Concert Review: Depeche Mode, Seattle, August 10, 2009

Monday night Depeche Mode rocked an arena full of fans at Seattle’s Key Arena. The show marked the first time the band has visited Seattle since their “Touring the Angel” jaunt in 2005. I thought that show was loud, but it was nothing compared to Monday’s concert.

It was a drizzly evening, one of the first rainy nights all summer, but it was a perfect backdrop for a DM show. Who wants to see a Depeche Mode concert on a sunny day? Not me! The grey sky was an appropriately gloomy atmosphere for the grand masters of melancholy synth pop.

The night started off with a set from Swedish indie rockers Peter, Bjorn and John. PB&J are touring in support of their new album Living Thing and began the show with the first single from the album, “Nothing To Worry About.”

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The crowd gave the guys a lukewarm reception, at least until they played their hit, “Young Folks.” (Trust me, you’ve heard the song before.)

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The set was short, and soon it was time for the main event.

The set for this tour was much simpler than the last one. It was composed only of a giant screen behind the band and huge disco-type ball made of smaller screens above the stage. The ball sometimes blended in with the screen and other times was a focal point all by itself.

The crowd was on its feet the moment the lights went out in the arena as Depeche Mode made their entrance, and they stayed on their feet until the lights came back on in at the very end of the show.

Martin Gore ditched the angel wings and gladiator helmet from the last tour in favor of a glittery silver suit. Dave Gahan was in his traditional black, as was Andy “Fletch” Fletcher.

The guys began their two-hour plus set with three songs from their new album, Sounds of the Universe. Although the crowd was enthusiastic to be at the show, it was obvious that the newer songs weren’t as familiar as the older stuff, and there were few concert-goers singing along. That all changed, however, when DM started to play their mega-hits.

The house went nuts when the opening chords of “Walking In My Shoes” were played, and it only got louder as DM followed it up with “It’s No Good” and “A Question Of Time,” during which Dave twirled around the stage holding his mic stand and spinning like a man twenty-five years younger than he actually is. As a matter of fact, all three of the band members appear to be trapped in time, and my fellow concert-goers and I marveled over how in shape they all were. Depeche Mode certainly don’t look or play like a band that’s been around for 30 years. That’s a compliment!

One of the highlights of the evening for me was the heartfelt performance of “Precious,” the first single from their last album, Playing The Angel. It is one of my all-time favorite songs, and the boys more than did it justice live. I was just coming down from my adrenaline high when DM launched into the intro to “Fly On The Windscreen,” a track from their 1986 masterpiece Black Celebration. Never released as a commercial single, the song is nevertheless one of the best on the album and I was thrilled to hear it live. Needless to say, my adrenaline level hit the ceiling once again, not for the last time that night.

Watch “Fly On The Windscreen” from the Seattle show, 08/10/09

Dave took a short break for the next two songs while Martin took center stage for his traditional mini-set. It’s always a highlight of a Depeche Mode show for me. I sometimes feel like Martin’s vocal ability is overshadowed by Dave’s, so I love it when he gets to truly shine. He performed “Jezebel” from the new album and then to my extremely pleasant surprise, sang “Home,” my absolute favorite Martin song. On other stops of the tour, Martin has been switching up his set, sometimes substituting “A Question Of Lust” for “Home.” While I love “A Question Of Lust,” too, I adore “Home.”

Watch “Home” from the Seattle show, 08/10/09

Dave rejoined the group to perform “Come Back” from the new album and then ramped up the audience even more with “Policy Of Truth,” “In Your Room” and “I Feel You” back to back to back. The audience went berserk when “Enjoy The Silence” began and I don’t think the cheering wavered at all when DM closed their main set with a hard rocking “Never Let Me Down Again.” The applause and screaming was deafening as the band left the stage.

The crowd continued cheering and clapping non-stop for several minutes, and then the guys returned to the stage for a flawless rendition of “Stripped,” followed by sing-along favorite “Master And Servant.” “Strangelove,” accompanied by a provocative video on the big screen, finished out the encore.

The crowd brought the band out for a second encore, in which Depeche played one of their biggest US hits, “Personal Jesus.” Everyone had their hands in the air and I think that night, one really could reach out and touch faith; the Depeche Mode kind, at least.

The two hour-plus show came to an end with Dave and Martin coming to the end of the catwalk to perform a duet, the beautiful “Waiting For The Night” from Violator. The crowd was hushed, except for those singing along. It was a touching performance, and it really brought the house down.

Watch “Waiting For The Night” from the Seattle show, 08/10/09

All three Depeche members, as well as the two touring members, Peter Gordeno on keyboards and Christian Eigner on drums, took a bow on the catwalk before wishing the crowd good night. Dave said, “See you next time!” as he left the stage. I hope that the next time is soon.

Complete setlist:

In Chains:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Wrong:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Hole To Feed:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Walking In My Shoes:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
It’s No Good:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
A Question Of Time:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Precious:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Fly On The Windscreen:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Jezebel:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Home:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Come Back:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Policy Of Truth:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
In Your Room:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
I Feel You:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Enjoy The Silence:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Never Let Me Down Again:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes

Encore #1
Stripped:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Master And Servant:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Strangelove:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes

Encore #2
Personal Jesus:  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes
Waiting For The Night (Bare Version):  Buy!  Amazon or iTunes

Producer, Branded Music