Throwback Thursday! This 80’s band is going strong in 2013 promoting their thirteenth album.
I first came across Depeche Mode during one of my many late Friday night rides home from work during sophomore year of high school. Mindlessly driving through the backroads of my town, “Enjoy the Silence” began to play on the radio, and Dave Gahan’s smooth melodic voice enveloped my rusty pickup. The soft bass and trance-inducing melody cocooned me in a way. Since then, Depeche Mode has been my go-to band whenever I want to feel overly self-indulgent.
Naturally, when I found out that Depeche Mode would be touring in the Bay Area, I made it my goal to kick off my college concert-going years with their show at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View. At first I was skeptical about the show since I had some intense qualms with their latest album, “Delta Machine.”
After listening to it for the first time, I reasoned that Depeche Mode would simply never create another song that would reach the same level as “Personal Jesus” or “Just Can’t Get Enough,” and that was that. In addition, the album’s songs—with the exception of “Soothe my Soul”— are far too slow; and while their previous slow songs have usually made me want to sway in content, there are serious undertones of melancholy in the new material. When I listened to them, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was being engulfed by an ominous shadow I wasn’t ready to face.
Despite that, I went to their concert cognizant of my irrevocable love for them and with an open mind. Fortunately, I was quick to learn that Depeche Mode on CD and Depeche Mode live may as well be two different groups all together. There was an indescribable energy about them, and—while I would say that much of the audience’s enthusiasm at the concert was in part due the spectacular lights and visuals of the stage—much of it was due to Dave Gahan’s performance as front man.
Gahan commanded the audience’s attention without a word. He walked on stage adorned in black eye makeup dressed in a simple gold and black vest, and seemed to effortlessly encompass sex, Goth, punk, and glamour all in one. As he belted out “Welcome to my World,” a love affair with the audience began. He succeeds in what most front men cannot, and that is to make a connection with everyone. Despite how near or far you were to the stage, Gahan pulled you in, whether it be through intense eye contact or through his signature twirls and the shaking of his hips.
Throughout the show, my previous hesitations regarding Delta Machine ceased. While I had viewed Depeche Mode’s slow and sad songs as their tool to personally torment me and tempt me into a state of self-indulgence, I felt far more connected. I wasn’t being sung at; I was being sung to.
In short, Depeche Mode has still got it. I believe them to be a “cult classic” of the music world, pulling in everybody to indulge and dance and sway with them.