Personal Jesus – live, loud and lively

The Depeche Mode Singles Tour at the end of 1998 was notable for being the first series of gigs since the chaotic Devotional/Exotic tours of 1993 and 1994.

Many fans wondered if Depeche would ever get on the road again (let alone make a record) after a turbulent few years following the departure of Alan Wilder and Dave Gahan’s drug problems.

But the (frankly, underrated) Ultra album of 1997 had shown there was plenty of life and creativity in the band, even if it took a long time to pull together as Gahan fought his addiction (and almost died).

It, therefore, came as no surprise that the remaining trio decided not to back Ultra with a tour (apart from few “party” gigs).

Yet by the time the band announced that a second collection of hits would be released in 1998 (Singles 96-98) and that they would be touring to support it, Depeche fans inevitably went into a state of fevered anticipation.

Many of those who saw the gigs (just 65 shows, nowhere near as many as on each of the previous three tours) will recall how tight the band sounded with their new drummer and keyboard player.

But perhaps the most notable aspect was Gahan himself – a rejuvenated front man compared to the scrawny and, let’s say diplomatically, distracted figure from the latter stages of the Exotic Tour.

He looked alive (and younger than his 36 years) again, full of the energy and enthusiasm needed to put on a great show night after night.

Still, like the World Violation concerts, no official video was released of the tour, apart from a slick production effort from MTV.

The music channel captured and broadcast part of the band’s show in Cologne in the October of 1998.

Personal Jesus, in particular, illustrates the stark difference in the mood of the band from four years previously.

And the crowd could see and feel it, with Gahan bouncing around like a sparring boxer and clearly loving being back in his natural habitat.

The noise from the crowd during the final “reach and touch faith!” is extraordinary.


NB: Wembley Arena, September 29, in case you’re wondering.

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