1981-07-29 Bridge House, London, England, UK

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Depeche Mode played a secret gig on this date. Photographer Tim Williams' recollected here:

The previous weeks, the 'New Musical Express' contained a cryptic clue in the regular 'Bridge House' block advert for forthcoming bands. For the 29th it said 'MODEPECHE: Dreaming of a new life'. I jokingly said to Martin Gore, "That's not very secret, I would have thought it was obvious". But clearly I was wrong because although there was a respectable turnout, maybe about 200 people, it was not a repeat of the mania of the previous week's sell out London 'Venue' concert. The 29th of July was a national holiday, the wedding day of 'Charles & Diana' and I spent the day looking forward to this unusual opportunity to see the now famous Depeche Mode back playing a small venue. Arriving at about 7:15pm, there was no sign of the band. Eventually the support act 'Voice of Reason' came on stage but there was still no sign of Depeche Mode. The band finally arrived having just recorded 'Top of the Pops' at BBC TV Centre in Shepherds Bush and had had a long and difficult journey across London. With the audience already in place they had to do a basic soundcheck in front of the assembled fans. It wasn't the first Depeche Mode soundcheck I had witnessed and it certainly wasn't the last but it was definitely the shortest. After a few minutes break they came back and with Dave's apology "sorry we were late" they launched into 'Television Set'.

Dave Gahan recounted to the NME in early August 1981 a strange conversation happening at a 'home gig', which is most likely to have taken place on this night:

"There was this bloke come to see us the other day and he said to me after the show – I think it's really bad the way you have all your friends in the audience talking to you and that, and then we’re all over here and you don’t react to us. I said well what do you mean? He said: I think it’s really bad that you have like all your friends in the changing room. I said well what do you want me to say c'mon all the audience into the changing room. He said – well have you got lots of friends? I said well I've got a few. He said – well I haven't got any. Well pity you mate! Isn't that a friend, a guy who was with him. He said – yeah he's a friend, but not a friend like that. It was really weird! I couldn't be bothered talking to him. He thought that we should be like Gary Numan and have the distant lonely look and image. Because we play synthesisers and we’re supposed to look strange at people, and not smile. The bloke didn’t like the way I smiled at people!"

It is assumed that the Summer 1981 Intro would have been performed at this concert due to the date of its occurrence, however because the band arrived late to the concert and, per Tim Williams’ recollection above, launched directly into Television Set, it can be inferred that the intro was skipped in the interest of time. You can read more information about this intro on its page.

“Voice of Reason” was the support act, according to Tim Williams who attended the concert and mentioned this band in his quote above.

Set list

  1. Television Set
  2. Boys Say Go!
  3. New Life
  4. Puppets
  5. Ice Machine
  6. Big Muff
  7. Just Can't Get Enough
  8. What's Your Name?
  9. Tora! Tora! Tora!
  10. Photographic
  11. The Price Of Love
  12. Dreaming Of Me