Hard to believe it’s been over 30 years. In the ’80s, Depeche Mode helped turn New Wave into Indie with their dark-yet-giddy synth-pop. In the ’90s, they headed into a more guitar-driven direction that helped create Alternative. Now, after 14 albums and with a new one—as well as a nomination to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame—Depeche Mode returns, and remains at the top of their game.
At T-Mobile, Depeche Mode opened with “Going Backwards” off of their new album, Spirit, which dominated the first part of the concert. The second half of the show dug a bit further into the catalogue, with the dark glam rock of “Enjoy the Silence” and “Never Let Me Down Again.” Dave Gahan is a strutting, whirling trollop of a rock ’n’ roll frontman—he doesn’t grab his crotch, he holds it. Chief songwriter Martin Gore contributed lead vocals on spare renditions of “Somebody” and “A Question of Lust,” reminding us that, among other musical achievements, he also bears some of the blame for emo.
The band augmented their sound with strong visuals, eschewing the usual live, sweaty extreme closeups for a series of vivid backdrops and compelling video clips. “In Your Room” featured a dance pas de deux with acrobatics that made the audience cheer, while “Walking in my Shoes” followed an alluring, androgynous young guitarist’s preparations for a gig.
Still, it was the music that owned the night and had the audience on its feet for most of it. Depeche Mode’s deep discography left many wishing for tunes left unplayed—many wanted “People Are People,” I would’ve liked to hear “Just Can’t Get Enough” (because no way were they gonna play “Blasphemous Rumors”), but you can’t have everything. Not even from Depeche Mode.
Photos by Ryan Nixon, Powers Imagery for T-Mobile Arena