sun 23/06/2024

Depeche Mode, 02 Arena | reviews, news & interviews

Depeche Mode, 02 Arena

Depeche Mode, 02 Arena

The veteran electroppers are still going strong – they clearly just can't get enough

Suit You Sir: Depeche Mode smarten up their act

Even the most committed lover of long odds would not have bet on Depeche Mode still being this big when they first tinkled their way into the charts over three decades ago. The smart money would probably have been on them now playing, at best, to a medium-sized Marc Almond-style devoted audience or, at worst, joining nostalgia packages alongside one-time fellow hipsters ABC.

Yet here they were selling out two nights at the O2 Arena to a positively ecstatic, if possible arthritic, largely middle-aged audience.

It is also a surprise that Dave Gahan is still around at all, after drug addiction and cancer, but here he was, a veritable trouper, getting the show on the proverbial road with "Welcome to My World", the opening track on their new, well-received album Delta Machine. Gahan, against a backdrop of striking flashing visuals and monochrome videos, looked in fine fettle and was soon stripped down to his waistcoat and twirling like a ballerina on a music box. Albeit a strutting, tattoo'd, greasy-haired ballerina on a music box. This start was a statement of intent. No greatest hits set here, more a mix of new material, lesser-spotted cuts and a few inevitable crowdpleasers.

For three minutes the Arena was transported back to a time when Crocs referred to a nightclub in Essex

For a band best known for their electropop origins, Depeche Mode have been a rock band for the bulk of their career. While Andy Fletcher still loiters behind his keyboard, Martin Gore, sporting black leather kilt, worked his way through a whole heap of guitars. The sound was meaty and danceable. "Black Celebration" put smiles on the faces of the band's one-time goth fans, who frankly look more M&S than S&M these days, while "Policy of Truth" managed to sound both Orwellian and funky, which was no mean feat.

Gahan generously shared a fair slice of the limelight with Gore, letting his chum, more twisted choirboy than strutting rock god, sing a couple of slow songs in the middle, "When the Body Speaks" and "Higher Love". The breather seemed to do the still-snakehipped 51-year-old main vocalist some good. When Gahan returned he helped the band build up a considerable head of steam. After the funereal stand-out track from Delta Machine, "Heaven", which is three parts "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" to one part "Shipbuilding", the pace quickened with "Soothe My Soul", "A Pain that I'm Used To" and "A Question of Time".

Each song seemed to get louder and was greeted by an even louder cheer, peaking with "Personal Jesus," which started off as a slow grind before whipping into top gear. After a brief break the band returned for an encore, with Gore once again taking over vocals for "Home", which prompted a spontaneous terrace chant singalong which Gahan, not big on between-song communication, playfully encouraged with a shout of "think of your favourite football team."

But the song that really got everyone leaving the O2 sporting a collective beatific grin was a souped up, syncopated version of "Just Can't Get Enough". For three minutes the Arena was transported back to a time when Crocs referred to a nightclub in Essex and not the most hideous kind of footwear ever inflicted on humanity. After that "Never Let Me Down" was an appropriate way to finish things. OK, so the audience preferred the hits to the new album tracks, but nobody left feeling let down. To paraphrase another old song that they didn't do, Depeche Mode got the balance right. 

Watch Depeche Mode perform "Heaven"


The band's long-time goth fans frankly look more M&S than S&M these days


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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