ACL Live Shot: Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode hits all its marks and then some
By Melanie Haupt, 9:28AM, Sat. Oct. 5
Because Depeche Mode has been around since John Lennon was shot and Ronald Reagan got elected President – 1980 – Friday night’s ACL headliner fun was anticipating which of their dozens of hits would not only recall but also preserve that bygone era.
In a polished, 15-song set that dug deep into its back catalog, the veteran UK synth greats delivered a satisfying performance that spoke to their longevity, touching nearly every one of their dozen-plus discs. Dave Gahan and company powered on with “Welcome to My World” from this year’s Delta Machine.
By then, the sinewy singer was already shilling top-shelf charisma, strutting around the stage like a greasy peacock in a black leather vest and tight pants, working the crowd in what felt like a parody of Mick Jagger. He sneered his way through “Policy of Truth,” at one point slyly humping the mic stand – a clear sign that Gahan could have a fantastic time while also taking the piss out of this whole “nostalgia act” business.
Early selections like “Black Celebration” and “A Question of Time,” with its pulsing, tick-tock beat, translated well into the outdoor music context despite being soundtracks to the darkened bedrooms of angsty Eighties youth. Guitarist Martin Gore’s neutered ballads, “Home” and “Shake the Disease,” were all torch songs with no torch.
Meanwhile, the video programming toyed with an Eighties aesthetic, fiddling with tracers and MTV-style rapid cuts. After hitting all their marks with “Enjoy the Silence” and “Personal Jesus,” Depeche Mode encored with “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “I Feel You” and, finally, struck the perfect closing note with the sinister bombast of “Never Let Me Down Again.”
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