Walking into Madison Square Garden on September 11th is a spiritual feeling in and of itself. It was the Garden that hosted 2001’s “Concert for New York City” featuring some of music’s biggest names: Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, The Who, Elton John, Jay Z, Mick & Keith from the Stones and many others. One particular performance that sticks in my mind from that night was “Heroes” by the late David Bowie, who spent many of his last years as a transplanted New Yorker.
Fast forward 16 years later and another transplanted New Yorker, singer David Gahan, and his British bandmates in Depeche Mode are headlining MSG on 9-11-17. This was the second of two sold out shows on their “Global Sprit Tour”. The first show was on Saturday night, September 9th.
At 8:45pm, the Garden goes dark and a blistering recording of “Revolution” by the Beatles blasts through the house public address system. A multicolor red, blue, yellow, and white mosaic is projected on a two-tiered stage resembling a Jackson Pollock “splash” painting. Three silhouetted figures motion onto the stage: guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Martin Gore, keyboardist Andy Fletcher, and Gahan, the three core members of Depeche Mode. Joined by touring musicians Peter Gordeno on piano and bass, and drummer Christian Eigner, the electronic band opens the concert with “Going Backwards” an instant DM classic off their brilliant new album, “Spirit” , that was released in the Spring and climbed as high as #5 on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Baritone lead singer Dave Gahan, strutted and snarled as he roamed the massive bi-level stage, contorting like a recoiled snake at times. The second number, “Policy of Truth” featured Gahan shedding his jacket and exposing his tattooed arms while wearing a black and white leather vest. He commanded the mic stand like a rock god and twirled it with the flair of former Rainbow and Black Sabbath singer Ronnie James Dio on heavier songs such as: “Where’s the Revolution”, “Never Let Me Down Again”, and 1993’s “I Feel You”
Depeche Mode co-founder and chief songwriter Martin Gore spent the majority of the performance on guitar and providing background vocals and keyboards to compliment full time synthesizer keyboardist Andy “Fletch” Fletcher, who seemed to enjoy standing towards the rear of stage left in his own “office space”. During the first encore, Gore assumed lead vocals on “Strangelove” while accompanied by touring pianist Peter Gordeno.
The two-hour-plus Spirit concert featured a comprehensive set of new material as well as DM classics such as: “Black Celebration”, “Enjoy the Silence” off 1990’s triple platinum Violator, as well as the foot-moving, arm-waving, crowd pleaser “Everything Counts”. “Walking in My Shoes” from 1993’s chart-topping Songs of Faith and Devotion was accompanied by a video of transgender musician getting dressed in high heels to perform at a local bar.
David Gahan dedicated a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes” to “all the heroes of 9/11” during the five-song encore set. Coincidentally, it was an audition tape of Gahan singing a version of Heroes in 1980 that led his invitation to join Depeche Mode.
Gahan and his family have made New York City their hometown for the last 20 years. When he exclaims: “It’s great to be home!”, no one doubts it.
I sure hope he’s reading this review in New York’s Hometown News Source.
Policy of Truth (tour debut)
Barrel of a Gun
A Pain That I’m Used To
In Your Room
World in My Eyes
Where’s the Revolution
Enjoy the Silence
Never Let Me Down Again
Strangelove ( acoustic piano, Martin Gore lead vocals)
Walking in My Shoes
“Heroes” (David Bowie cover)
I Feel You