101 was released in 1989 and is an evocative reflection of band who had just traversed the music press image of being tinkly-bomp techno-popsters, and were now regarded as an important and influencial force in global pop/rock. This live outing documents the 101st concert of their 1988 Music For The Masses world tour.
Now you would think that a synth-heavy techno-pop band from deepest Essex would not really elicit much of an atmosphere in any given environment. However, with two recent critically-acclaimed albums behind them, the band riding on the crest of a creative wave and 70,000 screaming Californians inside the Rosebowl, the band were now true stadium-rock gods and the atmosphere generated was truly electric (and that's not just the synths and drum machines !). Wish I'd been there !
The concert starts with a brilliantly powerful rendition of Behind The Wheel which really gets the fans going, while the rest of the album is paced generously to allow for breakneck singles, ballads and a few album tracks, all of which blend excellently into a fuller picture. The overall image is that of a band making a significant breakthrough on the world stage and this success would later be eclipsed by incredible success of their classic Violator album (1990) and the gothic rock/pop of Songs of Faith & Devotion (1993), by which time they were briefly the biggest band on the planet after U2. The classic Everything Counts, a famous Mode concert closer, rounds off the album perfectly and sums up the powerful emotions of this vast concert, also thankfully documented on video.
101 really does evoke a true live experience for the listener, as the truly massive crowd are clearly going totally ape for David Gahan and Co., whose stage presence was gradually becoming God-like.
In short, this is a brillant 'live greatest hits' collection of the band's work between 1981-1987, an amazing six studio albums in as many years. Any self-respecting Mode fan will already have this in their collection, and so will anyone with a soul for live music.