Gig review: Depeche Mode @ Manchester Arena 30 March 2006

I don't go to many gigs these days. After being very disappointed by U2 last summer, I remembered that Depeche Mode always have high production values for their shows, and that whenever they toured next I would go.

I was pretty late in the day getting tickets for Vic and I, so I was presently surprised that we were seated centrally along the back of the top tier of venue, as I find it frustrating when sitting side-on at concerts. Little did I know that we had been carefully placed directly behind a bank of five dancing Italians- at times the only people on the top-tier not in their seats 😦 

I was interested in how the band would play as a three-piece, as the last I had seen of them was watching a TV broadcast of the Devotional tour, which was the last before Alan Wilder left. In fact the remaining members were augmented by an additional keyboard player and a drummer, with Martin Gore playing guitar for all but a couple of songs. While the drumming and guitar improved the overall sound and energy of the songs, this meant that the evening as a whole lacked the sense of progression of the Violator show, which used the drums and guitar as a finale; a switch from the keyboard-only songs of the main set.

I suspected that Dave Gahan was tired, as he allowed the crowd to sing the entire chorus of the opening song, which would not have been familiar to all as it was taken from recent album Playing The Angel. He did seem to struggle at times. Having said that, Martin Gore's voice is excellent, benefitting from not having to control the audience, and the highlights of the evening were 'Home' and 'Shake the Disease' (as well as the drum break in 'Enjoy the Silence').
It was surprising that the encores were 'Just Can't Get Enough' and 'Everything Counts', just as they were on the World Violation and Music For The Masses tours (and presumably all the others in between). I thought that they would have had confidence enough in their songs to be more adventurous, and that in the end was my main complaint: It was good to see them not resting on their laurels, by playing a large chunk of their current album, but they also played it safe by performing all four singles off Violator, (their creative and commercial zenith,) and little from their previous albums. We had to leave at ten to eleven, so we missed what looked like a prospective second encore, but I don't think it would have made much difference.

It only occurred to me as we left the venue that the last time I saw them play was over fifteen years ago. On that basis I can forgive them for going through the motions a little. 

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~ by bouncysteve on 1 April, 2006.

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