Dave Gahan was about a third of the way through a mammoth Paper Monsters tour when this gig was recorded in Paris in the height of summer 2003 - four days before the first of two London dates. Definitely one of the gigs of the year, this DVD is virtually the same set list and if you weren't there, it's not a bad way to check out what you missed. If you were it's a very welcome reminder of a magic night.
OK, so no DVD is ever going to get the real atmosphere - or indeed the noise levels - of the real thing. This tour was admirably simple in that the only props were Gahan's mic stand - which he dances with and around at every opportunity - the man himself (with his impressive tattoos) and a bit of lighting. Oh, and the audience of course - in Paris just as in London, they're word perfect in all the songs and love it when he gives them a starring role in some of the songs.
But the lack of gimmicks does mean there's nothing for the camera to concentrate on other than the musicians, so if you didn't see the show live it might seem a bit pedestrian from a visual point of view. For example the marvelously sinister opening number - Hidden Houses - emerges out of near blackness. This was stunningly effective on stage but not surprisingly, doesn't look so great on DVD.
A minor quibble however. Whether you were there or not this is a great record of the tour and a reminder, if you need one, of Dave Gahan's talent as a song writer as well as a superlative front man. Before the end of the second song - a lovely version of Hold On - he's stripped down to the waist, suddenly looking a dead ringer for Robert Carlyle in The Full Monty as he toys with removing his waistcoat. They're about the same size, too...
The three singles from Paper Monsters are here - Dirty Sticky Floors, Bottle Living, I Need You - the latter even more of a dance number than the recorded version. The slower songs come across beautifully - Bitter Apple in particular a real highlight.
And of course there is the smattering of Depeche Mode classics - Walking In My Shoes, Personal Jesus, I Feel You. The only change from the London set is the inclusion of Never Let Me Down Again as the final encore, and it's the final demonstration of the enthusiasm of the fans as they carry most of the song themselves.
Extras include a intriguing three-song acoustic set recorded for radio (see Dave Gahan without sweat dripping off him!) in which Dirty Sticky Floors and Black And Blue Again, one of my personal favourites, come across surprisingly well. There's also a short film with snippets of the tour and comments from his musicians - Knox Chandler, with whom Gahan co-wrote Paper Monsters; Victor Indrizzo; Vince Jones and Martyn Lenoble. Gahan comments in the film that he'd love them to become "his band" - keep your fingers crossed that they do, so there'll be more of this electric combination.
In the meantime, keep yourself going with this DVD.