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Concert Reviews:
Depeche Mode brings the "Spirit" to DTE
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia, @GraffonMusic on Twitter

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INDEPENDENCE TOWNSHIP -- It was appropriate for Depeche Mode to blast Beatles' "Revolution" before the band took the stage Sunday, Aug. 27, for the third stop of its Global Spirit Tour.

During the early 80s the synthesizer-dominated British group was indeed part of a post-punk musical revolution that fused dance music, rock and pop, flaunting cutting-edge precision and unapologetic flamboyance. It was at once chilly and precise and emotive -- a formula that's stood the test of time to find Depeche Mode not only surviving but thriving deep into its fourth decade, 14 albums along.

Truth be told, Depeche Mode live is a considerably more human and organic experience than its recordings indicate -- which the trio (abetted by two additional musicians, including monster drummer Christian Eigner) proved once again at DTE. Its 22-song, nearly two-hour and 15-minute show was a powerful troll through the group's lengthy career, drawing five songs from this year's "Spirit" album -- including politically charged tracks such as "Going Backwards" and "Where's The Revolution" -- and hitting a generous selection of high points from the rest of its catalog.

Following an opening set by Los Angles' Warpaint, Depeche Mode's show was visually extravagant without being over the top, with a low-hanging light rig and an extensive video presentation combining live footage with prepared videos for songs such as "In Your Room," "Cover Me" and "Walking In My Shows." The real show was frontman Dave Gahan, exuberantly sassy as he preened and posed throughout the night, even dancing a bit of the Funky Chicken during "So Much Love" and sporting a pair of vests over his shirtless torso. Gahan didn't have much to say but he let his body, and his particularly strong singing, do the talking as he led singalongs during major hits such as "Everything Counts," "Never Let Me Down," "I Feel You" and "Personal Jesus."

Martin Gore spelled Gahan for lead vocals on three songs, accompanied solely by piano for "A Question Of Lust" and "Somebody," while his guitar work provided the human touch amidst the layers of electronics -- particularly on a furious, extended arrangement of "Enjoy The Silence." Depeche mode paid tribute to one of its, er, heroes, too, delivering a gauzy encore rendition of the late David Bowie's anthem "Heroes."

Few bands of Depeche Mode's era have made it this far without becoming nostalgia acts. But on Sunday the group showed that it's potent and present tense, and that the "Spirit" of '81 is still alive and well all these years later.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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