BY A.D. AMOROSI
After 30 years (wow) of slowly evolving their brand of
hermetic synth pop from tin blip to grand expansion, Depeche Mode streamlined
their live production into something epically propulsive for the Tour of the Universe stop captured here.
It’s not so very hard to imagine they’ve accomplished as much what with Martin
Gore’s tortured minor chord melodies and forlorn lyrical dramas to guide them.
What’s been fascinating to hear over the course of their several most recent
tours is how Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher have included the trappings
of rock (thudding rhythm sections, for example) into their live sound without
turning their sad Euro-centric chords into something bloated, nuance-less and
merely big. (That said, having been a long time fan of the Mode, I’ve been just
as happy to hear them as an all-synthetic ensemble back when they wore
Gahan’s got the proper grit in his voice when it comes to
thundering shudderers such as “Never Let Me Down Again” and “Walking in My
Shoes.” “In Chains” is the sort of hauntingly powerful track that’d work
better as a closer yet operates here as a happily maudlin mood-setting opener.
“I Feel You” breathes with the sort of diabolical guitar attack you’d expect
from a Cramps song. And when the lower voiced-angelicism of Gahan and the
higher-voiced angelicism of Gore meet on anthems such as “Fly on the
Windscreen” all sorts of heaven break out.
While the 5.1 sound captures the most harrowing aspect of
the Mode’s live sound – “A Question Of Time” being the best example – the whole
hi-def Blu-ray aspect of the production simply completes the blue-black iciness
of the proceedings handsomely, with its tour documentaries a more earnest
composition on the modern day Mode than witnessed in some time.