The audience for Depeche Mode's first-ever SXSW showcase, and last show in the U.S. until August, was the kind of crowd that goes bonkers at the first appearance of a guitar tech on the still-dark stage.
The band made their first appearance at the Austin festival at a standing-room-only Wednesday Q&A , where they discussed their 30 years together and were hailed as sex gods, and then took the stage at Brazos Hall on Friday for less than a thousand lucky ticket-lottery winners, some of whom could be heard muttering "oh my god I love them" to no one in particular.
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Depeche Mode will release their 13th studio album "Delta Machine" on March 26, and the one-hour show focused heavily on new material over classics.
After a few warm-up jumps and stretches, the band launched into "Angel," one of the first "Delta Machine" tracks to be revealed last year. In line with his self-proclaimed role as "overpaid stripper," frontman Dave Gahan slinked around the stage in a tight black leather vest and no shirt; guitarist/songwriter Martin Gore was much more covered up, but had done up his face with a respectable amount of glitter.
Next was the strutty, sultry "Should Be Higher," which the band premiered earlier this week on "Live With Letterman" in New York.
The first nod to the past was "Walking In My Shoes" from 1993's "Songs of Faith and Devotion," where the fans jumped at the chance for a familiar singalong, followed by 1997's "Barrel of A Gun" from "Ultra" – an album much discussed at Wednesday's Q&A as coming out at a low point of Dave Gahan's former heroin addiction.
After the band returned to the present for new single "Heaven," Gore took over frontman duty for a rare and emotional performance of "Only When I Lose Myself," a non-album track exclusive to a 1998 singles collection. Even after he returned to stage right, Gore held the focus by grinding out the unmistakable riff from "Personal Jesus," this time with an extra-twangy countrification for the Texas crowd. They went bananas, obviously.
After two more brand new songs, "Soft Touch/Raw Nerve" and "Soothe My Soul," the latter of which was debuted earlier Friday on BBC Radio, came the "Enjoy the Silence" moment of every Depeche Mode fan's enduring dreams. All hands were immediately in the air, lyrics were screamed, tears probably fell. When it was over, the band took a grateful center-stage bow and filed off -- chants of "one more song!" thundered for several minutes, but it was not to be.
Until this summer, sweet dark princes.
- SXSW