Happy Birthday Dave Gahan! The Depeche Mode singer turns 49 today, but he came frighteningly close to never seeing this milestone. Fifteen years ago, he in fact died from an overdose at the Sunset Marquis in West Hollywood and was brought back to life by paramedics. (Earlier that year Gahan reportedly slit his wrists in a failed suicide attempt).
It was a struggle, but the charismatic crooner has managed to remain clean and sober for well over a decade, and Friday night he was honored by his peers for his accomplishment and his contributions to MusiCares' MAP Fund, which provides drug recovery resources for musicians who need it. Warped Tour creator Kevin Lyman was also honored at the event which featured performances from the honoree as well as Paramore, Ozomatli, Linkin Park's Chester Benington and the fittingly named Jane's Addiction. Comedian Greg Behrendt hosted the event which included a buffet dinner, and non-alcoholic libations only.
The annual MAP Fund benefit concert, held at Nokia Theatre, always has a wealth of rockstars to choose from (far too many have struggled with addiction) but the good news is that so many have managed to overcome them. Past recipients of the “Stevie Ray Vaughn Award,” which Gahan received this year, include Chris Cornell and Steven Tyler (who presented Gahan with his plaque).
The evening got off to an lively start thanks to Ozo, who played some of their most raucous hits and closed out their set with a horn-y version of “Just Cant Get Enough.”
“If it wasn't for Depeche Mode we'd all still be virgins,” the band's singer joked. Ozo also gave a shout out to Lyman whom, they said, gave them some of their early gigs. Paramore, echoed the sentiment, calling Lyman their “godfather” before diving into a heartfelt acoustic set. He exposed the group to rock fans when they were unknowns via Warped (which they're doing again this year, now as chart-toppers).
A video featuring the likes of Bad Religion, NOFX and even Katy Perry was also full of praise for the promoter. Lyman talked fondly of all the night's players during his acceptance speech and joked that he was honored to have his family there (his daughters would have gone to see Ke$ha if not for Paramore's performance, he noted).
Jane's Addiction, whom Gahan followed closely when he lived in Los Angeles during the late '90's, offered a lush and layered, if short set (Farrell obviously kept the wine he fancies sipping onstage at home for this one). But the highlight both for the famous faces (Billy Corgan, The Go-Gos' Charlotte Caffey, Christina Applegate, Matt Sorum and Thelonious Monster's Bob Forrest — known to a new generation as “the guy from Celebrity Rehab“) in the pricey “living room-style couch seats” as well as the fervent fans in the cheaper balcony seats, was definitely Gahan, who did not disappoint, pouncing the stage and swiveling his hips, as his seductive vox ravished an inspired selection of covers from the likes of David Bowie, Mark Lanegan and The Damned.
All were enthralling, but it was his intense and wistful rendition of Joy Division's “Love Will Tear Us Apart” that was the evening's keepsake moment (as far Google could tell us, he hasn't done it in concert before). It was capped off with a surprise appearance by Martin Gore (well, we weren't surprised because we saw him at the buffet table) who joined Dave on “Personal Jesus,” a tune Gore wrote, and which many believe to be about his bandmate's past heroin problem.
Clearly, sobriety agrees with Gahan. He may be pushing 50, but he's never looked or sounded better (he really should be on this list).
BONUS VIDEO: Here's a pretty good clip of Dave Gahan's Joy Division cover we found on YouTube. Enjoy: