Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Depeche Mode – A Popjunkie concert review

Depeche Mode – A Popjunkie concert review
Barclay’s Center, September 6, 2013

“Goodnight Brooklyn!”

Now there are three words you would never expect to hear at a Depeche Mode concert! But there they were – the kings of electro gloom in the house that Jay Z built.

Only a few shows into the North American leg of their massive Delta Machine tour, Depeche Mode packed Brooklyn’s year-old Barclay’s Center, for a career-spanning set laden with hits, deep cuts and new material. Over thirty years into their influential career and Depeche Mode attacked the stage like elder statesmen showing that they can stay musically relevant in a volatile musical climate and prove to the younger, uninitiated in the crowd – of which there were many – why they are still selling out arenas.

Lead singer Dave Gahan was in especially fine voice; his deep baritone echoing through the hall with authority and swagger. He presided over the fervent crowd like a preacher holding court in front of his doom-infused followers. His glam-cohort, Martin Gore, alternated between keyboards and guitar and more than ably held his own with his beautifully careening tenor harmonies.      

The group’s tight set was both delicate and dynamic in equal measure – from the bombastic A Question of Time to the gentle piano-only version of Home. The selections from this year’s fine Delta Machine album held up well against the more familiar material; a testament to the band’s songwriting craft. Those looking for hits were not disappointed as the band tore through well-worn hits such as Enjoy the Silence, Personal Jesus and Just Can’t Get Enough with aplomb. The crowd went berserk as the band reached back to Black Celebration and Policy of Truth but the surprise of the evening was But Not Tonight

This track was single in 1986 and even tacked onto US editions of the Black Celebration album – but until this tour had never been performed live. The piano-only version sung by Gore saw an impassioned, joyful sing-along from the crowd. Gore himself seemed pleasantly surprised by the response the song generated – the large video screens could not hide his smile.

Despite the number of full-throttle moments in the show, there were a few misfires – 1990’s astounding Halo was performed in a recently remixed by Goldfrapp version which was anti-climactic considering it was parts of the band’s encore set. New single Should Be Higher was going over famously – the digital images which shot around the venue’s multiple screens was beyond cool – until they reached a breakdown where Gahan tried to encourage a sing-along with the crowd. Unfortunately, the attempt fell flat as the song was too new and the falsetto part he asked people to sing was not really what you would ask 15,000 rapturous concert-goers to join in on. While this section was short, it felt like a lifetime.  

Of course the weak moments were few and could not diminish the power of a show this strong. Not many bands can stay this potent three decades into their recording career but Depeche Mode is performing at an all-time high.

So when is the concert film coming?

This was actually the best of the photos I took - which says a lot for my photography skills!

Set List:
1 Welcome to My World
2 Angel
3 Walking in My Shoes
4 Precious
5 Black Celebration
6 Policy of Truth
7 Should be Higher
8 Barrel of a Gun
9 The Child Inside (Martin)
10 But Not Tonight (Martin)
11 Heaven
12 Soothe My Soul
13 A Pain That I'm Used To
14 A Question of Time
15 Enjoy the Silence
16 Personal Jesus

17 Home (Martin)
18 Halo
19 Just Can't Get Enough
20 I Feel You
21 Never Let Me Down Again

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