The Take

Our crit­ics’ se­lec­tion of the best live events

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - NEWS - JENNIFER GAN­NON

3ARENA,DUBLIN,WED­NES­DAY

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

PHO­TO­GRAPH: DAVE KOTINSKY/GETTY IMAGES

Coiled snake: Depeche Mode front­man Dave Ga­han.

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