In The Mode For Rock

December, 31, 2009 / 0 comments

There aren’t many bands who released a greatest hits album a quarter of a century ago and are still improving.

Depeche Mode were brilliant when they shuffled around behind their synths looking embarrassed on Top of the Pops in 1981 – and at the fag-end of 2009 they are still miles ahead of anyone else.

Lead singer Dave Gahan is mesmeric – you can’t take your eyes off him. Part whip-thin ’68 comeback-kid Elvis and part Live Aid ’85 Freddie Mercury, he has a stage presence that Bono would sell his soul for.

He played the vast arena crowd like a matador toys with a bull. I’ve seen some rock gods in my time but none as powerful as him. It helps when you’ve got a great band behind you, thundering out phenomenal reworkings of some of the most era-defining music ever written.

Fans of the 81-85 tinkly-bop stuff would have been disappointed. Whether it sounds too dated or the band don’t want to pay the long-departed Vince Clarke any royalties is open to question – but the two-hour set illuminated by spectacular digital pyrotechnics was unforgettable.

Screen: Two cameramen filmed the show from the front of the stage and with the help of a vision mixer, vast images cut like a music video beamed out from the enormous screen behind the band.

Mode used this like an instrument, for ‘Walking In My Shoes’ a giant crow hovered with the malevolence of the birds on the climbing frame in Hitchcock’s horror masterpiece; for ‘Enjoy The Silence’ the lads were dressed as glum-looking spacemen, wandering from left to right and back again. Mode have never been afraid of getting the guitars out and Martin Gore played the part of the axeman to perfection.

Just in case anyone was in any doubt, they are an arse-kicking rock band and have been for years.

Highlights of a 16-song set and a four-anthem encore were ‘I Feel You’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’ – which felt so fresh they sounded like they were written last week, not 20 years ago.

And although they’re a million miles away from anything The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and The Stone Roses ever did – after this world tour, which rumbles on until the end of February, Depeche Mode can now be talked about as one of the great British rock bands.

And if you don’t believe me, you can buy the digital download of the gig at and listen for yourself.

Source: The