Saturday, 16 March 2013

Depeche Mode Bring A Black Celebration To Austin With First SXSW Show

When legendary synthpop band Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher participated in a live Q&A this week at the Austin musicfest South By Southwest, Gahan wryly referred to himself as an "overpaid stripper." Two days later, Depeche played their first-ever SXSW show, and Gahan--arguably one of the finest frontmen of all time, and one who was fittingly declared a "sex god" by a fan at that Q&A session--busted out some very slinky, very sexy, almost pole-worthy dance moves. And let's just say the man definitely earned his paycheck.

The intimate club gig, presented by Yahoo! at Brazos Hall and attended by the likes of Usher and celebrity manager Scooter Braun, was a major black celebration for fans who'd won coveted tickets via a SXSW lottery drawing. And all fans' eyes were riveted to Depeche's iconic, ageless singer from the moment he hit the stage rocking a slick matinee-idol hairdo, natty cigarette-leg slacks, and a bicep-flaunting vest. Gahan's slightest move--a tiny shift of one sinewy hip, a beckoning gesture, a rakish tilt of his pompadoured head--elicited delighted squeals so shrill that dogs all the way over in San Antonio probably heard them, and the audience reaction was even more intense when he broke out his less subtle moves, which was actually most of the time.
Gary Miller/Film MagicSeemingly simultaneously channeling Jim Morrison, James Brown, and Joel Grey, Gahan pulled out all the superstar stops and played the club like it was an arena: He spun in circles clicking his heels together like a Mexican hat-dancer, hoisted his microphone stand over his head like it was a set of barbells, and most all, writhed and slinked and wiggled his Elvisian hips like a stripper with a G-string stuffed full of hundred-dollar bills. The man (who is 50 years old) proved he's still got it, and still knows how to flaunt it, after all these years.
Incredibly, Depeche Mode have actually been around for THIRTY-THREE years, to be exact, and they're about to release their 13th studio album, Delta Machine. The band's SXSW set included five new songs from that album--lead single "Heaven," "Angel," "Should Be Higher," "Soft Touch," and "Soothe My Soul"--all of which segued fluidly into the setlist's classic tracks. But of course, it was those vintage Mode cuts, like "Barrel Of A Gun," "Walking In My Shoes," "Personal Jesus" (which seemed especially appropriate for Texas with its twangy, spaghetti-western guitar riff), "Only When I Lose Myself" (featuring lovely lead vocals by Gore), and show-closing audience singalong "Enjoy The Silence" that went over best with the crowd.

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