Dave Gahan

Spirit – Depeche Mode

Release Year: 2017

Rating: 7/10

I’ve always been impressed with how solid Depeche Mode’s later era albums are. Most bands still going over 30 years lose that something that made them special and start churning out mediocre material. While none of Mode’s later albums hit me like their early stuff, they’re still pretty impressive. So I was pretty psyched when they announced Spirit. When I got my hands on it, I found another solid record that finds the band turning their gaze outward instead of in. The band offers a damning commentary on what’s going on in the world. This isn’t the first time they’ve done it; look at “People Are People,” but it’s their most politically charged effort. Though their commentary is often blistering, it’s often too much and doesn’t make for a wholly satisfying album.

The album opens with the rousing “Going Backwards,” one of the strongest songs on the album. It’s booming opening making you think of an army marching in the field sets up the dark mood of the song. The lyrics find Dave Gahan calling out our society and how despite all our progress, we keep moving backwards: “We are not there yet/We have not evolved/We have no respect/We have lost control.” It’s eerily appropriate to what’s happening now with political tensions running high and the rights of people being threatened. Though it’s not an in-your-face song, there’s still a lot of anger and frustration channeling through the song. They’re clearly fed up with what’s going on and this can speak to those who feel the same. It’s a blistering track that’ll get your fist pumping for change by the end of it. Its political nature sets the tone for most of what’s to come.

I was never really sold on lead single “Where’s the Revolution?” Though I really like the dark, futuristic synth music, this song doesn’t thrill me or get me going like their other material. It has a well-meaning message: get off your ass, stop complaining, and make a change. Still, it never really got me excited for the album. And the bridge where they repeat “The train is coming/get on board/the engine’s humming” made me roll my eyes. They couldn’t be serious with that part, right? I get the metaphor they’re going for, but it’s too on the nose and comes off as awkward. Though it’s not my favorite, I do appreciate the song for its lyrics like “Who’s making your decisions/you or your religion” that, again, reflects what’ we’ve been going through on a daily basis.

According to Gore, most of the album was written over the course of two years, yet it sounds like it was written for the Trump take over. While the commentary they offer is appreciated, it does get tiring. The band has touched on political issues in the past with songs like “People Are People” and “Everything Counts,” but they’ve never done it to the extent they do it here. Just because they usually don’t make political statements in their songs doesn’t mean they shouldn’t ever do it, but the way the band goes about it isn’t necessarily subtle. The biting track “Scum” finds the band attacking someone and begging them to “pull the trigger” that instantly makes you think of Trump. It’s one of the more memorable tracks even though some parts are disjointed, which can be off-putting. The slow burning “The Worst Crime” looks at what’s happening and blames it all on misinformation and stupidity that we’re all to blame. These songs aren’t bad, but after repeated listens you get tired. After a while you think we get it, we’re fucked. Can we dance now?

Luckily, not everything is focused on the political climate of the world. Things properly pick up with the infectious “You Move.” The song hooks you instantly with its heavy groove and sexy vibe. The lyrics fit more in tune with past Depeche Mode topics: unbridled lust, love, and temptation. The track is one of the few that gets you excited and makes you want to dance. Sounding like a leftover from Delta Machine, “So Much Love to Give” gives the album a much needed energy boost. The upbeat synth and the memorable hook makes it a fun diversion from the blackness the album is steeped in. Providing a bit of optimism, lyrics like “You can forsake me/try to break me/But you can’t shake me/no” shows it’s not the end yet; we still have a fighting chance. “Poison Heart” isn’t all that upbeat, but it’s another notable cut from the record. It lures you in with its stuttering, Blues inspired riff and opens with Gahan’s throaty vocals singing “You have poison in your heart/I’m sure of it.” A track about a nasty relationship coming to an end, it’s nothing spectacular, but it stands out from the other heavy tracks.

Honestly, there isn’t a song I outright hate on the album. Sadly, most of them aren’t that notable or are just a drag. “Poorman” has a harrowing opening filled with doom laden music and eerie harmonies of “Heeeey” that sound like ghostly apparitions. It’s another politically charged song about corporations only looking out for themselves, which we pretty much know. It’s not bad, but doesn’t really add much to the album. “Cover Me” is another slow song with somber music and gloomy lyrics about not reaching that other life. It actually makes me think of the end of the world. The highlight here is the dreamy, atmospheric music that gets an extended play near the end. Again, not terrible but nothing stellar. “Eternal” and “Fail” are both Gore solo spots that are decent, but again, nothing amazing. The former has a similar vibe to “I Want You Now” with Gore expressing his love, while sounding sinister and diabolic. The latter is another song damning where our society is and condemning all of us ending the album on a depressing note.

So is the album as bad as some critics said? Not really, but it’s not as great as some are claiming either. I appreciate the band’s efforts to comment what’s going on in the world. Some of the lyrics on those songs are poignant and thoughtful.  That being said, at times it does feel like you’re being bashed in the head with these messages. I applaud the band for going out of their comfort zone and showing that they’re willing to try different things. That’s a least a plus for this album. But it can be a bit tiring at times, which could be how they’re presented as slow, brooding tracks that drag on and on. It leaves you feeling hopeless at times. Putting political messages aside, most of the songs don’t pack the same punch and excitement of their other material. Even the tracks on their last album were more exciting. There are a handful of memorable tracks, but most of them don’t hit that sweet Mode spot even though they’re well meaning. Many of the songs I can’t picture myself listening to again outside of the record. Like many of their modern records, it’s solid and has some great moments. But does it live up to expectations? Not really.

Songs of Faith and Devotion – Depeche Mode

Release Year: 1993

Rating: 8/10

If you’ve been following the blog long enough, you know I’ve had a bad relationship with this album. Although it was a critically acclaimed follow up to Violator, I could never get into it. After repeated listens I thought it was boring, save for a handful of songs. While looking through my albums, I came across this one and thought maybe I was being too harsh. Maybe I wasn’t ready for it at the time. It did take me years to fully appreciate albums like The Cure’s Pornography. So I decided to give it one more and shot. Turns out I was wrong about this record.

What initially turned me off to this album was how it didn’t sound like the Depeche Mode I was used to. Where was the thrilling synth? Where were the danceable, yet sexy songs? They don’t completely abandon their electronic side, but they favor a rock oriented sound here. This is best heard on the opening track “I Feel You.” It’s the most straightforward rock song in their catalog. It has this great, sexy bluesy riff that wails while Dave Gahan coos “I feeeeeeeeel you/your sun it shines.” The music keeps building getting more intricate as the song goes on. Even though it’s pretty sensual, it still shows a harsher direction not previously found in their music.

I liked “Walking In my Shoes,” which starts with a jangly piano leading to hushed electronic sounding beats. Similar to the previous song, the music here sets up a darker landscape for the album. That says a lot for a band whose music is peppered with grim themes. This song also starts the numerous religious references on the album, which return on the next track “Condemnation.” I’m still not crazy about this song. I can appreciate it, especially since it sounds more like a gospel track, which was unique for the band at the time. It also boasts a great vocal performance from Gahan who sounds anguished and near tears while singing. There’s a lot of heartache and emotion behind it, which can be said for all the songs here. While I like the idea, I just don’t like the style.

What I found most interesting about the album is how morose and hopeless it sounds. Depeche Mode has never been shy with exploring dark feelings, but there’s usually some upbeat song to break up the mood. “Rush” is the closest it gets to something upbeat and danceable on this record. The rest of the tracks seem mired in misery. Even when addressing topics like love and needing someone else it sounds desperate, such as on “One Caress,” an excellent solo moment from Martin Gore. When listening to this album, you feel this sense of impending doom.

This morose mood continues on tracks “Higher Love” and “Mercy In You” where Gahan sounds like a vampire wanting to feed on the mercy in someone. Another stand out track, “In Your Room” is pretty sensual thanks to the intricate, lush music, but it still has dark connotations with references to slaves and being held captive by a lover. Though it’s more rock oriented, like most of the songs here, the sexy mood, intricate music, and Gahan’s powerful vocals make this a classic Depeche Mode track. It’s one I’ve always enjoyed from the album.

Judas” is notable for beginning with bagpipes to set a heavenly atmosphere. Gore’s on vocals here, so as usual, he has a way of making things sound creepy even if it’s not intentional. But for some reason, the song doesn’t hit the sweet spot like other Gore tracks. “One Caress,” which features his on vocals is actually the better of the two ballads. It begins with a riff that sounds like the opening of “Never Tear Us Apart.” This song stands out for the string composition. It adds this stark, dramatic vibe to the music. Though the song is about how good the touch of a loved one is, it still sounds unsettling with the music growing more and more intense. He’s sounds so desperate for it, it’s like he’s on edge and he’ll do anything to get that one caress. It’s a similar eerie vibe that worked for “I Want You Now.”

Unlike most of their past releases, this one is really slow, cathartic, and dark. Their music has always been moody and gloomy, but this one is downright heartbreaking. Considering the inner turmoil of the band and Gahan’s heroin problem, it makes sense why so many of the songs are gut wrenching. Some of the songs seem like they’re about Gahan. “Get Right With Me” starts out dark and creepy, but throws listeners for a loop with a random record scratch. It’s kind of off putting since it doesn’t fit the song, but it doesn’t last very long. The lyrics seem to talk about someone laying down what it’s going to take to get back in someone’s good graces: “Friends, if you’ve lost your way/ you will find it again.” This could be a reference to Gahan losing his way via drugs and Gore remaining hopeful he’ll get clean.It was a tough album to make according to the band and it shows in these songs.

So, do I still hate this album? No, now I realize I wrong about it. It’s not boring and dull. While it’s still not my favorite, I realize it’s a solid, introspective entry in their catalog. The songs may be different with their rock oriented sound and heavier vibe, but they remain gripping, thoughtful, and well-crafted like their previous efforts. Even if all the songs didn’t catch my attention the overall depressing mood of the record did make me reflect on what the band was going through at the time. With the sonic shifts and darker themes, it’s one of those albums that needs time for some to fully appreciate it. And I’m glad I can view the album differently. I don’t think I can say the same for Venus Doom.

Speak & Spell – Depeche Mode

Release Year: 1981

Rating: 6.5/10

Every band has a black sheep in their catalog, that one album they don’t want to talk about. For Depeche Mode, it’s their very first. With songs written by former DM member Vince Clarke, this record doesn’t display the moody and dark band we know today. The content is more synthpop and makes them sound like any new wave band during the time. Since its release the band has dismissed the LP and said it’s their least favorite, but is it really that bad?

Depeche Mode are known for their introspective lyrics, dark synth, and songs that talk about taboo subjects. None of that is on this album. This one is sugary sweet like so much pop music during the 80s. You hear this right off the bat with the opening track “New Life,” which is catchy, but cheesy. There’s nothing about it to make it stand out from other new wave songs from this period. Despite this, it is really catchy mainly because the synth and the hook are so repetitive. You hear it and can’t help but dance. It’s not bad, but definitely not their best. The next track “I Sometimes Wish I Were Dead” isn’t as morbid as it sounds. The synth is really playful and wonky, but there isn’t anything else notable about the song. It’s not bad, but not very memorable.

Nodisco” finally sees a change in the synth. Rather than sounding really light and sweet, it has a dark undertone making it a bit more interesting. It’s still really cheesy, especially since it sounds like a rejected disco tune. The lyrics are super corny with the hook being “Move me disco/Baby don’t you let go.” It’s as if Vince Clarke didn’t know what else to write about and this is what he ended up with. “What’s Your Name” has been called the band’s least favorite song by both Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher. And once you hear the light poppy synth that’s bouncy, but way too sugary, you’ll agree with them. It’s this weird 50’s doo wop drenched in generic synth, but it’s the lyrics that’ll leave you scratching your head. The chorus is Dave Gahan repeating “Hey, you’re such a pretty boy/you’re so pretty.” And this isn’t the only time sexualized lyrics towards guys are used. They’re also found on “Boys Say Go!” No wonder so many people thought they were gay for years.

There are a few songs that are listenable and seem most like current Depeche Mode. “Tora! Tora! Tora!” written by Martin Gore, is one of the best tracks on the LP. It’s one of those things where you can’t explain why it’s so catchy. The music is stark, disjointed, and again has darker vibe than the rest of the songs here. Gahan plays with his vocals on this track where he emphasizes certain words. By this point he hasn’t gotten down his vocal style, but it’s at least better than what we’ve heard so far. Another good song is “Any Second Now” which features Gore on vocals. It’s your standard slow track with his soft vocals and dreamy music. Both of these tracks are as close to classic DM you’re gonna get on this album.

The record closes with the notable track “Just Can’t Get Enough.” Of course this is the best song on the album. The synth rings out so wonderfully and sounds so fucking happy it puts a smile on your face. Compared to their later songs it’s kind of cheesy (“Just like a rainbow/you know you set me free”), but it puts you in a good mood. And it has to be their catchiest song in their catalog. The reason it works so well is because there’s actual variation of the music. It’s very bubbly and energetic and during the bridge these bright horns come blaring in for a brief second, but it sounds so good you want more.

The album isn’t horrible, but it probably is the worst in their catalog. A lot of it is standard synth pop that’s repetitive and gets dull really fast. There are a few songs that stand out and even have a hint of later Depeche Mode, but most of them are forgettable. If anything it gives listeners an idea of what the band would’ve been like if Clarke would’ve stuck around. It’s hard to not compare it to their later stuff, but even looking at it as a new wave album, it’s still not that great. Let’s be thankful Martin Gore took over songwriting duties from then on.

Rank the Videos: Depeche Mode 1986 – 1990 Pt. 2

As the first part of the series showed, Depeche Mode had some pretty awful videos during the start of their career, but they steadily got better. The mid-to late 80s found them working with Anton Corbijn, who they continued working with throughout their career. During this time they created some of their most iconic videos along with a few duds. Let’s take a look at their videos from this period ranked from best to worst.

“Strangelove” (1987)

This has quickly become one of my favorite videos. It has really cool shots, memorable scenes and poses from the band, and some innovative lighting. The story involves the guys pining after these girls in Paris. But notable scenes are when they’re all together holding up their palms that spell out “Love.” Also, there are several times where they’re standing around holding the megaphones seen on the cover for Music for the Masses. My favorite instance is when Wilder is standing there holding one and this elderly lady walks by looking at him trying to decide whether or not he’s real. During the part where they sing “pain” the light is glaring so much off of Gahan that his sunglasses give him a devil horns. It fits in perfectly with this moment in the song. There also seems to be some bloopers thrown in. There are parts where they’re all start laughing or smiling randomly and I’m not going to lie, it’s just plain cute. This is one clip I have no problem watching over and over again.

“Pimpf” (1987)

Even though I can’t really follow that story line here, the video just looks amazing from the way it’s shot to how certain scenes match up with the beat of the music. For the entire video Gore sits in a shack that appears to read “Depeche Mode Museum” in French. This is where he plays the piano riff to the track. Then we get a cool forced perspective shot of each member coming down a steep mountain. They stop to sing a part of the song before they reach they shack where they attempt to knock it down in tune with the music. At one point Andy really gets into it because he headbutts the wall. The shack eventually crumbles and Gore rises from the ashes holding the megaphone from Music for the Masses. Again, not sure what that’s all about, but it’s a well thought out video for an instrumental track. It knows how to keep you watching to see how it’s going to end.

“A Question of Time” (1986)

This is the beginning of Depeche Mode’s weird, artsy videos. It’s also the first video they did with long time collaborator Anton Corbijn. This clip is mixed with live footage along with black and white shots of a guy riding around in a motor cycle when he suddenly finds a baby. For some reason Alan Wilder is in the distance keeping his eye out for this guy. The guy delivers the baby to Wilder, he takes it, and then suddenly the rest of the band pops up with babies of their own. There are a bunch of cool and weird looking shots of the band, such as when their holding the baby with a shadow of a clock running over their faces. The best part is at the end when one precious scamp begins tugging on Gore’s hair. It’s a bit mysterious, but that’s part of what keeps your attention. You want to see if you can piece together all the symbolism. Just for the record, I haven’t been able to.

“Enjoy the Silence” (1990)

This simple video is nothing but Dave Gahan wandering around beautiful landscapes dressed as a king trying to find a moments peace. These shots are intercut with stills of the band looking bad ass in leather. There are no fancy effects, no big plot line, but it’s still a great clip. The video is also visually appealing. Long time video collaborator Anton Corbijn presents all the scenes with Gahan walking around in blinding bright colors. It’s an understated video, but it’s a classic and one that has several homages to it, including one from Coldplay for their 2008 single “Viva La Vida.”

 “Halo” (1990)

This is an interesting video that doesn’t seem that well known. The guys are part of a little circus with Gahan being the strongest man in the universe (I know, right?), Gore the clown, and Wilder the caretaker of the donkey. Fletcher walks around with Wilder for most of the video holding up random signs. Here, Gahan is seeing the female clown who works with Gore when surprise, surprise she doesn’t actually want to be with him. She makes her decision at the end to happily be with Gore even though he sleeps under Gahan’s caravan. Did he really think a clown wouldn’t want to be with another clown? Use common sense, man.

“Never Let Me Down Again” (1987)

This is one of those artsy videos I was talking about earlier. I really have no idea what’s going on here, but I do know one thing, Martin Gore is creepy as hell here. It begins with Dave sitting down next to an older man sipping tea and only singing parts of the song. Then there are shots of grass blowing in the wind, while Gahan drives past one of his band members hitching for a ride (talk about rejected). But Gore is always in the distance just staring oddly in the camera in what looks like an Amish getup. Towards the end he walks up to an empty car and shines a lantern in there as if to say “Why did you leave me on the road, motherfucker?” Who knew he could be so intimidating. There’s tons of symbolism and imagery that may go over your head, but it nails the unsettling feeling head on. There’s another version of the clip for the 12” single, which has more footage after the original fades out. It shows the guys dragging away Gahan followed by his shoes shuffling along on their own. It only adds to the mystery of this video, but at least it looks really cool.

Personal Jesus” (1990)

Depeche Mode visits a Western brothel! Hooray! The entire video has this Western theme. Even the guys are wearing cowboy hats and boots. There are also lots of shots and close ups featuring the ladies of the house. There are two versions of the video: a censored and an uncut one. What was so bad about the clip that MTV decided to edit it? Apparently, they didn’t like the mouth movements that they were doing during the bridge. Go figure. There’s also a live version that was released in 1993. Still it’s a classic clip to go with this timeless Depeche Mode song. I can’t help but think of Dave Gahan in cowboy boots whenever it comes on.

“Policy of Truth” (1990)

Directed again by Anton Corbijn, this video starts off like a black and white foreign film. It shows each of the guys getting manipulated by two chicks who are going out with all four of them. The guys eventually grow wise to the situation and are left distraught. Nothing much goes again, but again the video is nice to look at. There are a lot of interesting colors that play off of each other and again you can’t go wrong with the Mode boys playing around in leather.

“Little 15” (1988)

This is one of those clips you have to watch several times to understand the symbolism that’s happening. There’s so much going on that I can’t even mention it all here, but maybe that is what makes this video so intriguing. I usually don’t care for artsy videos with lots of symbolism, but this one is visually pleasing and entertaining. Just know that the number 15 is involved a lot along with watches and clocks. Though it isn’t bad after awhile it starts to feel like the stereotypical music video that’s supposed to have “deep meaning.” Still, check out the video for yourself and see if you can make out what’s going on.

“Clean” (1990)

This clip from the wildly successful Violator, is a little awkward. Shot in Super 8 style, the video shows Martin Gore getting comfy on the couch with his lady friend. The two begin watching footage of themselves rolling around in bed and spelling out the title of the song. The movie gets them riled up as they start making out more intense as the clip goes on. The footage they’re watching switches to Gahan and a random woman in bed. Meanwhile, Gore and his mystery lady are still necking. They’re going at it so hard you expect their clothes to fly off next. As the camera zooms in on the pair it grows increasingly uncomfortable to watch the two get it on. Not to mention that each of the members faces glide by each taking in a glimpse of the couple. It’s a bit unsettling, which makes it a perfect fit for the song.

“A Question of Lust” (1986)

Remember how I said the clip for “Somebody” was for anyone with a Martin Gore crush? This is pretty much the same thing, but with the inclusion of Dave Gahan’s shadow gyrating around with a tambourine. His tambourine playing is so intense it’s like he didn’t want to be showed up by Gore, so he tried to out do him. If you’re not into Martin then this is definitely the highlight of the video. There are also live clips of Gore singing the song in concert looking adorable as ever. These parts also show the others doing what they do best in a live setting. Not a terrible clip, but one that you wouldn’t necessarily want to watch over and over again.

“Everything Counts” Live (1989)

The band released this live clip to promote their movie 101. It’s a compilation of live performance and candid footage from the film. Though it’s pretty simple, it still manages to be entertaining. Since the live performance is mixed in with clips of them playing video games, rehearsing, and playing around with one another, it doesn’t get boring like other live video clips. They also added a clever nod to the song’s subject by introducing the clip with footage of their managers counting money they made from the tour.

“Behind the Wheel” (1987)

This clip as a sequel of sorts to “Never Let Me Down Again.” The car Gahan was driving in that clip gets towed away and an attractive woman, maybe the same chick from “Strangelove,” picks him up on her scooter. They make several pit stops until they meet up with the other guys who are sitting in front of a cafe. While the video is not bad, it’s not much here to keep you watching. The coolest shot is when Gahan stands in front of a spinning roulette wheel. While there is some interesting shadow play that makes things creepier than they appear, I wanted to go to another clip while watching it. It just gets dull after a while. There’s also a video that features the remix of the single, but it’s almost identical to the previous version.

“World in My Eyes” (1990)

It doesn’t matter which version you’re watching, the video is pretty much the same. Other than the drive thru intro, this is the standard live clip compilation. Just like with most live footage videos, this one is boring. It shows several moments from the band’s Violation tour presented in the awful fast motion technique of the 80s and 90s. Between this footage we sometimes see Gahan and his lady friend in the car watching while he looks like he can’t wait to jump her. Otherwise, not much else happens. I’ve always had a disdain for these type of videos and it’s no different here. They feel lazy and overdone, even if they star an amazing band like Depeche Mode.

“Strangelove ’88” (1988)

Whereas everywhere else in the world got the amazing video for this single, the US got the cheesy version. The other video looks and feels timeless. This clip is definitely a product of the 80’s. They pantomime in front of a garish faux city landscape while the word “Strangelove” awkwardly moves across their faces. No one looks like they’re having a good time except Gahan because they told him he could dance. There are also close ups of Gahan’s crotch as random images and words scroll across it. It gets a little uncomfortable to watch after the first time it happens. Because the clip mostly features a projector flashing various images across the set, it has this cheesy Powerpoint feel to it. All the members look bored as they sing as if they know how bad the video looks. Maybe this is why they stuck with Corbijn for so long.

Make sure to check in for part three of the Depeche Mode video countdown!

Live in Berlin – Depeche Mode

Depeche_Mode_Live_in_Berlin

Release Year: 2014

Rating: 8/10

Sometimes it’s hard for a band who’s been around as long as Depeche Mode to keep their live set exciting and vibrant. This new release shows Mode doesn’t have that problem. Live in Berlin, directed by long time collaborator Anton Corbijn, features footage from the band’s 2013 Delta Machine tour and while it’s not their greatest live release, it’s still damn good. The guys can still command the stage and bring fans to their knees. Dave Gahan is still a powerful frontman even though his moves are starting to look like Mick Jagger’s. Despite that, Mode puts on a captivating show.

The setlist is a great mix of the best songs from their last album and classics, like Enjoy the Silence,” “Never Let Me Down Again,” “Walking in my Shoes,” and “I Feel You.” While Gahan’s voice can be shaky and hoarse at times, once he gets in his groove his distinctive baritone voice sounds as warm and silky as ever. The frontman has always loved to dance on stage and things are no different here. He still has his impressive spins intact. What’s even better is during “A Question of Time” he lets loose, grabs the mic stand, becomes a whirling tornado as he spins faster and faster. Gahan has always been sexy and while sometimes his shimming is a little awkward, he’s still got it with his toned physique. Not bad for someone turning 53 this year.

What’s so great about Depeche Mode’s shows are how they keep things fresh. For certain songs they switch up the tone to change it drastically from the studio version. One example is “Halo,” where they slow things down and use elements from the Goldfrapp’s remix. More spontaneous moments come during Martin Gore’s set. He always has a solo during live shows; this time around he has three. When he comes on stage, you can usually guess what song is coming next (“Somebody” or “Question of Lust,”) but not this time. Rather, Gore took the stage to perform stripped back versions of “But Not Tonight” and “Shake the Disease,” two tracks he didn’t record vocals for. Something about seeing him do simple versions of these songs is breathtaking. It gives the songs new life, particularly the former one since it was a track the band wasn’t so fond of. His soft subtle voice turns these classics into gentle ballads. He does an amazing job.

If you get the boxset there are five discs two of which are two versions of the same film. Alive in Berlin has interview clips spliced between the performance footage. Though this does make it longer, it does offer some great insight as to why Berlin is such an important place to the band. Filmed in black and white, it seems they were going for a 101 vibe, which they don’t really achieve. Even though it does make for interesting viewing, it can interrupt the flow of the concert. What’s baffling is why they decided to go with two different versions of the same film for the boxset. They easily could’ve released everything one disc or include the interviews as part of the special features. This along with some other issues make the box set a little weak.

The collection also includes Delta Machine on Blu-ray audio. This is pointless for anyone who already bought the album. Also, who uses a blu-ray player to listen to music? It would’ve been different if some exclusive videos were also on the disc, but that isn’t the case. It’s pretty pointless. There’s also a booklet that leaves much to be desired. It’s very small and features only a couple of photos of the band on stage. The two audio discs included with the set are a good addition for any fan. Both feature all the songs from the show. So while the performance itself is pretty good, the box set is only worth it if you want both audio and visual from the show.

Overall, the release gets 8/10. It’s easy to point out how Depeche Mode’s earlier performances were much better, but they’re not that band anymore. This disc shows the years long band putting on an exciting, energetic, and fresh show. They clearly love performing live and it comes out in their finely crafted visuals, sound, and movements. Though not everything in the boxset is a winner, both the CD and DVD of the show is well worth it for any fan, especially if you want live versions of their latest songs. Hopefully, this will whet the appetite of those who have yet to see the Mode live.