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Dave Gahan

Add Dave Gahan to the growing list of over-40 rock stars who still shake as convincingly as they did in their 20s. At the first of two nights at the Wiltern supporting his first solo record, "Paper Monsters" (Reprise/Mute), the often-shirtless, 41-year-old Depeche Mode front man led an able-bodied band through material from the record and older Depeche Mode gems.

Add Dave Gahan to the growing list of over-40 rock stars who still shake as convincingly as they did in their 20s. At the first of two nights at the Wiltern supporting his first solo record, “Paper Monsters” (Reprise/Mute), the often-shirtless, 41-year-old Depeche Mode front man led an able-bodied band through material from the record and older Depeche Mode gems with aplomb, dancing and bobbing around the stage with a demanding physicality and an undeniably charismatic, brooding presence.

With the synth-driven electroclash genre and an ’80s new wave and rock revival looking more and more like the music biz’s next big thing, Gahan’s early material is a prime source of inspiration. He didn’t go light on the older songs, playing a record-perfect “Personal Jesus” and letting the enthusiastic crowd sing along to the chorus of “Never Let Me Down Again.”

An acoustic medley of even more of Depeche’s hits composed the second encore, and though the stripped-down renditions seemed extraneous (Gahan never muted his panache, leaving the band sitting while he continued to prance around the stage), the songs begged the question: Why not just play them with Depeche Mode? Gahan’s new songs fit the band’s guitar-and-keys vibe, and Depeche Mode guitarist Martin Gore was even in attendance, albeit in the audience and not on stage. One thing’s clear: As long as Gahan is singing those old songs — to a generation who grew up with them — they still sound good, no matter what band is playing behind him.

Wiltern gigs were the final shows on his North American tour. He’ll be playing shows in Europe from late October through November.

Dave Gahan

Wiltern Theater, Los Angeles; 2,200 capacity; $45.50

  • Production: Presented by KROQ and Clear Channel.
  • Crew: Opened, reviewed Aug. 25, 2003, closed Aug. 26.
  • Cast: <b>Band:</b> Gahan, Knox Chandler, Victor Indrizzo, Vince Jones, Martyn Lenoble.