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Strangelove - The Depeche Mode Experience, is considered by many to be the premier Depeche Mode tribute on the planet today. They have systematically recreated what I would consider the classic Depeche Mode sound and refined it over the years into a truly unique performance that is truly worthy of such high praise.  While many tributes are just able to pull off the basics, Strangelove captures the true essence of Depeche Mode including their unique look, unmistakable sound, and most importantly the band’s dynamic stage presence.  Moreover, they transport fans back to a time and place where all that mattered was the music.  As a lifelong Depeche Mode fan, I can honestly say that Friday’s Strangelove performance did all of that and more for me - and that’s no easy feat.

On Friday July 5th, Strangelove headlined their annual Holiday Hangover tribute show at the House of Blues in Anaheim, CA.  After killer sets from Oh L'amour (Erasure), The Band That Fell to Earth (David Bowie), and Temptation (New Order), Strangelove finally took the stage around 10:30pm in front of a packed house deep in the heart of Orange County. As the lights dimmed, Brent Meyer (Counterfeit Martin), Julian Shah-Tayler (Oscar Wilder), and James Evans (In the Fletch) took their appropriate spots on stage as frontman Leo Luganskiy (Ultra-Dave) appeared center stage in traditional Dave Gahan leather, kicking off the evenings set with 1990 Depeche Mode classic, “World in My Eyes”. You could immediately by the crowd’s deafening roar that this show was going to be special.

Over the next two hours, Depeche Mode fans from all walks of life were thoroughly entertained with a diverse setlist spanning their entire catalog of music.  Early hits such “Everything Counts” and “Blasphemous Rumors” brought the HOB crowd to their feet while fan favorites “Personal Jesus” and “Enjoy the Silence” had everyone in attendance singing along with Strangelove at the top of their lungs.   My personal favorite of the evening was “Never Let Me Down Again”.  I think Luganskiy brought the show home for the thousands in attendance with a spot-on replication of Dave Gahan in what I consider Depeche Mode’s best live song. It was awesome to see fans throughout the House of Blues swaying back and forth (hands in the air) as Meyer quietly noted to fans, “See the stars their shining bright, everything’s alright tonight…”  Unbelievable. Die-hard fans were even treated to a few B-side favorites during the encore including “Dangerous” and “But Not Tonight” (which are rarely heard at true Depeche Mode shows).  Bottom line, this was one fantastic performance chock full of Depeche Mode classics and one fans won’t soon forget.

So, was Strangelove – The Depeche Mode Experience, able to live up to the lofty expectations as one of the world’s premier Depeche Mode Tribute bands?  Were they able to “further the illusion that those in attendance were actually witnessing a Depeche Mode concert?"  The answers to both questions was a resounding yes.  Leo, Brent, Julian, and James were not only able to recreate the amazing Depeche Mode sound, they did it in a masterful way that captured the sheer essence of the band.  From DM’s classic look to their spot-on mannerisms, you really felt like you were front-row center with David, Martin, Fletch and Alan.   No stone was left unturned by Strangelove, and Friday’s show highlighted why this band is so special and loved by so many.  Add in a 7.1 earthquake (the biggest in Southern California in over 20 years), and Strangelove’s performance on Friday will definitely go down as one of the most memorable in recent history. They definitely had the house rockin!

Matthew Belter

Executive Editor - Long Beach

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