Depeche Mode’s headlining appearance at the BBC6 Music Festival was always going to be a very, very special event. This is a band that pulls in stadium attendances of in excess of 68,000 – tickets sell out within minutes of going on sale. This is a band that still continues to tour the four corners of the globe to promote their latest record and over 1.2 million fans will flock to see them. This is a band that have been making music together since they were in their teens in the early Eighties yet manage to attract new fans with every album release whilst keeping hold of an incredibly loyal and devoted fanbase, affectionately known as “Devotees”.
So, needless to say, this appearance, their first since 1984 at the iconic Barrowlands Ballroom, Glasgow, in front of a very small audience of just over 2000 fans was highly anticipated and full of expectation and excitement. Lauren Laverne walked on the stage, just after 9pm, to introduce “trail- blazing, iconic” Depeche Mode and the roar of the crowd almost blew the roof off “The Barras”. It went on for a good couple of minutes and lead singer Dave Gahan looked taken aback at the deafening reception. It was an electrifying moment and an emotional one too.
The majority of the crowd were fans obsessed with the boys from Basildon from the very beginning, a few had even been at that first gig back in 1984 for the Some Great Reward tour so this was a moment they would never forget. Going Backwards a new song and their best gig opener since Higher Love in 1993 set the pace. Dave taking immediate command over the stage, enjoying seeing the expressions of the faces in the crowd and the sea of arms, reaching out for him, whilst strutting around like a goth- rock god , tattooed arms shiny with sweat ( yes , I was THAT close).
The band played twelve songs in total, four songs from their latest album, Spirit – just nine days old, yet already the lyrics indelibly marked on the lips and souls of the fans and the other eight songs – classic crowd pleasers from 1990 onwards. Cover Me, one of the tracks penned by Dave on “Spirit” was utterly delicious – this is a standout track from the album, heavy on atmospherics, tender on lyrics and translates to the live stage perfectly. It’s sublime – for the last two minutes or so, there is no vocal, just electrifying goodness and slide guitar creating one of the best Depeche Mode songs in years.
Martin Gore took the mic next, everyone expecting Little Soul as previously played at the other warm up gigs in Paris and Berlin but instead we were treated to Home – the song that Martin recently revealed in an interview was written when he was in a very dark place but he couldn’t have felt more uplifted as the audience belted out the chorus along with him – “But I thank you, for bringing me here, for showing me Home, for singing these tears…” His performance was heartfelt and emotional and he had a real connection with the adoring audience – so much so that long after the song finished, the crowd continued to soar with “ whoa-oh ohs” that Dave didn’t want to interrupt when he came back on stage.
Classic songs like World In My Eyes, with Dave frantically twirling to rapturous applause, hands gripped on the microphone, and Walking In My Shoes, adopting his famous “Christ-like” pose with same said mic held aloft his shoulders – sounded better than ever. Corrupt, A Pain That I’m Used To and Barrel Of A Gun kept the rock momentum going and there was no dip in the energy of Dave’s performance. The main set ended with the magnificent Personal Jesus and we prayed to ours for an encore – and we got one – the majestic Enjoy The Silence, one of the most well-loved Depeche Mode songs EVER with its unmistakable guitar intro from Martin – the crowd went ecstatic and it was a perfect song to finish on. It was an incredible night – but not only for the fans – the band genuinely looked like they were having the time of their lives and lapped up the never-ending applause.
Depeche Mode proved that they are still one of the most invigorating, energetic and relevant bands going even after more than thirty years in the business. The new songs of Spirit blended well with the classics and it certainly whetted the appetite for the fans for the impending 2017 world tour.