The great Depeche Mode played the Shoreline theater last week to a sold out crowd of devoted rapturous fans. I was there for every note with my soul mate and a couple of our best friends. This is a band that’s truly weathered time well – singer David Gahan still bumps, grinds, and belts out the deep notes with aplomb. Singer multi-instrumentalist and principal writer Martin Gore raises the stakes whenever he comes out to be front and center, most notably on this tour performing slow acoustic versions of “But Not Tonight”, “Home” and “Shake the Disease” hitting all the best long vibrato soaked tones perfectly. Andy Fletcher does his low key celebration in back. A drummer and second instrumentalist round out the band for their live shows as they have for just over 10 years now.
The group was out to promote their latest release “Delta Machine” – an album that’s surprisingly good for writers so well into their careers. From the opening track, also played to start the show, “Welcome to my World” to “Angel”, “The Child Inside (another Martin slow burner) and “Soothe My Soul” (a classic form for David’s best delivery) they covered many of its high points, all of which fit nicely in their catalog. These new tracks serve to update the Depeche Mode sound, even hinting in parts at dub-step electronica, a variant on the form they practically invented along with German forbearers Kraftwerk.
Of the later work, only 2005’s “Playing the Angel” was represented with two tracks – “A Pain That I’m Used To” and “Precious.” The rest of the set list focused on the band’s 80’s and 90’s hits including 1981’s “Just Can’t Get Enough”, skipping to 1985’s “Shake the Disease”, 1986’s “Black Celebration”, “A Question of Time”, and “But Not Tonight”, 1987’s “Never Let Me Down Again” (encore with everyone’s arm wipers to augment it), 1990’s “Enjoy the Silence”, “Personal Jesus”, “Halo”, and “Policy of Truth” (all practically required for these shows), 1993’s “Walking in My Shoes” and Martin’s tear jerker “Home”, now a perennial favorite from 1997. Not as fond of the other selection from “Ultra”- “Barrel of a Gun” which ended up being one of several instances where the drummer drowned out the founding members – a minor complaint, but here’s one fan wishing they more frequently dispense with the live drums.
The whole event proved that Depeche Mode has remained not only commercially viable, but in rare form artistically, delivering their sometimes gloomy but more often celebratory wares, aged appropriately and served up hot.