In the 1980s, fans weren’t allowed to bring their cameras to concerts, but a Depeche Mode fan had an idea. He threw a roll of film with his name and address on the stage during the band’s concert and asked the band to take photos.
Not only the idea was cool, but also the reaction of the band. They got the film, took some photos and later sent them back to the fan. His widow recently shared it online and the story melted my heart.
Depeche Mode played at the Ulster Hall Belfast in 1983. Like the rest of the fans, young Brian McDonnell couldn’t bring his camera, so he just brought the roll of film, threw it on stage and hoped for the best. Depeche Mode were also young at the time, having only been founded three years previously. her debut album Speak & Spell was formed in 1981, so the photos they took show the very young members of the band in a dressing room. Which, when I think about it, is even better and certainly more personal than photos from the concert.
Sadly, Brian died aged just 37 after suffering a heart attack 20 years ago. His sister, Anne McDonnell-Lawrence, recently shared the photos taken by Depeche Mode and revealed that her brother was a lifelong Depeche Mode fan. By the way, just like yours.
“Depeche Mode was his favourite, he was always talking about it,” Anne told the BBC. “All I remember is him telling me he was at the concert and had brought film for a camera – he wrapped his name and address around it and asked them to take pictures and send them back to him. “
Anne reveals that Brian never thought he’d get an answer at all. However:
“I don’t know how long after that, but he got the film sent back. Those were all Depeche Mode photos.”
Anne said Brian’s wedding anniversary was in August this year and how long that is. However, she added that the attention surrounding the photos is exactly what he would have loved
“Brian loved being the center of attention, he loved partying, he loved singing,” she said. Though 20 years is a long time, she said this is Brian saying to her, “You don’t give me attention anymore, I want attention.” “I think he set it up,” she adds.
Even today, fans are not allowed to bring “serious” cameras, sometimes even phones, to concerts and festivals. Anything with an interchangeable lens isn’t allowed, but most venues and artists allow this pretty decent camera, which can also be used to make phone calls. Needless to say, there wasn’t an option in the 80’s, so I really loved that idea and the fact that Depeche Mode was in on it.
I personally found this story moving for so many reasons. First, it’s Depeche Mode, one of my favorite bands of all time. I was lucky enough to see them live in Belgrade in 2013. I wasn’t close enough to the stage to throw them a roll of film, although I doubt they would behave like that these days given how huge they are. Then I was sorry to hear that Brian passed away, but the fact that he got the photos from the band filled my heart with joy. Last but not least, one of Depeche Mode’s founding members, Andrew Fletcher, passed away earlier this year, so these photos are a fond reminder of the band’s early days and of Andrew himself.
[via PetaPixel; image credits: Nir Nussbaum, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons]