Depeche Mode Press File

Suffer Well


Depeche Mode at the Press Conference for 'Playing The Angel',
Dusseldorf, Germany, June 16, 2005
Photo by unknown photographer. Reproduced without permission


Gahan expresses doubts on future for
Depeche Mode

While Depeche Mode's Martin Gore and Dave Gahan promote their recent solo releases, the future of the band has been called into question by Gahan during an interview with the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet.

Gahan is quoted as saying that his relationship with composer Martin Gore is rather difficult due to Gore limiting his musical input.

"My frustration has been growing over a long period of years," Gahan says. "I have always felt that I ought to have more influence. The reason why I haven't is both that I haven't been aggressive enough towards Martin, but also because I know that he simply isn't susceptible to advice and ideas of any kind."

Gahan says that the band will get together later on this year to talk things through. "We will probably have a talk sometime next year, but there are no guarantees that we will make another record."

Side-Line, 30th April 2003

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DEPECHE MODE frontman Dave Gahan says he will leave the band if he isn't given a bigger songwriting role.

The star, who has just released his acclaimed debut solo album 'Paper Monsters', said bandmate Martin Gore, who is Depeche Mode's songwriter, has got to be a little more democratic if the band are to have a future.

Gahan told Spiegel magazine: "Whether there is a future for Depeche Mode very much depends on whether Martin is willing and open enough to change. All I know is it won't be going on as it was, I want to be involved more in working on new songs."

Gahan insisted self-doubt had stopped him from sticking up for himself more.

He added: "I didn't have enough confidence, and where should I have taken it from? After all, Martin Gore is the creative head of Depeche Mode. I was just the singer."

"Martin sometimes even told me how to sing certain passages. I often felt like an instrument being used by others."

New Musical Express, 11th June, 2003

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Gahan Ditching Depeche Mode?
Singer frustrated with band role, enjoying solo life

After releasing his debut solo album Paper Monsters this summer, singer Dave Gahan is thinking about quitting Depeche Mode.

"It's become increasingly difficult for me," Gahan says. "When we go on tour and I'm performing, I know that I contribute a great deal to what we do - in terms of bringing the songs to life on stage. But in the studio, it's like [keyboardist and songwriter] Martin [Gore] might as well be doing it himself . . . They're his songs, his ideas, and I'm the voice on top of it."

"It's just not fun in the studio if you've got an idea for something and the person you're working with can't even be bothered to pick up a guitar," Gahan continues. "It seems to me like a waste of time."

Gahan is currently touring to support Paper Monsters, released in June. Not only is it his first solo album in twenty-two years of Depeche Mode, it's the first time his own songwriting has made it to disc.

"I played a few demos to Martin during the making of [2001's] Exciter," Gahan says. "He nodded his head and let me know that they were pretty good, but he never turned around and said, 'Great, let's record some of these for this album.' So, unless he's open to both me and him coming into the studio with a bunch of songs and supporting each other I don't see that there's any point in going on and making another Depeche Mode record."

And what are the chances of that? "You know what?" Gahan says. "At this point, I don't really care."

Corey Levitan
Rolling Stone, 20th August, 2003

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In The Studio Exchanging Creative Juices With: Depeche Mode

The release of Dave Gahan’s debut solo album, 2003’s Paper Monsters, caused tension in the Depeche Mode camp. The singer griped that his role in the band was that of "an instrument being used by others", before dropping dark hints that the Essex veteran’s future was far from certain.

Two years on, his mood is infinitely brighter. The singer and bandmates Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher recently regrouped in California to record their 11th studio album. To Gahan’s surprise, it’s been a happy reunion.

"The strangest thing that’s happened is that we’re all getting on pretty well," he says. "With the last album [2001’s Exciter], it all felt a bit dead. This time we’re all pulling together a lot more."

Tellingly, chief songwriter Martin Gore’s creative monopoly has been broken. For the first time in the band’s 25-year career, Gahan has brought his own songs to the table. "There’s a new drive within Depeche Mode," he says wryly. "It’s called competition."

Despite the harmonious intra-band relations, Gahan promises that the still-untitled album is as dark as anything the band have recorded, pitching it somewhere between the stadium electronica of 1990’s Violator and 1993’s guitar-heavy Songs Of Faith And Devotion.

"With Depeche Mode, there’s always that darkness in there," he says. "At the same time, there’s hopefulness. Out of despair and suffering comes something good."

As the band’s stint in Santa Barbara draws to a close, Gahan is looking forward to a few weeks off before recording resumes in his adopted hometown of New York.

"We’re ready to make a move," says the singer. "There’s only so much sun you can take when you’re singing songs about pain and suffering."

Q, July 2005

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Depeche Mode Lift Angel
Synth-pop pioneers return with fourteenth album

Depeche Mode will mark their twenty-fifth year together with the release of their fourteenth album, Playing the Angel, in October. "We can be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame next year," guitarist [!] Andy Fletcher says with a grin.

Produced by Ben Hiller (Blur, Doves), the record features the band's classic blend of moody synth-pop beats, heavy guitar riffs and dark lyrics. "There's a really strong DNA in our band," says Fletcher. "We almost can't help sounding like ourselves - which is a good thing."

"We were in the studio," recalls frontman Dave Gahan, "and [Mute Records head] Daniel Miller came in and said, 'Oh, what's this album about then, the usual pain and suffering?' That's kind of our m.o."

On Playing the Angel, Gahan - who released his debut solo album, Paper Monsters, in 2003 - shares songwriting credits for the first time, territory traditionally reserved for keyboardist Martin Gore. "I was like, 'I'm not interested in doing this album unless I get to write songs,'" Gahan says. "So Martin and I talked about it. I think it caused a bit of competition in the band, which is healthy." Three of Gahan's songs will be included on the album.

Among his contributions is the ballad "Precious." [Dave had no hand in writing this song - BB] "It's about what's important," says Gahan, who famously battled with drugs and depression in the past, "and seeing life through the eyes of my children."

Depeche Mode will launch a world tour in support of Playing the Angel in October.

Gillian Telling
Rolling Stone, 6th July, 2005

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PRECIOUS - released October 3, 2005

"Electro-synth pop that's not a million miles away from (but also not as good as) Enjoy The Silence. As such, it sounds a bit dated, but at least it keeps Dave Gahan busy."

Metro, 3rd October, 2005

"With a chiming riff and echoes of Enjoy The Silence, the Mode are back. They’ve got Doves and Blur producer Ben Hillier in for the new album Playing The Angel; no danger of Depeche ever having to do the 80’s revival circuit."

Jocelyn Clarke
The Irish Times, 30th September, 2005

"They're stronger when sad, abandoning rock for melancholy keyboards. For the upwardly mobile '80s kids who can still recall when this stuff changed the world, this is Violator-style resignation – one long, slow climb down the mountain after the ecstatic parties of youth. No one goes to Depeche Mode for the words. Fans simply demand the aura of late Saturday nights in the city, before the anxiety of adulthood takes hold."

Unknown reviewer
The Simon Magazine

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"A new Depeche Mode album is as big as it gets in our circles and "Playing the Angel" is scheduled for October. It is an electronic album that has spawned rumours saying that it is their best since "Violator" and as dark as "Songs of Faith and Devotion". Considering that "Violator" is one of the best albums in existence, it smells like a bit of a stretch, but who knows?

"Playing the Angel" is said to offer a higher tempo than the previous two albums and for the first time it features three songs written by Dave Gahan.

"Precious", a typical Martin Gore tune, is the first sample from "Playing the Angel", and supposedly doesn't sound much like the rest of the album songs. It's an all-electronic, retro-flavoured pop tune that makes me think of old Depeche Mode songs.

There is an immediate quality to "Precious", making it easy to like instantly. The verses are bouncy and the chorus is unusually catchy for a Depeche Mode song of today. "Precious" is solemn and sombre, yet upbeat. Mr Gore still has it, and he sticks to writing about love and God.

All seems to be right in the world of Depeche Mode, once again. Give me October now."

Johan Carlsson
Release Magazine, 30th August, 2005

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PLAYING THE ANGEL (LP) - released October 17, 2005


Mode To Nowhere

"Having waded knee-deep through personal trauma and survived, Depeche Mode are not about to let us forget it, by God. No sniggering at the back, this is serious stuff.

Every inch of Playing the Angel is laden with the kind of portentous navel-gazing which might be profoundly cathartic to the band, but is plain exhausting to the listener. 'Twas ever thus, of course, but they paint from such a limited palette you wonder how they can tell one song from the next. If you insist on being dysfunctional for a living then get a Thesaurus: 'soul', 'pain', 'dying' and words ending in '-ion' will only go so far.

'Precious' is great, of course, thrumming away like something vintage from 1987. It's a lithe pop song, which is what they've always done best. Then 'Macro' pops up, a desperately embarrassing episode which sees Dave Gahan bellow like a wounded heifer about the 'whispering Cosmos' and 'the thundering river pounding within me' [This track was sung by Martin - BB]. No wonder the Americans love them.

'Lillian' and 'Nothing's Impossible' are classic Mode, but by the time you get to 'Damaged People' ('we are disturbed souls playing out forever'), you're longing for a slice of prime McFly. And I don't say that lightly." ***

Graeme Thomson
The Observer Music Monthly, 16th October, 2005

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"If, like me, you were disappointed with Depeche Mode’s last two albums and fear another cul-de-sac of industrial gloom – relax. Playing The Angel resurrects the acme days of Violator, and single Precious will remind many of Enjoy The Silence. DM’s double hinge of Gore and Gahan change tack, with Gahan challenging Gore’s songwriting monopoly by penning three tracks. Their songs have always been a twisted braid of pain and hope, presented via retro beats and analog synths. The light/dark plots resurface, seesawing between redemption and rocking out. On Suffer Well, Gahan’s voice is as deep and murky as the title – and sounds better than ever. Damaged People hints at the Orient and The Darkest Star is cosmic bliss. Playing The Angel? More like playing a blinder." ****

Sinéad Gleeson
The Irish Times, 14th October, 2005

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A La Mode Again

"It is not often that a band lives long enough to see their early sound come back into fashion. But after 20 years, Depeche Mode are Eighties synth-pop's leather-veined survivors. The threesome (formerly a foursome) easily conquered the US in the Eighties and Nineties with songs that married religious imagery with purgatorial electronic music.

In the process, they earned all the hits, tattoos, nasty drug habits and inter-band tensions that come with that kind of superstardom. They influenced pretty much anyone who made electronic music after them, most audibly the Pet Shop Boys.

Now, with Eighties synth-pop once again a leitmotif in rock, Depeche Mode have reconvened. Few expected them to do so after Exciter, their so-so album of 2001, quickly spawned a tetchy solo album each from singer Dave Gahan and songwriter Martin Gore ['Paper Monsters' and 'Counterfeit 2' - BB].

The band looked as if they might finally peter out altogether, having lost their keyboard player, Alan Wilder, in 1995. The following year, they nearly lost Gahan to a cocktail of heroin and cocaine that left him clinically dead for a while.

Instead, Playing the Angel finds Gahan, Gore and Andy Fletcher refreshed and keen to make a racket.

One of the thorniest issues in the band's internal politics throughout the long stadium years was singer Gahan's determination to join Gore as a songwriter, much in the same way that Gore had always sung a track or two on every Depeche Mode album. With a solo album out of his system, the singer finally got his way, with Gahan penning three of the album's 12 tracks.

One of them is actually the best track on the album, 'Nothing's Impossible'. It's a simple song of dour hope, strafed by dissonant effects, but always anchored to a thoroughly Modeish skulking melody. The bittersweet lyrics suggest a love song, but lines such as 'How did we get this far apart?' could apply equally to the ructions within the band. If therapist Phil Towle ever wanted another rock'n'roll job after taking on Metallica (the subject of the recent rock-doc Some Kind of Monster), he could do worse than address the passive-aggressive stiff upper lips of Depeche Mode.

The rest of the album swings back and forth, impressing, then depressing. Martin Gore's favourite muse - guilt - is especially keenly felt here, as he recently went through a painful divorce. There is no faulting this record's rumbustious sound design, either, punched up by producer Ben Hiller. He contributed the large helping of groaning analogue synths that flesh out the Mode's pulsating electronics and itchy digitals.

The album opens on a musical howl of alarm; but this wailing wall of sound unfortunately occasionally drowns out Depeche Mode's flair for melody, the enduring synth-pop ace in their electronic rock pack.

If anything, there is perhaps a little too much music on some of these tracks. Songs such as 'The Sinner in Me' linger too long, nudged from their line by extraneous countermelodies, middle eights, pre-choruses and portentous bits. Depeche Mode's most satisfying songs have usually been their most direct. Those ranks are swelled by the murky gothic swing of 'John the Revelator'. It's not a straight cover of the country-blues standard, but it lets rip in a way little else does.

The existence of a greater number of songs as simple as 'Precious' would have just tipped the balance in bringing Depeche Mode back into contention as bona-fide pop heroes. As it is, they're content to play to their gallery, an exceptionally loyal multitude who will lap up even Depeche Mode's more pretentious workouts (such as 'Macro').

They have come a long way from the keyboard pop of 20 years ago, but you can't help feeling that if someone taped up nine of Martin Gore's fingers, leaving him only one to play with, they might have made a truly excellent album."

Kitty Empire
The Observer, 16th October, 2005

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"Let’s get the tricky bit out of the way. The last Depeche Mode album "Exciter" was a little, well, uneventful. And when you still hold the crown as the biggest synth-rock outfit in the world, that’s not good enough. Thankfully this "…Angel" soars. Produced by Blur cohort Ben Hillier, it’s the sound of a band rejuvenated, relevant and genuinely excited. The opening triple salvo of "Pain", "John The Revelator" and "Suffer Well" is a musical call to arms not heard since "Violator". Stripped of the underwhelming mixes, "Precious" is their best in years. It does tail off towards the end but for a band 25 years into their career to sound in such rude health is good news." ****

Ralph Moore
Mixmag, November 2005

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"As old as U2, and as beloved as ever (particularly in Europe), Depeche Mode return with an album that shows a good deal more focus than their last two studio efforts. Of course, the subject matter remains the same – yet more songs about angels, devils, pain, faith and suffering – but the music has been tweaked to match the Violator-era Mode: darkly synthy, slightly psychotic, and with judicious guitar interjections such as those on stand-out track Suffer Well. Precious, the first single, may share the same musical space as Enjoy The Silence, but it stands in its own right as one of their best. There are other gems too: The Darkest Star and The Sinner In Me are brilliant journeys into the world of the fragile and the dysfunctional." ****

David Buckley
Mojo, November 2005

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Black Magic

"For most of us, 25 years in black leather trousers would provide little but chafing. But for Depeche Mode, the enduring sartorial symbols of sex and sin still fit like a lucrative glove.

Thirty-eight UK hit singles, 13 Top 10 albums and worldwide live pulling power enabled singer Dave Gahan to finance a legendary penchant for excess. But when Gahan and chief songwriter Martin L Gore both made solo albums in 2003, a split looked inevitable. Yet here they are with their 11th studio album, their first since 2001’s Exciter. The surprise is that Playing The Angel sounds so sure and committed that it could be the work of a new band.

Recorded in New York, Santa Barbara and London with Blur producer Ben Hillier, Playing The Angel thrives on a sparse electronica that closes the distance between band and listener, coming off like an intimate late-night confession. Hillier’s preference for old-school analogue sounds over digital returns Depeche Mode to the bruised innocence of their mid-‘80s transitional period, with first single Precious nodding to their pop origins and John The Revelator mining the gothabilly seam they invented on ‘89’s Personal Jesus. Techno godfathers and metal Goths alike continue to cite the Mode’s influence and this album reminds you why.

Gahan contributes three songs which fit seamlessly. And while they remain obsessed with dysfunction and masochism, his Suffer Well sums up the album’s subtext of hard-won optimism. "I found treasure not where I thought/Peace of mind can’t be bought/I still believe," he croons, and you believe that the reformed rockpig means it. Playing The Angel is the year’s greatest, and most unlikely, comeback."

Garry Mulholland
Q, November 2005

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"The website Artist suggests that people who buy Depeche Mode's 11th album might also like the "similar albums" Live in London by Duran Duran and We Are the Eighties by A Flock of Seagulls. The average Mode fan would probably rather eat glass than admit such poppy chinks of light into his grotto, but it does pose the irrefutable point that, for all their dallying with the dark side, there's a part of Depeche Mode that will be forever Basildon synth-chavs. It's 24 years since their debut LP, but there's a sense of the electronica trio still being on their guard against their boyhood selves popping up to scupper the black-goth-lord image they've diligently cultivated.

But Dave Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher should thank their lucky stars for those plinky beginnings, because the melodic skills acquired in the early days remain their saving grace. Beyond the "pain and suffering" (Gore's inviting words) that mark this (and every) album are big, majestic tunes that prove the old saw about dysfunction being no impediment to a great hookline. Gahan - who has songwriting credits for the first time - and main writer Gore just can't help themselves. Their dark nights of the soul always produce the shiniest melodies, rather than the Nick Caveish atonality they probably strive for.

There's a Cave moment in their decision to cover a 1930s blues song, John the Revelator; true to form, however, rather than keeping it minimal, they lift it with a gospel choir that has you punching the air. Does that defeat the object? I don't know. It's good, though. The single Precious has a similar effect. The lyric may say lugubrious remorse ("Things get damaged, things get broken ... My God, what have they done to you?"), but the lilting synths say, "Shake your black-dyed tailfeather."

There are no alarming musical innovations, unless you count the tempo having been stepped up a bit since 2001's Exciter album. Suffer Well swirls into life with old-school analogue action, and maintains a breathless pace throughout. And when Gahan intones, "I'm gonna need a miracle to help me this time" on Nothing's Impossible, he does it to a percussive chug-chug that belies his pessimism. It may be grim round Depeche's way, but they don't let it get in the way of a good melody."

Caroline Sullivan
The Guardian, 14th October, 2005

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Doom & Gloom Revisited

"Even as it fills arenas around the world with its army of devoted fans, Depeche Mode just might remain the world's biggest cult band. The passion the band inspires in its faithful isn't all that different than it was in its early days as synth-pop pioneers - like a well-kept secret writ large - and if on occasion the group's morose anthems have crept into the mainstream, Depeche Mode has shown little interest in courting new fans. It knows its niche and frequently plays to it, and if it happens to sell millions of albums in the process, so be it.

Even so, Depeche Mode isn't as immutable as it sometimes seems at first listen. Its evolution has been as steady as it has been subtle, like a snake shedding its skin to reveal a slightly different set of scales each time. "Playing the Angel," the group's 11th album, follows 2001's dreamy, slightly laid back "Exciter," and to some extent the new disc exhibits a few similar traits, particularly its subdued, pre-dawn vibe. "Playing the Angel" also follows Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan's 2003 solo bow, "Paper Monsters," and that, too, informs "Angel," albeit more explicitly.

Although Gahan's rich baritone is inextricable from Depeche Mode, the group's primary creative voice (at least since the early '80s departure of founder Vince Clarke) has been songwriter Martin Gore. Gahan intimated that "Paper Monsters" was partly his way of saying he wanted to play a larger role in the creative process, and with "Playing the Angel" Gore has finally relented, allowing Gahan writing credit on three songs, the best of which, the (relatively) upbeat "Suffer Well," introduces a few new flavors into the Depeche Mode fold, and the other two, "I Want It All" and "Nothing's Impossible," very much in the band's classic mold.

Gahan may be frustrated with his role performing the music of Gore, but on "Playing the Angel" the reportedly rough partnership sounds as simpatico as ever. One reason is that despite middle age and a history of substance abuse, Gahan's singing has never been better. The other is that, especially with a new foil of sorts, Gore remains as adept as ever at finding different ways to express the same old feelings of doom and gloom, with songs such as "John the Revelator," "Damaged People" and "The Sinner in Me" sneaking in winking - and winning - nods to Depeche Mode's past glories disguised by some sonic sleight of hand, like shards of distortion or the interplay of plinky guitar and keyboard on "Lillian."

Another factor that keeps the Depeche Mode cult alive is the fact that the group's always been a better singles band than album act, and those familiar with the band via only the hits are just getting part of the picture that most don't have the patience to explore. "Playing the Angel" is no exception in that the first single, "Precious," is the most striking and memorable song on the disc, but Depeche Mode has shown itself increasingly adept at constructing a start-to-finish listening experience.

If the second half of the disc primarily reflects the same spare, icy and ultimately insular textures and arrangements that marked the band's formative '80s work, by the time the final track, "The Darkest Star," fades to silence, it feels like the end of a journey prescribed by something less arbitrary than the end of an LP side or lack of space. It's like an ellipsis leading promisingly to the next page of a surprisingly fruitful career."

Joshua Klein
The Washington Post, 19th October, 2005

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"It starts with a siren. A howling, distorted thing that beats at the ears, tugs anxiously at the sleeves of transfixed gawpers and gestures frantically toward the shelters - toward safety. Is it a warning or a call to arms? It’s neither. It’s both. It’s a great big woe-missile directed straight towards your emotional centre, launched in spectacular, bombastic fashion from The People’s Republic of Angstania. Mutual destruction isn’t just assured, it’s mandatory. The fortunate will be consumed quickly, the rest left to deal with the inevitable fallout: love, pain, sex, more pain, religion, and suffering. Stop trying to duck and cover - now is the time to fuck and recover. Because Playing the Angel is just that good.

Let’s take a trip beyond the opening seconds and crash headlong into a triptych of tracks, united in their noble refusal to let Depeche Mode fall foul of comments regarding aging obscurity. It seems that since the heady days of Violator the combination of theatrical style and gorgeous hook-laden melody have been apart far too often. "A Pain That I’m Used To" is but the first step in putting this to rights - thrashing with fire and noise amidst crunching vocal hooks, symbolising the start of something special. Yet we cannot stop here. It is time to press onwards, through the stark warning to those who would elevate the name of John above Jesus in their worship and forget the lessons of history. Through "John The Revelator," the pounding, pulsating, single-in-waiting (we can hope) and on at a canter to "Suffer Well" - proof that Dave Gahan’s songwriting fingers should have been set free long ago. Three songs. Three masterpieces of electronica. ‘Masterpieces,’ yes; because Playing the Angel is just that good.

Whilst a stand-alone trinity might be strangely appropriate for a band that deals so freely in religious imagery, the quality does not dip for the next thirty-odd minutes. Lead single "Precious" has been delicately bothering the airwaves for some weeks already, and perhaps appears a curious promotional choice when placed beside more immediate recordings. Here though, the gentle fragility of the tune, matching its theme of childhood protection, slips fluidly into place. Elsewhere, Martin Gore soars through "Damaged People" sounding like the most damaged person of all (or a somewhat unhinged uncle, at least) and the second Gahan-penned effort, "Nothing’s Impossible" provides even further delight. A song of hope in the face of relentless real-world drudgery and disappointment; sung low as the track moodily throbs around it, as if fighting a perpetual civil war against its own message of optimism. And there’s more, there’s so much more. From the brief instrumental interlude of "Introspectre" to the extended crawling gloomfest of "The Darkest Star," every moment sparkles with devilish glamour. Every moment screams to be played a little bit louder and a little bit longer; because Playing the Angel is just that good.

Cover your ears now. Not to block out the sound - that would be pure folly - but to gain entrance to new, deeper layers. Headphones can highlight all manner of missed details from the most mundane of listening experiences; in this case, they reveal a host of secrets concealed barely beneath the surface. Subtle backing vocals, harmonious tones and trills lurking in places the ears have skipped during a casual listen, the sheer size of the thumping drums used on "Macro"; beautiful nuggets now panned gradually to the top of the mix. Of course full enjoyment can be gleaned without this frivolity, it merely provides an additional surprise. That’s the kind of album Playing the Angel is; because, as I may have been mentioned, Playing the Angel is just that good.

When a record refuses to leave the stereo for days on end. When a record nags and pesters the brain to play it just once more. When a record insists that you take the trouble to sample it through various different media - these are the familiar signs of something rather magnificent. It’s that simple. So it’s worth reminding everyone that Playing the Angel is:




Peter Parrish
Stylus Magazine, 15th November, 2005

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Kenneth Partridge reviews 'Playing The Angel' in the October 24, 2005 issue of Express.


A PAIN THAT I'M USED TO - released December 12, 2005


No reviews currently available


The following three items review the MEN Arena, Manchester, March 30, 2006 gig from the European leg of the 'Touring The Angel' world tour. Supported by The Bravery.

Essential Mode Music

"On a dank night in March, it seems oddly fitting to spend the evening with Depeche Mode.

The one-time pioneers of palatable synth pop morphed into purveyors of dark – dare I say – gothic rock during the 1980s, a sound that has served them well ever since.

But, while they may all be the wrong side of 40 these days, Gahan & co still look and sound surprisingly dynamic.

They emerge to an ear-blistering combination of German techno and 16,000 roaring fans and fly into recent album opener A Pain That I’m Used To. Gahan’s deep vocals invoke a pleasing sense of familiarity, but not so delightful as his on-stage antics – he canters across the dazzlingly-lit stage like a camp matador and his gyrating hips spark waves of excitement.

The Mode are quick to tear up the decades, reinventing 1986 track A Question Of Time and freshening up Policy Of Truth. The set is surprisingly heavy on new material, with much of a mid-section dominated by Playing The Angel.

Precious and Suffer Well are contenders for tracks of the night, but the evening starts to lose direction when Gahan surrenders the mic to Martin Gore for Damaged People – a definite low point. Gore’s ostentatious Broadway vocals on Home seem to rescue him, though, and he skips down the catwalk to rapturous applause.

But it’s clearly no accident that the set is played out with a host of classics – I Feel You and Personal Jesus sound timeless and exciting, and Enjoy The Silence is beefed up to a raucous rock anthem with the audience picking up vocal duties during the chorus.

Nor is it a coincidence that the encore is stuffed with 1980s hits – Shake The Disease is given a sensitive makeover by Gore, while Just Can’t Get Enough and Everything Counts are pure summery innocence.

But it is 1987’s Never Let Me Down Again that convinces everyone to stay put and miss the last tram home.

Essential stuff."

Sarah Walters
Manchester Evening News, 31st March, 2006

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"When former electro-pop stars Depeche Mode began experimenting with much darker music in the 1980s, their efforts were slightly undermined by frontman David Gahan, possibly the squeakiest-looking Basildon boy ever to don leather trousers. Thus, Gahan got to work. There were tattoos, there were mind-boggling quantities of drugs, and there was a heart-stopping six minutes in 1996 when Gahan was clinically dead in an ambulance.

These days, the recovered frontman is probably where he wanted to be all along. At 44, he’s still youthful enough to don an Italian jacket and Cuban heels and look ridiculously dapper, but can now sing lines like "I’ll never be a saint" with a certain added gravitas. The band’s first UK appearance in five years is packed with such dark edges. A Sputnik-like craft on stage beams out messages like "terror" and "regret". Drawing heavily on 1990’s classic Violator and the recent album Playing The Angel, the set is surprisingly contemplative. Songs of degradation and dependency are paraded with a sinister, knowing undercurrent that suggests redemption from either is never entirely cut and dried.

Whatever forms his breakfast these days, Gahan is still a devil (literally, according to superfan Marilyn Manson) of a frontman, drawing gasps when he goes topless and sending female (and some male) hormones racing by simply touching his belt in a certain manner. The still flamboyant keyboardist-guitarist Martin Gore wears a pair of black angel’s wings which tremble appropriately during a wonderfully sacrilegious Personal Jesus. With a live drummer giving everything a bigger pulse, even the hits seem to glory in the black heart of their catalogue. Never Let Me Down Again is pounding and haunting; Enjoy The Silence simmers with evil. However, it is ironic wit not gravitas that fuels an encore of an early poppy anthem titled (ahem) Just Can’t Get Enough."

Dave Simpson
The Guardian, 3rd April, 2006

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

"Let’s get something clear from the off: we really don't think that music was meant to be heard in venues of this size. Even ignoring the ludicrous size of the place, the lack of any intimacy of any kind and the vastly inflated prices making band and promoter rich beyond belief, unless you are stood up near the front, you can’t see the fucking band which, unless we’re about to go back to dancing in a field (infinitely preferable), would appear to be the point of attending a gig. This is not helped by my being placed in the worst seat in the house on the top row at the side so all we can see is a curtain. We're so high up we're practically orbiting Saturn.

Not that this matter’s because The Bravery are on first and they’re crap. Pop punk rock with a keyboard (every alt band has one now- how very modernist). Singer Sam Endicott does entertain at one point by swinging his mic, failing to catch it and then affecting a fall to cover it up. All retro New Yorker’s who don’t at least attempt to sound like Suicide should probably contemplate it instead.

Who the hell would have ever thought that Depeche Mode would fill avenues this size never mind the countless Stadia that are their natural home these days? In later years who would have believed that Dave Gahan would even still be alive to recount these sometimes sexually subversive narratives? And, in a nutshell, that is the peculiar appeal of Depeche Mode. They are genuinely a little strange (S&M, drugs, death) and this is even more emphasised by playing to crowds of thousands of people. They come on to an (obviously) rapturous thundering applause. No two ways about it either, the sound is leviathan-like as they rip into ‘A Pain That I’m Used To’. Gahan comes across like a sleazy Toreador and Martin Gore looks like Cyber Elvis with spiky goth backpack and teddy boy wig. The sound is massive and at times (‘I Feel You’ especially) reaches such dubby levels of intensity to rival that of Techno Animal. It’s a crowd pleasing set - plenty of greatest hits as you might expect. ‘Personal Jesus’ is great and ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’ sounds far too dated to take seriously.

The intriguing thing about the sound and what prevents the Mode from sounding like every other stadium band are the industrial edges and Gore’s Eddyesque guitar. Whilst not exactly feminine, its hardly testosterone-addled either. Whilst they probably think they’re rocking out (and they are to a certain extent) it almost becomes a mutant, hermaphrodite-rock. The few times when Gore takes vocal duties are possibly the most interesting. ‘Damaged People’ and ‘Home’ (at which point he ditches the wig to introduce his Warholian mop) do achieve some kind of almost-surreal intimacy - band bathing in red and green Hitchcockian light whilst Gahan is off-stage (presumably having an apple). The latter does flop a bit at the end as Gore travels slightly too far over the camp line. ‘Shake the Disease’ is reeled out in the encores, a masterful tune perhaps spoilt by being for just voice and solo piano.

The main set closes with ‘Enjoy the Silence’ which is greeted like the second coming of Jesus (ie by one bloke with a dog on a string, sorry - joking) and neatly summarises the best and worst aspects of the night. It’s a monster - gorgeous synth washes, gargantuan sound but Gahan lets the crowd sing it. ALL OF IT. Which makes me want to machine gun the band and then machine gun the crowd. Also, his constant yells of "AWRIIGHT" have seriously begun to grate by this point.

The encores are fine - ‘Everything Counts’ and the aforementioned ‘… Enough’ and then your humble writer is gutted as he has to climb down from the rafters and miss ‘Never Let Me Down Again’ which is a personal favourite as well as being the first sign of things as they were about to come. Subjectively, I would have preferred less concession to the crowd and less of that mutual singing malarkey but only because Depeche Mode have pulled off a real coup to even reach this level of popularity and maybe they don’t even need to make concessions like those.

But all in all, an amazing spectacle and a gig with many moments of brilliance."

Jon Fletcher
Gigwise, 2nd April, 2006

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

Wembley Arena, London - April 2-3, 2006
Touring The Angel - USA dates

"I don't envy any support to Depeche Mode especially at a venue as unforgiving as Wembley Arena. It must be said that DM seem to take very little interest in their support acts over the years. Most have not been what you'd call well-chosen to complement DM's sound and most haven't even operated in the same musical field. Christ, even those that were electronic (like Electribe 101 who were famously canned off-stage at the same venue back in the 90s) can't be guaranteed a sympathetic hearing. So The Bravery, are well-named to take on such a daunting role. So how well did they fare? Well, tonight was The Bravery's last performance after three months supporting Depeche on tour. To be frank, their hit single An Honest Mistake was the only memorable part of their short (30 minute) slot. Still, they seem to have enjoyed themselves, not only praising the Basildon three as "Awesome guys!", they even went as far as thanking the catering crew.

Hanging around before the band came on stage, and surrounded by a group of very vocal but good-natured Germans, I noticed Anton Corbin stroll quietly past. He took up position on a small platform in the middle of the arena which was where all the live video mixing would happen. Mark Moore of S-Express fame was also seen wandering around, and the fan dressed in the 'king' costume (that singer Gahan wore in the Enjoy The Silence video) complete with golden crown deserves special mention as best fan.

The stage design looked typically Corbin, slightly cheesy. There was some sort of 70s spaceship thing going on with three huge silver donuts concealing (I trust) musical equipment. To the left of the stage, suspended from the ceiling was a matching silver spaceship - complete with flashing lights and video screens, and the words Sex, Pain, Angel, Love embossed on the hull. (This would later be used to transmit lyrics and messages to the audience, the embossed words lighting up to match the mood of individual songs.) The six large video screens that moved around behind the band throughout were a presentational masterstroke. Sure we've all seen video screens before but they way they moved around, changing shape, this combined with Anton Corbin's creative live video mixing was an unexpected highlight.

I realise I've said something similar before, but these guys were so relaxed and chilled out compared to previous tours. They were having a great time. Even when the word "PAIN" lit up in hellish red letters on the dome as they performed a mighty version of Walking In My Shoes - taken from their 1993 album Songs of Faith and Devotion - the band's darkest period and lowest ebb. The time when Alan Wilder left, Martin Gore couldn't put down the bottle, Andy Fletcher had a nervous breakdown and lead singer Dave Gahan famously OD'd on heroin and was arrested half naked on someone's front lawn in California. A period that Fletch describes as "Definitely the worst two years of our lives". Yet all the songs taken from that troubled (though still inspirational) album that were performed tonight managed to be as powerful as ever they were.

The previously evident angst or tension between the band members was gone entirely. Replaced instead with a joyous and infectious sense of happiness. This was reflected too in the audience. Whereas in the past you were just as likely to see fans crying as they sung along to Dave, who was often seen crying on stage, here everyone just seemed to be smiling and laughing throughout.

This mood was inevitably carried through the music and performance too. In years gone by, the band would almost slavishly seek to accurately recreate the sounds from the studio recordings. The results usually sounded like accurate and powerful copies of their album counterparts. Now, they are loose to the point of improvisation at times (like the never ending conclusion to Just Can't Get Enough in response to an enthusiastic audience who wouldn't stop singing along) and slight timing errors - something you'd never have heard previously - but it mattered not one jot. In fact, it added to the atmosphere and they have finally, truly matured as a live act. Even the drums were not too loud this time around - allowing the melodies to be clearly heard in balance with the backing track and live instrumentation along with Dave's vocals.

What I didn't expect but what strikes you about all the songs taken from the latest album Playing The Angel is just how well they all work live. This in contrast to the Exciter tour. Reading this you'd be forgiven for thinking these great synth pop survivors have gone all soft on us. But you'd be wrong. Very wrong. They've lost none of their edge. A thumping rendition of old favourite Everything Counts was, without a doubt, not only by far the heaviest version (this was virtually industrial at times) they've ever performed, but easily the best version I'd ever heard - live or recorded. Simply brilliant. We were also firmly reminded of just how sex-obsessed and raunchy this lot can be with what can only be described as (admittedly 'artistic') strip show visuals adding to a full-on I Feel You.

Suddenly, an hour and a half had passed us by and the band were waving themselves off stage. The first encore was a stripped back Somebody style performance of Shake The Disease with Martin's vocals and a backing piano being the only two elements. The second encore saw the inevitable, but nevertheless welcome, audience participation pleaser Never Let Me Down [sic]. This accompanied by images of golden corn waving in the wind explicitly signaling the sea of arm waving this song always induces. The very last song of the night utilised Wembley's new jetty stage and placed Dave and Martin literally back to back in among the audience in an a cappella rendition of Goodnight Lovers.

The mid-life crisis apparently over and done with, Depeche Mode remain one of the UK's greatest live acts and as such continue to be essential live viewing."

Rob Dyer
DSO, 3rd April, 2006

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.


SUFFER WELL - released March 20, 2006

No reviews currently available

John The Revelator/Lilian (double A-side) - released June 4, 2006


"Fuse Dave Gahan’s obvious cynicism about religion – and Christianity in particular – with a partial reinterpretation of Son House’s gospel classic, John The Revelator, and what do you get? Well, you just get Depeche Mode, really, doing the trademark brand of electronic rock that we’ve all come to expect from these electro stalwarts. There’s a few bips here and a smattering of plips there to fuel the digitised feel of everything and it scores fairly highly for Gahan’s vocal performance alone, but the tune is unlikely to win the Mode any more converts. AA-side Lilian is musically DM circa-1981 and lyrically somewhere around 1989, which makes for a curious mix that doesn’t really hit the spot."

Sarah Walters
Manchester Evening News, 2nd June, 2006

Reprinted WITHOUT PERMISSION for non-profit use only.

 MARTYR - released October 30, 2006


No reviews currently available

A Message From The Editor

Due to other commitments, maintenance of Depeche Mode Press File has ceased indefinitely.
Nevertheless, as this website spans almost thirty years of the band's existence there's plenty
here for DM fans to sink their teeth into.
(Have you visited the Depeche Mode Press File
Scan Archive ?)

And it is my hope the site will reward repeat visits.

DM - thanks for all the ace tunes! x

Enjoy the silence!