first concert. By the time we walked up First Avenue to what was then called the Smirnoff Music Center, my palms were already sweaty and my feet already hurt, because I had insisted on wearing a pair of black knee-high gogo boots from an old Halloween costume. Mama glided along next to me in a floor length black skirt and Victorian granny boots. The chains on her custom leather bondage belt jingled as she walked. She looked just like Siouxsie Sioux, and I remember hoping that one day I'd be at least half as cool as she was. I realize now that no one will ever be.
To celebrate her birthday this week, I took her back to that same place, now called Gexa Energy Pavilion, for that same band, to recreate one of the most formative experiences she has ever given me. The result was another night of live music that I will remember for the rest of my life.
We arrived this past Friday dressed down, as was most of the crowd. Our first time around was on the Exciter Tour, which brought out a younger crowd, many adorned in proper "Master and Servant" attire.
This time around we weren't the only ones looking for some nostalgia. We got inside, and Mama reeled over how much closer our seats were this time. We watched together as David Gahan twirled and spun across the stage. I leaned in to exclaimed to my mom, "God, he's so cool!"
You'd be be hard pressed to find another rockstar as ageless as Gahan. He looked exactly as I remembered him, svelte and fiery, still rocking a six pack under his black leather vest. His incredible voice is pristine, in spite years of struggling with drug addiction. Time has not been so easy on Mama and me. During Martin Gore's deeply moving rendition of "But Not Tonight," I reflected on the last decade of my life.
The stars in the sky Bring tears to my eyes They're lighting my way Tonight.
And I haven't felt so alive In years.
In the time that had passed since we last found ourselves here, my family has been through a lot. My coming of age process was a tumultuous one. My father died unexpectedly when I was a senior in High School, and in 2014 it will have been seven years since my last eating disorder relapse -- a benchmark most specialists use to define a full recovery from Anorexia Nervosa. It's an affliction I've lived with for the majority of my life.
And when our worlds they fall apart When the walls come tumbling in Though we may deserve it It will be worth it.
"Halo," a personal favorite off 1990's seminal genre classic, Violator, felt especially profound. During the Goldfrapp remixed version, a video package of a girl leaning face first into the Berlin wall appeared behind the band. The stripped down, melancholy rendition and Gahan's voice echoing across Fair Park will haunt me for days to come.
Can't you understand Oh my little girl All I ever wanted All I ever needed Is here in my arms.
It was another Violator cut that would brought me back to present day, and brought tears to my eyes. As the opening chords of "Enjoy The Silence," the crowd erupted in dance. I grabbed Mama's hand and squeezed it tight. We swayed together in sync, swinging our hips the way that she had taught me to from the time I could walk.
All I've ever wanted in my life is to show my mother that I am strong like she is. That I could make it through the darkness set upon us by a series of tragic life events. As we danced, I remembered her throwing me into her car to check me into rehab. I remembered sobbing in her arms at my father's funeral. I remembered the devastation in her eyes when she saw my gaunt, skeletal form in the proofs from my senior portraits.
I remembered all of this, and I watched her smiling face lit up, singing along to every word. In this moment, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. I was thankful to share this experience with her and for the ability repay her in some small way for the love of music she instilled in me, which has shaped the person I am today. I was grateful to be alive and to feel joy. It seems like we've finally made it through the darkness that defined our lives for so long. Like David Gahan, we are still dancing after all these years, and we will dance together for years to come.
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