GLOOM-BATHED synth-rock Essex boys Depeche Mode are the most successful electronic band ever, with over 100 million records sold up to new album Delta Machine.
Depeche Mode - SSE Hydro, Glasgow
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But while machine music is the trio’s trademark, it’s a spirited human presence – especially from frontman Dave Gahan, still visually arresting with his slicked-back hair and tattoos, a 51-year-old pirouetting on stage in Cuban heels – that sees them continue to prosper, sometimes against the physical odds (Gahan’s survived all, from drug overdoses and suicide attempts to acute gastroenteritis).
With stadium years behind them, a show entertaining even row Z was never likely to lack, and right enough the light and video accompaniment were top drawer. The dark, fiery visual imagery backing Should Be Higher was the sort of stuff to be expected; the cute dogs during Precious – an amusingly self-deflating counterpoint to all the black-clad bleakness – less so.
Guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore played his part in the strangely uplifting sepulchral spectacle, taking lead vocals by spotlight on the heartfelt But Not Tonight. But whether he was the snake-hipped camp dancer or doing post-watershed stuff to his mic stand, while Gahan was on stage there was little taking your eyes off him.
He’s the preacher pervert who makes you want to punch the air along to songs about despair – “give me a pain that I’m used to,” he howled during the song of much the same name. Stripped to the waist by Personal Jesus, the crowd’s arms outstretched to the lyric “reach out and touch faith”, it was hard to escape the conclusion: if Gahan hasn’t still got it, who has?