Sunday, April 02, 2006

Not many men can wear cuban heels

Ah bless, one cherubic poster on the Depeche Mode message board was ruing the fact so few people turned up to Friday's NEC gig in iconic Violator era Dave Gahan leather jacket, Aviator sunglasses and white jeans. Apparently this was his garb du jour. Some years ago it wasn't unusual to see Depeche fans dressed like this, but now they're defined by their girth, not their dress. Many still wear tour merchandise of various vintages (generally speaking Devotional t-shirts have survived years of wash and wear best) but most freakish obsessives limit themselves to comedy Gestapo leather coats because they're more slimming than white vests.

Despite the tired, lazy, media coverage about their doom laden Essex boy electro pop, The Mode still give great show. It's a little grungier than the polished electronica from the first time we saw them sixteen years ago, but sometimes its good to indulge in proper portentous stadium rock. Gahan makes no excuses for his well rehearsed rock god performance; happy to lead an arms in the air clap-a-thon or screech "C'MOWN!" in an odd LA drawl. He appears to have added a subtle Spanish theme to his stage show for this tour, and a 'bolted horsey' foxtrot. Ah well, he's 44, even he has to be embarrassing dad once in a while.

Of course he's supported by the awkward, but brilliant, Martin Gore who now seems permanently attached to his lead guitar. Conversely, the band's other stalwart, Andy Fletcher, sticks with what he knows; bouncing behind his space aged console on lead, em, Excel. His presence on stage disguising the fact his principle role is actually as the band's accountant.

The beauty of stadium rock is its slickness; video, song and sensible health and safety regulations meld as one. Films of demure, usually half naked, models bathed in brooding coloured light are interlaced with live action band close ups that reveal years of drug abuse and peculiar sex are not without consequence. Like the venue, the show is convenient, safe and well thought through. The live drums and guitar mean they're a bit more ragged than usual; they have to restart Personal Jesus after attempting to play the whole song in the intro, but even this cock up is suspiciously slick. In the end the set is predictable; a song from the new album, an couple of classics, a couple more songs from the new album, then classics right through to the encore; pop gems Just Can't Get Enough and Everything Counts are rounded off by the ever tumultuous Never Let Me Down Again. At the end Gore and Gahan stroll out to a small stage in the middle of the arena to do the ballad Goodnight Lovers. Its an unusual choice to end a show, but it reveals that, perhaps for the first time in years, they seem to enjoy playing together. Art, its not. A stupendous night out? Well, yes.

The baby enjoyed the show, dancing most to Enjoy The Silence. Emma, just three weeks from the pop, hobbled valiantly from the car park to the arena over a walkway. On the way back one of the stewards stopped us from going back the same way; "You're not walking over there again, I saw you coming down. There's a shortcut down there, ask my mate (another steward) to show you". The pain and suffering seemed to capture the mood perfectly.


Newer Post Older Post Home

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds