Review by Zyllah Moranne-Brown and photography by Ken Harrison

Oh we be lucky lucky Gig Junkies! We’ve come on a trip to London town because from just a handful of international shows we’ve got access to see a certain Mr. Dave Gahan with his band of brothers Soulsavers.

Tonight’s gig at the delectable and historic Shepherd’s Bush Empire which is unsurprisingly sold out. Some fans, I understand set up camp outside the venue from 10am in the morning to make sure they had the best position in the venue.

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So with venue is filling nicely, tonight’s gig starts early as this little Gig Junkie takes to her seat in the first tier, Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ pumping out the speakers. A cheer goes up from the crowd as some bloke walks past me. And then I clock who it is -Andy ‘Fletch’ Fletcher here tonight, amongst other VIPs including Daniel Miller, to watch his DM brother in his own right.

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So – Soulsavers. Two chaps, Rich Machin and Ian Glover, who produce and remix electronica on the indie side, with a track record of working with some amazing talent – Mike Patton (Faith No More), Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) and Richard Hawley. And for their last two outings Dave Gahan.

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Dave Gahan – well need I say more. Lead man of Depeche Mode. And for those who may have missed this (DM have world-wide domination except bizarrely on their home turf), the biggest band to come out of electronica, selling over a 100 million albums worldwide and indeed one of the word’s best selling band. Their tour for their last album ‘Delta Machine’ made the top ten biggest grossing tours of 2013. And that was just halfway through the tour. So to see Mr Gahan in such an intimate venue is a delectable treat.

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So at 8.15pm a haunting voice comes through the speakers as the band (Soulsavers in full band guise with backing singers and then some) take to the stage followed by Gahan – and the screams come from the crowd. First track ‘In The Morning’ off the first Soulsaver album ‘The Light The Dead See’’ immediately shows us that the band and Gahan are on form. Clap clap go the audience – and Gahan, akin in red jacket, takes a bow ‘”Wow! Hello! Wow! Good evening London.” And we’re already in the palm of his hands…

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Gahan’s tie up with Soulsavers has given him the opportunity to explore his vocal range in a way he doesn’t always get the chance with DM; his vocals are the best they’ve ever sounded. One of the best showmen in the busines, the smallest of moves, those snake hips, sets the crowd off. ‘Shine’ gives us his vocals in all their glory. This set is all Soulsavers – from the first album to the newly released ‘Angels & Ghosts.’ ‘Tempted’ – the jackets off and Gahan is in the grove, enwrapped in the peformance, clearly delighting in his Soulsaver journey.

‘Tonight’ as with many of the tracks are about redemption, salvation – they’re sometimes dark, moody and introspective. New single ‘ All of This and Nothing’ is playing out across the airwaves and the punters recognise it to a cheer – hands are in the air, big cheer. We like this.

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Back to the first album ‘Presence of God’ is melancholy and quite beautiful; all played out on a stage drenched in dry ice and red light. And other ‘Just Try’ a haunting ballad, Gahan is clearly having a blast. The final three off the newbie – ‘The Last Time’ – all gospel blues which deconstructs itself into broken pieces of music. Last track of the set (which strangely did not include Gahan and Soulsavers first release ‘Longest Day’), ‘My Sun’ ends with a deep bow from Gahan and they all take their leave from the stage, leaving the crowd to chant and chant. That’s the Soulsavers bit over.

With over three decades in the industry, DM and Gahan have always respected the fans by giving them a snippet of exactly what they want, at any gig. And returning ‘I do hope your enjoyed your evening with Soulsavers…’ he asks to a cheer from the crowd. As a new tracks started off, stripped back but no matter recognised ‘Kingdom’ from Gahan’s second solo outing ‘Hourglass.’ All blues and soul with a dabbling synth tune. Huge cheer from the crowd. And then a second solo track ‘Dirty Sticky Floors’ from his first album ‘Paper Monsters’. The track rocks down with a raw bass beat – Gahan is in his best dance element. And we’re enthralled.

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And another treat. From DM’s ‘Songs of Faith and Devotion’ it’s ‘Condemnation’ gospel song with rock twist and probably the track that inspired Gahan on his journey with Soulsavers. And we sing Gore’s lyrics “Condemnation, tried, here on the stand, with the book in my hand, wnd truth on my side……. accusations, lies, hand me my sentence, I’ll show no repentance, I’ll suffer with pride….”

Welcome all, to the church of Gahan.

And one more and what a finale. DM epic track ‘Walking in My Shoes.’ Everyone is one their feet dancing, hands in the air, chanting. Gahan is on fire. And watching, for once from a truly different perspective is Fletch. Taking a view on Gahan,his band’s  iconic frontsman, truly through a world in our eyes.

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Massive cheer – tonight’s gig is over. Gahan lines the band up in a row and they all take a deep bow. He informs us they’ll be back…..

Okay – I declare – I’m a DM fan. Seen em more times than I care to mention. And this is pure luxury. Soulsavers are Gahan’s side project and they give him the opportunity to demonstrate his vocal talent to the full – the best it’s been in years. This partnership is dark, at times melancholy and definitely on the indie side. And tonight’s gig gave us the other side off what Gahan is best at – hey legendary at. The charismatic showman. The frontsman. He’s on fire and he LOVES it. This is HIS place, his church and his joy is infectious. Tonight we walked with him in his shoes.

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Soulsavers new album ‘Angels & Ghosts’ is out now from wherever you purchase your music from these days. And check out their previous outing ‘The Light The Dead See’ while you’re at it. As I post this – I’ve just caught them on “Later…. with Jools Holland.” Extended interview on Fridays edition.

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Setlist:
In The Morning
Shine
You Owed Me
Tempted
Tonight
All of This and Nothing
Presence of God
Just Try
Don’t Cry
The Last Time
Take Me Back Home
My Sun

Encore:
Kingdom
Dirty Sticky Floors
Condemnation
Walking in My Shoes

2 Responses to “Dave Gahan and Soulsavers @ 02 Shepherds Bush Empire, London – 26 October 2015”

  1. Glenn Says:

    great review and awesome photos

    Hope they tour with this

    Is it really a side project?? Guest vocalist I would have thought?? Maybe they can persuade Mr Lanegan to do some dates too

    Gutted I couldn’t get to this gig, but work got in the way

  2. Ken Harrison Says:

    Cheers Glenn :-)

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