On 13 January 2006 the European leg of the tour started in Dresden. It comprised 52 concerts and ended on 3 April in London.
In the meantime, on 27 March, the single Suffer Well / Better Days was released. It is the first single that was written by Dave. It was nominated in the category of "Best Dance Recording" at the 2007 Grammy Awards but lost out. The video was filmed by Anton Corbijn in mid-December 2005 in California. It was the first time after some years break that Corbijn made a video for DM.
Dave (about the line where were you when I fell from grace in Suffer Well): "It was definitely a little dig at them. I didn't write it like that but when I sang it, I did picture Martin. It was, 'What didn't you understand that I needed you the most then. Where was the f*** answers when I needed them most?' When I finally hit a wall, of crawling across the floor of that apartment in Santa Monica, I felt myself dying. I felt my soul had gone and inside I was screaming, 'Where the f*** are you?!'"
I suppose this is one of those statements about which Martin said he'd think, 'What?!' And I don't think Dave meant it as he'd said it. He just jumped on a suggestive question from the journalist because it sounded so nice at that moment.
Martin: "I've been accused of being closed, emotionally, and it's true up to a point. Sometimes I find it difficult, dealing with life in general. Music helps me there. It's some kind of therapy. There are obviously things I feel guilty about in my life. I'm in the middle of my divorce at the moment. I've got three children." - That's what the lyrics of Precious are about. - "I feel like I've failed in my marriage. I feel guilty about that because of the children. Maybe the marriage was partly a charade for a while anyway. Maybe I felt guilty about that for ... I don't know how many years. We're a very non-talkative band. I think, deep down, we all want the same thing, but it only takes one person to say something slightly off the beaten track for someone to take it wrongly and for it all to go off. But why not look at it another way? We've been together 25 years, so we must be doing something right."[1]

The Darkest Star

(The Darkest Star - with friendly permission of © Justin Lim
Origin title of the picture was: Sister Of Night))

From 27 April to 21 May the band returned for 12 concerts to the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
On 2 June the second European leg started, comprised 33 concerts, including many festivals, and ended on 1 August in Athens.
In the meantime, on 5 June, the single John the Revelator / Lilian was released. It was the first double A-side release since Blasphemous Rumours / Somebody in 1984. John the Revelator was edited down several seconds for the single, while Lilian was slightly remixed and the introduction was shortened.
John the Revelator is based on an early 20th century gospel/folk song performed by Son House, Blind Willie Johnson, and later by The Holy Modal Rounders, The Blues Brothers and John Mellencamp. It's not a cover song as such but is working with several elements of the original track.
On 25 September the concert video Touring the Angel: Live in Milan was released.
On 30 October the single Martyr was released. It was linked to Best of Depeche Mode Volume One which was released on 13 November. The song, originally titled Martyr for Love, is a missing track from the Playing the Angel sessions. It was considered to be the first single but in the end it did not make it onto the album.
Fletch (about the Best of): "It isn't a release for the big fan. This one has the songs anyway. The record is aimed more at people who only have a few DM records, or even none at all. We discussed the selection of the songs a lot. It was difficult. Every big DM fan probably has a completely different list of favourite songs. I associate many memories with every song, for example how we recorded it and whether we had good or bad times."[2]

Altogether Playing the Angel (including the tour) was a great success. Many fans liked the livelier and "edgier" Playing the Angel better than Exciter, and it brought many new fans to the band. The internet helped, too, or the fact that in 2006 many more people had internet access than in 2001. Many fans are in networks nowadays talking about their collections and interests and making appointments for parties and concerts. The "devoted community" (or Black Swarm) came alive a second time, although in a different way than in the 1980s.
Sometimes it doesn't work at all because some "old" fans, who still hang on to "their" band but have increasing problems with what DM is doing and releasing today, get into trouble with "new" fans. And the difference gets bigger so there are almost two communities today - "the fans who want Alan back moaner community" and the "I like most what they do who the f*** is Alan community".
While the "old timers" often have their difficulties with the newer stuff from the band, the younger fans often don't understand the real old stuff, but it's interesting that most of them nevertheless often name Black Celebration, Music for the Masses, Violator or SOFAD as their favourite albums, along with the newer ones with which they found their way to the band. There are only a few who say that they have difficulties with Violator or SOFAD because of "all the drug stories."
Every album from the "post-Alan-era" had its critics, (although critics of the critics say that even an album like Violator got bad reviews) and these critics get louder from album to album. The highpoint was reached at Sounds of the Universe (SOTU) which divided the fans more than ever before.
Of course, the fans are still devoted - and there are many new fans - but it's noticeable that in the survey of depechemodebiographie.de most answers (34%) applied to "the former days". Of those there are 24% saying that "the sound (without Alan) is not longer that complex / rich / bombastic / atmospheric / orchestral". And 24% - applying to "today" - said that the "quality isn't as high anymore". It is also noticeable that 77% of the answers applying to former times are positive, while there are only 54% positive answers applying to today. That they "lost their typical sound" is one of the central points in the endless "Alan-discussion".

I found an interesting statement from Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) about this. Of course, he is referring to Iron Maiden but it nevertheless suits DM as well. "I think that fans are very old fashioned in general - whatever they are fans of. In that very moment you discover something you like you want to keep this for you. If you like a painter who tells you one day that he won't paint anymore but works as a sculptor, you'll be disappointed. It is the same with the music business. Musicians are always trying to find something new so as not to get bored. But fans are only entertained by songs they really like. They don't want completely new things, but consistency."[3]

[1] Songs of Innocence and Experience, Mojo, November 2005. Words: Danny Eccleston
[2] DM: Das haben wir uns verdient, ZEIT Online, Tagesspiegel, 6 November 2006, Words: Nadine Emmerich
[3] Article in Metal Hammer, April 2002, words: Matthias Mineur

Biography: 2007

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