Depeche Mode

Devotional

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Five years after 101, Depeche once again decided to make a concert film from the Songs of Faith and Devotion European tour in 1993, this time with their favored video director Anton Corbijn. The choice was a smart one, given not only Corbijn's long experience with the group but his regular work in designing the band's stage presentation. The end result trumps the curious Songs of Faith and Devotion Live album by a mile, presenting the show in a more accurate reflection of the set list for that tour while not limiting itself simply to songs from that album. Unlike 101, there's no framing device of fans in Devotional -- it's simply a recording of a concert, no narration or breaks. It's more of a piece than 101, given the clear contrast in D.A. Pennebaker's cinéma vérité style and Corbijn's generally more deliberate approach. Soft focus is the rule, lending a weird, dreamy quality to the visuals, while the intertwining of Corbijn's own concert films and the moody overall lighting works wonders. The biggest change in the band itself came courtesy of David Gahan, fully in his long-haired and tattooed rock star mode. The knowledge that he was just beginning a lengthy downward spiral into drug abuse inevitably makes his performance a tainted one in retrospect, but to his credit he still puts on a fiery show, his usual crowd-pleasing, mic-stand twirling self. The rest of the band keeps to their usual level of commitment -- Alan Wilder and Martin Gore fully into things, Andy Fletcher mostly standing there and keeping the mood going. Standouts include the opening "Higher Love," wonderfully introducing the band behind light projections and screens while slow dissolves match the song's building drama, and triumphant takes on "Never Let Me Down Again" (complete with the arm waving as in 101) and "Enjoy the Silence." Technical note -- for unknown reasons, the European release contains an extra 18 minutes of footage, including performances of "Mercy in You," "Fly on the Windscreen," and "Everything Counts."

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