Photos by Randall Vasquez
Supporting a new album aptly called Spirit, Depeche Mode brought their Global Spirit Tour to Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Sunday night. The night was, indeed, a spirited affair with a satisfying melding of older and new, starting with show opener, Warpaint. The LA band’s sound is a fitting complement to Depeche Mode’s sound, with brooding beats and songs that make audiences sway and bop their heads. The all-female outfit did an admirable job playing in a cavernous arena as the seats slowly filled.
Depeche Mode came to the stage waving a flag for the new music. Before they appeared, the Beatles’ Revolution announced the band’s impending arrival. With all three founding members still in the band, the spirit of longevity was on display. Dave Gahan, Martin L Gore and Andy Fletcher formed Depeche Mode in England in 1980 and the road to 2017 has not always been smooth, but their avid fans have never faltered. The first two songs of the night, Going Backwards and So Much Love showcased Spirit. The band’s sound is so distinctive that even their newest material is unmistakably Depeche Mode. As was the staging, a giant screen providing a dynamic backdrop, used to punctuate moods and messages throughout the night. The setlist itself was carefully structured to whet the crowd’s appetite. Lead singer, Gahan, came to the stage in full pop-star style, encouraging (and then soaking in) the adulation. As a frontman, he was full of energy and vigor. He pranced and twirled his way through the show in a manner that would have made Mick Jagger or Freddie Mercury proud.
Nine songs in, the fans got their first taste of the 1980s. Martin Gore, put down his instruments and came to centre stage to sing A Question of Lust, proving that his voice is as integral to the Depeche Mode sound as Gahan’s is. For fans waiting for the classics, the song was just a teaser. There were more songs from the new record to be played, including Poison Heart and Where’s the Revolution. However much the band talks of revolution, it cannot move too far away from its past. With the first notes of Everything Counts, the room exploded, the evening’s first true sing-along moment had arrived and with it, the spirit of the past. Rewarded for their patience, fans were treated to Stripped, Enjoy the Silence and Never Let Me Down Again.
The encore came in two parts, starting with Gore singing Somebody, followed by Walking in my Shoes. The band then paid tribute to David Bowie with a lovely cover of Heroes. At the end of the song, Gahan blew a kiss skywards, a hat tip to a man who paved the way. The next song, I Feel You let the party build and Personal Jesus brought it to a fantastic crescendo with the masses literally reaching out to “touch faith.” There is comfort in knowing that the spirit of Depeche Mode can still fill hearts and arenas, and can still bring fans joy.