1981-04-06 Bridge House, London, England, UK/Source 1
A very good audience recording, definitely one of the better ones from 1981. The recording is incomplete because of fades between tracks that were present on the unmodified recording, so some audience noise, some of Dave's talking between tracks which likely occurred, and a very small amount of music is lost. The fades have been seamlessly eliminated for optimal listening enjoyment. Bass can be somewhat distorted and overpowering depending on the song. The most unique part of this recording is the final song performed: Mamma Mia, which is an instrumental cover of the ABBA song of the same name, played over the backing tape of Photographic. According to Daryl Bamonte's article in BONG magazine issue 24, page 18, Mamma Mia was performed live in the band's early career, and the song is also seen in one of the handwritten set lists in the magazine article.
The exact date of this recording is unknown since the CD-R and its artwork have no indication of date. The best educated guess for the date is one of the April 1981 performances at the Bridge House, either on April 6 or April 12. This conclusion is based on a review in the May 9, 1981 issue of "Sounds" magazine which states that the magazine has received reports of a cover of ABBA's Mamma Mia ending the concert at a recent Depeche Mode concert at the Bridge House. Because it seems that the April 12 concert was not well advertised, since there seems to be only a mention of its occurrence in Deb Danahay's diary (the photo of that diary page is unfortunately no longer available), it makes sense that April 6 is most likely the date of this recording.
A scan from the May 9, 1981 issue of "Sounds" magazine is included to view, courtesy of Vince who generously purchased and sent the magazine issue to DM Live. The text of the review reads:
"MODE AVANT GARDE?: Just because they played at the Bridge House, it didn't mean that Depeche Mode could escape the Jaws Futuramic Dept, which heard alarming reports that their encore (rockists!) was a delicately perfumed instrumental interpretation of Abba's 'Mama Mia'! Showing your roots, boys?"
Also included are an image of NME's advertisement of Depeche Mode having a concert scheduled on April 6, 1981, courtesy of the Facebook group "Depeche Mode Classic Photos and Videos", and a photo of an advertisement from the TRAX Magazine showing the same, courtesy of Deb Danahay. These images can also be viewed on the main wiki page for this date. Scans and photographs of the artwork and of the CD-R itself are also included. According to the NME advertisement, the support acts for this concert were Philip Jap, and DJ Darryn Murphy.
Daryl Bamonte was also consulted, and according to his recollection, Mamma Mia was performed at a concert where the band's synthesizers were sitting atop overturned beer crates. The February 9, 1981 concert at the Bridge House meets that criteria, as evidenced by concert photographs taken by Steve Burton, as well as a review of that concert in the February 21 issue of "Sounds" magazine which mention the keyboards being set on beer crates. Those photos and magazine review are included for reference as well. However, the May 9, 1981 "Sounds" magazine review is a significantly more concrete indicator of this recording's most likely date, since it explicitly states that Mamma Mia was reported to be the concert's encore.
Here are some noteworthy differences and observations:
- New Life has a different arrangement compared to later versions performed in 1981, and this version closely resembles the earlier versions of the song as it was performed in 1980.
- I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead sounds radically different to the later Autumn 1981 arrangement, and is similar to the version played at 1980-11-14 Essex. Furthermore, Dave sings "Just for me and you" as on the album version, unlike "Just like me and you" as on every other available live recording of the song.
- At the end of Dreaming Of Me, Dave does not sing "Dreaming of me - Just dreaming of me - And only me - Just me". Martin's "ooh la la la" backing vocal at the end is almost inaudible on this recording, but it is present.
- This is now the earliest available recording of Boys Say Go!. It is possible that the song debuted in the live set around this time, as it sounds similar to later renditions of the song.
- There are keyboard problems at the beginning of The Price Of Love, and Dave begins singing too late as a result.
- Just Can't Get Enough is the same version played earlier at 1980-11-14 Essex, and later at 1981-06-01 Bridge House and 1981-06-27 Crocs. The song's single version is performed at the next available concert with a recording of this song, 1981-07-23 London.
- Before Television Set begins, several members in the crowd cheer "Television Set!". The enthusiastic crowd helps solidify that this concert is indeed from the Bridge House, where Depeche Mode had a residency.
- The final song performed is an instrumental cover of the ABBA song Mamma Mia, played over the backing tape of Photographic, of which no recording was previously available.
The resemblance of the arrangements of songs from this concert compared to the recording labeled as 1980-11-14 Essex raises doubts about the accuracy of that recording's date. It is possible that the recording labeled 1980-11-14 Essex is actually from 1981-04-02 Essex. However, without further recordings or accurate set lists available to reference, it is difficult to accurately make that determination at this time.
To address several loud and distracting high frequency ringing noises present throughout the recording, iZotope RX 4 was used to target the offending frequencies and reduce the intensity of the noise. However, this process isn't perfect, and you may still hear some intermittent ringing noises from time to time. Some noise reduction was applied as a side effect of the ringing noise removal, and as a result the recording has next to no hiss. This also explains the lack of confidence of the losslessness test done by auCDTectTaskManager, but it can be assured that the original source is lossless.
The recording was speed-corrected to closely match the 1981 BBC Studio Session, however because the speed seems to vary slightly by the end of the recording, the speed-correction is not totally perfect. There were fades and two-second silent gaps between songs on the original recording from the CD-R which have been removed. This recording is 100% dual-mono ("mono" is even written on the CD-R), but it remains a stereo file set for compatibility purposes.
DM Live believes that this tape was transferred using relatively poor audio equipment, perhaps something like the ION Tape2PC device. This could explain the presence of the very loud and annoying ringing noises that originally damaged the audio. The CD-R's front artwork has an "ImboCordings" logo, but there is no information about that moniker online.
This recording has previously circulated as a set of lossy WAV files, and has been uploaded to YouTube in the past. Please be aware that any YouTube version uploaded prior to this release is from a lossy source and is misdated. The version available for download here is lossless.
This recording is shared in memory of Terry Murphy, the owner of the Bridge House venue at which Depeche Mode frequently performed between 1980 and 1982, totaling no less than 17 concerts. Terry sadly passed away on June 27, 2023 at the age of 93. It could be said that Terry was one of the discoverers of Depeche Mode, and without his influence, who knows where Depeche Mode would be today.
Special thanks to everybody involved in acquiring, preparing, and researching this recording: Vince, Robert, Andrew, DrakeDaigo, and anyone else involved not mentioned here. Also many thanks to Daryl Bamonte for lending his ear to questions and trying to help track down a more specific date for this recording.
If the taper of this concert or owner of the original tape happens to be reading this, please reach out to [email protected] to chat! This recording is fantastic and deserves an improved digitization to best preserve its quality.
You can listen to this entire recording below.
- [3:19] Play New Life
- [2:09] Play I Sometimes Wish I Was Dead
- [3:34] Play Dreaming Of Me
- [4:14] Play Big Muff
- [2:28] Play Boys Say Go!
- [3:32] Play The Price Of Love
- [3:31] Play Just Can't Get Enough
- [3:29] Play Photographic
- [3:33] Play Television Set
- [3:24] Play Mamma Mia
- Total time: 33:13
- Incomplete audience recording
- unknown taper and equipment (mono recorder?) -> unknown generation cassette (likely a master tape or very low generation) -> unknown transfer to CD-R -> eBay purchased Philips CD-R (titled "Live At The Bridge House Tavern") -> Exact Audio Copy v1.0b3 (optimal settings, rip log included) -> in iZotope RX 4: spectral denoising (significantly reduce ringing noises), speed correction, silent gaps between tracks removed, normalized to -0.1dB and any DC bias removed -> further edits by Vince (eliminate fades, slight further volume tweaks) -> FLAC level 8
- Artwork and CD-R scans, "Sounds" magazine review scans, various gig advertisements, Exact Audio Copy log, and auCDTectTaskManager log included
- Download ZIP - FLAC 16-bit 44.1KHz - 140.81MB