Saturday, September 21, 2013
Concert review: Depeche Mode exemplifies ‘80s glam at Gexa Energy Pavilion
Lead singer Dave Gahan wore no less than three sparkling vests throughout the evening.
FAIR PARK It’s been more than 30 years, 13 albums and a high-profile drug problem since Depeche Mode first changed the landscape for electronic music. And while styles under the EDM and IDM umbrellas have shifted far from where Depeche Mode laid the foundation, the band’s allure over pop culture has not.
Despite the threat of rain Friday night, fans packed Gexa Energy Pavilion in Fair Park for the Dallas stop on “The Delta Machine World Tour.” Supporting Depeche Mode’s namesake 2013 release, the tour brought the band through North Texas a few weeks before a headlining gig at Austin City Limits.
It was obvious from the energy in the room many had been looking forward to this performance. Former Dallas Morning News music critic Mario Tarradell said The Delta Machine, released in March, was “easily the group’s best album in a decade.” And Depeche Mode did not disappoint.
For a band that predates my existence, it's impressive Dave Gahan, Andy Flectcher and Martin Gore still have the rock star attitudes that captivate amphitheaters.
The night began ferociously with the screeching techno sounds of Crystal Castles. Riding high on the release of III, the Canadian trio’s third full-length out late last year, the band thrashed its way through 45 minutes of stage time. Lead singer Alice Glass seemed especially tormented, consistently wrapping the microphone cable around her neck as if searching for a brief moment of asphyxiation.
Glass spent several songs rolling around the stage, swinging her blonde pixie bob and fist pumping with the kick drum, but looked most at home on a synthesizer on stage left during a banging electro breakdown after the band’s first beloved single “Crimewave” off its 2008 debut.
Seats were scantily filled during the opening set and audience engagement was low. It’s difficult to fully absorb a high-energy dance performance when confined to stadium seating. Glass and her bandmates noticed, and promptly stormed off stage following the last synthetic beat.
As Depeche Mode’s set grew nearer, a motley mix of long-time fans, 20-somethings and even children had filled the amphitheater. The moment the house lights went down, audience members stood up and began incessantly hollering.
The group appropriately opened the concert with Delta Machine’s first track, “Welcome to My World.” And that’s exactly where the audience stayed for the following two hours, as Depeche Mode filtered through its latest catalog — “Heaven,” “Soothe My Soul,” “Should Be Higher” — and dusted off some old favorites — “Walking in My Shoes,” “Black Celebration,” “Policy of Truth.”
Depeche Mode’s stage presence bordered on ridiculous. Gahan spun the microphone stand like a Gothic baton twirler. Intermittently, it became his victim of pelvic gyration (much to the pleasure of middle-aged women in the crowd). Gahan went through three sparkling, metallic vests by the end of the show, each one flamboyantly stripped off and cast aside (again, to the pleasure of his fans).
Guitarist Gore played a plethora of oddly–shaped instruments, the most notable glittering silver and in the shape of a Hollywood star. The band reeked of ‘80s glam and power pop. The performance was a sweaty mix of nostalgia, resounding vocals and eyeliner.
The stage setup, however, was much stranger. A projection screen broadcasted triangular images of the band in strikingly similar fashion to Radiohead’s American Airlines concert last year. Often times, it would broadcast peculiar music videos. One was a montage of dogs and puppies, complete with dramatic cuts and close-ups. In another, this one much creepier, women were folded up against a glass partition that barricaded them from the world inside Gexa.
Whatever the band's ornate and odd shtick, Depeche Mode is undoubtedly at the top of its game. From “Enjoy The Silence” and “Halo” to “Home” and “Personal Jesus,” many crowd members never left their feet. In an era where new bands rise and fade, Depeche Mode proved that some people desire more than just a quick musical fix. Depeche Mode will be around to satisfy.