Depeche Mode Devotional

Depeche Mode Devotional
It's impossible to watch footage of mid-'90s Depeche Mode without already being informed about the tensions, excesses and personal crises that struck the band and lead singer David Gahan in particular, during the 1993 to '94 "Devotional" tour. Such details are never verbalised on this DVD, but there are a few traces. As a unit, the Mode are completely oblivious to each other's presence and devoid of camaraderie. They never exchange smiles or make eye-contact, not even when there are thousands of overzealous fans screaming for them in ecstasy. While this feeling of alienation is evident, it's too mild to interfere with the spectacle that puts Devotional in a class of its own. Gahan is clearly high on various intoxicants, but he also holds court with a sense of confidence, lust and vitality that's uncommon for any '80s synth-pop icon. Stage designer and film director Anton Corbijn further magnifies the vocalist's god-like aura with his mesmerising backdrop of multiple projection screens, but then counterpoints it with equal attention to the quartet's stellar performances. Alan Wilder steals some of the spotlight when he steps down to play a grand piano during "Condemnation" and then switches to a live drum-kit for five songs towards the end of the set, while Martin Gore shows off his fluency with both keyboards and guitars throughout. The blur between electronic and rock is commonplace in today's music climate, but on Devotional it comes off as innovative, mature and soulful. Ironically, the film also represents the last time the core line-up would perform like this, as it was just a year later that Wilder quit the band and Gahan took his near-fatal descent into drug addiction and attempted suicide. Plus: MTV Rockumentary, more. (Mute/Warner)