Depeche Mode Review: First Los Angeles Concert Since Andrew Fletcher’s Death

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One of my best friends in high school said that she preferred the music of “post-modern” (as it was called the genre at the time) bands like Depeche Mode because their sound was timeless. 40 of the best disposable radio tracks of the era that seem outdated in just a few years.

And he was right, in a way: A Depeche Mode concert manages to cross that line between digging deep into its forty-year-old catalog and not feeling like an old show. This was mostly on display at the Kia Forum on Tuesday night, when Depeche Mode played the third date of the brand new “Momento Mori” tour. (They’ll be returning to the Forum for two shows in December.)

Depeche Mode is now a duo – Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, following the death last year of longtime member Andrew Fletcher, who suffered aortic dissection in May. Despite the deathly images of the band’s 15th studio album, “Momento Mori,” and the band’s often melancholy songwriting (the same friend used to call the band “Depressed Mode”), there’s still a bit of an air of celebration. Depeche Mode concert these days.


First off, it’s a huge bonus that Depeche Mode is still here, given the band’s turbulent history. But what’s more, besides having new music to support, the band also has a new hit: “Ghosts Again,” their most-played original for several years.

Performing in Los Angeles for Depeche Mode is like the returning team playing to the home audience. This is where some of the band’s greatest memories are made (most of it good, maybe some not so much). The famous “101” concert that sparked a concert film and album at the Rose Bowl in 1988. When thousands of fans try to get into a KROQ event, it’s hard to forget the 1990 Depeche Mode riot outside of Wherehouse Music in La Cienega. And as early as 2017, Depeche Mode became the first group to perform at the Hollywood Bowl four nights in a row.

As they have done so far on this new tour, Depeche Mode played five songs from “Momento Mori” but focused on more familiar tunes on most of its sets. All the necessary pieces are there – “Everything Counts”, “Enjoy the Silence”, “Personal Jesus”, “Just Can’t Get Enough” – along with a few deep cuts.

Even though it was released 42 years ago, “Just Can’t Get Enough”, which seems to leave behind a new spring, demolishes the house towards the end of the set. On this tour, Depeche Mode mixes things up and plays “Everything Counts” early in the set (the crowd-pleasing hit that has become a lively staple thanks to its prominence in “101” normally ends the entire concert or at least closes everything before the encore) and ASL visuals highlighting how those holding hands get their best. “Walking in My Shoes” got a freaking remix and “Enjoy the Silence”, which remains Depeche Mode’s biggest hit, this time gets the long soundtrack it deserves. On the other hand, the “Zephyr mix” of “In Your Room” still doesn’t deliver the striking chords that the album version had on past tours.

Gahan can’t quite hit all the notes on 2005’s “Precious” or 1997’s “Sister of Night,” which makes these two song choices interesting for this tour. But then, in an acoustic version of 1993’s “Condemnation,” a song that has only been played a few times since 2001 – a song that Gore sang – Gahan took the lead vocals for the song for the first time in 22 years… and nailed the Element. (In notes for Depeche Mode’s 1993 rerelease of “Songs of Faith and Devotion”, music producer and Mute Records founder Daniel Miller wrote that he thought the original “Condemnation” was one of Gahan’s best vocals ever.)

Low-talk guys Gahan and Gore said little during the 2 hour show, mostly letting the music do the talking. (Gahan seemed a little annoyed that the audience – again, this was Los Angeles’ home ground – wasn’t as loud or interactive as he’d like.) As a couple, there seems to be a new dose of friendship between Gahan and Gore. On stage, even as Gahan performs his best rockstar plays throughout the stage and Gore jumps from instrument to instrument.

Gahan and Gore paid tribute to Fletcher during a performance of “World in My Eyes” (from “Violator”), which the late musician once called his favorite Depeche Mode piece. As Gahan and Gore stared at the digital screens and pointed, the image of a young Fletcher changed over time and added his signature glasses. “Our friend, Mr. Andrew Fletcher,” said Gahan at the end of the song.

Fletcher’s death once again raised questions about the future of Depeche Mode – especially since both of the surviving members are now over 60. But the scene shows no signs of slowing down. Gahan, in particular, continues to do Mick Jagger’s best, posing stunning on the Forum stage and holding the microphone stand above his head like an award-winning fighter. It’s as if Gahan completes a yoga session after each song and isn’t afraid to demonstrate these poses.

I hope all these activities keep Gahan and Gore healthy, while the success of “Ghosts Again” and the sold-out nature of this “Momento Mori” inspire them. When you’re timeless like them, there’s no reason for it to end.

Here is the set list for Depeche Mode’s show at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, California on March 28, 2023:

Introduction: “Talk to Me” (End)

“My Universe is Mine”

“Tongue Waving”

“Walking In My Shoes”

“This is not good”

“Sister of the Night”

“In Your Room” (Zephyr Mixture)

“Everything counts”

“Valuable”

“Talk to me”

“A Lust Question”

“The Spirit Is With Me” (Acoustic)

“Ghosts Again”

“I feel you”

“A Pain I’m Used To” (Jacques Lu Cont’s Remix)

“The World in My Eyes”

“Wrong”

“Peeled”

“Explanatory John”

“Enjoy the silence”

ADDING:

“Condemnation”

“I Can’t Get Enough”

“Don’t leave me again”

“Jesus Staff”

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