Depeche Mode Keeps Spirit Alive at Honda Center

Depeche Mode performing at Honda Center. Photo by Scott Feinblatt

 After making several stops in South America, Depeche Mode have returned to the states. The Weekly caught their first round of touring in support of their 2017 album Spirit at the Hollywood Bowl, back in October. So when we heard that they were planning a stop at the Honda Center, we thought we’d see how things might have changed.

A full house at the stadium was a good indication that the band still lights a fire in people. Those who swarmed the Anaheim venue ranged from goths to the jet set to plain clothes civilians. The LA-based band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club did a great job warming up the crowd with their dark and hypnotic indie rock music, which they performed in appropriately low key stage lighting. Their edginess made a great compliment for the music of the electronic headliners, and they will join DM for one more date as the two bands head upstate to Sacramento tomorrow.

After maybe a half hour set, BRMC cleared the stage, and DM’s programming began. It started with a commercial, which was projected onto the band’s two-tiered backing screen. The commercial set the tone for what was to come; a combination of high fashion, cutting edge technology, and a dose of altruism. The band has been working with the designer Swiss watchmaking company Hublot since 2010 to provide humanitarian aid to starving nations. Hublot is currently selling a limited edition DM-branded watch in order to raise funds for the non-profit organization Charity: Water, whose purpose (according to the organization’s website) is “to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.”

Depeche Mode performing at Honda Center. Photo by Scott Feinblatt

Following the promo, and a bit of The Beatles song “Revolution,” the English synth rockers started their show with “Going Backwards.” This opening number from Spirit was effective at getting the crowd fired up — as it had been at the Bowl. The rest of the setlist replicated about 50% of the songs they played at the LA show. This meant that the Anaheim crowd was graced with terrific performances of “World In My Eyes,” “Cover Me,” “Everything Counts,” and “Never Let Me Down Again.” Throughout the set, lead singer Dave Gahan wiggled his tush, strutted about, and demonstrated his penchant for contortionist gesticulations while peppering an overall great vocal performance with exclamations like: “Anaheim, you really are the best!”

The spirit of upheaval, which thematically dominates Spirit (and is prominent throughout the show), seems surreal now that much of the the world has become firmly enmeshed in and jaded by US politics and / or the political turmoil caused by Brexit in DM’s homeland of England. The fact that a lot of people in the generally excited crowd began to sit down halfway through the show, when the band played “Where’s The Revolution,” could be interpreted as a lukewarm response to the song, itself, or it could indicate that folks ‘round here aren’t too keen on an obvious calling for, well, revolution.

Depeche Mode performing at Honda Center. Photo by Scott Feinblatt

However, they were very keen on a rare performance of “The Things You Said.” This number, featuring guitarist Martin Gore on vocals, allegedly hasn’t been performed since 1988. Unless this song was an anomaly exclusive to this tour date, it may be replacing the Gore tune “Insight,” which had filled that slot in the setlist during the South America dates. Naturally, the set included “Enjoy The Silence” (complete with extended drum and bass synth solos) and closed with “Personal Jesus.”

Overall the show provided SoCal DM fans with another solid two hours of great, energetic performances. Gahan’s voice sounded terrific throughout, and his frenetic stage antics left him drenched in sweat by the end of the evening. As for the entertainment’s infusion with humanitarian objectives, a balance was maintained so that folks who cared about keeping up a good fight for the benefit of the people of the world could know that they were not alone; and the other folks could enjoy their electronic rock music without feeling like they were being given a hard sell to be good people. In short, everyone had a good time.

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