My Own Personal Jesus

DepecheModeDeltaMy own personal Jesus!

I feel you, and I don’t know how many more songs of faith and devotion I can endure!

I know this is the higher love I’ve been seeking, but if there is mercy in you, HAVE MERCY ON ME!!!

The current evidence that there is a deity out there looking out solely for my interests and not those of yourself and your favorite sports team?

Let submit the following — with pleasure.

Yesterday was a fantasy-rrific day for me because, as you may recall from the previous blog post, Suede allowed NPR to stream their new album, “Bloodsports.” I listened to it throughout the day, and it only got BETTER. I couldn’t have asked for a greater gift from them.

But that was just the beginning of what my God had in store for me.

Shortly after I awoke Monday morning, I found that Depeche Mode had posted dates for their North American tour. Within minutes, a friend of mine who is just as much of a Devotee as I am, were on the phone discussing which show (shows?) we would hit. Exciting times.

But wait. Wait! That’s still not it!

On Monday night, Depeche Mode played a set on the “Live on Letterman” web series, performing classic hits like “Personal Jesus” and “Walking in My Shoes,” but also debuting a handful of new tunes.

Unfortunately, the performance was being streamed live during a Yankton City Commission meeting.

I explained the situation to my boss, asking if I should perhaps take a laptop to the meeting so I could watch the best band in the whole world — yes, Depeche Mode — play.

He suggested I just watch it later.

I compromised.

Instead of a laptop, I tried to stream the web cast on my phone. I only got through a few minutes before my phone froze up, and I decided to focus my full attention on a water treatment system report instead.

Let’s just say the excitement level going on in my head dropped a few notches.

On the positive side, I was able to catch Depeche Mode’s performance of new single “Heaven” as it was aired on “The Late Show with David Letterman.”

And then the race was on to find audio of the new songs the band performed from “Delta Machine.” Stream audio and video of the whole setlist for yourself here.

I’ve taken all the new songs in a couple times now and can report THEY ARE GOOD!

It makes me very happy to be able to say that.

“Should Be Higher” is the current favorite.

So I bet you think that’s it. What more musical stars could this alleged Nathan-pleasing God align in one day?

Well, you don’t know this God. She goes the extra mile for her favorite son.

Before the day was through, I was alerted to news that a third band from my five favorite bands of all time would be playing the Osheaga Festival in Montreal — The Cure! Because that festival is the same weekend as Lollapalooza in Chicago, rumors have ramped up that The Cure will play there, too.

Could a trip to Lollapalooza be in my future, oh great God? Only time will tell.

So let’s recap: Suede puts out its first new album since 2002 and it is fantastic; Depeche Mode announces North American dates and plays its first new material in four years on “Letterman”; AND The Cure may be heading to Chicago.

That’s some nice work.

And it’s why as a complete skeptic I still can’t help but wonder if there was a deity out there who decided to ignore all the pain and suffering in the world for a day just so she could align some musical stars for me. That would be a very evil thing to do on her part, but it made me so very happy.

OK, enough phony theology for today. Here is a description of the “Live on Letterman” set so you can get a feel of just how good it was:

Shortly before taking the stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, Depeche Mode announced the North American dates for their Delta Machine Tour. The album itself was still two weeks away, but anticipation for the tour and new material had grown quickly online as fans searched to see if the new wave legends would visit their city. Depeche Mode had made it no secret that they planned to debut new material during their Live on Letterman webcast. This wouldn’t just be fans’ first chance to hear the new tracks live—it would be their first chance to hear many of the songs at all. Needless to say, the stakes for the show were growing higher and higher as the hours counted down to Dave Gahan, Martin Gore, and Andy Fletcher stepping onto the legendary stage. Backstage, Depeche Mode planned to play new material for more than half the show. Of course they would bring the hits, but the majority of their show would be songs that the audience was not familiar with. It was a gamble that only a band of their stature could take, and it was a gamble to that would pay off grandly. The opening beats of “Angel” pounded out and the crowd arose. By the moment Gahan let his signature wails lose on the first hook, they crowd was synched. It may have been new material, and the album may not have been out yet, but this was classic Depeche Mode.

A familiar, fuzzed out synth buzzed through the theater as a swinging beat rocked around the room. Gahan belted out “Should Be Higher,” like there was nowhere else to go. It was their second song off the forthcoming Delta Machine, but with such a trademark and distinct sound, Depeche Mode’s mew material managed to be immediately familiar, while also completely fresh.

Up next, all it took was two simple drumstick clicks for the crowd to recognize “Walking in My Shoes.” Hearing it today, you’d never believe the song is 20 years old, which is a true testament to not only the longevity of Depeche Mode, but also the influence they’ve welded throughout their career on younger bands.

From Songs of Faith and Devotion, Gahan steered the band ahead a few years to Ultra, with “Barrel of a Gun,” before crooning their current single “Heaven,” with such passion and conviction that the crowd stood stunned.

Everyone knew “Personal Jesus” was coming eventually, but as soon as Martin plucked the legendary licks, the crowd erupted like it was a complete surprise. Needless to say, the late 80’s anthem brought the house down in a way few songs or bands can.

At this point in their career, it’s probably fair to say that Depeche Mode can measure a new track by its ability to follow “Personal Jesus.” If a new song can hold it’s own after what is arguably one of the biggest hits of a decade, it’s a keeper. “Soft Touch/Raw Nerve,” and “Soothe My Soul” both did just that, taking the energy to even greater heights, building to “Enjoy the Silence.”

When a band of this caliber plays a song with such deep emotional roots for an audience, it may sound hackney to say it, but words are, in fact, very unnecessary. There’s no describing it. Listen to it yourself.

Through out the night, Depeche Mode continued to deliver. Their classics sounded more relevant than ever, and their new material carved out respectable sonic space among the classics. With the release of Delta Machine on the near horizon and the tour to follow, Depeche Mode is looking as good as ever.

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