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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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Arts + CultureMusicLive Shots: With glittering skull, Depeche Mode urged Chase...

Live Shots: With glittering skull, Depeche Mode urged Chase Center to ‘Enjoy the Silence’

For their Momento Mori tour, the synth-rock legends returned with death (and dancing) not far from their minds.

Depeche Mode returned to the Bay Area for their Momento Mori World Tour, after a triumphant appearance in San Jose in March. On December 3, a Chase Center packed with myriad variations of black sartorial choices—and a few contrasting angel wings in honor of the cover art for Depeche Mode’s 15th studio album—was on its feet for the entire show.

A huge “M” dominated the stage as the concert started. Brush strokes slowly filled it in: M for Mode, M for Momento, M for Mori. As the show progressed, images were sometimes projected through the M. Other times projected imagery buried the M into the screen behind it. But the M was ever-present.

Memento Mori—both the album and a reminder of our shared fate (“remember you must die”) aptly titles the band’s tour without core member Andy Fletcher, who passed away unexpectedly in 2022. A touching visual tribute during “World in My Eyes” depicted a young Fletcher with a focus on his eyes both bespectacled and bare.

Remaining DM members Dave Gahan and Martin Gore presented the audience with reminders that ultimately we all meet the same end, including a glittering skull emblazoned with “ENJOY” during, of course, “Enjoy the Silence.” Gahan and Gore note that we all must die, but they also prod us to consider how we spend the time that we have left.

During the nearly two-hour set Gahan strutted, gyrated, danced across the stage. His slow moments included yogi-worthy back bends and hand flourishes befitting a flamenco dancer. His athleticism testifies that he’s not giving up the ghost just yet.

The extensive show covered Depeche Mode’s newer work and old standards (here’s the set list). Midway through the show, Gahan left the stage while Gore offered stripped down versions of “A Question of Lust” and “Strangelove” to counterbalance the previous energy-intensive pieces. Christian Eigner on drums and Peter Gordeno on keys, bass and backup vocals rounded out the sound.

Gahan’s and Gore’s voices have matured with age, but their enthusiasm for the oeuvre remains, as does the fan fervor. At several points, Gahan told the audience to “sing it” and they happily complied. During the encore, he even said, “We still got it.” And they do.

Scottish band Young Fathers started the night out with a huge percussive sound. Drums, xylophone, synths, and vocals that sometimes verge on chanting meld into a unique sound that leans into a more analog version of trance, coupled with a mesmerizing onstage aloofness. —Patty Riek

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