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Reviewed July 27th, 2002 by Brian White


$60 to see Depeche Mode? No way! I will wait for the DVD!

And so I did. Depeche Mode played here in Ottawa last summer. The crowd was not very big, and the show was not particularly exciting according to reviews. It was a warm-up show for the Exciter tour opener in Montreal. After the reaction to the show here, I was surprised to hear that the Exciter tour was quite successful. Good for them. Here is a band that has been together for 20 years, and they go out on tour playing mostly newer and more laid-back material.

While I am happy about their integrity, Iím not $60 happy.

Being that Depeche Mode make electronic music, it would have been so easy for them to produce more upbeat, groove-driven music to exploit the popularity of techno. Instead, the have remained faithful to their own vision. They write and play songs, not grooves. It is sometimes not the most exciting result, but at least they have their priorities.

Which brings us to the concert. Just as their music has become more laid-back, so has their live set. Depeche Mode, due to the complexity and layers of their music, has always performed to tapes. They play as much live music as they can. I donít know if they are playing to a tape here, or some sort of midi device, but things are certainly sequenced. What adds a lot to the mix is the addition of drummer Christian Elgner. He gives their performance that kick that it has always needed.

Gahanís blurted baritone is not at its strongest, but it remains on key throughout. Martin Gore plays more guitar than anything else, which apparently improves the stage dynamic, according to Gahan. I do not know how much music Andrew Fletcher is making, but thatís part of the Depeche Mode thing, methinks.

Mostly a laid back affair, but Personal Jesus and Never Let Me Down rock.

Anton Corbijn, who is the photographic genius behind all of those moody and grainy black and white pictures of bands like U2, has been photographing Depeche Mode for years. He is totally in charge of their public image. Corbijn designed the show, and directed the concert film. I have to say that it is a pretty classy affair. I am left wondering if weíre lucky that Corbijn directed this film, as he appears better at presenting this band than they are.

The video on the DVD is 16:9, anamorphic. It is intentionally grainy, as per Corbijnís style. Despite the graininess, I cannot complain about the level of detail or the vibrant colors. You gotta dig an anamorphic transfer on a concert film.

The sound is 5.1, Dolby Digital and quite good. The remixing of all of the various electronic sounds through the mix is a little too good to be true. This concert sounds MUCH better at home than it ever could have in person. Music and crowd sounds are everywhere.

The 2-disc set boasts a generous amount of extras. There are several little interview clips that feature the crew, management, fans, and Depeche Mode all talking about Depeche Mode. You also get a bonus track (Sister of Night), and can be an armchair director with a multi-angle feature for Never Let Me Down. A really cool feature is the inclusion of all of the Corbijn films that are projected on the back of the stage during the concert, with accompanying audio from the show.

I wish more artists would take notice of the effort that has gone into this set. While I am not absolutely crazy about this show, I am quite impressed with the DVD.

Set List:

The Dead of Night
The Sweetest Condition
Walking in my Shoes
Dream On
When the Body Speaks
Waiting for the Night
It Doesnít Matter Two
Enjoy the Silence
I Feel You
In Your Room
Itís No Good
Personal Jesus
Black Celebration
Never Let Me Down Again


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