Click Click: Depeche Mode @ Nissan Pavilion

July, 29, 2009 / 0 comments

By Sriram Gopal ~
Photography Kyle Gustafson ~

With over a quarter century having passed since its earliest hits, Depeche Mode is an act with cross-generational appeal. So when the houselights dimmed to signal the start of last night’s show at Nissan Pavilion, fortysomethings, college students, and 10-year olds alike rose to their feet. A band doesn’t achieve that kind of staying power on luck alone, it has to be doing something right. In this latest iteration of Depeche Mode’s ‘Tour Of The Universe’, the electro-pop icons marched through a set list that mixed new material with decades old classics, and pulsating electronic beats with gentle ballads. Yes, the boys from across the pond still have it.

Vocalist Dave Gahan is still one of music’s best frontmen and is every bit the rockstar he was twenty years ago. Looking stylish in a sharply tailored black suit, parts of which seemed to disappear over the course of the night to reveal his many tattoos, he twirled and pranced around the stage with his voice in fine form.

Not to be outdone in the wardrobe department, Martin Gore, the band’s otherwise brooding chief songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist, wore a shining silver lamet suit. Founding member Andrew Fletcher ceded the spotlight to his mates, content to remain behind a deck of keyboards. Drummer Christian Eigner and keyboardist Pete Gordeno rounded out the ensemble. The stage set up included a massive rear screen, which alternated between colorfully doctored live shots and surrealistic film footage in keeping with the music’s introspective themes.

As the band took the stage, the scrimmed backdrop shifted to a searing white, accompanied by the intro chords to ‘In Chains’, the opening track to Depeche Mode’s latest release, ‘Sounds Of The Universe’. This began a trio of songs off the album, which included ‘Wrong’ and ‘Hole To Feed’. The new material was in-line with the band’s trademark sound. But live, the songs had a heavier feel that depended more on guitar and drums than synthesized gadgetry. The only other visit to ‘Sounds Of The Universe’ was ‘Little Soul’, which, along with ‘Home’, put Gore at center stage in an intimate piano/vocals duo setting that showcased his impressive singing.

Other than this brief interlude, the remainder of the set was energetic and stretched across the band’s entire catalog. Highlight’s included ‘Precious’, off of 2005’s excellent ‘Playing The Angel’, 80s B-side ‘Fly on the Windscreen’, and ‘I Feel You’ was a vehicle for drummer Eigner’s muscular groove. Of course, the program included hits like ‘Policy Of Truth’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’, though the band surprisingly chose to close its main set with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, an underrated tune that was only a moderate hit in its day.

In its two encores, the band gave the audience more of what it wanted, playing ‘Master And Servant’, ‘Strangelove’, and ‘Personal Jesus’. The evening ended on a soft note, with Gahan and Gore sharing vocal duties on ‘Waiting for the Night’.