story + photos by / LOGAN BRENDT
Looking at the clock, it was 6pm and I was still waiting to be wheeled back to the ER after my ultrasound because there were rumors that there might be tumors (and I’m only rhyming this to make me less uncomfortable). At this point, normal people would only be concerned about their health, which I was, but I was more upset that depending on the outcome, I might have to miss the first of three Depeche Mode shows in Los Angeles that started in three hours. It had been an awful day, but I was hoping for the best, and by seven o’clock good news came and I was cleared to go home.
A couple of hours later, I found myself at will call at Staples Center and mingled with some fans and musical luminaries who were all buzzing with anticipation for the main event. After picking up my photo pass, I gathered with the other photographers in the pit, and as the smoke began to emerge and as the lights descended, singer Dave Gahan walked out onto the stage followed by Martin Gore and Andrew Fletcher. At this point, I couldn’t have been any closer to the electronic music legends. As the energy heightened, Gahan revealed his electrified persona. Opening with “Welcome to My World” off of their current and thirteenth studio album Delta Machine, the audience was unquestionably transported into their world, all in attention.
Gahan never looked better, svelte and stylish in his suit with metallic threaded pinstripes. It was clear that he is a rock god who has transformed with age into a powerhouse of enigma. Unlike all of the frontmen who look like they would rather be golfing than be on stage, Gahan is different. He genuinely looks like he’s having fun, building off of the audience’s energy. Mind you, this is the guy who, seventeen years ago, was in the same ER as I was earlier after his rather sordid bender, being brought back from the dead.
After a song or two, Gahan slowly removed his suit jacket to reveal a vest, toned arms and tattoos, and eventually removed the vest as well, running around shirtless. Like every other woman and some men in the arena, I was spellbound by the man. Spinning with his mic stand, like a swashbuckling swordsman, he was even playfully grinding the stand, and he is the only man I’d ever want to see grind anything. I also have never seen an audience dance and reach out and touch faith quite like this audience did, including myself.
There are two pivotal moments: Gahan two feet from me singing “Walking in My Shoes” and when Martin Gore performed an emotional rendition of “But Not Tonight” where the familiar lyrics became transcendent and highly relatable to my earlier condition. I was in awe that I was there, experiencing the entire thing as a multisensory work of art.
Though Depeche Mode’s seminal recorded work was primarily written and recorded on drum machines and synths, the reinterpretations on this tour are performed with live drums and loud, dirty guitars. This breathes new life into the older catalogue as the retina frying visuals behind them create a parallel dialogue of tastefully juxtaposed imagery, which coincidentally reminded me at times of my ultrasound only hours ago— black and white, abstract, and punctuated with shards of thermal colorations.
Then as “Enjoy the Silence”, “Personal Jesus”, and “Just Can’t Get Enough” came roaring through with all their nostalgic bombast, it was the more recent material like “Precious” and “Heaven” that solidified Depeche Mode’s place as world class songsmiths. And the crowd was fucking having it! All of it!
While most live shows can really bore you to tears and even drive you to want to leave early, Depeche Mode know how to execute a performance that makes time evaporate. Closing with their 1987 single, “Never Let Me Down Again”, the ride we were taking was over. But for me, Saturday, September 28th, 2013 will forever be remembered as the night that Depeche Mode brought me back to life, or at least my love for music back to life. It’s true that there is “only one way to soothe my soul”, and that’s Depeche Mode.
For more photos, go HERE.