The necessary flamboyant stage set, a bastion of the mega-show, erected for the benefit of those at the very back desperate to find something for their squinting eyes to focus on, is deservedly ostentatious. Reminiscent of the Industrial Zone on The Crystal Maze, infused with the kind of camp spirit that sniffed around the Blue Oyster gay bar in the Police Academy movies, its the perfect playground for the electropop umpires to play ball.
A foreboding metal boulder hangs from the ceiling on one side of the stage, bearing the logos Sex, Pain and Anger. Projections of the bands performance are processed through faux-CCTV camerawork, whilst if it werent for his cheeky smile reminding you that its just showbiz, baby, lead singer Dave Ghans tight leather smocks might have you mistake him for a lost, sodomised prisoner from a homoerotic detention centre.
This well-oiled squalor is the physical manifestation of the aural horror that underscores current album Playing The Angel, and as they open with A Pain That Im Used To, the image and sound synthesise to bring the bands latest incarnation to life.
Despite the role in defining the 1980s with their dark-edge electro pop, Depeche Mode have succeeded where other bands such as Duran Duran have failed, by successfully evolving with the times, meaning an empty sense of a nostalgia tour is avoided and people really are keen to hear the new material. So it is that recent songs John The Revelator and Suffer Well go down as pleasingly as classics A Question Of Time and Behind The Wheel.
Sadly this evolution seems to have doubled as a license to remove some of the particularly stylised 80s edge. While its never going to be possible to completely rid Just Cant Get Enough of the eras charm, as it pounds through Wembleys speakers, it seems ridiculous that the band should try and make this inherently light-hearted pop song taken on a more sinister sounding undercurrent.
Still, Enjoy The Silence, Personal Jesus and Everything Counts soar effortlessly across the crowd, whilst Martin Gores solo spectacle of Shake The Disease is a genuinely serene moment in amongst the chaos of so many people head-bobbing to catch a view.
Depeche Mode in 2006 seem as confident as they were in 1986. The fact so many people still pay to see them stands testament to this. They may no longer be defining an era as they did in 101, but nevertheless Depeche Mode are still a lot of fun.
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