Depeche Mode

support Douglas McCarthy
author SC date 13/06/13 venue Parken, Copenhagen, DEN

After a long, grey and rainy summer day I finally find my indoor spot in Parken, Copenhagen waiting for my first time Depeche Mode live experience. I have been looking forward to this first meeting for a long time, hoping that the band could “walk in their own shoes” and complete their status as one of the world's biggest electro-rock act. However, before Depeche Mode would let me explore their live universe we all get to see approximately 25-30 minutes of opening act Douglas McCarthy.

All pictures courtesy of Julie Decome Photography

Douglas McCarthy

Ten minutes before due time Douglas McCarthy walks on stage and just starts his show without a warning or even a simple “Good evening”. His electro-pop music rumbles out in the stadium which is thus far at roughly 30 percent capacity. McCarthy is dancing around while singing and as it seems mostly to his own amusement. None of the audience seems to enjoy the otherwise rather energetic singer, which partly could be because of the early entrance and partly because of the still almost fully illuminated floor. To his defence I must say that his strong vocal that switches between clean singing and a rough almost shouting style helps him perform his nineties-inspired dance music without just ending up as a joke. And his presence on stage adds authority to his act, allowing him to be a bit eccentric while he enjoys his own company from start to the end.

Depeche Mode

In the break between McCarthy and main act Depeche Mode the band shows a commercial for their participation in the “Charity water”-campaign asking their fans to make a donation offering clean water to people in need around the world. The advertisement fits the rather minimalistic stage setup, which was “no more” than a roof-to-floor screen, two small elevations for the keyboards and a scene extension fifteen meters in front of the stage.

Almost exactly at nine o’clock sharp Depeche Mode walks on stage to an almost completely filled Parken arena that welcomes the band with great applause. The first two songs tonight, “Welcome To My World” and “Angel” from their latest album “Delta Machine”, are as dark and slow as they are on the record, creating a cumbersome atmosphere although these rather minimalistic songs stand out pretty clear. Parken has been an object to loads of criticism towards the sound environment that causes much of the music to disappear in pure noise. However, this was not one of the national stadium's worst nights. The following songs “Walking In My Shoes” and “Precious” suffer a bit from the complications of the conditions, however David Gahan’s deep and voluminous vocal is almost constantly clear and alluring, which puts a spell on you and drags you into the band's bulging universe. On the classic “Policy Of Truth” the sound is unclear, but Gahan continues unaffected and does the performance justice by dancing his signature dance where he sensually moves his hips while moving his arms and singing one of the best of tonight’s performances.

Halfway into the set Gahan leaves the scene and lets Martin Gore perform “Higher Love”, followed by an acoustic and sincerely performed version of “Judas” only supported by piano. It instantly creates a really fragile feeling in this massive arena while he slowly walks back and fourth looking like he's seconds from bursting into tears, his lighter voice serving as a nice contrast to Gahan’s deeper tone. Gahan re-enters the stage and constantly draws all attention towards himself merely with his presence. For the first time tonight during the song “A Question Of Time” it is the vocal that seems to be unclear instead of the instrumental soundscape. However he compensates by spinning around his own axis while holding the microphone-stand, which instantly is responded to with cheering. Tonight’s party really starts at “Enjoy The Silence” and “Personal Jesus” where Parken explodes in cheering and dancing. The ordinary set ends with the slow and melancholy “Goodbye” from the new album, leaving us with a sort of empty feeling which causes a less than optimal foundation for shouting “Encore”.

An acoustic version of “Home” opens up the encore, which thereby continues where the ordinary set left us. However, with hits like “Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Never Let Me Down Again” as some of the final songs the entire venue explodes in euphoria and everyone is partying from the front to the back and from the floor to the roof, which lets this evening with Depeche Mode end on the top. Overall the choice of songs was a bit to slow to create a party and the venue was a bit too big to create the intimacy that these songs (primarily from “Delta Machine”) were leaning towards, yet they somehow found a reasonable path between these poles. The sound was surprisingly good when thinking of the venue and I am actually impressed, having expected it to be rubbish. I discovered that while my earplugs sometimes helped my ears in sifting some of the noise from the sound being tossed around the arena, sometimes the sound was really great without them. So that must make these to variables even and that way I can approve the sound. Andy Fletcher however, was so invisible that I really could not find any place to mention him in the text that one must say to be a minus despite Gahan and Gore’s excellent showmanship. All these things considered, my overall verdict must be:

Setlist:

  • Welcome to My World
  • Angel
  • Walking in My Shoes
  • Precious
  • Black Celebration
  • Policy of Truth
  • Should Be Higher
  • Barrel of a Gun
  • Higher Love (Sung by Martin)
  • Judas (Acoustic)
  • Heaven
  • Soothe My Soul
  • A Pain That I'm Used To ('Jacques Lu Cont's Remix' version)
  • A Question of Time
  • Secret to the End
  • Enjoy the Silence
  • Personal Jesus
  • Goodbye

Encore:

  • Home (Acoustic)
  • Halo ('Goldfrapp Remix' version)
  • Just Can't Get Enough
  • I Feel You
  • Never Let Me Down Again

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