ARROWHEAD POND, ANAHEIM
WEDNESDAY, NOV. 23
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After 25 years and nearly 70 million records sold, one thing still holds true: Depeche Mode rocks a synthesizer better than anyone else. Playing to a sold-out audience at last week's Arrowhead Pond show, original members Dave Gahan, Andrew Fletcher and Martin Gore reunited with their audience, the same collective of electro-pop-loving, tight-black-leather-pants-wearing '80s kids from yesteryear who had (predictably) morphed into an enthusiastic crowd of fortysomethings sporting button-down shirts and khaki pants. It looked like Bill and Ted had done the stage design: a large metallic mace hung ominously on the sidelines, flashing words like SEX / PAIN / ENJOY / WOE, alongside silvery spaceship pods for each musician to hide behind. The entire show was also projected onto giant screens, which mostly just magnified Gore, lavishly decked out in a Mohican headdress, the smallest pair of cherub wings and half a kilt. Throughout the night, Gahan—who started out dressed comparatively conservatively in a blazer and the obligatory leather pants—pranced around the stage slowly undressing; by the time he had sung "Precious," "John the Revelator" and "Damaged People," he had stripped down to just pants—proving that it doesn't take much to get oldies hot. The first half of the show was all the whiny songs off their newest album, Playing the Angel, which sadly leans closer to the ranks of Exciter than Violator in the DM spectrum. But the audience was rewarded for sitting through the first set with two encores that included classics like "Policy of Truth," "Never Let Me Down Again" and "Everything Counts." During "Personal Jesus," saintly shirtless Gahan stood with arms outstretched—as corny as Billy Graham—while the audience reached out toward him. What a bunch of grannies. (Nadia Afghani)