The singular genius of Depeche Mode’s music might be the way their songs inspire a gut-wrenching personal response. As a band, they proved beyond any doubt that music derided as simple synth pop is able to have the same impact as classical music or more sophisticated rock. Still packing arenas after a career spanning 37 years, they embarked on a world tour in support of their newest released and 14th studio album “Spirit”, which officially kicked off on 5 May 2017 with a performance in Stockholm, Sweden at the Friends Arena. Despite cancelling one of their South Florida shows at Tampa because of the devastation caused by the hurricane Irma, the performance announced for the Miami American Airlines Arena stayed on scheduled and my wife and myself could attend the concert.
Concertgoers from all sides of the state, and with demographic spanning more than three generations, began to fill the stadium while the opening band Warpaint was on stage; and after 25 minutes around 20,000 people had taken their seats, ready to enjoy the presentation of the synth-pop legends. The lights went down announcing the imminent beginning, to later turn into red and start dancing while the crowd welcomed the band’s entrance to the Beatles’ “Revolution” with a deafening cheer. As the first chords gained the airwaves, lead singer Dave Gahan glided across the stage demanding everyone’s attention and stealing the spotlight, backed with cinematic footage created by long-time collaborator Anton Corbijn, and the band jumped into “Going Backwards” with a freshness and splendor which shined bright and would remain a constant through the whole show.
By the third song “Barrel of a Gun” the energetic front-man got rid of his jacket to reveal his characteristic black waistcoat, waving his elbows like a chicken, dancing and whirling at the crowd while pirouetting, windmilling and grabbing his crotch. The other two original members, guitarist Martin Gore (who showcased a tremendous resemblance with Keith Richards, accentuated by his use of eyeliner) and keyboardist Andy Fletcher, remained mostly focused on their playing and with so created a strong contrast with the singer’s stage presence. Remarkable songs from their back catalogue such as “A Pain that I’m Used To”, “Corrupt”, “In Your Room”, “World in My Eyes”, “A Question of Lust”, “Home”, and “Wrong” intertwined with more newest tunes from Spirit like “Cover Me”, “Poison Heart”, and “Where is the Revolution”. Hit after hit the band offered an intimate connection with the public, from the front to the back of the enormous stadium floor to the very top of the place’s towering stand, many times I looked around and could not see a single living soul not waving their arms in the air, singing along, pumping their fists or dancing to the dynamism of the music.
During “Never Let Me Down Again” Gahan unloaded a t-shirt cannon into the audience, followed by an unison clamor and a sea of hands from the audience. At the end of the song a suspenseful moment took over when the band disappeared backstage and the lights faded giving us a minute of silence. The crowd response didn’t take long: a chant raised steadily in a frantic claim for more music, and they re-appeared amidst a thunderous applause. They had played an already monstrous 17 songs set-list, but apparently there was still more to offer and they began a 5 tracks encore, which climax came during their fantastic rendition of David Bowie’s “Heroes”. A flawless “Personal Jesus” was the glorious ending to a very enjoyable night of music, one that proved how well Depeche Mode has perfected the arena’s show and why they are one of the top live acts still touring today.
Going Backwards / So Much Love / Barrel of a Gun (with ‘The Message’ (Grandmaster Flash) snippet) / A Pain That I’m Used To (‘Jacques Lu Cont’s remix’ version) / Corrupt / In Your Room / World in My Eyes
/ Cover Me / A Question of Lust (Martin Gore accompanied by Keyboard player) / Home / Poison Heart / Where’s the Revolution / Wrong / Everything Counts / Stripped / Enjoy the Silence / Never Let Me Down Again
Somebody (Martin Gore accompanied by keyboard player) / Walking in My Shoes / “Heroes” (David Bowie cover) / I Feel You / Personal Jesus