Years ago, back in 2009, I got to see one of my favorite bands growing up, Depeche Mode, perform at the Hollywood Bowl. It was a concert that I hadn’t purchased a ticket for, but I was lucky enough to have friends who, for one reason or another, couldn’t go, and I was the lucky recipient. For that show, I literally had the “last seat” in the house (Section X2, Row 4, Seat 3), but it is still one of the handful of concerts that I have ever been to that I am sure will always be somewhere in my top 10 of all time. I’ll have to admit though, I could be a little biased simply based on the fact that Depeche Mode’s music was such an integral part of my growing up.
I remember how I got introduced to their music. While I was in elementary/middle school, I had a cool cousin who graduated from college and was trying to get a job in the film industry. During her job search, she spent a few years living at my parents house, and with her came her music collection. Though I only got to listen to her music in her car, when she found a job and moved out, she left a handful of albums behind. The Fleetwood Mac LPs were cool. The Billy Joel cassette was cool. But all of a sudden, I noticed a black double cassette (the first double cassette I’d ever seen), of some band I thought was named “Depeche Mode 101”.
When I popped in the first cassette, the first thing I realized was that it was a live recording (recorded at the Pasadena Rose Bowl). When I pressed play, I didn’t hear any music. Rather, it was the sound of an audience cheering like crazy. I was enthralled. Each song was something new to me, and whenever a song ended, and the crowd roared with cheers, I truly felt like I was at that concert. I would eventually find out that the band’s name was just Depeche Mode, and the live album was titled 101. The title of that album was fitting, as that album was basically my beginner’s course for a band that I would come to love so whole heartedly.
For some reason, I failed to purchased tickets to any of their shows at the Staples Center when they were released to the public. I checked online for tickets, but they were all exorbitantly marked up. It was a sad oversight, and I figured that I would miss out this time around … but again, the music gods must have been looking over me as another friend messaged me on the 28th about having an extra ticket for the 29th. Without hesitation, I said, “Yes”.
The seats were in the rafters of the Staples Center, but if I learned anything about Depeche Mode from the last time I saw them, seats anywhere in the venue would have been fine. Like the first time I saw them at the Hollywood Bowl, Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore did not disappoint. Their live performance was grand and filled with adrenaline rushing moments, contrasted with emotionally charged darkness. Dave Gahan strutted across the stage throughout his songs with such a bravado that one would never guess that he’s over 50 years old.
Though the tour is in support of their latest album, Delta Machine, they performed songs from every stage of their careers. Crowd, and radio favorites, “Personal Jesus”, “Enjoy The Silence”, “World In My Eyes” and “Just Can’t Get Enough”, and “classic” Depeche Mode favorites like “Behind The Wheel”, “A Question of Time” were performed, but what really stood out in my mind were the songs that Martin Gore sang solo. Subdued, acoustic and intimate versions of “A Question of Lust” and “Condemnation” were performed during the encore that moved me immeasurably. Those two songs, for me, epitomize Depeche Mode’s ability to reach into the listeners soul to question, consider and forgive all of the intricacies and follys of love. Where Dave Gahan is the bravado, Martin Gore is the soul. Their pairing is what keeps the yin and yang of Depeche Mode in harmony.
Setlist from the website setlist.fm:
- Welcome to My World
- Walking In My Shoes
- Behind The Wheel
- World In My Eyes
- Should be Higher
- John the Revelator
- Higher Love (sung by Martin Gore)
- Soothe My Soul
- A Pain That I’m Used To
- A Question of Time
- Enjoy The silence
- Personal Jesus
- A Question of Lust (Acoustic Sung by Martin Gore)
- Condemnation (Sung by Martin Gore)
- Just Can’t Get Enough
- Never Let Me Down Again
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