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Thursday 18 January 2018

music

The mercifully brief fad of rock stars wearing waistcoats over bare torsos ended around 1987 when Bono and friends were in full Joshua Tree-mode. Nobody told Dave Gahan and Martin Gore of Depeche Mode, who are guilty of all manner of sartorial horrors tonight.

Depeche Mode

the o2

But leaving aside waistcoats – which a half-naked Gahan is literally happy to do late on – this is an arena show of the very highest order, one that marries the evergreen hits with material from their fine, newish album, Delta. It's their 13th studio album on a career that's had no shortage of lows as well as highs.

This Dublin performance celebrates former glories but also offers compelling evidence that Depeche Mode are still evolving. This is no mere nostalgia trip, as ably demonstrated by the arresting opening songs – 'Welcome to My World' and 'Angel', both from Delta – but they are respectful of their crowd-pleasing anthems, too.

There are subtle adornments to the likes of 'Walking in My Shoes', but Gahan and Gore are disciples of the if-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it school – not something, unfortunately, that can be said of many of their peers who came of age in the 1980s.

While Gahan is good at playing the rock frontman – and utilising that "ego ramp" that juts out from the stage – the more restrained Gore injects subtlety, not least on new song 'The Child Inside'. His impressive delivery makes you wonder why he doesn't take lead vocals more often, because he's a born showman.

'The Child Inside' is one of a handful of songs that Gore sings tonight and they offer a change from the wonderfully percussive sound that dominates proceedings. There's a muscularity to the Depeche Mode live experience of 2013 that's thrilling.

Both 'Enjoy the Silence' and 'Personal Jesus' are nothing short of immense – and their impact is enhanced by a creative and memorable light show. While there are moments that drag a little – probably inevitable given the show's two-hour run-time – the band (swelled to a five-piece) look like they're enjoying themselves hugely. And they feed off the crowd's energy for a superior encore that features an awesome rendition of 'Shake the Disease' followed by an extended, inspired, take of their breakthrough hit, 'I Just Can't Get Enough'.

When the latter was released in 1981, few could have imagined that its creators would still be going strong 32 years later. But as the band launch into a gloriously abrasive 'I Feel You' they look like they can do no wrong. Pity about those sparkly waistcoats, though.

Irish Independent

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