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Friday 20 April 2018

Gig Review: The crowd can't get enough Depeche pop

DAVE Gahan's hips probably deserve a review of their own. As big-budget, electronic rock shows go, Depeche Mode's is perhaps one of the greatest on earth; a searing and often stunning display of visual and, indeed, melodic splendour. But Dave's hips ... seriously. "Welcome to my world," sings the wiry 51-year-old in the leather jacket. Cheers, Dave.

Eventually, he'll remove every item of clothing above the waist. Twirling in the spotlight and doing things with a microphone stand that he probably shouldn't, the gent with the greased hair, tattooed biceps and the most soothing voice in electronic music, makes for compelling front-man material. The bloke behind me screaming for synthpop smash Just Can't Get Enough is eventually rewarded, but had he forgotten that Dave (vocals), Martin Gore (guitars) and the enigmatic Andy Fletcher (keys) had gone on to do bigger and better things with their career? And that Vince Clarke was only with them for two years? A 120-minute, multimedia extravaganza, this is a hell of a retrospective.

 

During Walking in My Shoes, the cogs turn accordingly and Depeche Mode slip into a groove that appears to require very little effort. But we all know the truth: it's hard work, sounding this good. A synth-heavy offering, it's no surprise that chief songwriter Gore takes the time to remind us of his own abilities as a singer (The Child Inside). He's a far better guitarist. Meanwhile, touring drummer Christian Eigner proves his worth as the thunderous backbone of Depeche Mode.

For a group of men that have experienced dark times (drug addiction, depression, cancer), it's astonishing that Dave and Co look and, indeed, sound so alive. Sure, this gig gets weird (the dog video for Precious). At one point, five lighting rigs hover and swirl above the stage like UFOs. But isn't that what we came for? A beguiling ringleader, Dave makes full use of a rockstar runway, too. Behind the Wheel is extraordinary; Personal Jesus, the most electric live moment of the year. Oh, and Fletch keeps a straight face throughout. It all makes for a glorious atmosphere inside the O2. And most of us would probably return just to see Dave perform his fabulous spinning trick again. Super stuff.

5/5

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