DEPECHE MODE London O2 Arena 19 November 2013
Six Months – roughly the half way point – through their tour, and Depeche Mode are fulfilling their now traditional second European Winter leg of shows. Unlike the earlier shows, the band have truncated their setlist ; knocking roughly 15 minutes off the show. And this hurts.
The shows are still two hours of wall-to-wall great hits and naughty pop music. But now, with the quota of new songs sliced from eight to five, Depeche Mode are becoming a dependable, predictable touring machine, much like Bon Jovi or Take That. It's only a question of time until you get A Question Of Time. Depeche Mode have become a nostalgia act : most songs have held the same place in the set for nigh on twenty years, and how many times could you sing some of these songs without getting.. bored? These days, the band – without even really knowing – do the same things at the same point through muscle memory and familiarity.
The crowd meanwhile, are ecstatic : admittedly, a lot of out of tune singing, air punching, and general bliss, as Depeche Mode are now a happy, comfortable unit, full of smiles, hugs, and joyous glances to each other. The songs themselves might be Depeche's stock in trade of somewhat troubled, existential disco crises with splashings of perverse sex - and only two songs tonight released between 1993 and 2013 in the set – however, there's a sense of celebration. It may be a freezingly cold November in London, but inside, the band are keen and relaxed, Gahan a confident cheerleader in joyous misery, Gore and Fletcher comfortable – whilst Fletch still seems to do nothing visibly or audibly throughout the whole night (though he does place his foot on a monitor during one song). With 15 years each in the band, Peter Gordeno on keyboards and Christian Eigner on drums have been in the band – shockingly – almost as long as they haven't.
Still, you're never more than about five minutes from a big hit – with 15 singles in a 21 song set - the audience has little opportunity to rest up and for the encore, are rewarded with the first live performance of “Leave In Silence” since 2006. It seems a long way from seeing them 23 years ago to the week at the Birmingham NEC as a seventeen year old, and yet that distance is closed simply by the band playing certain notes and certain songs. It all comes back. Like the best music, it transports the listener from one place to another, from sadness to joy, from life as it is, to a place where life is more the world we want and not the one we have. And that is music's power ; to change and alter our realities. What more could one want from art than to make a life a better place to live in?
Welcome To My World – Angel – Walking In My Shoes – Precious – Black Celebration – Should Be Higher - Policy Of Truth – The Child Inside – But Not Tonight – Heaven – Behind The Wheel - Pain I'm Used To – A Question Of Time - Enjoy The Silence – Personal Jesus – Leave In Silence – Halo – Just Can't Get Enough – I Feel You – Never Let Me Down Again