Live Reviews

Depeche Mode Live

O2 Wireless Festival
London Hyde Park,

It seems odd to be attending a ‘festival’ in Hyde Park; where tower blocks replace the traditional festival surroundings of fields and farmland, and where a plethora of public transport is only five minutes’ walk away. Still, that’s London for you. By all accounts, the O2 Wireless festival – now in its second year – seems to have been a huge success, and has drawn a near-capacity crowd for its final day.

“We’d like to thank James Blunt for opening up for us last night!” laughs Ok Go singer/guitarist Damian Kulash, his band’s infectious pop-rock anthems proving the perfect antidote to any remaining vestiges of singer/songwriter blandness. A cover of the Pixies classic ‘Wave Of Mutilation’ is a welcome surprise, but the real treat is saved for the finale, as the band down their instruments to recreate the synchronised dance routine from their ‘A Million Ways’ video. A superb start to the day.

Over on the Myspace stage, electro-rockers Suzerain manage to attract an impressively large crowd for a relatively unknown band, and reward the masses gathered with darkly anthemic songs like ‘Life On Film’ and ‘New Solution’. Definitely a band to watch. The Mystery Jets may not be to everyone’s taste, but they have a great sense of the bizarre, and the twisted art-pop of ‘You Can’t Fool Me Dennis’ wins them several new fans today.

Danko Jones appears to have suffered an eye injury, but it hasn’t dampened the Canadian motormouth’s resolve to put on the best, most foot-stompin’, ass-shakin’ riff-laden rock n’roll show in town. His band’s recent ‘Sleep Is The Enemy’ album is arguably their finest to date, and today they play with enough vigour and ferocity to get even the most tired and sunburnt of punters pumping their fists in approval. The lion may be injured, but he’s still the king of the jungle.

Unfortunately, due to the Xfm stage running late, we’re only able to see the first half of Gang Of Four’s headline set. A shame, as the veteran Leeds funk-punkers are on fine form, belting out classics like ‘At Home He’s A Tourist’ with the verve and stage presence of a band half their age. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Bloc Party or Franz Ferdinand record, then check out these guys for a valuable history lesson.

It’s strange to think that a decade ago, Depeche Mode seemed on the verge of collapse following frontman Dave Gahan’s much-publicised drug overdose. Fast-forward to the present, and the Basildon boys have found a new lease of life; with recent album ‘Playing The Angel’ hailed as their best effort in years. Surrounded by a stage set straight out of ‘Star Trek’, it’s clear that they can do no wrong tonight, as a remarkably youthful-looking Dave leads the band through a set bursting with old favourites. ‘Personal Jesus’ and ‘Enjoy The Silence’ are still synth-pop perfection, boosted by Martin Gore’s superb guitar work and the crowd’s voices, whilst ‘John The Revelator’ and ‘Precious‘ are proof enough of the band’s rekindled creative flame. As they close with ‘Never Let Me Down Again’, it’s evident that the location of this festival matters little, when it boasts a bill of this calibre.

Alex Gosman