SECC, Glasgow, Saturday 12 Dec 2009
Massive globally for two decades, this arena date with an audience of around 10,000 is probably the smallest show Depeche Mode have played in ages, their first in Scotland for 22 years, and definitely worth the wait for a devotional fanbase who have been taking cheap flights throughout Europe for DM gigs in the meantime.
Tonight, after an unsure start that includes some of the less obvious tracks from recent Sounds Of The Universe album ('In Chains', 'Wrong'), albeit backed by a stadium-scale lightshow and massive screen, they hit their stride, showcasing via a strong back catalogue exactly why they continue to pack out stadiums and arenas worldwide.
Having long progressed from their original electronic sound, tailor made for tightly-packed small clubs, to a sound replete with 'rock music' signifiers (guitars, live drums) that work well in addressing huge crowds, Depeche Mode live is as slick and impressive a spectacle as you would expect. Dave Gahan, a lean toreador dripping with the essence of frontman material, owns both the stage and his into-the-crowd walkway, with the exception of during a couple of interludes where principle songwriter Martin Gore takes the stage for solo spots showcasing his vocal agility with epic piano-backed torch songs.
'I Feel You', 'Walking In My Shoes', 'Policy Of Truth' and 'Personal Jesus' all roll out like classic hook-laden Depeche Mode anthems, but it's not all reverence to a sacred back catalogue – a mid-set 'Enjoy The Silence' incorporates a chorus of post-punk anthem 'Shack Up' by A Certain Ratio, indicating a desire to convey an awareness of other aspects of shifting popular culture, even though, as Depeche Mode and given the all-encompassing culture they foster among fans, this isn't necessary in the slightest.