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Pop music: Depeche Mode irresistible as ever during AAC show

10:43 AM CST on Wednesday, November 9, 2005

By MARIO TARRADELL / The Dallas Morning News

Synthesized beats never sound as sexy as when Depeche Mode cranks them out. The band mixes drums and some guitar with programmed rhythms hefty and hedonistic. There's a primal allure to the grooves. Add to that lead singer Dave Gahan's seductive baritone, with its smooth undertone, and you have a dark dance party waiting to happen.

Tuesday night at American Airlines Center, the group invited 9,500 fans to that fiesta. Touring in support of its 11th studio album, Playing the Angel, DM mainstays Mr. Gahan, Martin Gore and Andy Fletcher, assisted by a drummer and a second keyboardist, rocked the arena with 25 years' worth of material..

They went as far back as "Just Can't Get Enough" and "Everything Counts," both during the first of two encores. Mind you, the tracks rang heavier live than on disc. No surprise since that early synth-pop, totally lighthearted club dance sound no longer jibes with their current style. And anyway, the slinky, wiry Mr. Gahan, one of the best frontmen in rock today, doesn't hop or bounce. Instead, he saunters and sways, his taut body gliding with his every motion.

Dave Gahan

Photo by JASON JANIK/Special Contributor

Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan seduced the crowd at American Airlines Center.

However, their song selection was odd. Of course, they focused much on Angel. In fact, they opened with the abrasive yet catchy "A Pain That I'm Used To" and immediately launched into the funk-gospel-synth workout "John the Revelator." Before their two-hour set was over, five more Angel tunes, including the stunning "Precious," filled the speakers.

But DM offered only one cut from 2001's Exciter ("Goodnight Lovers") and 1986's Black Celebration ("A Question of Time"), and two from 1987's Music for the Masses ("Behind the Wheel" and "Never Let Me Down Again").

Still, how cool that Mr. Gore took the mike to sing "Home" from 1997's Ultra and "Somebody" from 1984's Some Great Reward.

Naturally, the greatest response from the crowd came for the Violator hits. The Mode's 1990 commercial and artistic apex gets the most recognition. That's because the songs endure, especially "Personal Jesus," "Enjoy the Silence" and "Policy of Truth."

So does Depeche Mode. Their concerts prove that a quarter-century only makes them stronger, not older.

E-mail mtarradell@dallasnews.com