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Devotional Era

Pomp Will Eat Itself

Document par Johnny Cigarettes | NME | 1993 | 3872 caractères. Temps de lecture : 2 min 55 sec

‘Mah soouuul’s on fire blah blah blah burnin desiyerr blah blah blah take me higher and higher blah blah blah GOOD EVENING BIRMINGHAM! Let me see those hands in the air! How y’all feelin’ out there? Alright? I can’t hear ya (cocked ear) Alright?!?!’

Not particularly. After 13 years, Depeche Mode have finally embraced ROCK, and got it WRONG. They haven’t taken individualism, or invention, or drama or emotion: they’ve taken cliché, pretension, pomp, melodrama and bullshit, and flogged its carcass once more.

The Spinal Tap ghosts are threatening to descend from the moment Dave Gahan bellows the first notes from behind a huge opaque curtain intended to show just his huge iconic shadow. But we can see him, through an unfortunate gap in the curtain, preening and strutting in a lime green jacket like a clockwork liquorice allsort. Nevertheless, out he bursts, eventually; down come the curtains, and he and his mic go for a mince up the catwalk. The man once cruelly dubbed ‘The Ugliest Man in Pop’ by Smash Hits is now a stadium sex fuhrer of doom rock. He must be, because he rubs his crotch, wiggles his bum and gropes his nipples a lot.

Reservations of a different kind creep in when the other three are revealed, up on high podiums with cornflake-packet futurist silver trimmings, mooging away like your mates in a fifth-form talent contest. At first it resembles a goth Des O’Connor backed by Ronnie Hazelhurst’s avant-garde orchestra, but then Dave discards his jacket to reveal a black bushy dress shirt and boogies badly on the catwalk. He is Marti Pellow’s evil twin and I claim my £20 entrance fee back.

But several thousand don’t. A strange bunch, Depeche fans - chunky lads in jeans, trainers and £23 Mode T-shirts, mostly from the engineering and insurance clerk classes, too square to be indie or dance fans, too cool to unself-consciously embrace pop music. They are cultural anomalies - like the band they’re watching - of a kind that only Britain could create. Everywhere else in the world, Depeche Mode are ‘alternative’ through and through, but here most people are too cynical to forget the simple pop charms of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ et al, and too sussed to swallow the kind of witless stadium rock pseudery the Mode have now bought into.

Martin Gore is the only one with a hint of style, in admirably camp silver shorts; but he’s effortlessly upstaged by the stage décor - he resembles Tin Tin lost on the set of Flash Gordon - and, more importantly, by Dave (interesting point: what sort of rock icon is called ‘Dave’?). Our perv-beard hero finally gets down to just his sweatbeast vest, and we are momentarily distracted from any games of spot-the-arm-kebabs by the rest of the band adopting drums, guitar and piano for the only fully effective dark stomps of the night: ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘I Feel You’. The backdrop has wannabe icon silhouettes of Dave in ‘Man at C&A meets Christ’ pose, and two authentically robed black backing singers come on as a last stab for rock cred, and we can just about accept it by now because the music has come good.

And, of course, that’s one thing you can’t deny about Depeche Mode. They’ve never lost the ability to pen a brooding, stirring tune. ‘Everything Counts’ finishes off the evening, reminding us that they can also write a pithy lyric to accompany them occasionally. But it’s a cruel world, and even those talents are not enough to override the misguided avant-garde pretensions, pomp, shabby cultural baggage, confusion, cliché and bullshit this band are wallowing in. An unholy mess, frankly.

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