After supporting Depeche Mode on their European tour, Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches says Glasgow is in for a treat
Depeche Mode. Two words with one hell of a musical legacy. After 33 years, 13 studio albums and over 100 million records sold worldwide, the Essex band have entirely proven that their success is no fluke. As someone currently playing in an electronic band, the importance of Depeche Mode to those with a love of synths, analogue and otherwise, is not lost on me. Chvrches supported the band on four European Delta Machine tour shows this summer and I could write a novella on how much they mean to me and millions of others, But today is not the day for an open letter (as on trend as that is) and we only have 800 words, so let’s do it bullet point style.
Reason to Love Depeche Mode #1: The Live Show
Depeche Mode live is a pretty breathtaking thing. The set list is EPIC so you are in no danger of feeling short-changed. New material is there in abundance but blends well with old classics (Personal Jesus, Walking In My Shoes, Enjoy The Silence, Policy Of Truth). The three long-standing band members – Andy Fletcher, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore – perform with exactly the same dedication and energy as they do in footage of yore, with Martin Gore given centre stage for a number of his lead vocal tracks. The ’Mode also know their way around a beautiful visual, having worked with filmmaker Anton Corbijn since the 1980s, and this live show sees the Delta Machine artwork incorporated into the set alongside abstract video sequences and impressive lighting techniques.
Reason to Love Depeche Mode #2: Dave Gahan
Even the most cursory Googling of the phrase “Greatest Frontmen” sees Gahan on almost every list, and that is surely no accident. Although Gore remains the principal songwriter in Depeche Mode, Gahan is the voice through which these compositions speak to people. As a vocalist, he is incredibly distinctive – the Bowie-esque vocal pioneer of new wave/synth pop. As a performer, he is a marvel, owning the stage of a multi-thousand-seater stadium as if it is a sweaty club, a talent one is surely born with but enhanced through years and years of touring and dedication. (Note to self: no more of this self-deprecating, awkward stuff. Must do better and be more Gahan-like on stage. Apart from the leather vest/‘taps aff’ combo. I am definitely not doing that.)
Reason to Love Depeche Mode #3: Dedication
Depeche Mode are ‘career’ artists. Despite all the things that have happened to Depeche Mode musically and otherwise (insert here ‘this is allegedly relevant but really none of my business’ music journalist line about drug abuse, attempted suicide and overdoses), they are still here. They are still making records, still playing live shows (and not just a few – the Delta Machine tour lasts for the best part of a year and spans the globe) and still working harder than a lot of musicians half their age.
Reason to Love Depeche Mode #4: SuperFans
Depeche Mode fans have a reputation for being ‘hardcore’ to say the least, and it was more than a little intimidating to step up as a support band in front of a crowd that garnered a reputation back in the day for heckling and egging ’Mode openers. Yet the crowd, to us at least, exude positivity. Depeche Mode fans are a community, especially online, and the demographic is incredibly broad (groups of teenage boys and girls, older gents, couples of all ages and orientations). The connection those people feel with the music created by the band they love is immediately apparent, bringing us on to our final point…
Reason to Love Depeche Mode #5: The Songs
From a clinical point of view, Depeche Mode’s music shouldn’t really be ‘stadium’. Through their diverse back catalogue, they have gained a reputation for intelligent, nuanced electronic music which, in evil marketing terms, ‘shouldn’t’ be selling out Bon Jovi-style stadium tours of the world. And yet, it does and has been for years, ever since their infamous sell-out gig at the Rose Bowl in 1988 (as featured on the 101 documentary). Over 60,000 people turning up to see a band who, at that time, didn’t even have a record in the Top 40 – why?
From what I can tell, this success is down to one simple thing: great songwriting. In today’s musical climate of disposable pop with little to say versus deliberately obscure electro where all hints of a topline are buried beneath layers of effects and fear of seeming mainstream, Depeche Mode still stand alone, unafraid to foreground melody and imbue music with emotion in a way few other songwriters can, and that is an incredibly powerful thing to see.