TEXT/PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PASSMAN
Depeche Mode was the headlining act for the first nights of this year’s ACL Festival for both weeks (Oct. 4 and 11). Although they’re in a specific genre of techno music, new wave was really anything that wasn’t classic rock or metal in the ‘80s, so new wave music was just about any style except the above. Eventually, musical genres were assigned and bands were categorized, but back then, it was just new wave. If you were into new wave, you were into Depeche Mode.
They’re still recording new music, but the larger fan base are those who grew up with them. Because of that, a lot of new material was not recognized by the crowd. With “Walking In My Shoes” from the 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion, the crowd going. Another highlight during the first few songs was 2005’s “Precious”, which got the crowd going.
“Black Celebration” was a pleasant surprise, but I remember buying the album when it came out, and it somehow didn’t feel as big as I remembered it. Nevertheless, it was a great choice. Other songs in the set included “A Question of Time” and a solo acoustic version of “Home”. The band picked up the tempo and the crowd happily responded with the obligatory “Enjoy The Silence” and “Personal Jesus”, then a surprise solo version of “Shake The Disease.”
The encore with “Just Can’t Get Enough” turned the park into an elated group dance and sing along, but the finale “Never Let Me Down” had the whole crowd waving their arms along. They captivated the audience mostly from start to finish. There were tons of people in the crowd singing along to every word.
Depeche Mode is huge in any context. For those who grew up in the ‘80s in larger or progressive places, they had a big fan base. For me, I grew up in Albuquerque. It was a metal town where Ozzy and Rush were the only things that mattered. If you didn’t like them, you were an outcast, so as it goes that rock ‘n’ roll was outsider music, Depeche Mode was for outsiders for many of us who grew up somewhere that was mainstream. My friends and I absorbed everything that wasn’t metal or classic rock. Our crowd was so small that the punks and the new wave kids all hung out together, went to the same shows no matter who played, and stuck together. So for many of us and others under similar circumstances, Depeche Mode meant a lot. Many of us eventually honed and tuned our tastes as we grew up, but this band was a big deal. I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to see and shoot them.
Passman’s Complete ACL Coverage: