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Depeche Mode rocks, fine form at Key Arena
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Depeche Mode rocks, fine form at Key Arena

by Jessica Price - SGN A&E Writer

Depeche Mode
August 10
Key Arena


Depeche Mode is possibly one of the least likely bands one would describe as arena rock, but that's just what they proved themselves to be at Key Arena this week. Since their inception in 1981, founding and current members Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher have been around the world and back again, blasting through years of club tours before graduating to stadium and arena-size venues in the late '80s.

Gahan has had his share of health problems this year, including a small malignant tumor removed from his bladder, a leg injury in Spain, and - at this printing - a postponed gig in the Bay Area for vocal rest. You wouldn't know it from Gahan's clear voice and charisma Monday night. In fact, over the 21-song set, Gahan's voice was notably strong, and his spirits high.

Energized and ready to rock, Depeche Mode took the stage to a near-capacity crowd, and rock they did. "In Chains" built up the excitement, followed by "Wrong" and "Hole To Feed" from the band's 12th studio album Sounds of the Universe. Classics "Walking In My Shoes," crowd-pleaser "It's No Good" and a handful of tracks from Black Celebration ("A Question of Time," "Fly On The Windscreen") stayed true to form.

The set was minimal and modern, allowing Gore's flashy silver sequin suit optimum visibility, while Gahan looked trim and sexy in his trademark vest and fitted black trousers.

Gore stayed up front to share vocal duties and play guitar throughout the evening. During "I Feel You," he even engaged in a double head-banging session alongside Gahan, touring drummer Christian Eigner and keyboardist Peter Gordeno - don't ever say that Depeche Mode can't rock out. One of the most shocking things about seeing the band live is how lively and full-tilt they really are. At the same time, they can drop things down a notch, showcasing Gore's pitch-perfect vocals, nearly operatic on tunes like "Jezebel." Gore flexed those vocal chords, motioned away as if conducting an orchestra. A little on the dramatic side, but then again, he's earned it.

"Policy of Truth" kicked off the show's second half; Gahan shimmying, shaking and spinning in circles as he has always done, mic stand flying above his head. All of the band's eleven studio albums have hit the top 10, and "Enjoy The Silence," "Never Let Me Down Again" and "In Your Room" reminded me just how many truly great songs they've written over the years.

Two tight encores featuring kinky trio "Stripped," "Strangelove" and, yes, "Master and Servant" made the night complete. Gahan, Gore, and even the ever-somber Fletcher looked as if they were having the time of their lives, and the audience clapped and cheered right along with them. For the final encore, the quartet broke out the pounding "Personal Jesus" and sweetly memorable "Waiting for The Night."

Depeche Mode's career is something to be proud of, and their influence can't be underestimated. Every time you think they're on their way out of the spotlight, they produce another undeniably perfect hit or a thrilling live show. Not only are they noteworthy survivors of the '80s, they've written and performed some of their very best just this year. A band full of misfits just so happens to be one of the world's best stadium bands.

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