Depeche Mode hijinks recapture Tel Aviv

Concert Review: The boys from Basildon are back, opening their world tour to a crowd of close to 30,000.

Depeche Mode lifting microphone 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Depeche Mode lifting microphone 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
The boys from Basildon are back, opening their world tour to a crowd of close to 30,000 in Tel Aviv’s Hayarkon Park Tuesday night. In the 1980s Depeche Mode encapsulated the vacuousness of their generation against a backdrop of perfected new-wave electropop.
It could have been 1984 on Tuesday – the nostalgia the music elicited added to the fun – the only thing to give away the band-members’ ages were the wrinkles underneath their glitter makeup. Lead singer Dave Gahan, guitarist Martin Gore and keyboardist Andy Fletcher received the crowd with the foreboding “Welcome to my world,” a heavy bass track off their new album Delta Machine.
Gahan, in a black vest with gold lining, spun around, wiggled and gyrated, finding his photo ops, holding the microphone stand high above his head in victory, or doubling over to sing his pain.
Gore, with black nail polish and silver eye shadow, was stoic at the start of the performance, maintaining a cool nonchalance. But after a couple of powerful solos, the guitarist’s smile was like that of an excited schoolboy as he rode the audience’s anticipation.
The band has consistently released music every four years – with coinciding world tours – and is one of the few groups that has maintained, and built on, a solid fan base into the next generation. Jan Martensson from Sweden, a fan since 1983 and sporting a tattoo of the band’s name on his forearm, flew into Israel the day before the show after catching Depeche Mode in Nice, France three days earlier.
“I will see them at least 30 times more,” he said, heading to Germany and Denmark for most of their shows.
Martensson has been a fan since 1983, but said the music is only half of what keeps him coming back.
“That’s only 50 percent of the concert, the rest is the people,” he said. And he was right; the crowd is a mix.
There are diehard fans, those that just discovered the band, parents with their children, romantic couples and mischievous best friends.
“‘Personal Jesus’ got me hooked,” Barry, 38, from Canada said, wearing a concert T-shirt from the 1990s’ “Violation” world tour.
“I moved to Israel seven years ago and I brought the T-shirt with me,” he told The Jerusalem Post.
Local Eli and his 12-yearold- son Amit have gone to live music shows together for the past two years.
“Since Amit was 10, we have been going together to every show we like,” Eli said.
“He’s liked Depeche Mode for two years and I saw them in 2009.”
It was also a family affair for Shir, 21, also from Israel, who attended the concert with seven other family members.
“I heard ‘Enjoy the silence’ at my sister’s wedding,” she said.
The crowd sang along to the individualistic anthem ‘Walking in my shoes,’ taking each lyric and shouting it back to Gahan with unadulterated joy. The band never let up, they were theatrical on stage, acting out the lyrics to the 2005 hit, “Pain that I’m used to,” and putting into each song the same fervor as the one before it. Even their new music proved as popular as fan favorites, keeping up the poignant lyrics, signature sound and Gahan’s showmanship.
Video art by rock video photographer Anton Corbin paid homage to the band’s beginnings, filtering their performance like an oldschool music video through an analog TV-screen. An onscreen silhouette dance performance rivaled Gahan’s own enviable moves.
But it was the music that got to the heart of fans.
Gahan sang “Barrel of a gun,” one of Depeche’s darkest songs, but segued easily into the lyrically uplifting “Higher love.” In the crowd was the smell of beer, tobacco and that potent Israeli liquor, arak.
The show closed with their biggest hits, “Enjoy the silence” and “Personal Jesus,” to the elation of the crowd and all the smartphones recording the performance.
During the encore the audience found new energy in the band’s most well known hit, “Just can’t get enough” and closed the show with “Never let me down.”