Depeche Mode Staples Center, Nov. 21 If we knew we were gonna be listening to the sound of our own voices the entire night we mightve stayed home, or in the car. But who are we kidding? Thats one of the guarantees at a Depeche Mode show you will see guitarist Martin Gore in some crazy getup, say, feathered boots, black angel wings and a Mohawk-shaped knitted cap; you will watch singer Dave Gahan spin like an Energizer dreidel, his top ready to twist and pop off; and you will be expected to sing more than half the set list. What is it about this band, and this loyal following (this increasingly younger following) that still likes to mouth the words to that 25-year-old fluff piece Just Cant Get Enough as if it were Blowin in the Wind? Duran Duran, Human League, the Eurythmics and other 80s synth-pop peers were put out to pasture a long time ago, and DM never really fully rose above cult status either. Yet they can sell out the first of their three local arena shows in 20 minutes, and inspire the current lifeblood of Indie and KROQ, from the Killers to Kasabian to the shamelessly derivative Bravery (openers for some DMs shows), to steal their sound. And while Madonna is heralded for doing a back-to-the-club, self-worshiping snoozer like Confessions on a Dance Floor just to prove she can get out of bed without a walker, Gore, Gahan and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher (can someone please text message Alan Wilder and Vince Clarke?) never left. Poor Fletch. Poor plain and tall Fletch, still having to wave from behind the knobs to let us know hes actually up there. The stage was an interstellar sight of flickering overhead lights, flying saucers that masked the keyboards, lyrics scrolled across a massive silver ball, and video screens in the shape of shattered glass showing images from morphing faces to a funny, doodled drawing reenacting director Anton Corbijns video to Enjoy the Silence. DM can easily rest on their 80s laurels, but theyll be damned if the new songs take a back seat: They ended the night with Goodnight Lovers off of 2001s Exciter, and opened with A Pain That Im Used To and the excellent John the Revelator, two of the better cuts from the current Playing the Angel that got as big a reception as some of the older material. Those were just a warm-up, though, to the pulsating, shouldve-been-a-radio-hit Question of Time, after which we couldve shoveled the dirt over ourselves and had our last rights read. But the night just kept progressing with each song. The stomping Personal Jesus is a must; just how many reach out touch faiths were they expecting from us? And how did a goldie-locked boy from Basildon, England, come up with a filthy blues ditty like I Feel You? Of course Gore had to tug at the heartstrings with Somebody, during which all of Staples turned into a sea of floating, lit cell phones. Gahan (tight black trousers and naked from the waste up, save for the giant, zoomorphic Celtic design inked on his back) is just a cocky rooster, all strutting walk, swaying hips, and reaching out and touching the faith of his nether region. During Enjoy the Silence, he couldve simply handed us the mike and said, Here, break a leg. Laziness, perhaps, but you get more goosebumps listening to 20,000 people singing along in unison to the same song than one man. That, and making us wave our arms side to side the dance de rigueur to Never Let Me Down Again until we were almost airborne. It was both nostalgia on DMs part, and a persistent feeling on the audiences part to want to relive that special moment Rose Bowl, 1988 most of these 20-somethings never lived through in the first place.
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