For your friends who never liked Depeche Mode, it's because they never listened to them. Not really. Anyone writing the group off as soft EDM just was never paying attention. And for those DM fans who have gotten to see them live, let the smirk you wear when speaking to a friend who says they don't like Depeche Mode be your little secret as to why, and just know that friend has let you down...again.
The band's tour brought them to Nashville, Tennessee this week and while Nashville is the home of country music, there is nothing country about DM. In fact, those in the know have known for years now that the band is much heavier live than they are on records. There is a reason so many metal and hard rock acts sing the praises of Depeche Mode and have drawn inspiration from them. While DM's live music could never be called metal, they aren't that far off either.
In fact, the main difference is that while DM uses more guitar live, they don't have a multiple of guitars playing at the same time. Still, on many songs the bass and depth of the songs is heavier than a metal band would be.
Depeche Mode turned in a fantastic performance at the Nashville stop on their current tour
Down to two founding members, singer Dave Gahan and multi-instrumentalist (including playing guitar) Martin Gore, after the 2022 death of long-time member Andrew Fletcher, the group fills out to four on stage, including drummer Christian Eigner who has toured with the group since the late 1990s. One reason the DM sound is even more full live is the use of a live drummer and Eigner is an excellent one.
The band played 23 songs in Nashville, and that has been the same number at almost every stop on the current tour. But while the DM part of the show is over two hours, it feels like much less than that and the audience simply would stay for at least two more hours, likely. Gahan and Gore have been working their magic for long enough to know how the flow of the songs should go, too.
So while every iteration of a song from the album Songs of Faith and Devotion is turned into near-metal bangers (and fantastic pieces at that) 10 songs in the band isn't afraid to get a bit more mellow with back-to-back tracks with Gore having lead vocals - "A Question of Lust" followed by "Soul With Me," the last being from the group's new album, Memento Mori. Possibly the only lull in the concert comes between the songs because "Question..." is so emotionally cathartic that following it up with another slower number lowers the overall temperature of the gig.
Still, from there it's a kick to the finish with 11 bangers in a row. As with every stop, Depeche Mode end the regular setlist with "Enjoy the Silence" - very likely the best six minutes and 13 seconds of music that humankind has ever created - before doing a four-song encore.
Gahan has always been in fine voice and he and Gore have always harmonized amazingly well on record, yet somehow they sound even better live. But the elements of guitar and drum transport always great songs to an otherworldly place. One that few bands ever have been able to match as astonishingly well as what Depeche Mode consistently does.