Before you come to any conclusions, try rocking in their shoes
Dave Gahan: still channelling tattooed sleaze
The O2, Dublin
How on Earth did a quartet of 1980s cherubic-faced synthesizer-pop musicians transform in a very short time into a murky, sexualised, drug-sodden rock act? Depeche Mode, the one-time bright-eyed, bushy-tailed boys from Basildon, Essex, clearly have dark secrets hiding at the bottom of their buried treasure chest.
What hasn’t changed in the 30-plus years of the band’s existence is a knack for constructing durable, melody-driven songs. It’s instructive to note that the one hit single they played from the very start of their career – 1981’s Just Can’t Get Enough – was tagged on at the end of the show. Compared to what came before, the song bore all the hallmarks of a completely different band.
Lead singer Dave Gahan (at 51 years of age, a pirouetting role model for men who fancy themselves as rock stars with a messiah complex, but who can, perhaps, only make it seem credible in front of a full house) may have come through hard drug addiction, but he can still channel bargain basement, tattooed sleaze.
No matter – the music is brilliant. As the band, which includes essential components Andy Fletcher and Martin Gore, morphed through the 1980s from nice boys to cross-dressing goths, so too did the music change from warm, dinky electro-pop to aloof, glistening techno rock.
New album Delta Machine is rifled for several tracks, including Welcome to my World and Angel, which set the mood for the remainder of the show. With a beautifully designed visual backdrop that features fragmented footage of the band as undertakers and a rolling gallery of doe-eyed dogs (this, somehow uneasily, during the song Precious), arena-sized tunes, including Walking in My Shoes, Personal Jesus and Enjoy the Silence, are pumped out with all the mastery and majesty of a band very much at the top of their game.