AUSTIN, Texas -- Big bands in small venues -- it's become a ritual at the
Roaming across the stage at Austin City Limits Live at the Moody Theater, Green Day frontman
Musically, too, Green Day kept the scale expansive: Early in its set it played "Oh Love," from "¡Uno!," but later honored a request by reaching back to the early 1990s for "Christie Road." Armstrong rolled out some of his favorite covers as well, stitching together
Depeche Mode didn't have anything to live down later Friday at Brazos Hall: Judging by the reaction to the first few notes of oldies like "Enjoy the Silence" and "Personal Jesus," the capacity crowd here arrived at the concert already convinced that the veteran synth-rock band still has it.
Instead, Depeche Mode was at SXSW (where it also took part Wednesday in an onstage interview with Jason Bentley of L.A.'s KCRW-FM) to build some buzz around a new album it's releasing later this month. The group's first record since 2009, "Delta Machine" is bolder and more obtuse than what we've heard from Depeche Mode in a while; it strips away the danceable beats and lush melodies of the band's big hits. So Friday's show provided a chance to sell the fresh material onstage.
And sell it did, with frontman Dave Gahan striking a succession of the shirtless rock-god poses for which he's known. Though it was playing inside a smallish warehouse space, Depeche Mode performed in front of a billboard-sized video screen flashing images out of its library of gloom, including visuals from the band's music video for its current single, "Heaven." It also did the new album's "Soothe My Soul," but calm, of course, wasn't really what Gahan and his mates were aiming for. They were looking to excite.