Depeche Mode

101: Live

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As an event, Depeche Mode's huge (attendance around 60,000) Los Angeles Rose Bowl concert in 1988 remains legendary; no single artist show had totally sold out the venue since eight years beforehand, while the film documentary done by Dylan-filmer D.A. Pennebaker based around the show clearly demonstrated fans' intense commitment to a near-decade-old band most mainstream critics continued to stupidly portray as a flash-in-the-pan synth pop effort. This start-to-final-encore record of the concert showcases a band perfectly able to carry its music from studio to stage as well as any other combo worth its salt should be able to do. Understandably focused on Music for the Masses material, the album shows Depeche experimenting with alternate arrangements at various points for live performance; big numbers like "Never Let Me Down Again," "Stripped," and "Blasphemous Rumors" pack even more of a wallop here. Slower numbers and more than a couple of ballads help to vary the hit-packed set, including a fine "Somebody" and "The Things You Said" combination sung by Martin Gore. "Pleasure Little Treasure," on record an okay B-side, becomes a monster rocker live, the type of unexpected surprise one could expect from a solid band no matter what the music. With a triumphant set of closing numbers, including magnificent takes on "Never Let Me Down Again," "Master and Servant," and the set-ending "Everything Counts," with what sounds like the entire audience singing the chorus well after the song has finally ended, 101 does far better at its task than most might have guessed.

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