Concert Preview: Depeche Mode with Warpaint

By Isabela Varela

Since they hit their stride in the mid-80s, Depeche Mode have been making stadium music for misfits and outsiders—for the quirky kids who wore all black in high school, scrawled song lyrics in their notebooks and pledged to never go “mainstream.”

The 2017 version of Depeche Mode fandom is older and wiser, of course, and so are Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, but they continue to maintain their unique status as cool nonconformists who just happen to have sold 100 million albums over their long career.

Depeche Mode’s 14th studio release, Spirit, may be their most overtly political statement to date—a product of the times we live in—yet their music retains the sinister, sexy undertones that have made the electro-rock pioneers one of the most successful and influential bands of their generation.

The Global Spirit Tour kicked off in May 2017 with a string of sold-out stadium shows in Europe before moving to arenas across North America. Earlier this month the band played a record-breaking four nights at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles—more than any other act in the Bowl’s history. Edmontonians will get to experience the Global Spirit Tour for themselves when the British trio hit Rogers Place on Friday, October 27.

All signs point to this being an epic show. Not only will it be the last date on the North American leg of the tour, it will also mark the first time in their 37-year career that Depeche Mode have come to Edmonton.

Wondering what to expect?

As documented in their iconic 1988 concert film 101, which showed Depeche Mode playing to more than 60,000 people at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the band’s concerts are loud, sweaty and cathartic events. Devoted fans often describe it as being like a religious experience, with Gahan as the spiritual leader.

Backed by the well-oiled machine of Gore on keyboards, guitar and vocals, Fletcher on keyboards, and touring musicians Christian Eigner on drums and Peter Gordeno on keyboards, Gahan struts and shimmies on stage like a cross between Mick Jagger and an old timey tent revival preacher.

Now that he’s in his mid-50s, Gahan’s famous baritone is deeper and brings a darker, grittier edge to fan-favourites like “Personal Jesus,” “Never Let Me Down Again” and “Everything Counts.” As they’ve always done, Gahan and Gore take turns on lead vocals, with Gahan getting the lion’s share of the spotlight and then stepping off stage when Gore sings the quieter ballads in Depeche Mode’s repertoire.

But Depeche Mode aren’t a nostalgia act. Fans can expect to hear a balance of new material and classics from the band’s deep back catalogue, set against the backdrop of visuals created by the band’s longtime collaborator, filmmaker/ photographer Anton Corbijn.

Fortunately, the tracks from Spirit, including the anthemic lead single “Where’s the Revolution?” and the atmospheric, Bowie-esque “Cover Me,” blend seamlessly with the band’s biggest hits in a live setting.

Opening for Depeche Mode on the North American leg of this tour are L.A. indie rock quartet Warpaint. Signed to the legendary Rough Trade Records, Warpaint’s lush, ethereal sound has been described as dream pop and psych-rock and has drawn comparisons to the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Get ready, Edmonton.