Last night I went to the DTE Energy Music Theater (forever known in my heart as Pine Knob) to see music legends Depeche Mode kick off their N. American “Delta Machine” headline tour. The band, whose influences have stretched beyond what any one can calculate, are known as the most successful electronic group in the world, with over 100 million worldwide album sales. But more importantly, they are a band that I love and, until last night, had never seen live before. And with that experience now firmly tucked under my belt I wanted to share my thoughts on the show.
Make sure to check out my review of the band’s latest album Delta Machine here.
The night opened up with UK indie pop artist Bat For Lashes, an artist that I was also highly keen on seeing. Singer Natasha Khan’s ethereal voice hovered over the crowd, entrancing the audience as the group played through such tracks as “Laura”, “All Your Gold”, and “Daniel”. Unfortunately I missed the first few songs of her set, something I sorely regret. The group puts on a hypnotic show and I eagerly await their return.
Then came Depeche Mode. When the lights went down announcing the entrance of the group, the Detroit audience, comprised of adults, teenagers, and adults with their teenage children, burst into a massive roar. The group came out to a seizure-inducing amount of cellphone camera flashes, immediately entering “Welcome To My World”. Each member stoically stood their ground, their presence pulsating outwards with every beat. Singer Dave Gahan began sliding and sinuating his way around the stage, his vocals soaring into the open. The song ended with the audience erupting wildly, their joy and excitement palpable.
The band then weaved their way through the years of their music, from some of their earliest work (“Just Can’t Get Enough”) to their newest material (“Heaven”, “Soothe My Soul”, “Angel”, “Should Be Higher”) and everything in between. The night was a celebration of the band and their history, a way to connect to audiences, new and old.
Gahan’s seductive sways and savage pelvic thrusts elicited moans and screams of wonton lust. More than once, the three women in front of me grasped each other as they watched him gyrate back and forth. And when Martin Gore took the center stage to sing “Higher Love” and “But Not Tonight”, the audience ate it up, pouring out their love for him with waves of appreciation.
The stage show was fantastic, the back video screen a huge, slightly misshapen Star Of David that featured ultra crisp visuals (ranging from adorable dogs during “Precious” to a Clive Barker-esque mass of bodies during “Enjoy The Silence”). There were five light fixtures that raised and lowered throughout the night, bright bulbs that spelled “D M” on the edge.
The sound was almost perfect but there were times when I couldn’t hear Martin Gore’s guitar work (something I’m very fond of). Interestingly I could understand nearly everything Gahan sang but his chatter between songs was far less coherent.
My personal favorites of the show were “Precious”, which is one of my favorite tracks from one of my favorite albums (Playing The Angel), and “Enjoy The Silence”, which saw the crowd interacting and moving in a way I’d never seen before. Tens of thousands of arms waved back and forth as people sang at the top of their lungs. It was clear that the band was thriving on this, each of them wearing huge smiles as they saw their work loved and lauded by so many.
And speaking of the audience, thought it was only the first night, I am very comfortable in saying that Detroit has set the bar very high for the rest of the tour. The crowd was unbelievably present as they cheered, sang, screamed, clapped, danced. More than once I looked around and was just blown away by the sights of these people entirely lost in the moment.
I have been to more concerts than I can count and this easily stands as the best. While the group may be most known for the work in the 80’s, last night Depeche Mode proved that their work is timeless and will resonate and connect with people throughout time.
Depeche Mode live at DTE Energy Music Theater set list:
Welcome to My World
Walking in My Shoes
Policy of Truth
Should Be Higher
Barrel of a Gun
Higher Love (Sung by Martin)
But Not Tonight (Acoustic; Sung by Martin)
Soothe My Soul
A Pain That I’m Used To (‘Jacques Lu Cont’s Remix’ version)
A Question of Time
Enjoy the Silence
Halo (‘Goldfrapp Remix’ version)
Just Can’t Get Enough
I Feel You
Never Let Me Down Again