Review: Depeche Mode at the 3Arena, Dublin

There seems to be an eighties revival at the moment, with many bands of that era taking to the road to transport their fans back in time, playing all the hits from their heyday.

Not so Depeche Mode. Despite being together 36 years, and enjoying a string of hits in the 80s, they managed to endure well beyond that, and their latest album, Spirit, released in March this year, has been heralded as some of their finest work.

They are one of those rare bands who have managed to remain relevant, without trying too hard. They have never really felt the need to reinvent themselves, and have always seemed to evolve organically rather than in a contrived way. It helps that, despite their synth-heavy sound, they have always been able to cut the mustard live.

A quick look at their 1988 tour documentary 101 shows that this has always been the case, and nearly 30 years after the film’s release, they are still touring and still filling arenas.

Of course, when frontman Dave Gahan looks out over the crowd these days, the fans are probably a bit older and jowlier, but they are still as loyal (although I did see several children at the gig who were brought along by their Depeche-loving parents).

However, the band are also older, despite the fact that they remain impossibly cool. If you looked up cool in the dictionary it would probably have a picture of Gahan beside it. He is from the school of posturing pop and rock stars, but his posing always seems authentic, like he’s enjoying it rather than putting on a show for the fans.

And what a show they put on in the 3Arena. With stunning video backdrops, they belted out hit after hit. They have an enormous back catalogue, so included a good mix of everything to keep the fans happy, from the very early stuff such as Everything Counts, to their 90s hits like Enjoy the Silence, noughties material such as Precious, and right up to present day with Where’s The Revolution.

They had changed the arrangement of some songs, which can be a gamble, but they pulled it off. Especially haunting was the acoustic version of Strangelove, sung not by Dave, but by the band’s main songwriter, Martin Gore.

While all the songs were greeted warmly by the crowd, there were definitely some fan-favourites that drew slightly more rousing cheers. Their final song, Personal Jesus, was a definite fan-favourite. Obviously, you can’t please everyone, and I did hear some grumblings about songs they didn’t play, but to be fair to the band, they only have a finite amount of time to perform, and as an overview of their body of work, I felt this set worked well and flowed nicely.

Throughout the show, Gahan pranced and posed like a prize pony, while Gore dutifuly performed backing vocals, and hopped between keyboard and guitar duties, meanwhile the ‘quiet one’, keyboardist Andy Fletcher, kept his head down, only popping out from behind the keyboard for the band’s bow at the end of the show.

After nearly four decades, and playing these songs hundreds and hundreds of times, the band’s energy and enthusiasm doesn’t seem to have waned in the least, and this was definitely reflected in the fans’ reactions.

A quick look at social media confirmed that everyone had thoroughly enjoyed the show. They are currently shortlisted for induction into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and they would definitely be a worthy addition.

Depeche Mode performed at the 3 Arena, North Wall Quay, North Dock, Dublin 1, on Wednesday November 15th, 2017. The Set List is below:

Revolution (The Beatles song), Cover Me (Alt Out)(instrumental video intro), Going Backwards, It’s No Good, Barrel of a Gun (with ‘The Message’ (Grandmaster Flash) snippet), A Pain That I’m Used To (‘Jacques Lu Cont’s remix’ version), Useless (new video projection), In Your Room, World in My Eyes, Cover Me, A Question of Lust (acoustic), Home Precious, Where’s the Revolution, Wrong, Everything Counts, Halo, Enjoy the Silence, Never Let Me Down Again

Encore: Strangelove (acoustic; sung by Martin), Walking in My Shoes, Policy of Truth, A Question of Time, Personal Jesus

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