Dancing with the shadows and lights of Depeche Mode

The sun made its way out of the Fòrum in the middle of the afternoon on Friday at Primavera Sound, darkening the day while waiting for Depeche Mode, the stars of the day.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 June 2023 Saturday 04:21
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Dancing with the shadows and lights of Depeche Mode

The sun made its way out of the Fòrum in the middle of the afternoon on Friday at Primavera Sound, darkening the day while waiting for Depeche Mode, the stars of the day. Previously there was room for all sounds, from the hardcore of Balas and Bad Religion to the rap of Baby Keen or Kendrick Lamar, without forgetting the flamenco of Israel Fernández and Diego de Morao or the very personal folk of the English Beth Orton.

After nine at night it was time for Depeche Mode, converted into a duo after the death of Andy Fletcher in 2022. After his death they published Memento mori, the band's latest work illustrated by a pair of angelic wings, some for Martin Gore and others for Dave Gahan, who jumped onto the Santander stage wrapped in the sepulchral atmosphere of My cosmos is mine, a practically recited theme that silenced the thousands of people attracted by Gahan's baritone voice.

"Everything seems hollow when you see another angel die" they sing on Wagging tongue, the second song of the night and from the new album, an extension of the veil of darkness with which Dave Gahan wraps himself, maintaining the ways of a rock star in his sixties, edging around the stage in his shiny waistcoat, putting the audience in his pocket with the help of a spectacular visual device that made the most of the screens, including a central one dominated by a huge M. At his side, more discreet, Martin Gore he clings to the guitar while Walking in my shoes resounds to give way to one of the first hits of the night, the passionate It's no good, from Ultra in 1997. And passion also gives off In your room, which multiplies the darkness of the night before the technopop sound of Everything counts, received with joy by an audience wanting to celebrate any song, as they did with the syncopation of Precious and especially in Home, performed by Martin Gore.

Ghosts again, the most recognizable song from Memento mori and perhaps the most joyful, raised the spirits of an audience that was excited by the hesitant guitar playing of I feel you, which launched the concert to another level, sustained by the aggressive siren of A pain that I'm used to.

Word in my eyes rang with a special dedication to Andrew Fletcher, the man who seemed not to be there, while preserving the heart of the band in its worst moments, when Gahan lost himself in heroin while Gore succumbed to alcohol, causing rebound the march of keyboardist Alan Wilder. It was followed by an eminently eighties Stripped with marked percussion, a rhythm that accelerated with John the Revelator before saying goodbye to the public with Enjoy the silence, chanted with enthusiasm by an energetic audience.

The encores went in for the kill, invincible with Just can't get enough and Never let me down again, very appropriate for a party night, while easily becoming a memory of the late Andy Fletcher (“I'm taking a ride with my best friend, I hope he never lets me down again"). One last goodbye before the mythical, addictive and obligatory Personal Jesus, which closed the concert with cheers, but not the night, darker and happier after Depeche Mode's time there but still long.

Many hours earlier, at six in the evening, while Japanese Breakfast was playing on the Santander stage, a few hundred people had gathered by the sea at Aperol's small lectern to listen to Maddy Maia and Tottie, b2b. Some more congregated in the Cupra attending to The Delgados, a Scottish formation led by Emma Pollock, who took her name from the renowned Segovian cyclist, and who reeled off their elegant indie music accompanied by a string and transverse flute trio.

A very different sound could be heard on the Dice stage, which was filled to listen to the “math rock” of Shellac, an American power trio with a lot of distortion and little haste. “Anyone from Chicago?” asks the singer, and four or five hands from the audience go up to announce that literally the whole world gathers at Primavera.

Shortly after it was the turn of the Sparks, the brothers Ron and Russell Mael, supported by a band of two guitars, bass and drums. With 74 years well turned, Russell did not cut himself jumping on stage while starting with So may we start, in a concert where songs from his new album were played, such as the song that gives it its title, The girl is crying in the latte performed with a powerful bass drum that served as the basis for the striking keyboard of a hieratic Ron Mael, sharp mustache and gaze into infinity. The Californian duo did not forget to interpret classics such as We go dancing, Number one song in heaven or This town, to the delight of an audience that thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

That night, Kendrick Lamar took over from Depeche Mode on the Estrella Damm stage, with his rap loaded with a message that has made him the king of the genre, a throne to which his cousin Baby Keem aspires, who performed at 8:00 p.m. the same space. And at the same time, in the Cupra, another band pregnant with intentions (good or bad, depending on how you look at it) like Bad Religion unleashed their hardcore, with a Greg Graffin who, at 58, remains in top shape, like the public who that hour filled the Parc del Fòrum to those who were still waiting for Christine's performances