Purveyors of gothic electro jams Depeche Mode brought their dark theatre to Toronto this past Sunday as their Global Spirit tour brought them to the Air Canada Centre for the night. Playing in support of their latest album Spirit, the new wave veterans cranked up the epic at the ACC by about 120% as they delivered a lengthy set of hits from across their catalogue.
The first half of the performance leaned heavily on newer material, with all the classics gradually filtering in towards the end of the show. Regardless of the era, the band brought their A-game with vibrant visuals and a jaw-dropping display of instrumental prowess. The night was packed with fiery guitar solos and drum fills that would put even hardened metal acts to shame.
Frontman Dave Gahan and his rich vocals have lost none of their vitality since their 80s heyday, something he continually proved over the course of the night. You’d think the band would take more cues from the sonically similar Kraftwerk and their stoic mannerisms, but Gahan’s strut channeled the one and only Mick Jagger. Pacing from one end of the stage to the other, he kept up a supernatural vigor over the 22 track set. The only breaks he took were when guitarist and secondary vocalist Martin Gore took the lead for several songs, primarily more emotional ballads like “Somebody” and a stripped-down version of “A Question of Lust”. Other than that, Gahan was constantly moving, a real shark of a rock star.
As expected, the encore was stuffed full of the band’s biggest and boldest hits. The five songs included their staggering opus “Walking in My Shoes”, the swarthy “I Feel You”, and a cover of David Bowie‘s “Heroes”. It all ended with a sweaty, extended performance of Violator hit “Personal Jesus”, the familiar two-note riff driving the packed arena wild. Depeche Mode has always been regarded as pioneers of electronic music and keyboard programming, but this was undoubtedly a straight up rock show. The amped up crowd leaving the ACC was a testament to that.