Event Review: Depeche Mode
Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL, November 29, 2005
Artist: Depeche Mode
Venue: Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
Date: November 29, 2005
Photos: Donna Rickles
With a career spanning more than two decades and countless hits, Depeche Mode proved they still have what it takes to be rock stars. Thousands of fans braved the first brutally cold day of Chicago's approaching winter for the sold out show.
The stage of the Allstate Arena was transformed into a futuristic space station, complete with synthesizers encased in shiny silver spacecraft control panels. A large silver globe flashed random messages across a side panel, but stuck with a consistent "hello, hello" as the lights dimmed and the crowd cheered the arrival of David Gahan, Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher.
As usual, Martin Gore had on a fantastically insane outfit, this time dressed as some type of dark brown bird, a rooster perhaps? Last tour he was dressed as an angel, with wings and sparkly silver pumas. Gahan and Fletcher opted for simple blazers and slacks. David would eventually sweat off the top half of that outfit due to his erratic dance moves.
Opening with "A Pain I'm Used To" off the new album, Playing The Angel, DM set a dark, sexy mood as the words "misery, contempt, torment" flashed across the silver globe. Dave spun around with the mic stand, going straight into "John The Revelator," also from the new album. Off came the blazer as he strutted and postulated to the crowd and they greeted him with a cheer, then rocked their bodies and softly sang the words with him.
Perhaps it was just me, perhaps it was my friends agreeing with me, but it seemed as if Gahan was having just a bit of a hard time hitting the high notes in the first two songs. He seemed a little nervous, but all that changed with "A Question Of Time." The crowd roared and came to life as he ran out on the catwalk portion of the stage to sing and shook hands with fans as they reached out and strained to touch him. Most of the people on the arena floor were now on their feet and screaming. The love of the fans seemed to relax and fuel him as he unbuttoned his vest, stepped up the passion in his performance and delivered his vocals with perfection.
The first half of the show was dedicated mainly to the new album. The band performed "Precious," the first single, a beautifully sad song that Gore wrote about his two young children and how they were dealing with their parents' recent divorce. The crowd was affected by this very personal song and its impact was written on their faces. I am always impressed with an artist who is willing to share their pain and personal lives through their music. They followed with "Suffer Well," "I Want it All" and "The Sinner In Me," breaking once for Martin to perform his blazing guitar solo "Home," during which he removed his fuzzy "bird" cap setting off a roar from the crowd that echoed throughout the arena.
During the performance, there were some amazing video projections on a huge screen. The images ranged from beautiful black and white portraitures of the band, to night vision style live footage that changed to the beat of the music. It was accompanied by an amazing white light that suddenly exploded with a flash into colors and moved about the stage with blinding fury.
David Gahan, Martin Gore, Andrew Fletcher
But, all lighting paled in comparison to the lights during "I Feel You" from the album Songs Of Faith And Devotion. It looked like there were thin beams of white laser light raining down from the ceiling onto the crowd. The starkness of those bars of lights coupled with an extended instrumental intro, drove the crowd into hysterics, myself included. This was followed by a string of Depeche Mode classics.
Picture the venue pitch black and all you hear is the sound of a car trying to start. Wild with anticipation, most people caught this right away and started cheering before "Behind The Wheel" actually started. The mood of the crowd continued to elevate as Dave let go and put pure force into his performance. His body was dripping with sweat as he ran his hand across his bare chest then down his leg, while the standing crowd shrieked. The whole arena was dancing, rocking and jumping during this tune. This killer song was followed by "World In My Eyes" and "Personal Jesus."
"Enjoy The Silence" had an illustrated version of the music video projected in the background. In it, Dave was dressed as a king and walked through various landscapes with a lawn chair. The audience shouted and screamed during the song and was totally into the show. Dave then took the opportunity to introduce the band before waving good night and exiting the stage.
The departure was brief, as with most shows, and the entire time fans never stopped cheering. Martin returned to the stage alone to perform an emotional version of "Somebody," a crowd favorite. The mood quickly shifted as the catchy dance beat of "Just Can't Get Enough" got the audience rocking out hard again. The frenetic level of excitement continued all the way through "Everything Counts" with the audience, as tradition dictates, singing the end a cappella.
Depeche Mode returned for a final encore with "Never Let Me Down Again" and closed with "Goodnight Lovers." It was a fantastic end to an incredible show as Martin and Dave shared the end of the catwalk and sang the song together. This time, there was a more formal goodbye as the band mates lined up to bow together with a group hug involved.
This may be a biased opinion, but I don't care. This is my all time favorite band and I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to see them again. It was a spectacular show from performance to set design. For those of you who have not already done so, you need to add Playing The Angel to your CD collection. It's a return to Depeche Mode's more "synth-pop" days. . .think Violator and backtrack from there. It's one CD you definitely want to check out.
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