Dave's Year in Review
December 28, 2023
2023 is nearly coming to an end, so now it's time to look back upon the year! In this article, we will highlight all of the things that Dave has accomplished and has been a part of.
1. Memento Mori album release and tour
Unarguably, the biggest events this year were the release of their 15th studio album, Memento Mori, on March 24 and the subsequent world tour. For this album, not only did DM bring back James Ford as head producer, but they also brought on the expertise of others- namely songwriter Richard Butler and record producer Marta Salogni. As with all DM albums since Playing the Angel, Dave contributed a few songs of his own with one, "Wagging Tongue", being a collaboration between him and Martin Gore. Since the death of bandmate Andy Fletcher just the year before, Dave and Martin seem to have gotten much closer together than they ever have before, and they were doing things together, such as writing songs from start to finish, more than they ever had before. The promos and interviews that the duo did early in the year were quite surreal without their third member and friend, but they both talked openly and honestly about the challenges of moving on without him and the processes and experiences involved in making the album.
The tour that followed raised a lot of questions, as well, such as what their concerts would be like without Fletch on stage with them. But as the first, second, and third legs of their tour went on, with night after night's worth of shows performed throughout North America and Europe, they proved that not only were they adequate as a duo, they were stellar...they could still bring phenomenal music and energy (of course with the help of Peter Gordeno and Christian Eigner, as well). One such show was at the Primavera Sound music festival on June 2 in Barcelona, Spain which was streamed worldwide on Amazon Music Live. Debates about ideal setlists aside, the band played hits from their newest album as well as from their vast back catalog, now with over 40 years worth of songs. Also as usual, Dave's energy and presence on stage were unparalleled, with Louder declaring of his performance in London that "he is impossible to look away from" and that "his voice still sounds incredible."1 The Boston Herald gushed about the "intensity and playfulness positively oozing from him,"2 and the New Orleans press praised him as being "fantastic as a frontman."3 And these are just a few samples from the English-speaking press; I can only imagine what observations the press has written about Dave's performances in countries like Spain, France, Germany, and beyond!
2. Solo outings
Of course with the new DM album release and tour, Dave did not have as much time to work on his own music or collaborate with other musicians like he has in other years. But he did find the time to record a cover song ("Chains" originally by The Raveonettes) and also record a music video for the release of his 2021 collaboration with Australian-born singer, Suzie Stapleton, called "Mother of Earth" (also a cover). In the video, he is seen singing dolefully in black-and-white and he even pulls out a guitar to play a brief solo on it! For my full reviews of both "Chains" and "Mother of Earth," please see here and here.
3. Inauguration of Depeche Mode Day
On December 13, while DM were in Los Angeles for shows there during the Memento Mori Tour, they attended a formal ceremony at City Hall for the inauguration of Depeche Mode Day. Los Angeles city Councilwoman, Monica Rodriguez, hosted the event and presented Dave and Martin with a framed proclamation of the new holiday, saying among other things that DM "has been the musical lifeblood of multiple generations."4 It will be very exciting to see how the city and everyone around the country and world will celebrate this new holiday in the years to come!
4. All in the family
While this article is supposed to be centered on Dave, I would be remiss if I did not at least mention a significant event that took place this year involving one of his family members. On May 19, Dave's daughter, Stella Rose Gahan, released a music album of her own called Eyes of Glass. Released under the label, Kro Records, it features an eclectic mix of songs with post-punk, alternative, and jazz influences, with "Angel" being one of the standout tracks and best showcase of Stella Rose's vocal range. She also opened for DM at Madison Square Garden in New York on April 14 with her band, Stella Rose and The Dead Language, and played some songs from her album there. While not mentioning being directly influenced by her father and his music, it is clear that those famous musical genes runs in her veins. So, is this a mere hobby or will it become a lifelong career? It will certainly be interesting to see how far she will take things in the future! Plus, I'm still holding out for a father-daughter musical collaboration of sorts.
5. The year ahead
So, what is in store for Dave and DM in the year ahead? Well, we already know that they will embark on the fourth leg of the Memento Mori Tour which kicks off on January 22, 2024 in London. It has not been confirmed whether the tour is over after this fourth leg, but a big question mark does hang over their schedule after their last show which is to take place on April 8. What is in store after that is anybody's guess. There is talk about an official concert video release as they have done one for every tour but if and when this will materialize, nobody knows.
- "The greatest frontman of all time? Dave Gahan's irresistible energy ensures that Depeche Mode exude life after death", Louder (June 20, 2023)
- "Depeche Mode goes big at TD Garden", Boston Herald (October 31, 2023)
- "Depeche Mode defied mortality in New Orleans 30 years after singer nearly died here", nola.com (October 9, 2023)
- "'Depeche Mode Day' declared in Los Angeles ", KTLA (December 13, 2023)