Depeche Mode 101
And at the center of the synthpop storm, none other than Depeche Mode. Along with similar-sounding groups like Erasure, Yaz, OMD, and New Order, Depeche Mode set the standard for euro-based synthpop music in the 80s.
And 101 was their crowning achievement.
The documentary film (and accompanying 2-disc CD) centered on the group’s June 1988 performance at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, the last stop on the 101-leg (hence the title) Music for the Masses tour. Half concert video, half home-movie, 101 wasn’t as deep and profound as Rattle and Hum, and it wasn’t mondo-bizarre as Stop Making Sense, but for Depche Mode fans, there was nothing better.
For the first time, we got a true, behind-the-scenes look at Dave, Alan, Martin, and Andrew– in the dressing rooms (playing pinball while Roxy Music’s “Love is the Drug” plays in the background), in rehearsals (Alan takes us through the synth licks for “Black Celebration”), and backstage between sets (Dave’s voice is shot, and they’re all sweating like a sinners in church). Throughout the first 90 minutes, we get sporadic performances, but the last half-hour is pure non-stop concert goodness, including “Just Can’t Get Enough”, “Strangelove”, and “Everything Counts”…
As for the ‘other half’ of the movie, well… that’s where we find the half-dozen 20-something DM fans who were picked out of a NYC club at random and given the trip of a lifetime. They all pile on a Greyhound and drive cross-country, following the band as the tour winds down. Along the way, they stop in Texas for beer, bleach-blond their hair, and debate the merits of fashion design. No, it wasn’t Oscar-winning stuff, but it was somehow strangely captivating.
And heck, even when it got really inane, there was always a Depeche Mode clip on its way shortly– not the least of which was the epic “Never Let Me Down Again”, as Dave got 60,000 people waving their hands in the air, waving like they just don’t care.
We ♥ Depeche Mode 101.