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When legendary synthpop band Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher participated in a live Q&A this week at the Austin musicfest South By Southwest, Gahan wryly referred to himself as an "overpaid stripper." Two days later, Depeche played their first-ever SXSW show (and first proper gig since 2010), and Gahan--arguably one of the finest frontmen of all time, and one who was fittingly declared a "sex god" by a fan at that Q&A session--busted out some very slinky, very sexy, almost pole-worthy dance moves. And let's just say the man definitely earned his paycheck.
The intimate club gig, presented by Yahoo! at Brazos Hall and attended by the likes of Usher and celebrity manager Scooter Braun, was a major black celebration for fans who'd won coveted tickets via a SXSW lottery drawing. And all fans' eyes were riveted to Depeche's iconic, ageless singer from the moment he hit the stage rocking a slick matinee-idol hairdo, natty cigarette-leg slacks, and a bicep-flaunting vest. Gahan's slightest move--a tiny shift of one sinewy hip, a beckoning gesture, a rakish tilt of his pompadoured head--elicited delighted squeals so shrill that dogs all the way over in San Antonio probably heard them, and the audience reaction was even more intense when he broke out his less subtle moves, which was actually most of the time.
Seemingly simultaneously channeling Jim Morrison, James Brown, and Joel Grey, Gahan pulled out all the superstar stops and played the club like it was an arena: He spun in circles clicking his heels together like a Mexican hat-dancer, hoisted his microphone stand over his head like it was a set of barbells, and, most memorably, writhed and slinked and wiggled his Elvisian hips like a stripper with a G-string stuffed full of hundred-dollar bills. The 50-year-old rock star proved he's still got it, and still knows how to flaunt it, after all these years.
Incredibly, Depeche Mode have actually been around for THIRTY-THREE years, to be exact, and they're about to release their 13th studio album, Delta Machine. The band's SXSW set included the live debut of a whopping five new songs from that album--lead single "Heaven," "Angel," "Should Be Higher," "Soft Touch," and "Soothe My Soul"--all of which segued fluidly into the setlist's classic tracks. But of course, it was those vintage circa-'90s Mode cuts, like "Barrel Of A Gun," "Walking In My Shoes," "Personal Jesus" (which seemed especially appropriate for Texas with its twangy, spaghetti-western guitar riff), "Only When I Lose Myself" (performed for the first time since 1998, and featuring lovely lead vocals by Gore), and the show-closing audience singalong "Enjoy The Silence" that went over best with the crowd. Interestingly, the band played no early-'80s songs (1989's "Personal Jesus" was as far back as they went), but no one in the audience seemed to mind in the least.
Unfortunately, there was no encore, despite fans' desperate and incessant cheers for more Mode. But festivalgoers who just can't get enough of Depeche Mode and want to see the show again--not to mention anyone who didn't make it to SXSW this year--will have that chance on March 26 (the same day that Delta Machine comes out), when the footage becomes available right here on Yahoo! Music.
Depeche Mode's full SXSW setlist was:
"Should Be Higher"
"Walking In My Shoes"
"Barrel Of A Gun"
"Only When I Lose Myself"
"Soothe My Soul"
"Enjoy The Silence"