Depeche Mode prove they still have it

A review of Depeche Mode at the Comcast Center on July 31, 2009

, Managing Editor

It hasn’t been the easiest tour for Depeche Mode this summer as lead singer Dave Gahan has had battled some health issues that have sidelined the band. However, on Friday night at the Comcast Center the band proved to be back at full strength with an impressive two-hour set that balanced the band’s acclaimed catalog with tunes off their new album, Sounds of the Universe.

The crowd grew antsy as it took more than 45 frustrating minutes for the band to appear after opener Peter, Bjorn, and John departed but all was quickly forgiven as the Brit legends were most certainly worth the wait. Depeche started their show off with their first three songs off their new album, Sounds of the Universe. The new tracks sounded even stronger live than the recorded versions, particularly "Wrong" with it’s thick synth layering complimented by Gahan’s dark vocals.

If there was one knock on the show it would be the fact that Gahan too often passed off the vocals to the crowd like he did on "Walking In My Shoes" and "A Question of Time" (they paid to hear you sing, not some guy from Raynham). Although, after almost 30 years together it’s likely most fans have seen and heard him sing those lines countless times anyways as Depeche Mode is really not the type of band to draw a casual listener, playing more to diehard audiences. It’s their energy and creativity that has brought them decades of success and influence. They showed both attributes with interesting videos accompanying their performances while Gahan twirled and danced and guitarist Martin Gore treated his axes like a diva does with a dress; never using the same one twice. Gore used a star-shaped guitar during "It’s No Good" as a coloring effect was used on the video screen, making it look like the band was in an A-ha video from the 80’s.

During the middle of the set the rest of the guys took a break while Gore stepped up to the mic to sing two ballads with just Peter Gordeno supporting him on the keyboard. The first was new song "Little Soul" which displayed Gore’s writing ability with it’s warm lyrics before he showed off his vocal aptitude, holding notes on "Home", as he waved his hands like a conductor.

The rest of the group fittingly returned for the new song "Come Back" before hit "Policy of Truth" was just as visually entertaining as aurally with a video of colored balls bouncing around the screen. Drummer Christian Eigner was a force on "I Feel You", laying down a thumping beat, before another funky video paired up with "Enjoy The Silence". One of the biggest reactions of the night came as the opening notes were played while the three original members Gahan, Gore, and Andrew Fletcher appeared in spacesuits on the screen.

"Never Let Me Down Again" took the band into the encore break, as they made the fans patiently wait again, thankfully for only four minutes this time, before they returned with Gore at the keys for "Stripped". They left again after "Strangelove", which certainly was strange with a video of two girls getting intimate, complete with some toe sucking. They returned once again for their biggest hit "Personal Jesus" sending the fans off on a high with the place literally buzzing from the rumbling of the double bass drum beat.

The lights didn’t go on for an awkwardly long time after, leaving one to suspect another encore, but perhaps they were talked out of it as the show had just reached curfew. Although they didn’t get to play again it just goes to show their commitment to entertaining their adoring fans. Their "Tour of the Universe" may have hit a few snags this summer but with performances like this it’s clear that this world still has a place for Depeche Mode.

Swedish indie rockers Peter, Bjorn, and John rocked an undersized crowd at the opening of the show. Peter added himself to the audience as he hopped off the stage and took a stroll through the crowd during their breakthrough hit "Young Folks".

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