Do we deserve Depeche Mode? Do we deserve bands of their vintage who show up 40 years into their career, looking fit and trim, and touring on the back of an excellent new record?
Depeche Mode were all that and more when they arrived in Orlando on the third leg of their tour in support of Memento Mori. The new record features heavily in the show. That can be a mixed blessing for folks who wanted to reapply their '87 eyeliner for a nostalgic Tuesday night on the town. But if you wanted a stellar arena-sized rock show from beginning to end, you were well served.
New songs "My Cosmos Is Mine" and "Wagging Tongue" opened the show to an expectant crowd. The arena sing along starts with "Walking in My Shoes" and "Everything Counts." Orlando was thrilled to sing along to a song about corporate greed, and the show really took off from there.
Lead singer Dave Gahan is difficult to take your eyes off. He uses every square foot of the stage. He's a rock and roll cabaret all to himself. It's something his own and Gahan is clearly having the time of his life. He's feeling it and he's gonna make you feel it too.
Songwriter Martin Gore is a different kind of presence. Behind the keyboards or guitar, he's a shadowed band leader, until he takes center stage to sing two songs - "A Question of Lust" from 1986's Black Celebration and "Soul With Me" from Memento Mori. The latter offers a genuine left turn in the show. In a rather full-throttled setlist, Gore's sweet and haunting voice singing "Soul With Me," with sparse accompaniment, is disarming.
Touring members Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner have been with Gore and Gahan since the 1990s and provide a heavy, rocking accompaniment to Gore's deceptively simple synth and guitar lines.
The show ramps up again with Memento Mori lead single "Ghosts Again," before launching into some of the heavier, swaggering songs like "I Feel You," "Wrong" and "Stripped. The main set ends with an expected, yet feverishly welcomed, and extended "Enjoy the Silence."
An encore rounds out the show with three of the band's biggest songs. The first hit, "Just Can't Get Enough." The song with some recent reinterest thanks to inclusion on a popular streaming series, "Never Let Me Down Again." And the guitar riff that will ring in Orlando's head for many days to come, "Personal Jesus."
Through the years, Depeche Mode grew more interesting as they became a darker band focused on darker themes. Memento Mori is about as dark as it gets in looking at death, and particularly the death of longtime band member Andy Fletcher.
Yet, it's in the darkness that Gore and Gahan find the most life. It was on full display this night.
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