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Devotional Era

Good Violations

Interview / Promotion par Dele Fadele | NME | 1993 | 4313 caractères. Temps de lecture : 3 min 15 sec

The mind boggles and does triple somersaults What fracas would ensue when the Essex kids of Depeche Mode’s hardcore following met up with the disaffected, black-clad witches and wizards of The Sisters Of Mercy’s acquaintance? How would the partisan hordes cope with Dub Syndicate’s bass-driven depth charges and Marxman’s future Communist rap?

Well, reality turns out to be both stranger and better than expectations. With an initial atmosphere of a garden fete on a grand scale, Dame Tolerance rules the roost, and the military scale planning and execution makes the multi-cultural bill curse the white homogeneity of XFM and Neil Young In The Park line-ups. The music industry at large might have come to resemble the drowning man waving his bloody stump on Scott Walker’s ìTrack Seven’, yet there are still pockets of resistance where stadiums are not necessarily synonymous with gimmickry and fleeced punters.

Andrew Eldritch is fast becoming one of the last great showmen. With his trademark sunglasses, wry repertoire of putdowns for the unconvinced and Doktor Doom stentorian voice, he’s a fun figure - not a figure of fun - singing songs about drugs and buildings. The new slimmed-down Sisters Of Mercy attack rock’n’roll with a savage discipline, embodying its decadence whilst parodying its very essence. The buzzwords sting, the drum machine clatters, ‘More’ and ‘Temple Of Love’ are imbued with orchestral grandeur, and the swirling, scything guitars map out electronic circuits between riffage and showers of notes.

Respect is also due to Depeche Mode for waiting 13 years to muscle in on rock’n’roll territory. Even if they once swore they’d never use guitars, the new-found gothic tendencies and Messianic explorations of the twin tenets of faith and devotion make sense because there’s a brooding economy at work - DM never go too far. And even if the appropriation of Teutonic elements and the heartfelt humanistic socialism of ‘Construction Time Again’ remains their towering peak, both ‘Violator’ and the electronic proto-gospel of ‘Songs Of Faith And Devotion’ (that provide the bedrock for tonight’s communal celebration) prove they could still surpass that watershed.

Appearing to be blasphemous whilst fulfilling the functions of a rock’n’roll cartoon is a good ruse. And Depeche Mode inspire so much love purely because they use the voice of Everyman - like a less cryptic REM - to detail hurts, loves, hates, scenarios and aspirations that cut across barriers so everyone can understand. Idealism, not cynicism, rules them, even if they cannot fail to have been slightly tainted by the remorseless big-music machine. These days, Martin Gore has outgrown leather skirts and the mantle of ‘bad boy’ has fallen on Dave Gahan, who has metamorphosed into a long-haired Californian biker.

Like the Keith Carradine character in Trouble In Mind who comes back home with a quiff and kiss-curl after going AWOL and isn’t initially recognised by his wife, Dave Gahan wants the bigger outside world as opposed to former insularity. He performs with the relish of new-found freedom, pirouettes, has a meaningful relationship with his mic stand and emotes in his ‘older’ voice. Martin Gore sings and plays guitar on some showcase numbers with his ‘choirboy’ voice’ when he’s not on a podium with Alan Wilder, Andy Fletcher and a bank of keyboards. There’s also a guest string section for one song and real drums for the rocking Los Angeles groove of ‘I Feel You’.

Do Depeche Mode break sweat? What does it matter - the feeling is there and shared like euphoria, and even some sceptics are moved to obeying Gahan’s onstage exhortations.

When ‘World In My Eyes’ mixes the personal with the trans-global; when ‘Personal Jesus’ critiques the Basildon Boys’ position; when ‘Enjoy The Silence’ crystallises melancholy New Order; when you’re ‘Stripped’ down to your bone you know that Depeche Mode give great stadium. Period.

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