1988 was the year that Depeche Mode made it, with a sell-out tour of America capped by this performance for 60,000 fans crammed into the Pasadena Rose Bowl on a humid June evening.
The gig, entitled “Concert For The Masses”, was reputedly the 101st of an exhausting tour, although the band confirm in the interview add-ons to this DVD set that they’d all lost count by then.
Inseparably linked to this gig and tour was a film made by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus depicting life on the road Mode-style, with its extras made up of the “bus kids” – a coach load of competition winners whose prize was the chance to follow the band around.
So we watch the band driving into the Rose Bowl in a white, soft-top Cadillac to announce the forthcoming event, see shed-loads of money being counted by the souvenir sellers and some intimate footage of the group prior to the biggest concert of their lives to date, played out under a brooding California dusk.
The gig itself is a triumphant affair, although not all of it makes the DVD – in particular Sacred, which came over well on the CD release. Mind you, that rankle soon disappears when Behind The Wheel pounds relentlessly forward with driving bass and drums, showing the band hitting their stride early on.
Strangelove is a majestic performance, a remarkably nimble Dave Gahan striding round the stage and exhorting the crowd to sing, which they do. By the time Everything Counts comes round, they’re a massive unaccompanied choir conducted by the front man.
Just Can’t Get Enough is another highlight, Gahan hurling his shirt into the crowd. The running order seems to have been tampered with on disc though, making for the occasional jolt between tracks.
On the second disc there are present day interviews with the Mode, and it’s interesting to see how they’ve all become more reflective and mellow, now able to bask in their success whilst retaining some of the vitality characterising their earlier years.
This is an essential purchase for fans of Basildon’s finest, and a reminder of the days when the unlikely lads were derided by their critics. Not any more.