Friday 15 November 2013
The Basildon boys arrived in Manchester for the latest show of their Delta Machine tour. Promoting the finest album in their thirty-three years history, still packing out the Arena venues and rumoured to be headlining at Glastonbury 2014.
There’s always a huge sense of anticipation before their shows. Anyone who’s ever seen them will know that they have it down to a fine art. Tour after tour they never seem to disappoint and this was no exception.
With a back catalogue of almost two hundred songs to choose from, there are always people that will be disappointed that their favourite wasn’t played, but the quality of a Depeche Mode show makes you forget.
With a stage set of three huge (and we’re talking HUGE) screens which played back images, lyrics and video footage of the band in amazing quality, there was always somewhere to look. The imagery was fascinating and worked superbly well with the music. Surely Anton Corbijn was involved somewhere?
Supported on stage by Peter Gordano (keyboards, guitar) and Christian Eigner (drums), Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher looked comfortable and confident throughout the ninety minute set list. The band has taken on more of a ‘live’ performance over the years, as opposed to a pre-recorded backing, and the atmosphere has intensified as a result. The percussion of Eigner was particularly superb adding power and another dimension to the tracks. Given the very analogue feel of Delta Machine, this made for a particularly interesting sound.
Gore less than happy for the start, almost going through the motions, until he slowly moved into gear, maybe weighing up the audience? Fletch gave his best Kraftwerk audition and Gahan spun and ran and twirled around the stage often with microphone in Freddie Mercury pose to the joy of the twenty thousand strong audience.
Opening with the first of five tracks from Delta Machine, ‘Welcome To My World’ started slowly and maybe isn’t an ideal choice as an opener due to its slow nature, similarly ‘Angel’, whilst well received, didn’t seem to have the kick it has in its recorded version. But then things started to step up a notch. The music got louder, the atmosphere intensified and ‘Walking In My Shoes’ blew the socks off everyone. Maybe the sound wasn’t quite right at the start? Maybe the crowd expected too much too soon? We’ll probably never know, or care, as everyone soon forgot.
There were surprises in the set list. ‘Black Celebration’ for one seemed an unusual choice but had everyone singing along to the chorus. The last single, ‘Soothe My Soul’ was nowhere to be seen, and a piano only accompaniment to American single ‘But Not Tonight’ was sung by Martin in one of his three solo performances. The other two ‘The Child Inside’ and ‘Condemnation’ (saved for the encore set) again showed that he is a vocalist with an extraordinary voice, and surely one of the finest lyricists that this country has ever produced.
Live versions of remixes were also performed. The interesting guitar intro from Gordano had much of the audience guessing that it was the Jacques Lu Cont remix version of ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’, and another of the five encore tracks (adding another thirty minutes to the show) was the Goldfrapp remix of ‘Halo’. These tweaks and changes are what keep Depeche Mode ahead of the pack. Even down to copying the synth sound from The Saturdays’ cover of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ to bring it bang up to date.
‘Behind The Wheel’, a live favourite, had crowd jumping, and one of the most perfect pop songs of recent times, ‘Enjoy The Silence’ was absolutely sublime. ‘A Question Of Time’, ‘I Feel You’, ‘Personal Jesus’, need I say any more? Ending with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ and those waving arms, Depeche Mode finally left the stage after two hours of entertainment and twenty songs.
Depeche Mode are, without any shadow of doubt one of the hottest properties around, and with an expected gross revenue of $200,000,000 for the tour that will continue until March 2014, you can see why.
The Basildon boys have done good.
Published on Louder Than War 21/11/13 - here