It’s been 32 years since their debut album Speak & Spell, and 50 singles later, the Depeche Mode boys have come a long way from their humble beginnings in Basildon.
Lead singer Dave Gahan’s battles with heroin have been well documented but this performance at a packed, adoring O2 on Saturday was testament to his victory over addictions which proved such a rich vein of inspiration. Songs like ‘Shake the Disease’, ‘Precious’ and ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ are such brilliantly constructed paeans to hard drugs that you’d almost forgive Gahan’s troubled past.
Within minutes of the band getting into their stride, the whole venue was out of their seats, dancing and waving with a now-sober Gahan’s encouragement. His very camp performance, swaggering over and back across the stage, hasn’t improved down the years, and his thick eyeliner hasn’t retreated, but to thousands of loyal devotees, this gaunt icon can do no wrong. His famous strut once caused him to remark that he was “an overpaid stripper” but when his sparkly waistcoat was discarded to reveal his new gym-bunny’ torso, there were no complaints from the audience, which boasted a very well balanced male to female ratio — straight, gay and plenty in between.
The core trio of Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher began their 20-song set with two of arguably the best tracks on their recent album, Delta Machine — ‘Welcome to My World’ and ‘Angel’, and what followed was a non-stop dance and singalong fest of their biggest hits and darkest anthems. Mid-way through the evening, in what almost amounted to a slow set, Gore led the way with a stunning rendition of ‘But Not Tonight’.
Hardcore DM-ers knew what to expect, but the fair-weather friends who came to hear the likes of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, ‘Enjoy the Silence’ and ‘Personal Jesus’, went away satisfied, having discovered there’s a lot more to ‘the Mode’ than a few Top 30 hits.
The O2 gig was pure evidence that some ’80s pop stars have matured, evolved and are continuing to influence and shape rock music today. Welcome to their world.
Star Rating: 4/5
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