RIGA - The last time Depeche Mode came to Riga was in August 2001. It was a huge affair. The band's music has been revered in the Baltics ever since the final years of communism, in the 1980s, when their liberating and anti-Soviet lyrics first came across free-radio airwaves. Depeche Mode will be playing a series of three concerts next month in Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. Their electronic beat and lyrics, extolling the virtues of freedom, has meant a great deal to Eastern Europeans. For those of you who haven't heard of them, here's a short history:
Depeche Mode, one of the oldest and most successful bands to emerge during the New Wave/New Romantic era, were originally founded in 1980 as a rock band in the town of Basildon, England. As of 2005, it is estimated that Depeche Mode have sold over 50 million albums worldwide. They have influenced many of today's popular recording artists, in part due to their innovative work, recording techniques and samples. Their album "Violator," released in 1990, is considered a gem of electronic music. Though the band has been influential in the modern techno scene, they are considered alternative.
In the early 1980s the band's popularity was largely confined to Europe, particularly Germany. However, in 1984 Depeche Mode made inroads in the United States and by the '90s, its influence had been felt through the entire house music scene.
In February 1990, "Enjoy the Silence," Depeche Mode's most successful single to date, reached number eight on the U.S. charts, eventually becoming the band's signature song.
While Depeche Mode remains quite popular in the United States, Western Europe and Australia, its most loyal fan base and widest appeal seem to lie in Central and Eastern Europe. Today there are countless fan Web sites, in nearly every language, propelling the band to perpetual fame.
In 2001, Depeche Mode released "Exciter," which did not place well in the charts outside of Continental Europe. And shortly after the "Exciter" tour, Martin Gore, the group's main songwriter and guitarist, and Dave Gahan, its lead vocalist, sensed that this would be a good time to busy themselves with new solo efforts.
Only four years later, in October 2005, Depeche Mode was back on track with its long awaited 11th studio album, "Playing the Angel." This is an astonishingly fresh, exuberant release from the band who have, over 25 years, sold up to 50 million records.
Right after the album release, Depeche Mode has started its Touring the Angel world tour, which will feature concerts spanning over 20 countries. The show will feature hits from their entire career. "Fans will have a unique chance to share with the band a sense of optimism and of pleasure at what they've achieved," organizers say. "'Cause this is the thing about Depeche Mode 's you either like their music or you don't, no third choice is given!"
Depeche Mode concerts:
March 16 's Saku Arena, Tallinn (no tickets available)
March 17 's Arena Riga, Riga (tickets 25 's 35 lats)
March 18 's Siemens Arena, Vilnius (no tickets available)