Depeche Mode, the influential British technopop band that has flourished for two decades, kicked off a five-month world tour in Quebec City Monday night, promoting its new songs in an effort to leave behind its 1980s hits and its years of rock ‘n’ roll excess.
The two-hour show, which will tour 24 countries, focused on Depeche Mode’s new album “Exciter,” offering a smoother sound that returns to the band’s roots of pop music with romantic lyrics and electronic melodies. The show was meant to capture the imagination of a new generation of fans, not necessarily the die-hard 1980s supporters.
Solid, captivating and professional, the concert, however, only drew 5,000 fans – but delirious ones – to the Quebec City Coliseum as the show had been marketed as a warm-up, ahead of Montreal’s official tour kickoff Friday.
Lead singer David Gahan, whose career was marred by a suicide attempt in 1995 and a near-death experience in 1996, was visibly in great shape, his deep, powerful voice resonating within the Coliseum’s walls.
Martin Gore, the band’s inspiration, dressed as a crooner, inflamed the crowd with very personal guitar songs, such as “The Bottom Line” and “Breathe”. Andrew Fletcher, the band’s multi-instrumentalist, also hammered heavier songs such as “The Dead of the Night”.
Mainly influenced by German electro masters Kraftwerk and Britain’s punk movement of the 1970s, Depeche Mode has sold more than 50 million records since its formation in 1979 in Basildon, England.
Many nostalgic fans who came to see the kick-off show Monday said they were disappointed the band did not draw from its 1980s hits such as “People are People”, “Master and Servant”, “Somebody” or “Just Can’t Get Enough”.
“The show was way too smooth and it took some 45 minutes to lift off. I think the pacing was no good,” said Quebec City disc jockey Daniel Rochette, who used to spin records in the town’s 1980s nightclubs.
But others were delighted with what they heard and saw.
“I think it was great to see how strong they are 20 years on after the beginning of their career. I just loved it,” said one 24-year-old fan, who declined to be identified.
Depeche Mode plays Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto this week before heading to the United States next week.