Depeche Mode are still the biggest

Depeche Mode are still the biggest

Depeche Mode always come to Italy, where for decades they have carefully nurtured one of the richest and most loyal fandoms in the world. The Devoti: this is the name of the very large circle of boomers and millennials who play in stadiums and arenas, wearing the standard t-shirt of their favorite band. Seven years after the last appearance, the largest arena in Italy – now renamed “Inalpi Arena” – once again welcomes the English combo to Turin, for the first of the three Italian sold outs of this Memento Mori World Tour.

The fifteenth studio album by the Basildon band is entitled “Memento Mori”, born from the pain and overcoming the death of Andrew Fletcher, founding member and backbone of Depeche Mode who passed away prematurely in 2022. An album created to «find stability in what we know and love and focus on what gives meaning and purpose to life”, to quote the words with which Dave Gahan and Martin Lee Gore presented their latest recording chapter to the world. It's impressive to think of Depeche as a duo today, eh? Okay, there's always Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner, who to still define as session musicians after a quarter of a century is slightly outrageous, but Depeche Mode are still two. «And then there were two», as ex-member Alan Wilder wrote, commenting on Fletcher's sad passing, also providing a surprising caption for the promotional photos of the album and the tour, with Dave and Martin, left alone, silhouetted against an out of focus background, as they look into the eyes of Vita and her dark sister and challenge them once again.

Depeche have overcome much worse, especially Gahan who has earned the nickname “The Cat” over the years, for his extraordinary ability to repeatedly evade an end that seemed certain and come back stronger and more charismatic than before. As soon as he goes on stage you start to think: but how does he do it? How can he still be like this at sixty-two years old? He pulls his hair back, spreads his arms and breathes deeply. His hip movements are still persuasive, his voice even darker, his pirouettes a little more plastic, but bordering on science fiction for age reasons at least. He starts spinning like a top and in the two hours it lasts he stops only to re-propose his iconic pas de deux with the microphone stand, in a lustful vortex of sensuality which has always been his very personal signature at the end of the concert. If he were an actor, we would say that he is constantly overacting. It has been happening for several tours now, at least since “Sounds of the Universe”, that is, since Depeche decided to raise the bar of spectacularity and become one of the most loved and profitable live bands of all time. So perhaps, in this case, excess becomes necessary and above all desired by the thousands of people who seem moved by the invisible strings of a timeless puppeteer.

In this new stage in the Turin indoor arena, Dave's spark is needed to light the fuse, because at the beginning of the evening there is perhaps the only asterisk of the show, where the opening is obviously entrusted to “My Cosmos Is Mine” , already the album's opener. Let's face it: it's one of the most subdued openings we've ever seen on a Depeche Mode tour. Better to cautiously say “one of” so as not to be too peremptory, but the effect on the audience is not exactly what is expected from one of the most anticipated concerts of the year. It goes much better with “Wagging Tongue” – the only piece of Memento Mori co-written by Gahan and Gore – but luckily the rock-solid “Walking in My Shoes” immediately arrives to set the right tone and make the evening explode in a roar worthy of the grandeur of this celebration.

Every moment in the setlist has its own ritual, like the powerful sing-along of “Precious”, or the atmosphere that is created during Martin Lee Gore's star-making interlude. As usual, his touching “Home” ends with a chorus of rare beauty with which the whole hall rallies around his favorite lyricist. Or even the outro of “Never Let Me Down Again”, as always accompanied by a hysterical movement of arms in the air, commanded by Dave and his insatiable hunger. He demands vital energy from his audience, who respond to the call with every precious drop of their own sweat. He then amazes with “Ghosts Again”, a super single that opens the way to this new phase of his career which is welcomed with the same frenzy as the great classics and which has already found a privileged place in the hearts of the Devotees.

Andrew Fletcher's absence becomes a presence, and it is massive. His spirit hovers, electric and electronic, and when “Behind the Wheel” is dedicated to him the temperature at the Inalpi Arena drops by a few degrees, giving shivers. The lack of Fletcher is for morale what the abandonment of Alan Wilder was for creativity, but it should not be forgotten – and perhaps it is impossible to do so, at least for those who follow their criteria and/or passion – that Depeche Mode are revived and they have always been able to make an art out of crisis management. They still do it today. In fact, perhaps they've never done it so well. This is why after yet another astonishing closing with “Personal Jesus” we ask ourselves this. But after all these years, how are they still the coolest on the planet?



Speak to Me (registered)
My Cosmos Is Mine
Wagging Tongue
Walking in My Shoes
It's No Good
Policy of Truth
In Your Room
Everything Counts
My Favorite Stranger
Ghosts Again
I Feel You
A Pain That I'm Used To
Behind the Wheel
Black Celebration
Enjoy the Silence

BIS #1

Waiting for the Night
Just Can't Get Enough
Never Let Me Down Again
Personal Jesus