Depeche Mode on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA, April 24th, 2009
May 01, 2009 Web Exclusive
Thirty years into a long distinguished career, Depeche Mode should be settling into the comfortable niche of their twilight years as worldwide superstars. By all rights multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Martin Gore, keyboardist Andrew Fletcher, and vocalist Dave Gahan should be content with releasing the obligatory rehash of the glory years album before embarking on the requisite greatest hits tour to satiate the diehard fans and pad the bank accounts until the next go around. If Depeche Mode were like every other band of their ilk this is what the Basildon, England trio should be doing. Instead, the trio has decided to take the high road into the wilderness of dark electronic experimentation mixed with shimmering elements of hook laden brilliance as heard on their 2005 return to form full-length, Playing the Angel and their latest release, Sounds of the Universe. The band’s Top 40 radio days in America may have diminished in recent years but across the rest of the world Depeche Mode is still as relevant as they ever were if not more so, a feat that is as astonishing as it is beguiling, especially if you had grown up with them during those gawky awkward years of the early ’80s.
The evidence needed to support this claim of elusive relevance came in the form of 5,000 fans shutting down Hollywood Blvd. for a five block stretch smack dab in the middle of the city of angels on a Thursday night just to witness the live spectacle of DM racing through a mini set of seven tracks. Making one of their more grandiose promotional stops in support of the newly released Sounds of the Universe, the band’s performance on the late night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live belied, not only their age, but nearly everyone’s expectations as the black clad trio plus backing band opened the show by tearing into a barn burning performance of the latest single “Wrong” with a ferocity other groups half their age would be lucky to muster on a good night. Trading in his usual synthesizers for various guitars, and dressed in what can only described as Ziggy Stardust’s gothic evening wear, Martin Gore pummeled his way through the classic “Personal Jesus” as Gahan shouted and shimmied like a stripper with his life on the line.
Since the performance was for live television, viewers at home only got to witness those two opening tracks. But if you were one of the lucky few who waited in line all day in the Southern California sun, the next four tracks were an extra special treat. New material like “Peace” and “Come Back” were laced with the moody ambient energy that fittingly courses through the entirety of Sounds of the Universe, albeit highlighted by the passionate intricacies of Gahan and Gore’s vocal interplay. The real payoff came with a version of “Enjoy the Silence” that contained a shockingly adept extended breakdown that found Gore punishing his guitar into waves of distortion before the classic kicked into a higher gear that resembled a 12” remix version before flawlessly dropping back into place. The oldie but goody, “Never Let Me Down” closed out the set in fine fashion as Gahan, now stripped down to an open vest and tight black trousers, gave Mick Jagger a run for his money in the swaggering rock star department, all the while whipping the crowd into a frenzy. As surreal as it would seem to see any band play one of the busiest streets in America, it wasn’t surreal to witness Depeche Mode in the setting. Rather it was comforting to not only see that Depeche Mode still possess the goods when it comes to a great live performance, but also take in firsthand the fervor fans still have for a band with a seemingly infinite shelf life.
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