Depeche Mode at the Molson Amphitheatre, June 16. Tickets: $29.50-$89.50. Attendance: 15,400. Rating: NNN
when a band like depeche mode play, you wouldn't be out of line to expect a greatest-hits package, but they were having none of that. This was definitely not a comeback tour. Looking more rock band than the synth-pop outfit they're known to be, they brought a live drummer to replicate the drum machines, while Martin Gore played guitar most of the night.
Lead singer David Gahan seemed to be lifting some Elvis moves to go with the growing country presence in their newer material. That alt-country feel came out again during one of the night's most interesting moments, when Gore pulled off a solo country ballad on acoustic guitar.
Choosing the darker songs from their back catalogue, the band went no further than Violator until the encore, and even then avoided playing the predictable tracks. The older songs sounded better than the records, as the band stretched them into techno breakdowns that, while not exactly funky, did help to shake off the dust.
Being a stadium act tends to impose a certain scripted insincerity, especially for an outfit like Depeche Mode, who are hardly known for their spontaneity. The screen projections, courtesy of Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn, were very sophisticated, as was the ambient techno that played before they hit the stage, but the performance itself tended toward rock clichés and the stage patter stuck to the usual "How are you feeling, Toronto?!"
All the same, this is the most relevant Depeche Mode has sounded in years.