Saturday 13 May 2017

Whatever happened to Depeche Mode?

I'd completely forgotten about Depeche Mode, and I didn't bother to refresh my memory because by the time I made enquiries about the gig at Nice's Stade Ehrmann it had sold out.

The Man wanted to see them. He said they were one of his favourite bands, and lucky for him, we got two tickets that were going spare because his mates' girlfriends decided they didn't want to go.

I wasn't sure I wanted to go either, so I did a bit of browsing to find out what the Essex band's top hits had been, and what their recent output was like. A YouTube search followed, to see if I recognized anything.

And the memories came flooding back…

New Life (1981) coincided with my first year at university. Dave Gahan looked impossibly young in his New Romantic baggy blouse and black leather trousers. Martin Gore had a ridiculous mop of blonde hair, and Andy Fletcher was, well, overshadowed by Vince Clarke. That year I bought my own ruffle-collared blouse and ra-ra skirt to dance along to Just Can't Get Enough at the Student Union's discos. Hearing those cute, plinkety-plonkety electronic sounds took me right back.

Thirty-six years later and there were plenty of old fogies like me in the audience on Friday night (12 May 2017). The forecasted storm never materialized and the clouds rolled back, allowing the stars to shine out. They couldn't match Dave Gahan's glittery jacket tho', which he discarded after the first couple of songs, revealing an even shinier waistcoat.

It took the first three songs for the band to really warm up and settle in, then Gahan's rich baritone voice rolled over the stadium and we started to enjoy ourselves. The set included tracks from the new album Spirit, the stand-out being Where's The Revolution. There was a great cover version of Bowie's Heroes, as well as some audience favourites: Stripped, a couple of slowies sung by Martin Gore, and the anthemic Personal Jesus that closed the gig.

The earliest track they performed was Everything Counts, which clearly divided the audience into the younger fans of the later, more rocky sound, and those who, like me, had grown up with the synthpop. There was to be no reprise of the early 80s Vince Clarke stuff, but hey, at least I remember Depeche Mode now.

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