Depeche Mode / Dec. 3, 2005 / Atlantic City, N.J. (Borgata)
For the Depeche Mode fans that caught the group's show in Atlantic City, N.J., the evening was an experience where the masses fervently worshipped their musical god with dance and hollered prayers.For the Depeche Mode fans that caught the group's show in Atlantic City, N.J., the evening was an experience where the masses fervently worshipped their musical god with dance and hollered prayers.
The English trio was so adored by the rabid crowd it was hard to tell who was entertaining whom. Goth kids and 30-somethings with little in common united in screaming the "reach out and touch me" chorus of "Personal Jesus" during the night's headier moments. Throwing up their hands in praise, the room might have been expecting Martin Gore, Dave Gahan and Andrew Fletcher to walk on water.
For the cost of the ticket, they should have: $95 is a deep hit in blue-collar Atlantic City. To be fair, Depeche Mode earned its keep by sweating onstage as much as the ravers shaking the general-admission space. But after shelling out that much of a tithe, a seat should come with it. Unless their ticket was for the area with bleacher seats, GA buyers had to sit on the floor if they needed a breather.
On their records, Depeche Mode's synth rock is produced with an emphasis on the former part of the equation, pumping up the electronic elements so the cavorting rhythms are at the fore. But in a live setting, DM was a rock group with relentless dance beats, its delivery anchored by touring percussionist Christian Eigner.
Anyone who sniffs that having a drummer in a synth band is an oxymoron would be stunned by this guy, because his dexterity and command of the skins put some metal drummers to shame. As Eigner smashed through "Enjoy the Silence," the crowd stamped their feet and shouted the chorus as if cheering at a hometown football game. And his dominating beats drove the propulsive "I Feel You," one of the numbers where the music and a bank of white strobe lights merged into a fantastic production, with a shirtless -- and very fit -- Gahan gyrating to the slinky groove.
You remembered that this was a band with an alternative background by the presence of Fletcher and touring keyboardist Peter Gordeno each at a synth console and Gore alternating between a third one and his guitar. Gore also sported silver glitter on his face and a pair of black wings on his back, which was less disturbing once he took off the black hat with flaps he had perched on his head.
Aside from supplying background vocals, Fletcher and Gordeno were a quiet presence, leaving Gahan to dominate the stage. Whether whirling in circles with his microphone stand during "A Question of Lust" or hamming it up for "Behind the Wheel" on a catwalk where the crowd strained to touch him, he tantalized everyone with his rich voice and sultry moves. The crowd lapped up everything Gahan offered, receiving "A Pain That I'm Used To," "John the Revelator" and "Precious" from the new "Playing the Angel" as enthusiastically as it did staples like "Policy of Truth" and a vivid "Walking in My Shoes."
After working the room into such a lather, Depeche Mode's choice of encores were surprising. The first one had Gore simply backed by a piano for "Someone," where he sings a list of traits he wants in a soul mate. His earnest voice made the song a plaintive wish list that cast a teary pall on the party vibe. Things perked back up with the bouncy "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Everything Counts," but tougher songs like "Strangelove" or "Halo" would have made better finales. It didn't matter to the congregation, who kept calling for more even when the stagehands began to clear the set.