Some concerts are fine, some are quite good, some of them great or even amazing. Then there they are, the life-changing shows, the ones that stay in your heart and veins for days and you find yourself looking for the next tour date because all you want is to experience that magic again. That is what Depeche Mode delivered on the stage of the O2 Arena in London last tuesday: Unsettling Magic. The legendary techno-pop-industrial-rock trio from London “penetrated our souls” – to say it with the lyrics of the show opening song “Welcome to my world” – with a show that practically presented no faults.
With stunning visual contributions and light effects designed by Anton Corbijn, accompanied on stage by longtime collaborators Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner, Martin, Dave and Andy proved – if ever needed – that DM still deserve to be on top after over 30 years of career. The likes of very good bands like Coldplay and Muse – the latter of which I’ve seen live three times – should learn from DM how to fill the stadiums without having to turn to predictability. And yet this is Depeche Mode’s paradox: their universally acclaimed album “Violator”, the one that propelled the band into international stardom and is listed among the 500 greatest albums of all time, isn’t exactly an easy listening pop album, although it contains hit singles like “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence”. Along their career, the band has had ups and downs, but they never really fell under the spell of quick and easy success. This is even clearer when you see them live. From the first note to the last goodbye their show tells of people who are still madly in love with their very own unconventional way to do music.
Before the legendary trio walked on stage, the audience was warmed up by Australian indie rock pop band The Jezabels, formed in 2007, who probably owe their success mainly to Hayley Mary’s extremely fascinating, high pitched, perfectly trained vocals (imagine Kate Bush singing the Coldplay).
As good and entertaining as the guys from Sydney were, at the end of the whole show you could hardly remember someone had actually walked on stage before DM. We were completely blown away for two hours by these three eternally young men who, contrarily to the great majority of other live shows, opened with the very quiet “Welcome to my World” and “Angel” from their latest album “Delta Machine”. When the lights went off, the public went bananas. The energy in the arena changed instantly, the electronic bass filling our ears, sneaking into our body, vibrating into our souls. Then Dave Gahan’s voice welcomed us into their world, where darkness and light stage a fight that results into dazzling sounds and altered atmospheres. The first two songs felt more like entering from the back door into a dark corridor that took us in front of a huge, shiny, powerful main entrance: the heavy hanging gloom of “Walking in my shoes” was the real opener, the lights exploding, the giant screens behind the stage now showing the band.
The setlist presented several songs from their latest album, still leaving a lot of room for hits like “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy The Silence” (both almost entirely chanted by the audience), which were predictably the key moments of the whole show.
Then Martin Lee Gore granted us a rare performance when for the very first time in this tour he engaged with an incredibly beautiful acoustic version of “Leave in Silence”, later acknowledged on stage by Dave Gahan as “really brave” (the song’s lyrical rhythm is in fact very difficult to execute live in that version). Martin performed alone on stage twice, also probably to give Dave time to recharge the batteries. It’s hard to believe, in fact, that Dave Gahan, the consummate performer who owns the audience in the palm of his hand for 2 hours, is now 51 – considering he’s been to hell and back – and yet he jumps, sings, screams, dances, winks, blinks, sweats, gives 100% of himself to the public.
Depeche Mode are still touring the world as you read, delivering darkness and light to thousands of people. If you are a fan of their music it is mandatory that you join such a powerful show for two hours of mesmerising entertainment.
COMPLETE SET LIST:
Welcome to My World
Walking in My Shoes
Should Be Higher
Policy of Truth
The Child Inside
But Not Tonight (Acoustic – Sung by Martin)
Behind the Wheel
A Pain That I’m Used To (‘Jacques Lu Cont’s Remix’ version)
A Question of Time
Enjoy the Silence
Leave in Silence (Acoustic – Sung by Martin)
Halo (‘Goldfrapp Remix’ version)
Just Can’t Get Enough
I Feel You
Never Let Me Down Again