When Depeche Mode started their European tour in May they shared a video as a reminder that they’re the biggest band in the world – in some parts.
It was a clip – since shared millions of times as a gif – of Never Let Me Down Again in Budapest’s Groupama Stadium, with Dave Gahan on a walkway leading tens of thousands in a synchronised arm swing. Kinda cheesy for sure, but a real FOMO moment if you’ve no ticket for this Global Spirit tour.
Since then, DM have played Milan’s San Siro, the Stade de France and Olympic Stadiums in Rome, Munich, Kiev and their home city of London. There’s a case for them being bigger than U2, without the morto baggage.
I won’t go full PR spin doctor and say this 3Arena show will be “more ‘intimate”, but Depeche Mode under a roof is a thing to behold. I managed to nab a ticket for their BBC 6 Music Festival showcase at Glasgow’s 2,000-capacity Barrowlands and it felt like one long encore, with Dave Gahan pulling off his best sleazeball rock star poses, spinning, ass-wiggling, hair-flicking and pouting with his new handlebar moustache.
Their latest album Spirit is one of the best latter-day Mode records, and their most overtly-political one yet. Tracks like Where’s the Revolution? and Going Backwards add a fist-aloft urgency to the new Global Spirit tour. And if you had any doubt whose side they’re on, Gahan wasted no time calling Richard Spencer a “c**t” earlier this year, when the Nazi mouthpiece said that Depeche Mode were the “official band of the alt-right”.
After emerging in the early 80s in the first wave of UK synthpop acts along with Pet Shop Boys, Erasure, Ultravox and the Human League, Depeche Mode have since transcended genres, influencing a whole generation of electronic, goth and industrial acts, with genius singles like Enjoy the Silence, Personal Jesus, Never Let Me Down Again and Everything Counts.
They’ve gone down darker electro routes, and Martin Gore leaned on his wiry guitar over synths on 1993’s Songs of Faith and Destruction, but they’ve never slavishly chased trends. The one constant is their batshit devoted fanbase, so this won’t be a typical school night.
- Depeche Mode play Dublin’s 3Arena on Wednesday (November 15)