Concert Review: Depeche Mode at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion; Veteran synth-pop act plays a triumphant set to the welcoming Houston crowd.
Depeche Mode played to a sold out crowd at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavillion this Wednesday in Houston, TX (aka The Woodlands).
And while both Depeche Mode and the Houston audience were largely middle-aged (myself included) the energy they emanated acted like a time machine; taking us back to an era of questionable fashion and great tunes.
Electro band Crystal Castles opened the set, but due to bad lighting and lack of stage presence, their music might as well have been played off an iPod.
It was Depeche Mode the crowd wanted, and they did not disappoint.
Kicking off with Welcome To My World, the opener from new album Delta Machine, the band were energetic and dynamic from start to finish. Vocalist Dave Gahan greeted the crowd with his signature stage speak; C’MON HOUSTON!!
He wriggled and twirled with his patented awkward frenzy, and fans ate it up. He’s become as calculated and dependable as a Vegas performer. If he’s sick of singing the same old songs, you’d never know it thanks to his bombastic delivery and wide smile.
Their varied set list was the perfect mix of old and new, appeasing those who just came for their biggest hits, and other’s who are lifers and love deep album cuts and newer material.
Iconic classics like Black Celebration, Walking In My Shoes, Policy of Truth and Enjoy The Silence were delivered with epic grandeur.
To keep things interesting, several songs were repurposed; Halo and Pain That I’m Used To were both done remix-style. And the most lovely, transcendent moment of the evening was Martin Gore’s rendition of But Not Tonight. Its stripped down piano accompaniment gave the synth-pop anthem a power ballad grandeur.
For those of us up in the lawn seats, large screen monitors offered hypnotic visual images synchronizing well with the music.
Drummer Christian Eigner’s impact on their synthesized material was dramatic. He gave songs like Walking In My Shoes a distinct arena rock stomp, although occasionally he seemed out of step and created dizzying effect when he was chasing the click track.
And Gore, always an underrated guitarist (when he steps away from the keyboards) played some sweet blues licks during Personal Jesus and I Feel You.
The band were rounded out by additional keyboardist Peter Gordeno and original member Andrew Fletcher. It’s long been suggested that Fletcher remains in the band because he’s Gore’s friend and handles their business affairs, so whether he actually plays his keyboard remains unclear. Not that it mattered.
The set ended with two of their biggest hits that are diametrically opposed in style; upbeat new wave anthem Just Can’t Get Enough and the darkly beautiful Never Let Me Down.
For men well into their 50’s, Depeche Mode are still the heavyweights in the dark electronic pop department. They still rock, swagger and thrill, and left everyone leaving the pavilion feeling 20 years younger. Just can’t get enough, indeed. ACL concert goers take note, they’re not to be missed.
DEPECHE MODE CYNTHIA WOODS SETLIST:
Welcome To My World
Walking In My Shoes
Policy Or Truth
Should Be Higher
Barrel Of A Gun
The Child Inside
But Not Tonight
Soothe My Sould
A Pain That I’m Used To
A Question Of Time
Enjoy The Silence
Just Can’t Get Enough
I Feel You
Never Let Me Down