Wednesday, 29th March 2017. 8:37:49pm ET
Reviews DVD Reviews Synthpop, New Wave Depeche Mode- Devotional
Movie: Depeche Mode- Devotional
Company:  Reprise Records
Format: DVD
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 2/7/05

Devotional, Depeche Mode's 1993 Anton Corbijn directed concert film, has finally made its way onto DVD along with a plethora of extras spread out across two discs. Capturing the band during the European Devotional Tour, the film is a 16-song tour de force drawn almost exclusively from Songs of Faith and Devotion and its three predecessors (Violator, Music for the Masses, and Black Celebration). In fact, the closing "Everything Counts" is the only pre-Black Celebration track here. Of course, that just means that the concert is an assortment of standout material from what most fans consider Depeche Mode's four strongest albums, making for a remarkable setlist.

Often regarded as one of the band's best eras, Songs of Faith and Devotion and its surrounding tours found the band pushing the boundary between their synthpop past and moody epic electro-rock. Frontman Dave Gahan, sporting long hair, facial hair, and plenty of tattoos, is in top form here despite tension within the band and later admissions of escalating drug problems. In fact, he smiles through most of the DVD and seems exuberant to have made the transition from clean-shaven 80s synthpop icon to full-fledged 90s alternative star, perhaps happy with the band's more intense sonic direction. Granted, the occasional ass shaking and crotch grabbing may contradict his new rock persona, but he's certainly in good form with plenty of stage presence. Martin Gore is his usual flamboyant self, sporting a tacky shiny silver outfit as he switches between synth and guitar. Alan Wilder, who left the band after the tour, proves once again to be the group's anchor, handling synths and live drums. If all else fails, watching Andy Fletcher play two little synth drum notes and then stand and clap for a few minutes is an almost endless source of amusement.

The music here is played for its full intensity. Most songs easily blow away their album counterparts. The sound quality is spectacular. Granted, it's fairly obvious that the band makes pretty heavy use of backing tracks and samplers, but everything is well performed and sounds amazing. The older songs are given rollicking, rhythmic renditions (sometimes drawn from remixes rather than the originals) that breathe new life into them. The material from Songs of Faith and Devotion arguably sounds even more powerful and epic than on the album, especially the slightly slower, tuned down version of "I Feel You" with spectacular live drums. Note that "In Your Room" is thankfully the amazing album version rather than the mellower "Zephyr Mix" used on the promotional video and performed during later tours. The only low point comes in the form of "Condemnation" and "Judas", providing a bit of a lull with gospel overtones. If you're a fan that tended to skip those tracks on the proper album, you'll likely be reaching for the dvd controller here, too. Overall, though, the setlist is almost flawless, and the DVD contains some of the best live incarnations you're likely to hear.

If the show isn't enough for you, there are plenty of extras. Tacked onto the first disc are two Violator-era tracks omitted from the original VHS release. Both are excellent performances and spectacular additions to the DVD. Disc two is made up entirely of bonus materials. First up are Corbijn's background projections for 8 of the concert's songs. Then you'll find all 6 music videos from Songs of Faith and Devotion. An MTV "Rockumentary", an Anton Corbijn monologue, and virtual programs from both the '93 and '94 tours round out the set. Overall, the second disc is more of a fascinating collection for completists, though, with the meat of the DVD set being the first disc.

Devotional is certainly a "must have" for Depeche Mode fans. Even casual fans will find this to be an excellent representation of the band's best material with performances that outshine their album counterparts. Arguably one of the high points in the career of one of synthpop's most prominent and enduring groups, Devotional should make a welcome addition to any music lover's DVD collection.

Setlist:

1. Higher Love
2. World In My Eyes
3. Walking In My Shoes
4. Behind The Wheel
5. Stripped
6. Condemnation
7. Judas
8. Mercy In You
9. I Feel You
10. Never Let Me Down Again
11. Rush
12. In Your Room
13. Personal Jesus
14. Enjoy The Silence
15. Fly On The Windscreen
16. Everything Counts
Bonus tracks:
1. Halo
2. Policy of Truth


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