Depeche Mode Reward Fans With Deep Cuts, Gahan's Antics in NYC - Rolling Stone
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Depeche Mode Reward Fans With Deep Cuts, Gahan’s Antics in NYC

Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan does not move like a man who spent much of the spring in the hospital. The Britpop electro monsters had to cancel the early dates of their ‘Tour of the Universe” when Gahan had surgery to remove a malignant tumor in his bladder. But at New York’s Madison Square Garden yesterday, Gahan spent the night doing what he does best: wiggling, prancing, twirling his mikestand, blowing kisses to the crowd, and cavorting like a hyperactive goth slut in a black vest. He even threw in a discreet Michael Jackson tribute, yelping “hee hee!” in the middle of “Personal Jesus.” It was the only discreet thing he did all night.

Depeche Mode showed why they remain one of the planet’s most eternally popular bands, at a time when their surviving peers are playing Eighties-nostalgia package tours. You cannot accuse the Depechies of playing it safe, as they geared the show to the hardcore fans, skipping some of their most obvious hits and crowd-pleasers to make time for beloved cult faves. “In Your Room,” an obscure deep cut from the 1993 Songs of Faith and Devotion, became a huge widescreen synth-pomp sex yowl, one of the night’s musical triumphs — and despite the fact that it was never a hit, everybody in the room knew the words. (What can you say about a Depeche Mode show that makes room for “A Question of Time,” “Fly on the Windscreen” and “Home” but not “Everything Counts” or “Just Can’t Get Enough”? You’d have to say these guys know exactly who their crowd is.) Other highlights: “Wrong,” from their excellent new Sounds of the Universe; Gahan’s sultry version of “Stripped”; “Precious,” the 2005 ballad that lingers on as one of the best things they’ve ever done; and the climactic knockout punch of “I Feel You,” “Enjoy the Silence” and “Never Let Me Down Again.” Gahan was topless by that point, but that probably goes without saying.

Martin Gore played guitar nearly the whole night, vamping up his rock-god fantasies in a hilarious glitter suit covered with silver sequins, right down to his shoes. He incited screams with his vocal showcases in “Little Soul” and “Home.” Andy Fletcher hovered behind his keyboard (it took this fan three songs to even find him), along with their longtime henchmen, drummer Christian Eigner and keyboardist Peter Gordeno. The show went light on special effects, except for an odd interlude during “Strangelove” when they aired some softcore porn on the big screen, probably just to wake up the boyfriends and husbands in time for the drive home.

For the finale, Gore and Gahan ventured out onto the catwalk to sing a stripped-down duet of “Waiting for the Night,” a truly touching moment. The whole show rocked. The guy behind me who kept screaming for “Blasphemous Rumours” 10 minutes after the house lights went up? He rocked too.

Set List:

In Chains
Hole To Feed
Walking In My Shoes
It’s No Good
A Question Of Time
Fly on the Windscreen
Little Soul
Come Back
Policy Of Truth
In Your Room
I Feel You
Enjoy The Silence
Never Let Me Down Again

Encore 1:
Master And Servant

Encore 2:
Personal Jesus
Waiting for the Night


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