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No one would blame Depeche Mode for slinking off into the twilight and enjoying a well-earned respite. Grabbing hands have been mauling them for almost four decades, and after all the debauchery and holidaying at death’s door, there’s not a pop fan alive who’d begrudge the brooding Basildon blokes a gentle retirement by the seaside. Who wouldn’t want to visit a Martin Gore-run tea shop
The Gore Teacake Emporium may never actually come to fruition though as downtime or relaxation don’t appear to be in the Depeche Mode handbook. By now they are a well-oiled chrome machine: half band, half tunesmith terminators who refuse to clock off from the job of pop. This one-night stand at Dublin’s 3Arena is the beginning of their second trip around Europe in 2017, having straddled half the globe from May to October on their whopping 110-date Global Spirit tour, in support of the Spirit album that was released in March.
It may be the band’s 14th album but there’s no curbing of their razorsharp edges or shying away from the big issues of the day. It would appear that the more mature Depeche Mode get, the more angst- ridden they become, as Spirit is a damning, dismaying look at our current political landscape.
In a world where hardcore fans must witness perma-victim Morrissey morphing into a wheezing Alf Garnett, it’s cheering to see other 1980s survivors baulk at the slow death of conservatism and stay true to their beliefs.
Perhaps it was the idiotic ramblings of neo-Nazi du jour Richard Spencer – who earlier this year claimed he was a “lifelong” Depeche fan and praised the music’s “fascist element” – that makes the album appear more vital and visceral. It’s as if they’re satisfactorily landing a well-aimed punch at the tormentors. Tracks such as the single Where’s
the Revolution?, whose chorus cries out for an end to apathy, with Dave Gahan admonishing us all for letting him down, and the cutting Scum spell out their feelings in a furious cloud of distortion and those familiar pitchblack synth sounds.This is not a band
frozen in time. DM are buzzing with life, throwing their stadium-swelling audience a few crafty curveballs in between the mammoth stomachflipping genius of Enjoy the Silence and the pervalicious perfection of Personal Jesus.
Gahan will still dance like a snake uncoiling itself from a basket. Gore will probably wear some type of expensive bomber jacket. And Fletch may never remove his shades: these are the little things we can rely on in an uncertain, unpredictable world. Take comfort in the triumvirate of pounding electropop ready to envelope us in their doom-laden beauty before spitting us back out into the darkness, born anew, spirits replenished.
By now they are a well-oiled chrome machine: half band, half tunesmith terminators who refuse to clock off from the job of pop
Coiled snake: Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan.