Depeche Mode toured the "Universe" in 2009-10, but never quite made it to the Bay Area.
The legendary British electronic music band was forced to cancel its Tour of the Universe date at Shoreline Amphitheatre at Mountain View, originally set for August 2009, due to lead singer Dave Gahan's severe bout with gastroenteritis.
Thankfully, Depeche Mode was finally able to make it up to local fans. So what if it was four years late?
The British group, which definitely deserves to be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, thrilled its loyal followers with a solid show on Thursday at Shoreline. The band arrived on its worldwide Delta Machine Tour, in support of the album of the same name.
The concertdrew some 18,000 fans, who filled the venue to near capacity and turned the surrounding roads and highways into a parking lot. The traffic was nothing short of a nightmare -- one that everyone seemed to be talking/tweeting/texting about in the moments leading up to the show. (Let's hope it was the passengers doing the tweeting and texting.)
The band certainly did its best to make fans feel like the commute was worth the time and effort. Depeche Mode sounded strong throughout the roughly two-hour show, performing worthy new tracks and longtime fan favorites during the 15-song main set and accompanying encore.
The show opened in appropriate fashion with "Welcome to My World," which was promptly followed by another "Delta Machine" track, "Angel." Gahan, one of rock's best frontmen, was his usual charismatic self as he stalked the stage and added equal amounts of menace and sex appeal to his lines.
Turning from the "Machine" material, Depeche Mode ventured deeper into its catalog for "Walking in My Shoes" (from 1993's "Songs of Faith and Devotion"), "Precious" (from 2005's "Playing the Angel") and a deeply mesmerizing take on the title track to 1986's "Black Celebration."
The group -- which consists of Gahan, multi-instrumentalist Martin Gore and keyboardist Andy Fletcher, as well as two side musicians in concert -- performed on a sleek two-level stage, dominated by a huge video screen in back. The setting was visually appealing -- and, really, you'd expect nothing less when it comes to Depeche Mode.
Still, even with the videos humming and the stage lights flashing, it was hard to concentrate on anything -- or anyone -- other than Gahan. He's a magnet for the eyes, gyrating about the stage in peculiarly appealing fashions. Gahan turned 51 in May, yet he can still get away with wearing an open vest over his bare chest.
He's so appealing that it's almost unfair to ask Gore to carry the show in his absence. For better or worse, however, that's part of the Depeche Mode concert experience -- Gahan leaves the stage to allow Gore to have his time in the spotlight.
Gore sang two songs at Shoreline -- the new album's "The Child Inside" and the 1986 b-side/bonus-track "But Not Tonight" -- both of which were modestly received by those not in line for the bathrooms.
Fortunately, Gahan quickly returned and led the band through such all-time fan favorites as "A Question of Time," "Enjoy the Silence" and, the main-set closer, "Personal Jesus."
In all, it was definitely a show worth waiting for.
Follow Jim Harrington at http://twitter.com/jimthecritic, www.facebook.com/jim.bayareanews and http://blogs.mercurynews.com/aei/category/concerts.