ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Live review – Depeche Mode at The O2
By Andy Jones | January 25, 2024
Depeche Mode – Live at The O2, 22 January 2024
The last time I saw and reviewed Depeche Mode on stage, it was for their triumphant Twickenham gig last year, during which I talked so much about the cost that I was starting to sound like my dad. I’ll not be so middle-aged this time. And besides, Depeche Mode in 2024 are just so damned irresistible live that, well, to hell with the cash.
This is a band that has had four decades to hone the craft, of course, but those of us who bought into Dreaming Of Me all those years ago could never have conceived the words ‘Depeche Mode 2024’ being used in the same sentence, let alone seeing two of the original lineup still knocking it out of the park all these decades later.
Intense and immense
But on stage, and even in their 60s, this is a band that slides around its back catalogue – Dave Gahan gyrating about the stage like a 1960s pool hustler with Martin Gore forever smiling on – with so much ease and panache that you’re in safe hands from the atmospheric beginning to the searing, glorious end.
Inevitably there are comparisons to be made with that gig at Twickers, but this O2 experience has a very different vibe. More indoor and darker, obviously, and more celebratory perhaps. There are more setlist changes to enjoy here than we’d expected, too. Black Celebration is intense and immense, Strangelove is Martin Gore as his best, a surprisingly brilliant version, as is Condemnation later when he is joined by Gahan for the first encore, while Policy Of Truth, another new entry, doesn’t surprise when it half steals the show.
There are tracks that are starting to grate, maybe, but for every John The Revelator, there’s an Enjoy The Silence just around the corner. And have I had enough of Just Can’t Get Enough? Yes, very probably, but you’re not going to get that past the many thousands who disagree with me tonight. Nor are they wanting to hear Memento Mori album highlights like Before We Drown, and People Are Good in its place, like me, although I suspect the latter would bring the house down in a similar fashion.
There are other highlights from that album, though (and to my mind one of their strongest recordings). My Cosmos Is Mine is still one of the finest ways to open a gig, My Favourite Stranger rocks better live than as a recording, and Ghosts Again is simply sublime.
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But, let’s face it, it’s the swaying of Never Let Me Down Again, the emotion of World In My Eyes – now a permanent reflection on Fletch – and the searing power of Stripped that take us to our highest of highs. By the end of it all, as we stomp through Personal Jesus, even the £27.50 Gordon Ramsey burger doesn’t leave a bad taste in my mouth – whoops, there I go again. And as I complain – yet a-bloody-gain – to a friend on text about prices, he does counter with ‘at least they are the actual band playing live in front of you – in the future you’ll pay the same to see a tribute act or holograms’. And he’s right, of course.
Behind the machines and imperious hits, tonight the Depeche Mode of 2024 – and yes I really did write those words – are more human than ever. Genuine smiles, genuine warmth, and totally ruling over us all.
Speak To Me (instrumental outro)
My Cosmos Is Mine
Walking In My Shoes
It’s No Good
Policy Of Truth
In Your Room (Zephyr Mix)
My Favourite Stranger
Strangelove (Martin solo acoustic)
Heaven (Martin solo acoustic)
I Feel You
A Pain That I’m Used To (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)
World In My Eyes
John The Revelator
Enjoy The Silence
Just Can’t Get Enough
Never Let Me Down Again
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