As Depeche Mode’s Delta Machine Tour arrived in North America — with a 21-song opening salvo on Thursday night at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in suburban Detroit — Martin Gore said the group is taking an “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” attitude towards the show.
After spending three months playing in Europe, Gore told Billboard that “the reaction was amazing. It really felt good to on stage every night. I think the set was almost perfect.” That said, Gore added that the two-hour and 15-minute performances across the pond “was maybe slightly too long,” although the North American tour opener weighed at still over two hours.
“I think as the years progress we sound more and more like a live band,” noted Gore, who spent most of the show playing guitar. “We’ve been working with a drummer (Christian Elgner) now for years and years, working with the same guy and the same keyboard player (Peter Gordeno). I just think there’s a much rawer sound to our live shows than on our records, which is a good thing.”
Thursday’s show celebrated Depeche Mode’s three-plus decades of electro-rock and pop as much as it promoted this year’s “Delta Machine” album, which bowed at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 after its late March release. The trio and its two adjunct live musicians interestingly skipped singles such as “It’s No Good” and “Dream On,” but the coupling of “Welcome to My World” and “Angel” that started the show, as well as “Heaven,” “Soothe My Soul” and “Should Be Higher” sat comfortably within a set filled with enduring favorites such as “Walking in My Shoes,” “Black Celebration,” “Policy of Truth,” “Enjoy the Silence,” “Just Can’t Get Enough,” “Never Let Me Down Again” and granite-hard renditions of “Personal Jesus” and “I Feel You.”
The show was fortified with an arresting array of visuals on a massive rear-stage screen, which featured black-and-white Anton Corbijn films for songs such as “Heaven” and “Halo,” a video montage of irresistibly cute dogs during “Precious” and plenty of real-time footage of the band members. “We really have a lot of faith in Anton,” Gore said of Corbijn, who’s been working with Depeche Mode since the mid-80s and also designed the Delta Machine Tour stage. “We know what certain films may look like because we were involved in the filming of them, but we still don’t know how he’s going to use them or edit them or what the final results are going to be until the first production rehearsals. So we do take a leap of faith, but he’s never let us down and has been an extremely important part of our success.”
Gore added that fans can expect a few changes to the set list as the tour winds on; “There’s always certain parts that we can change, almost on the night. Sometimes we learn a song an hour and a half before we’re due on stage. So things can change quite a lot.” Depeche Mode is in North America until early October, including the Austin City Limits Music Festival on Oct. 4 and 11 in Texas, then plays in Abu Dhabi on Nov. 3 and starts another European run on Nov. 7 that’s currently booked into March.
Gore said he, singer Dave Gahan and keyboardist Andy Fletcher remain happy with what they accomplished on “Delta Machine,” but another album isn’t on the troupe’s radar quite yet. “We never talk about the future at this stage,” he explained. “We’re in the middle of a tour, so who knows what the future holds. I think it’s sacrilegious almost to start thinking about a new record when it’s so far away from even a vague concept. Everybody gets on real well now. The atmosphere in the studio is really fun. I think that came through in the ‘Angel’ video; you can see we’re laughing, it’s not like a doom-laden atmosphere. But it’s not time to think about doing that again yet.”
The set list for Depeche Mode’s North American tour opener included:
Welcome to My World
Walking in My Shoes
Policy of Truth
Should Be Higher
Barrel of a Gun
But Not Tonight
Soothe My Soul
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 Again