Beyond The Gates

Pontaillac, August 1986

Dear Alban,

I’ve been waiting for days, we all have. For summer, Depeche Mode coming back in the great south west of France and we’re in ! 11th of August, on the Stadium Esplanade. I had never found such interest in this place …

The old-stock inhabitants must have thought it queer to see their parking invaded by a horde of young people in leather with smoky eyes, hats, pearls and chains. All that the region had for synthpop fans had landed there with a loud clatter. It was joyful. People were singing, mostly “A Question Of Lust”, while the most qualified among them were talking about Emulators, Guillaume Tell studios in Suresnes ( where the album was recorded) , and the curious percussion curtain on which Alan beats obstinately.

The atmosphere was electric, with that hot asphalt blast, trampled with more and more frenzied ardor by thousands of big soles.
Behind the opaque grilles, we heard the first bars of “Black Celebration”. A breathless silence fell immediately.
Alan, Alan … He was certainly there, making the last adjustments, playing.
Fucking incredible. In our little town.
Between the walls, inside our derisory Sundays events’ area ! Alan was honing his sound magic, in the open air , in Royan evening.

Then nothing, the wait again. Colin sat on the ground, then one by one, all those who belonged to our little group, except two guys from Poitiers who you know I guess, for they’re also fond of New Order. Pierre-Louis and Hugues , I think… with peroxidized brush cuts. They remained standing, in this attitude of guys who think they are clever not to sit with the others , and not to drop their long raincoats while we are in the middle of August …
I’m sorry if they’re friends of yours, one of them is DJing in the cellar of the Grand’Goule where Low-Life is a religion…

But they were stubbornly standing. And the sky, I hadn’t noticed it, was heavy like the bottom of a bottle, through which passed a weird greenish sun; and you could almost hear the clouds clashing each other. It was a kind of drought growing in us from the overheated ground, and to make matters worse I stole a cigarette from Colin, what made the others laugh because I finally know how to smoke.

I don’t know how long we’ve been sitting there, long enough to feel this was the bivouac of an long and uncomfortable joke; long enough to feel the first big drops of a summer storm. It was not driving rain, but something insidious that strummed on our foreheads and cheeks, that didn’t stop. The good mood of the beginning was gone, necks were raised to try seeing above the gates.
But a strange silence had replaced our imaginary sounds, those that hope in our rooms had forged before coming here; they dissipated in a single word
Cancelled

It’s difficult to understand such a word, especially when you don’t know exactly where it comes from in the crowd. Your dumbfounded conscience doesn’t believe it, you remain paralyzed while the others begin to disperse. You want to shout at them “Don’t leave ! They gonna call us back”
You cannot imagine that it could happen otherwise, in these cases it’s the reality that seems inconceivable.
Many people were just staying there.

But there were all the rational ones, (starting with your two friends) to give their technical explanation.
“The sound was not good enough”
“ They didn’t think on a proper protection for the machines”
But don’t you remember?

Oh God it’s raining
But I’m not complaining

I’m not complaining … the very diffuse sound of my dumbfounded consciousness, or that of an angry crumpled paper that rolls in the wind on the asphalt.

Why did they not … ?
Tears were not coming by me. I saw Maude and Diane slightly crying but I was unable to.

David and Colin got together to pick me up.
We brought everyone back, and then we drove home. Silently, I was still not crying.

Dad was surprised to see us arrive so early, but he didn’t make any comment. Colin and I have stayed together in his room, and there it came. It came because the magic didn’t happen, and that the time of trials is coming, for good …
Colin made us some tea, lit a candle, burned copal incense.
I didn’t want to listen to Depeche Mode, so we played the whole Victorialand from the Cocteau Twins, that I didn’t know completely, and it was wonderful…

Well, precious Alb, that’s it … I’m not telling you anything new in fact, Colin has already told you everything on the telephone, but it was necessary for me to write it all with my point of view. I remember you saying once that great love stories often begin with a missed appointment; and be sure that I’m not giving up, but still…
How many were we, from the Disease Generation, to come there believing it.

I hope that on your side, you fill up with beautiful sunny hours and music in Italy, and that I’ll see you again completely “refreshed” in September! I can’t wait for it …

Have the best time my friend, I send you all my kisses

Epo

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