DVD review

Depeche Mode 101
Venusnote / Mute

Depeche Mode 101In 1988 Depeche Mode were at the top of their game. Often derided as a tinny 80s synth band, the Basildon quartet had taken their time twisting their sound into epic machine driven gothic pop, and had already outlived the majority of their peers. The first sign was the Everything Counts single, but their new sounds really blossomed on 1986's Black Celebration and '87's follow-up Music For The Masses.
    That's where 101 comes in; the '88 Tour For The Masses where Depeche Mode finally realised just how good they really were. 101 follows the band and a separate bus of DM fans in the days leading up to the final show of the tour at Pasadena's 70,000 capacity Rose Bowl.

The main 101 documentary has been available on VHS for a long time, and only the commentary from Depeche Mode and film-maker DA Pennebaker is new. However, it is a fantastic snapshot of a band on the brink of greatness, and the mix of band and fan footage helps break up a long movie which would have otherwise only appealed to true diehards.
    On the second DVD we seemingly get a film of the actual Rose Bowl concert. As the 101 double CD that accompanied the original video release is still one on the best live albums I've heard I was really hoping that this was going to be the complete concert, but it's in fact the ten track made for TV version that mainly features footage drawn from the documentary. Disappointing, but even in truncated form it's worth having.
    Other than that there are new interviews with the three remaining band members - a real shame that the long-departed Alan Wilder couldn't be convinced to join in - and various people associated with the film, including three of the fans who followed the band to Pasadena fifteen years previous.

To be honest, if you already own the video this is far from essential. If you don't then this is obviously the version of 101 to have. If you saw Depeche Mode on the Tour For The Masses then you'll know what a magical time it was, and from the opening bars of Pimpf to the sheer gravity of Never Let Me Down Again you'll once again be wallowing in misty-eyed nostalgia.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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