Depeche Mode @ OVO Hydro, Glasgow, 31 Jan

A reinvigorated Depeche Mode sock it to an eager Glasgow crowd with new material and a host of old favourites

Live Review by Max Sefton | 05 Feb 2024
  • Depeche Mode

Few bands have made synthesizers sound as stadium-sized as Depeche Mode. They’ve risen from their roots in Basildon, Essex to the biggest possible stages, but along the way, success has exerted its toll in bad blood between bandmates and crippling addictions. There’s also been some of the inevitable creative decline that comes with being a band in your fifth decade together.

However, after a long gap between records and the sad passing of key lynchpin Andy 'Fletch' Fletcher in 2022, a real goodwill had built up in time for last year’s rather excellent Memento Mori. Now, it’s time for a reinvigorated Depeche Mode to take both their new material and a host of old favourites out on the road. They’re obviously proud of the new record, with the opening act of the show drawing heavily from it and a giant M looming over the Hydro stage. For a band that has repeatedly threatened to flounder on the rocks of creative tension, it is remarkable to see how Fletch’s passing has forged anew the bond between the group’s twin driving forces – frontman Dave Gahan and guitarist, keyboardist and occasional vocalist Martin Gore. After Gore takes the lead for stripped down versions of Strangelove and Heaven, Gahan returns to praise his bandmate's “angelic” voice. World In My Eyes is dedicated to their departed bandmate, while the twosome take on the tongue-in-cheek role of hooded chess masters in a Seventh Seal-esque game in the video that accompanies Ghosts Again.

Gahan in particular looks unbelievable for a man now in his sixties. With slicked back hair, a turquoise waistcoat and heeled boots, he’s somewhere between a peacock and cabaret master of ceremonies, vamping down the runway and waltzing his microphone stand on early highlight Policy of Truth. Backed by a drummer and additional keyboard player, they’re now in the stage of their career where their audience no longer need to dash away to make it back for the babysitters. Instead they can unspool over almost two and a quarter hours. Taking in tracks from across their more-than-four-decade career, from the camp synth-pop singalong Just Can’t Get Enough, through the menacing monochrome of Black Celebration, the enormous stadium synths of 90s hit Enjoy The Silence and on to the incredibly silly electro-glam gospel John The Revelator.

When the show ends with high drama versions of Never Let Me Down Again – perhaps the missing link between David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails? – and ultimate DM calling card Personal Jesus, it’s hard to think what more you could ask from an evening with Depeche Mode.