Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Concert Review: Depeche Mode at Kaseya Center

The musical aesthetic of the 1980s has been ascendant for quite some time now, yet 2023 has still felt like something of a paradigm shift. Recent tours, including this year’s spate of life-affirming sets by English greats The Cure and a well-received 2022 trek by Tears for Fears, among many others, seem to have heralded a resurgence of the acts and songs that were once maligned as nothing more than the soundtrack to “Miami Vice.” The trend continued in full force on Thursday night, as Depeche Mode brought a wave of ‘80s nostalgia crashing into Miami’s Kaseya Center.

Despite the fact that the show was very sold out (i.e. nosebleed standing-room tickets reselling for well above face value), the audience was quite sparse when indie shoegaze outfit DIIV took the stage at 7:45 for its all-too-brief opening set. Across 30 minutes, the Brooklyn quartet pressed through tracks from across its discography, fighting against the arena echo to send layers of lush fuzz and melody washing over what seemed to be a relatively indifferent audience. Nonetheless, the act was an inspired choice to open for Depeche Mode, with its confluence of reverbed melodies and fuzzed-out guitar leads laying a strong foundation for the headlining set that was soon to come.

Just before 9 p.m., vocalist David Gahan and multi-instrumentalist and primary songwriter Martin Gore, newly whittled to a duo following the untimely passing of founding member Andy Fletcher, arrived looking no worse for wear. Whether or not it has anything to do with the aforementioned “Miami Vice” connection, the Essex group seems to occupy a special place in Miamians’ hearts, with its ‘80s electro-pop aesthetic dovetailing nicely with both the city’s past and present.

As the group was touring in support of this year’s solid (if not especially attention-capturing) LP Memento Mori, the set was front-loaded with material from that record, and it seemed to take a few songs for the group to hit its stride. Lead singer David Gahan was a veritable ball of energy throughout the set—more than once, I made a mental note comparing his stamina to that of Mick Jagger, another legacy act leader who seems to shave decades off his age every time he steps on a stage—dancing, spinning, waving his mic stand around, and otherwise reaching liberally into his bag of frontman tricks to incite the audience into clapping, waving and singing along. Gahan’s vocals—and Gore’s, on the handful of tracks where he assumed lead vocal duties—were nearly flawless across the show’s nearly two-hour runtime, no small feat considering the 40+ years that have passed since Depeche Mode was founded.

Touring musicians Peter Gordeno (keyboards, bass guitar and backing vocals) and Christian Eigner (drums) were solid throughout the night, with the latter bringing a captivatingly tight energy and even the occasional groove to the band’s electro-inflected rhythms.

The night’s most poignant moment came during a performance of “World In My Eyes” from the group’s classic 1990 record Violator. The track doubled as a tribute to the late Andy Fletcher, the group’s founding keyboardist and bassist, whose visage was displayed on the screens throughout.

Though Depeche Mode may not have the same stable of unimpeachable hits that some of its contemporaries enjoy, the show was a serviceable time capsule of an era when its sound was synonymous with the musical zeitgeist on both sides of the Atlantic. Though it wasn’t without a handful of missteps—“Wagging Tongue” struck me as particularly cringe-inducing—the positives far outweighed the negatives, with strong representation for each of the records in the group’s most impeccable run, from Music for the Masses through Songs of Faith and Devotion.

Of course, the best was saved for last, with the closing run of “Enjoy the Silence,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Just Can’t Get Enough,” and finale “Personal Jesus” serving as a knockout punch that was equally electrifying for both the die-hard fans in attendance and those who may have just been looking to enjoy a nostalgia trip. Even if sentimentality remains part of their draw, in 2023 Depeche Mode can still put on a show that reminds its audience that great songs transcend aesthetics, fads and even eras.


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James Biagiotti
James Biagiotti
James Biagiotti is a native of Boca Raton, a marketing professional in South Florida, and the former Web Editor of Boca Raton magazine. He is an avid music fan who spends far too much time listening to, dissecting, and traveling to see his favorite bands. He is also, unfortunately, a devoted Miami Dolphins fan.

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