Experiencing Nostalgia & Innovation: Depeche Mode Lights Up Austin with Their Memento Mori Tour Review+Photos: Depeche Mode At Moody Center 9/29/23
AUSTIN, TX- The legendary British electronic band, Depeche Mode, embarked on their much-anticipated Memento Tour, taking fans on a sonic voyage filled with nostalgia and innovation, gracing the stage at Austin’s Moody Center on Friday, September 29.
The show was a remarkable journey of on-stage camaraderie and palpable connection between Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, a heartwarming testament to the enduring partnership that has been the heart of Depeche Mode’s four decades of success. The genuine affection and respect they have for each other are evident in their interactions on stage. Whether sharing a smile, an embrace, or a knowing glance, Gahan and Gore’s connection always adds an emotional depth to the performance. In the last two shows I’ve seen, Gore led a singing solo of “Soul With Me” with bare background instrumentation, to which Gahan always refers as “angelic” when he returns to the stage.
“Memento Mori” translates from Latin as “remember you must die.” From their early days, Depeche Mode has been known for exploring themes of introspection, desire, and existentialism, often set against a backdrop of brooding synthscapes. “Memento Mori” sees the band returning to these darker, more contemplative roots, but in a calmer, wiser, and possibly hopeful sense. The album is a profound exploration of loss, the relentless passage of time, and impending mortality, all themes central to Depeche Mode’s lyrical repertoire. It was quite the treat to witness live some of the songs I hadn’t had the chance to dive into until that moment.
The tour, supporting the band’s fifteenth studio album, offered more than new material: it was an immersive journey through their extensive discography, spanning classic hits and tracks from their latest releases. Opening with the haunting strains of “My Cosmos Is Mine,” the band immediately set the tone for an evening of atmospheric intensity. Hits like “I Feel You,” “Enjoy the Silence,” and “Policy of Truth” elicited thunderous applause, with the crowd singing in unison, blending seamlessly with Gahan’s powerful vocals.
The concert’s visual elements were as striking as the music itself. The stage design featured a minimal yet mesmerizing arrangement, with a backdrop of pulsating lights and projections that danced in synchronicity with the music, elevating the narrative. The interplay of light and shadow added an extra dimension to the show, where the frontman’s magnetic stage presence was undoubtedly the focal point, effortlessly drawing the audience into his movements. Gahan’s vocals still possess the same sexy, raw, emotive power of his younger self.
The band’s interaction with the audience was another highlight of the night. Gahan’s banter between songs was both humorous and heartfelt, creating a sense of intimacy that’s hard to achieve in a large venue. It’s evident that Depeche Mode cherishes the bond they’ve formed with their audience over the years, a sentiment reciprocated by fans from different generations and walks of life who came together to celebrate the band’s music and enduring relevance as musicians and cultural touchstones.
The over-three-hour set concluded with an encore of timeless anthems “Never Let Me Down Again” and “Personal Jesus.” When the iconic guitar riff kicked in, a wave of enthusiasm swept the standing crowd, joining in a sing-along until the lights went down. The creative forces of Gahan’s commanding presence and energy, perfectly complemented by Gore’s enigmatic demeanor and intricate guitar work, were a dance of dualities, perfectly counterbalancing each other and, to some extent, the audience’s intensity.