Depeche Mode has a new album, Memento Mori, which is also the name of the present tour. It visited Climate Pledge Arena last night. How did it go? The veteran British band cold knew that the audience was there to hear the old stuff, the music made between 1990 and 1981. They got the balance right. A good number of the tunes were what the fans wanted (and, for many, paid serious money) to hear; and an equally good number were the songs they wanted the audience to hear. But here is the thing. The new music wasn't bad or intolerable. It was, according to my ears, pretty consistent in mood with the tunes that made Depeche Mode world-famous.

And this brings up the point of the band's status in American popular culture. They played in, and certainly packed, a mid-scale area. There is a good reason for this. Though reaching the top of the British charts for much of the 1980s, they only really made it big in America in 1990 with Violator. At that moment, Depeche Mode became a very bright star—but it did not go supernova, like U2. And as it should be: That's the price they had to pay for making music that was just too dark for America. U2 can fill Lumen Field because they never sang something as problematic as: "There are times / when my crimes / may seem unforgivable" ("Strange Love").

David Gahan and Martin Gore were, of course, the core of the Memento Mori show. Gahan swirled about the stage and catwalk like a liberated dandy; Gore sang a couple of songs with that sensitivity one finds in the band's lonely and deeply troubled moments. The lights were bright and active; a huge screen showed short films or the band in action; the audience loved it all. Indeed, one of Gahan's final words to the arena, after showing he knew which city he was in ("I want to hear you Seattle!"—or something like that), and the city roared in appreciation, he said: "You are much better than Vancouver." Damn. 

What did Vancouver do? Their show happened two days before ours, on November 24—we were stuffed with turkey; Canadians were not. Did our thankless sister city not express the love that Depeche Mode rightly deserves? Gahan left it that. Seattle good; Vancouver not so good. My speculative mind went into high gear. How? Why? For real? What have you to say for yourself, Vancouver? We represented. You?

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