A Sharp Electric Sound for a Diverse, Loyal Audience

Depeche Mode returns to Israel to renew its love affair with local fans, who include young families, young girls, Hasidim and some Russian speakers.

Moshe Kutner
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Moshe Kutner

Depeche Mode’s concert in Tel Aviv

Many Israelis born in the 1970s or later adore Depeche Mode in rather the same way that gays love the Eurovision Song Contest, and its concerts in Israel seem to have become a kind of national ceremony. The thousands of fans that showed up at Tel Aviv’s Ganei Hata’arucha were as diverse as could be: young families with children, young girls clad in black, Hasidim with side locks, faces strewn with sequins and many Russian-speakers.

Depeche Mode is so synchronized with the Israeli experience that the band's visits are never too far away from some military operation or war. Their first planned concert, in 2006, was called off due to the outbreak of the Second Lebanon War, and the one that did take place, in 2009, was a kind of make-up. Last night’s show, which kicked off the band’s world tour, came just days after the Israeli attack in Syria.

Devoted fans were worried about the playlist, since many were disappointed by the lack of familiar hits in the 2009 show. But the recent playlist from a show in Nice left them optimistic. Depeche Mode members are promoting their 13th disc, “Delta Machine,” which slightly refreshed the group’s musical formula, adding an updated electronic sound.

The German band Booka Shade, with its rousing electro music, warmed up the crowd. But the crowd really woke up only when Depeche Mode came onstage. At that moment, the giant screens showed a purple globe and the words “Welcome to my world,” one of the band’s most popular songs, sailed out over the audience. Seeing the crowd at that moment, one got the impression that if an alien came to a show like this one, he would conclude that human beings were accessories that mobile devices took with them to concerts and used to hold them up so they could get a good view.

The band played quite a few songs from its new album — songs that were characterized by a sharp, crunchy electronic sound. The soloist, Dave Gahan, galloped over the stage and undulated like a belly dancer, while Martin Gore played the guitar, looking like he was in meditation at a Goth club. One of the only songs from the new album that really got the crowd enthusiastic was “Soothe My Soul,” where Dahan sang some anguished blues. The new song recreates the feeling of one of the band’s big hits, “Enjoy the Silence.” As he performed the song, Gahan worked the crowd in such a way, this one time, that they resembled a kind of noisy, drunk summer camp.

And when it was finally time to play “Enjoy the Silence,” he provided a live demonstration of the love story between Depeche Mode and the local audience. His flirting with the crowd, combined with a religious atmosphere, had the audience jumping up and down in ecstasy.

Depeche Mode playing in Tel Aviv on Tuesday night.Credit: Nir Keidar