1980-11-12 Bridge House, London, England, UK

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Notes

This was the first time that Daniel Miller saw Depeche Mode live. Daniel Miller had already seen Vince and Dave before: the two of them went to Rough Trade's office with their demo cassette, but got forwarded to Daniel Miller's little Mute office within the same building, but Daniel basically ignored them. Daniel in Uncut magazine, May 2001: "It wasn't that I wasn't impressed, I didn't actually listen. I was in the middle of something else, they wanted to play me stuff, and I said I can't listen to it now. I just thought they looked like dodgy New Romantics. I didn't even hear the music at that point. The first time I heard the music was at [1980-11-12, Bridge House]. I didn't even associate them as being the same group." Miller says in 1997: "They've continued to remind me of this [mistake] ever since!"

Miller explains it better in 2011 (translated):

"On the day that Fad Gadget's first album was released[1] I was in a terribly bad mood, because the pressing plant had messed up the album cover. Suddenly I was standing at my desk in [the building of] record label "Rough Trade", which I was allowed to use, because I couldn't afford a place of my own, with [Rough Trade] colleague Scott and some weird guys [Vince and Dave]. He said: "Listen to this band, you might like it." He didn't mention their names. With the misprinted album cover in mind, I had other stuff on my mind and walked way without saying a word. The next time I saw Depeche Mode was not much later at the Bridge House, run by Terry Murphy, a pretty shady ex-boxer, who booked quite good bands. Fad Gadget was going to play there, and he had hooked up these guys from Basildon as the support act. I was occupied by Fad Gadget's sound, and normally I would have missed out on Depeche Mode, because I usually would go out to eat during the soundcheck, just to return right in time for the show. I can't remember why I didn't do so that night. But anyway, I didn't mind it when suddenly these four guys started playing. The guy from Naked Lunch was standing next to me. We listened to the first song and both thought: "Wow, that's good." And so it continued. Even more interesting was the crowd's reaction: it clicked immediately. The people were dancing and didn't even look at the band. Dave was still very shy. He stood very still, sang the lyrics and didn't move and inch, and yet, the spark flew over. After the show, I introduced myself to the band and said how much I had liked their performance. But of course I had no idea that they were still pissed off about me. Vince and the others had not forgotten about our meeting at Rough Trade and so they reacted really cool. I tried to have some small talk with Fletch and asked him what music he liked. His reply: "Anything that’s fashionable." Someone else replied to that: "No, Fletch, you listen to ELO." Before I went home I asked them where they would play next time. Dave gave me his parents' phone number. When I called the next day, his mother was on the phone. She then put Dave on the phone, whose bad mood was not to be missed. He only mumbled: "Okay, fair enough. You can come to our next gig.""

Dave Gahan said in the documentary for the Speak & Spell remaster DVD from 2006:

We knew [Daniel Miller] was there, because, I think, he was mixing Fad's sound. It was a big crowd, it was full up, and Daniel came up afterwards and came up to me, thinking at the time that I was writing the songs or something. And I said, 'No, that's the guy over in the corner there.' He sat down with Vince, he was talking to him for a while, but I kinda gave him the cold shoulder, I think I told him to fuck off, actually, at the time. But he came back again and again.

Daniel Miller also recalled in 2013:

"I first saw Depeche Mode play live when they were supporting another band on Mute, Fad Gadget, at a pub in the East End of London called The Bridge House in Canning Town, roughly October 1980. I thought they were amazing. It was one of those moments when you can’t quite believe what you’re hearing or seeing. It was just three kids, really—two of them were 18, Dave was 17, and Vince was 19. They had these kind of New Romantic clothes and dodgy haircuts. And they had three simple, monophonic synthesizers teetering on the edge of beer crates. Dave had a little uplight thing to make him look gothic or spooky or something. They had a little drum machine to do the rhythms, and Dave just stood completely still throughout the whole concert. I can’t remember which song they played first; I thought, “This is amazing, but they probably just played their best song first and the rest is going to be not very good,” but it just got better and better. They were great pop songs. They were really well structured and really well arranged, based on just a drum machine and three monophonic synthesizers. The melodies, the counter-melodies to the vocals were great. It was kind of perfect, almost. Perfect in my head for what I wanted. So, afterwards, I went backstage and said, “When are you playing again, I’d love to see you again.” They were playing The Bridge House following week supporting somebody else, so I went back to see them."

Terry Murphy, owner of the Bridge House, recollected in 2006:

So we continued to promote [DM] for the next few months. [...] I was always looking for something a bit different. And I noticed in the music press that Fad Gadget were doing the rounds and getting some rave reviews. I really wanted to book them. I had seen them when they supported Wasted Youth at the Lyceum in the West End of London, so I kept an eye on the music press. Then I read that the front man’s name was Frank Tovey, the same name as one of my good friends from our working days in the Fish Market. He was also a best friend of my brother-in-law, Joe Lucy, who ran a pub gig at The Ruskin Arms in East Ham E6. I rang Joe and got Frank’s number. I called him and asked about Frank Tovey. He tells me, “He’s my son. Don’t you remember? You played with him enough when you fetched your kids around my house in Stepney.” I said, “Yes, but why did you not tell me that he had a band?” So Frank, Sr. gave me his agent’s name. I phoned him. “Yes, they would be delighted to play the Bridge.” Fad Gadget were really an up-and-coming band, and an ideal band for Depeche Mode to support... young, trendy and hip. Perfect. I ring Dave’s house and once again spoke to his mother, who was always very nice and friendly. Nothing was too much trouble [for her]. And she would always write down what I said, so as not to make any mistakes. Dave Gahan was never in whenever I phoned, but he always got back within an hour or so. When I told him Fad Gadget was playing and they could support him, he screamed out with pleasure. The night arrives, and it was going to be a good one. We never opened until 7pm, but we would let in the band at 5pm so they could set up all their instruments. Without fail, Andy Fletcher was always first to arrive. I think he was working in central London, and on finishing work, came straight to the Bridgehouse. The rest of the guys came from Basildon. The A13 was always busy that time of night, so they were always a little bit late. Not Andy... he would be banging on the back door, waking me up from my afternoon snooze.”

Steve Fisher recollected in 2006:

I think Wasted Youth and John must have been on tour, as I was hanging about in the office with [Terry Murphy] before opening up. We got into conversation about Depeche Mode who were headlining that night, and then about Fad Gadget who were headlining later that month, one of us or both of us thought we should see if Depeche wanted the support gig. Being the boy I got sent down to ask, I can remember like it was yesterday getting up on stage while the band were setting up and having a chat, I asked them if they fancied the gig, 3 members played it very cool and strugged, Vince meanwhile grinned like a Cheshire cat and replied something very close to “bloody hell, yeah!!” at which point I spotted out of the corner of my eye the other guys clenching fists in a subdued celebratory fashion. When the gig came about, Frank Tovey (Fad Gadget) did it dressed, I think as a Womble, right at the front of the stage for the whole gig was one Stinky Turner (lead singer with “Cockney Reject”), who stood totally transfixed by this site. So the night was here. Was I right to put Depeche on with Fad Gadget? We had no problem except trying to calm down Frank Tovey. He was so active, even during the rehearsal when there were no customers. He really put 200% into it. It was also nice to see his brother, who was a really good boxer and was there with my son Glen and Ray Winstone, members of the Repton Boxing Club. The gig went off perfectly, and because of the good feeling to the evening, Depeche did not want to come off stage. They even got an encore and came back on, which is unheard of for the support act. Frank said to me, “Let them go back on again, as many times as they like!” A true professional, Frank was. When [Fad Gadget] came on the audience erupted. He was diving all over the place... in the crowd, on the bar, smashing all the glasses. Standing at the back, I thought there was riot happening and ran round to the back stage area. I was delighted to see everybody laughing and cheering. I was introduced to Daniel Miller, from Mute Records. He was also a recording artist himself. He told me he was impressed with Depeche Mode. I told him we were going in the studio soon to get some tracks down. He was interested in that. I said I would send a copy of the recording to him when they were finished. He replied “that would be nice". We never got to get Depeche in the studio. We were very busy at the pub. The record company was releasing two albums and four singles. Wasted Youth were on a European tour so things were very hectic. Daniel spoke to the band and got them in the studio. Because of Bridgehouse Records, he did it as a one off, with no contract exchanged. So he was very fair to me. A bit different from a guy who I had given a Thursday night to for new bands, and who booked one of my regular studios, John Bassetts in Forest Gate, and recorded a compilation that included Depeche Mode’s first recording, which should have been mine. Sum Bizarrely [ed: Some Bizarre], I think the label was called.

References

  1. Fad Gadget's first album Fireside Favourites was released on 1980-09-01, so this meeting had to have taken place on or shortly before this date.