DEPECHE MODE with THE RAVEONETTES at Air Canada Centre, December 1. Tickets: $59.50-$89.50. Attendance: 15,000. Rating: NNN
It seems to be fashionable to bring a young indie band along on arena tours lately, and Depeche Mode could've done worse than the Raveonettes . The bluesy, garagey two-piece expanded to a four-piece to fill out the giant Air Canada Centre as concertgoers filled the seats. They were received well by angsty, anxious Depeche fans, egged on by Martin Gore 's emergence onstage to duet with Raveonettes singer Sharin Foo on a curiously unsexy rendition of their swingy ditty The Heavens.
Depeche Mode materialized on a futuristic silver stage shadowed by a huge silver orb that was hanging stage right, with cut-out lights flashing "Pain," "Anger," "Sex," "Love" and an LED display scrolling snips of lyrics and words like "despair," "longing," "grief." A thousand cellphone cameras lit up as Depeche fans who haven't been to a concert since Violator surged to their feet.
Kicking off with the dark, driving A Pain That I'm Used To from their latest album, Playing The Angel, the band played a set that introduced a string of their newer songs and featured the larger-than-life hits that propelled them into superstardom.
We got a note-perfect version of their warped and sinister synth dirges. For a band born in the early 80s, their music has aged nicely, and most fans recognized each song with the very first note. The most exhilarating moments came via greatest hits like Personal Jesus and Enjoy The Silence, when 15,000 voices rose up in unison and the crowd went absolutely apeshit.
Singer Dave Gahan slithered sexily across the stage, nearly causing a mass swoon when he removed his jacket and vest and pranced around bare-chested in his hiphuggers. For a man who's lived so hard he almost died (on several occasions), he was surprisingly nimble and seriously effing fine.
The low bits were the slow-tempo ones, most of which saw guitarist and principal songwriter Gore at the mic and Gahan offstage entirely. Gore penned the band's finest songs and greatest hits, but in his hands the band instantly loses its fire and increases its cheese factor by 75 per cent. His corny ballads moved the most hardcore fans, but my eyebrows were raised in disdain. Though Gore has got loads of talent, onstage there's no question that Gahan is the star.
Just not enough of a star to make me buy a $30 Pain And Suffering thong.