Written by Andy Upton
Photos by Joe Guzman
October 1, 2023
American Airlines Center
Finishing the weekend with a flourish, DEPECHE MODE treated a packed house like an old friend and played hit after hit at Dallas’ American Airlines Center on Sunday night. Having not been in the area for nearly six years, it was high time that Dallas got to witness all that the band had to offer. With a catalog spanning over 40 years and in support of their current album Memento Mori – there was no telling what we were about to hear.
Opening the show was DIIV (pronounced dive), an American rock band from Brooklyn, NY and their nearly half-dozen song set was a nice warm up. Their sound has been pegged as everything from shoegaze to post-punk and even some dream pop. I feel as though the shoegaze nod fits the best as evident in songs like “Between Tides”, “Take Your Time” and “Blankenship”. Zachary Cole Smith’s vocals and guitar work were great while the tempo duo of Colin Caulfield on bass and Ben Newman on drums kept the beats humming along. Guitarist Andrew Bailey was quite proficient all set whether it was to keep a steady rhythm or thrashing about through the faster songs. A few more standouts from this Captured Tracks labeled band included “Like Before You Were Born” and “Under the Sun”.
Stepping out to thunderous applause and a sparse stage, Depeche Mode got right to work with a couple of songs off of their most recent album Memento Mori – “My Cosmos is Mine” and “Wagging My Tongue”. I thought both were great but the audience around me was looking a little lost. Diving into some older songs would surely bring the crowd alive and that’s exactly what they did as they blazed through a great rendition of “Walking in My Shoes”. Dave Gahan still bounces around the stage like a teenager and Martin Gore seamlessly goes back and forth from his guitar to the keyboards like the seasoned pro he is.
Continuing to pull hidden gems out of their fifteen album deep catalog, Depeche Mode went as far back as their first effort Speak & Spell and pretty much touched on every album they’ve put out. The synthesizer work in “It’s No Good” and “Sister of Night” off of 1983’s Ultra showcased Peter Gordeno’s talents and drummer Christian Eigner was shining during “Stripped”. Martin Gore stepped out onto the runway that ran out into the crowd and performed an acoustic version of “Strangelove” from 1987’s Music for the Masses. I thought it was brilliantly done and allowed Martin a moment in the spotlight.
Another bright spot was “World in My Eyes” from 1990’s Violator (dedicated to ex-bandmate Andy Fletcher) – it was totally re-imagined sonically and allowed the band to expand the original song’s tune. One young lady sitting next to me was not impressed however; she stated that it was her favorite song but “I don’t like the way this sounds”. My opinion was that it sounded super cool and bravo to the band for not wanting to play a thirty year old song note-for-note. Another cult classic was “John the Revelator” from 2005’s Playing the Angel but it really had most of the audience stumped as only a few people near me knew it and sang along at the top of their lungs. An extended “Enjoy the Silence” closed out the main set and it had nearly the whole audience up on their feet singing while I felt that it was the best song of the night.
It was getting late as they dipped out off the side stage and I wasn’t really sure that they would come back for an encore. Sure enough, they came back out and ripped through another four songs highlighted by “Just Can’t Get Enough” and the show closing “Personal Jesus”. While they didn’t hit all of my favorite songs from yesteryear (would have loved to hear “People Are People”), Depeche Mode did enough to satisfy me and their adoring fans. Surprisingly still going strong after over forty years – they don’t look like they have plans to slow down any time soon.
· Dave Gahan – lead vocals (1980–present)
· Martin Gore – keyboards, guitars, backing and lead vocals (1980–present)
· Christian Eigner – drums, keyboards (1997–present)
· Peter Gordeno – keyboards, bass guitar, piano, backing vocals (1998–present)