Arguably one of the finest bands to come out of the 1980s, Depeche Mode looped back again to Toronto to play a final North American show on their current “Global Spirit” world tour at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night. A band that has continued to surpass themselves with each subsequent album tour, Depeche Mode made this evening another standout example of live stage presence, visual spectacles, and audience participation. Kudos have to go to the group for taking steps to make their new material stand out against their immensely popular back-catalog.
The stand-out track of the evening for me was easily “Cover Me,” a Global Spirit track that utilized some wonderful black and white videography of lead vocalist Dave Gahan suiting up in a space suit and eventually floating about in space. As the song reached its crescendo, Gahan strutted out to the end of a runway that ran out into the crowd on the left side of the stage, ending just shy of center ice. With his hands in the air, Gahan encouraged the audience to emulate his movements as he swayed about at the end of the runway as the song’s pulsing electronic beats and drums took the show into Pink Floyd territory resulting in the entire stadium swooning along to the track. It was a genuinely momentous concert moment I won’t ever forget.
Ultra fans got to hear four songs this evening. This represented the most significant percentage of songs this evening from a single album. “It’s No Good,” “Barrel of a Gun,” “Useless,” and “Home” were all performed this evening. Gahan even dropped a little Grandmaster Flash at the end of “Barrel of a Gun,” shifting his weight from hip to hip as he spoke out “Don’t-push-me-cause-I’m-close-to-the-edge-I’m-trying-not-to-lose-my-head.” as the song finished up. Gahan also brought a little Iggy Pop to the evening during tonight’s encore, finishing up “A Question of Time” with a similar cock-sure strut as he delivered the chorus from “I’m Bored” in a similar fashion to wrap-up that song.
A stunning video of two contortionist dancers accompanied “In Your Room,” a track from Songs Of Faith and Devotion that goes back to 1993. It was one of many examples this evening of the band utilizing pre-recorded videography to such great effect most of the audience was mesmerized by it and were not paying as much attention to the actual group as they performed.
Check out Depeche Mode’s “Heroes” from the Highline Sessions.
Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher performed “The Things You Said” and “I Want You Now” in an acoustic fashion, with Peter Gordeno joining them for “Home,” which was delivered similarly as an acoustic three-piece. Back catalog favourites like “World in My Eyes,” “Everything Counts,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” and “Personal Jesus” were predictably well received, the live drumming from Christian Eigner amping all of these songs up in a most effective fashion.
The members of Depeche Mode stopped performing entirely and allowed the audience to sing along to “Everything Counts.” This lasted well past a minute with the crowd getting louder and louder as this segment went on. Gahan, once again at the end of the runway, flipped his microphone stand 180 degrees and allowed the sound of his foot tapping against the floor to act as a metronome for the Toronto crowd for the duration of this magical sing-along moment. Gahan yelled out to the audience that there was no better place to end their North American Global Spirit tour than Toronto, and by God, I think he genuinely meant it.
Opening act EMA (Erika M. Anderson) I’d not even heard of until hours before seeing this show. Anderson is a cool musician and multimedia artist. She creates cool artwork and music, and does some radio personality work. Her live performance was quite good - lo-fi synthesizer music with enough menace in the lyrics to keep fans interested as she engaged them for thirty minutes with material that was very likely new to everyone in the stadium. If you are up for it, Listen to Anderson’s insightful Red Bull Radio interview with Martin Gore and Peter Gordeno right HERE. It’s quite excellent.
Depeche Mode’s Toronto Setlist:
01. Cover Me (Alt Out - played as the band walks on stage)
02. Going Backwards
03. It's No Good (Ultra)
04. Barrel of a Gun (with a snippet from Grandmaster Flash - The Message) (Ultra)
05. A Pain That I'm Used To (Jaqcues Lu Cont remix version )(Playing The Angel)
06. Useless (Ultra)
07. Precious (Playing The Angel)
08. World in My Eyes (Violator)
09. Cover Me
10. The Things You Said (Music For The Masses)
11. Home (Ultra)
12. In Your Room (Songs Of Faith and Devotion)
13. Where's the Revolution
14. Everything Counts (Construction Time Again)
15. Stripped (Black Celebration)
16. Enjoy the Silence (Violator)
17. Never Let Me Down Again (Music For The Masses) Encore:
18. I Want You Now (acoustic) (Music For The Masses)
19. Walking in My Shoes (Songs Of Faith and Devotion)
20. A Question of Time (with a snippet from Iggy Pop - I'm Bored) (Black Celebration)
21. Personal Jesus (Violator)