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DEPECHE MODE - Touring The Angel DVD   Print  E-mail 
Written by Mark Reed  
Monday, 02 October 2006
...Another hyperzoom! In black and white! Then Colour! Shake the camera! Yeah! Fucking Rocking! ...



Another Depeche Mode tour, another DVD. Whilst the Mode ride the crest of popularity and retrocool with a return-to-form album, a upcoming best of, another imminent Hits DVD and a documentary, alongside a set of obligatory (but scant and underwhelming) reissues, what better to release this month that a triple disc live DVD? Dare I say the words 'Pension Fund'?


Touring The Angel” then is a no frills live film of the band performing in Milan earlier this year : 2 hours of generally dark and moody stadium electro pop about Jesus and knees and redemption and pain and suffering and stuff like that. The performance is strong and weighty – in concert at least, the band often flesh out their occasionally slight studio recordings with a full and vibrant sound that fills the room. Singer Dave Gahan stalks the stage like a cross between Elvis and The Devil desperately seeking some form of forgiveness for an unspecified crime, whilst Martin Gore (songwriter, creative lynchpin, dresswearing weirdo with big blond hair) bobs and weaves around the songs he wrote with all manner of attack : strange guitars, cherubic vocals and keybaords. Fletch, the bands keyboardist, doesn’t seem to do much. Additional musicians Christian Eigner (on drums) and Peter Gordeno on all manner of squelchy things fill out the sound with a gravitas and power that outstrips the records.


Whilst there’s no faulting the performance, “Touring The Angel” is, visually at least, a mess. In the hyperaccelerated goldfish culture, director Blue Leach leaps between 8 frame shots of hands (in or out of focus, who cares), a set of hyperzooms of random images, cuts between filmstocks, and colour/black and white, slow motion, super fast motion, endlessly looped video screens, and well anything else you can think of. To be blunt, the editing detracts from the performance : the viewer is too busy trying to work out whats going on most of the time to enjoy whats going on, and feel the music. And here's another hyperzoom! In black and white! Shake the camera! Yeah! Fucking Rocking!


The second disc is, as ever a tad short on extras, but the documentary portion - whilst only 20 minutes - does an excellent job of expressing the tedium of the road and the bands fatalistic air that this may be their last ever tour with a poignant and understated air. The other extras are a tad skimpy : the "screen films" section seems chosen at random (neglecting some of the specially commissioned short films in favour of 'live' footage seen on the first disc), whilst the total running time on disc 2, at just 63 minutes, seems somewhat frugal : 5 acoustic songs recorded at the album sessions remain frustratingly unavailable commercially, as well as numerous audio remixes and extra material that would've made the disc a far better proposition. Same with the accompanying 9 song audio CD, which only features material from the bands latest studio album, leaving 44 minutes of empty space on the disc - surely an opportunity to use this for material not on any other live release? Nah. Open Goal there!


Whilst there's no doubting the quality of what is here, what is unavoidable are the flaws of the package : a underpopulated extras disc, and a frustratingly short audio CD as well. Taken as a whole though, this 3 disc set is keenly priced and well worth adding to the collection of any fan of the band's work.



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