Monday, March 11, 2013

Live Review - Depeche Mode @ Ed Sullivan Theater

The Live on Letterman series has been something we have written to no end about, for all of its amazing intimacy and brilliance of bringing artists and fans to one of the most untouchable and historical venues in New York City. Monday night was no exception. In one of the most special performances of the acclaimed web series, iconic English electro-rock pioneers Depeche Mode performed their first live show in almost five years.

On the day that band announced the North American leg of their massive world tour, Depeche Mode took their huge global appeal and shrunk it down into intimate venue that Ed Sullivan and David Letterman called their second home. In the three years we have been covering Live on Letterman gigs with acts that ranged from Adele, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Peter Gabrial, Soundgarden, no artist has had fans packed in so tight that people were cramming against the walls and wings to stand and see this band perform. It was a special and historical night for Depeche Mode, two weeks before their latest record, Delta Machine, arrives, this was the first time they were going to be playing songs off that record live and the start of what will be a tour that will take them to nearly every continent and almost every country over the next year-and-a-half. There was no better way to kick things off than in the Big Apple inside the Ed Sullivan Theater.

Opening with "Angel," a track that made its live debut, straight away this was not the Depeche Mode people would have expected. The song, which is one of the bands heaviest musically, is also one of their angriest lyrically. It was then into another new song, "Should Have Been Higher," that upped the ante of angst and musical heaviness. The crowd seemed stunned and the band, well, they were simply getting started. From then, a reworked and recharged version of "Walking in My Shoes," and "Barrel of a Gun" were played. As fans sung along, singer Dave Gahan was swinging his hips the way Elvis did on that stage over 60 years ago, Gahan, who looked like the "Electronic Elvis," seems so poised to be back in front of a room full of people, it does not matter how many, he simply lives to perform.  It was then into their latest single, the ballad, "Heaven," which cooled down the mood a bit. Guitarist and vocalist Martin Gore switched axes to perfect and alter his sound with every song, and keyboardist Andy Fletcher looked like it was just another day in the office, but the show belonged to Gahan. In 45 flawless minutes Depeche Mode gave fans new and old, with the debut of tracks, the bombastic "Soft Touch / Raw Nerve" and haunting, "Soothe My Soul," they sprinkled in classics like "Personal Jesus," and the fan favorite "Enjoy the Silence," before leaving the stage. While their time on stage lasted under an hour, Depeche Mode made a lasting impression, it was loud, it was furious, and it is how the band is going to be from now until the end of this tour. Watch out world, Depeche Mode are back!