Photos and Review by Jennie Book
It’s a great time to be a fan of 80s synth bands, with so many legacy acts taking the stage at places like Cruel World Festival and Darker Waves, and a person might be tempted to put Depeche Mode into that 80s bucket, but it wouldn’t be a fair comparison. Depeche Mode stands on a pedestal built of hits and fanbase love in a world of its own, as Dave Gahan and Martin Gore proved at San Francisco’s Chase Center on December 3rd.
Depeche Mode has been on the road since March, when they kicked off their world tour in Sacramento, and have been traveling the world ever since, but thankfully for all of us in attendance brought the show back to the Bay for another loop before heading off for leg four of the tour in Europe, which concludes in April.
You’d think all the touring and the presumed road weariness for Dave and Martin and keyboardist Peter Gordeno and drummer Christian Eigner would slow down Dave’s onstage spinning, but no way. The band is fresh as daisies, and they gave it all to Chase’s sold out crowd, from Martin’s spot-lit crooning to Eigner’s smash-kit drumming to Dave’s prancing, dancing, and boundless energetic interaction.
The show kicked off with two tracks from the band’s new album Memento Mori, which many in the crowd of 18,000 fervent fans seemed to know, and then went into seasoned hits “Walking In My Shoes,” and “It’s No Good,” which got the venue really stirred up. The mix of songs in the set from Depeche Mode’s 15 studio albums from over four decades covered 23 songs, including a four-song encore. The band has been largely sticking to the same set as they tour, modifying things slightly with a few songs, and on this night we got Martin singing an acoustic “Strangelove,” plus a Dave and Martin “Condemnation” duet, with Dave yelling, “We still got it!” to massive cheers at the end. And there is nothing like seeing “Never Let Me Down Again” live in an encore with Dave onstage waving his arms back and forth and thousands of people in the crowd following suit.
Founding member and keyboardist Andrew Fletcher died last year in 2022, and this is the first album and first tour without him. He was present in every fan’s mind, but to honor him the band projected Anton Corbijn-captured images of Fletch as a young man on the screen at the back of the stage during “World In My Eyes,” which was touching and meaningful to everyone witnessing it.
Depeche Mode has an unrivaled fanbase around the world (just check out documentary “The Posters Came From the Walls” for proof) who have a deep abiding love for the band, and given the demographic of the crowd it isn’t just OG boomer/gen x fans who are showing up to shows, it’s a whole new generation who love them because they know good music and showmanship when they hear it and see it.
Mercury Prize winning Scottish band Young Fathers kicked off the Chase show with a seven-song set filled with tracks like “Wow,” “Get Up,” and “Toy.” Charismatic on stage with a unique sound, these guys are worth arriving early for and can be found at www.young-fathers.com. They’ll be touring with Depeche Mode into the spring and then will continue on their own at smaller venues through the US.
The Memento Mori tour continues into 2024, and for all the latest merch, news, and tour info check out www.depechemode.com.