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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisNearly forty years after emerging as one of electronic and alternative music's most forward-thinking acts, Depeche Mode continues leading the charge in shaping those very scenes. In addition to dropping its 14th studio album "Spirit" earlier this year, Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher returned to filling up stadiums overseas and places like the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Illinois with both longtime followers and many who probably weren't born when the band first began or even remember its jump to worldwide superstardom in the late '80s and early '90s.
While Depeche Mode could've easily stayed locked on those glory days at radio, the core trio plus an auxiliary keyboardist and drummer kept on the more current side of its catalogue with "Going Backwards" and "So Much Love" staying right in step with any of today's darker electro pop trends. And considering the group was architects of that industrialized sound at the very beginning, there was arguably no one better to show the kids how it's done, whether it was dipping back a bit to "Barrel Of A Gun" and "In Your Room," alongside additional new tunes "Cover Me" and "Where's The Revolution."
Throughout them all, Gahan lived up to his reputation as a transfixing front man, though the comparably reserved but no less brilliant Gore also scored time behind the microphone for "A Question Of Lust," "Home," and later, "Somebody." In between, the band bounced around many more recent selections and some but nowhere near all of the classics with "World In My Eyes" "Everything Counts" and "Stripped" making the cut, but "Policy Of Truth," "People Are People," "Just Can't Get Enough," "Master & Servant," "Shake The Disease" and "Strangelove" being a few of the several examples left behind.
As the guys got to the home stretch of the 135-minute set that regularly featured projections by Anton Corbijn, they started unloading at least a couple of the massive guns, including "Enjoy The Silence" and "Never Let Me Down Again" when Gahan had every last spec of humanity up to the furthest corner of the lawn waving their hands from side to side. A lengthy encore also presented extra Depeche Mode memories, but a tribute to the late David Bowie via "Heroes" may have eclipsed them all.
Well, except for maybe the grand finale "Personal Jesus," which stomped with its dusty beats and yearning for a deeper spirituality, sounding like it could've dropped this very day, as opposed to a distant 28 years ago. No, there was nothing even remotely nostalgic about that track or Depeche Mode in general, who might not have checked off all the essentials, but made sure to never let Chicagoland down for a single second.
Upcoming concert highlights at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre include John Mayer (Sept. 2); Deep Purple and Alice Cooper (Sept. 6); Luke Bryan (Sept. 16); Matchbox Twenty and Counting Crows (Sept. 17) and Brad Paisley (Sept. 23). For additional details, visit www.livenation.com.
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