at The Worcester Centrum
Three years ago, when Depeche Mode toured North America for their "World Violation" tour, they were icons of Euro-techno-New Wave. When the lead singer of Depeche Mode walked on stage at Giants Stadium, me and 80,000 of my closet friends went wild. The whole crowd went crazy with excitement; I was singing (perhaps yelling), dancing and having the time of my life. That was three years ago.
This year, Depeche Mode went on tour for its "Songs of Faith and Devotion," I was naturally excited; the same kind of excitement which I had during their 1988 and 1990 tour. At the Worcester Centrum, their first U.S. stop, Depeche Mode's first act was a guy, presumably David Gahan, the lead singer, singing behind the curtain. The crowd went wild--not as wild as their previous tours--but definitely wild.
After the first song, the curtain dropped and a thin man with a scruffy beard and Jesus-like hairstyle strutted to the front of the stage in front of a crowd of perhaps a mere 15,000. This guy, who did a great impersonation of a homeless person in appearance, was none other than David Gahan.
After adjusting to his new look, I was skeptical of the new style and direction of Depeche Mode. Their new appearance was so depressingly gloomy that they would make The Cure seem light and zesty.
However, people didn't really flock to Worcester to see their new look but to hear new songs from their most recent album. They did a soulful rendition of "Walking in My Shoes," to which the crowd seemed silent and unresponsive. In addition, "Get Right With Me," had Martin Gore practicing his few chords on a guitar. The crowd's reaction? Well, it must have been damn impressive because the crowd certainly was left speechless. The only new song which seemed to have revived the crowd from a coma was "I Feel You," which sounded very much like "Personal Jesus." I guess one can only write so much about "darkness," "religion" and "forbidden love" before they become repetitive. Perhaps for a couple of albums, those themes can be cutting edge and cool, but by the tenth album, they get more redundant than Maurice Ravel's "Bolero."
During some moments, however, the crowd seemed responsive and started to dance and sing along. When David Gahan sang "Personal Jesus" and "Enjoy the Silence," the noise from the crowd was audible--not loud but definitely audible. Also Depeche Mode's rendition of "Behind the Wheel" and "Stripped" were definitely the highlights in a dull concert..
For the first U.S. appearance of Depeche Mode, it was embarrassing. When Gahan tried to excite the crowd, nothing happened; when he held his microphone to the audience, there was silence. He probably would have had better luck exciting the New England Patriots' fans.
The only time the crowd actually sang in unison was to "Everything Counts" and "Personal Jesus" which tells you just how excited the fans are about their new album. The new look and the new style definitely was not a hit and was a huge disappointment for diehard--ex-diehard--fans, like me. Having attended their last three concerts, I was disappointed at this one. I fought to stay awake but that was only because I had to do this review.
I guess that in their search for new ideas, music and style, they have alienated themselves from the fans that have followed and worshipped them since their first album.
Perhaps Depeche Mode now has a wider appeal but they've lost touch with the diehards, and it truly became evident at the concert. So if you are a neophyte who has joined the Depeche Mode bandwagon after this or the previous album, go and watch the fading remnants of New Wave icons and also enjoy the purple lights which will periodically hit your face. If you're a fan of their old style, buy some of their old albums instead.