The roots of Depeche Mode dated to 1976, when Basildon, England-based keyboardists Vince Clarke and Andrew Fletcher first teamed to form the group No Romance in China. Depeche Mode proved short-lived, and by 1979 Clarke had formed French Look, an additional duo featuring guitarist/keyboardist Martin Gore; Fletcher soon signed on, and the group rechristened itself Composition of Sound. Initially, Clarke handled vocal chores, but in 1980 singer David Gahan was brought in to complete the lineup; after one final name change to Depeche Mode, the quartet jettisoned all instruments excluding their synthesizers, honing a slick, techno-based sound to showcase Clarke's catchy melodies.
After building a following on the London club scene, Depeche Mode debuted in 1980 with "Photographic," a track included on the Some Bizzare Album label compilation. After signing to Mute Records, they issued "Dreaming of Me" in early 1981; while neither the single nor its follow-up, "New Life," caused much of a stir, their third effort, "Just Can't Get Enough," became a Top Ten U.K. hit, and their 1981 debut LP, Speak and Spell, was also a success. Just as Depeche Mode appeared poised for a major commercial breakthrough, though, principal songwriter Clarke abruptly exited to form Yazoo with singer Alison Moyet, leaving the group's future in grave doubt.
As Gore grabbed the band's songwriting reins, the remaining trio recruited keyboardist Alan Wilder to fill the technological emptiness created by Clarke's departure; while 1982's A Broken Frame deviated only slightly from Depeche Mode's earlier work, Gore's ominous songs grew more assured and sophisticated by the time of 1983's Construction Time Again. Some Great Reward, issued the following year, was their artistic and commercial breakthrough, as Gore's dark, kinky preoccupations with spiritual doubt ("Blasphemous Rumours") and psychosexual manipulation ("Master and Servant") came to the fore; the egalitarian single "People Are People" was a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic, and typified the music's turn toward more industrial textures.
1986's atmospheric Black Celebration continued the trend toward grim melancholy, and further established the group as a major commercial force. After the superb single "Strangelove," Depeche Mode issued 1987's Music for the Masses; a subsequent sold-out tour yielded the 1989 double live set 101, as well as a concert film directed by the legendary D.A. Pennebaker. Still, despite an enormous fan base, the group was considered very much an underground cult phenomenon prior to the release of 1990's Violator, a Top Ten smash which spawned the hits "Enjoy the Silence," "Policy of Truth," and "Personal Jesus."
With the alternative music boom of the early 1990s, Depeche Mode come out as one of the world's most victorious acts, and their 1993 LP Songs of Faith & Devotion entered the charts in the number one slot. However, at the peak of their success, the group began to unravel; first Wilder exited in 1995, and then Gahan was the subject of a failed suicide attempt. After a four-year layoff, Depeche Mode continuing on as a trio released 1997's Ultra, which featured the hits "Barrel of a Gun" and "It's No Good." A year later, the band went on a tour in support of The Singles 1986/1998 greatest hits album. Depeche Mode played 64 shows in 18 countries for over a million fans. It also marked the end of a decade for the band. Each member took some considerable time off and would not regroup for another three years.
Exciter, the band's follow up to 1997's Ultra, was released in 2001. Singles such as "Dream On" and "I Feel Loved" did reasonably well. Two years later, Gahan issued his debut solo album, the dark, sultry Paper Monsters. Gore also followed suit by issuing his debut full-length, Counterfeit². Each member did their respective tours of the U.S. and Europe, however it wouldn't be long until Depeche Mode came back together. Playing the Angel was released in October 2005 and was produced by Ben Hillier.
Depeche Mode Concert Tour Dates