Pitch correspondent Andrew Miller was in attendance at the Depeche Mode concert last night, which, as you've probably already heard from an irate coworker, ended prematurely and with guitarist Martin Gore singing the closing songs in Dave Gahan's sudden absence. Here's his report:
The first three songs, "A Pain That I'm Used To," "A Question of Time" and "Suffer Well," sounded great. The stage set-up included a giant disembodied robot head suspended from the ceiling which flashed soon-to-be-apt words such as "droop" and "malaise" across its LCD mouth. Martin Gore wore a strange black-winged outfit, and while he was going for "dark angel," he looked more "tarred and feathered." This, too, was prophetic.
During song five, "Walking In My Shoes," Dave Gahan seemed bereft of energy. He kept holding the mic out to the crowd, seemingly more in dire need of support than in search of an interactive connection. The next song, "Stripped," had to be restarted midway through the first verse when Dave missed his cue. For the next song, "Home," Dave disappeared. This caused no stir, because that's a valid Martin-sung hit. However, when Martin sang the next slow-paced song as well ("It Doesn't Matter, Two", after an aborted false start for "In Your Room"), people started getting suspicious. The sound engineer came out and said "We've lost our man in the middle." (Dave) Scattered boos and heckles greeted this announcement.
After another song ("Leave in Silence," which the group hasn't played in years according to fan message boards), Fletch announced "Dave is not well, but he's fine," which was confusing but probably communicated that his ailment, while performance-prohibitive, was not fatal. Martin stuck around for "Question of Lust," "Someday" (mass exodus begins) and "Damaged People," all of which are down-tempo.
On the one hand, it was unquestionably a unique set. On the other, this crowd came to dance and listen to hits, and, for the most part, it was able to do neither. Some fans clearly enjoyed the opportunity to see Martin sing rarities, and applauded his courage. When it became clear he'd have to carry the concert, he asked the crowd: "Do you ever have nightmares?" Others wished they'd just stopped at the first sign of Dave's illness, as it's more likely to get a refund from a 6-song set than a 13-song show.
A local blogger was also in attendance and has an interesting theory about what happened to Dave. (I tried to scan the Depeche Mode official fan forum for answers, but the thing won't load on my machine.) I hope the poor fellow isn't permanently injured — and I hope Dave Gahan's OK, too.