To Synchronise Love To The Beat Of The Show…
After the much publicised departure of bassist Peter Hook in 2007, it seemed almost impossible that the band could make a come back. But in an interview with The Electricity Club in March 2011, drummer Stephen Morris said: “I never say never really… then something happens and all of a sudden, you’re back doing it again for another 10 years!”
So after a five year break, with their new line up of returning keyboard player Gillian Gilbert and bassist from BAD LIEUTENANT Tom Chapman, NEW ORDER announced in Autumn 2012 they were to play six gigs, starting in Belgium and France, moving to South America for three gigs and returning to play London’s Troxy which being their only UK date was understandably pretty much an instant sell out.
In 2012 NEW ORDER went in for the kill, playing a total of 55 concerts around the globe, returning to the UK to play eight dates after visiting Australia and before jetting off again in the direction of Europe. They returned home twice more to play at the Olympic closing ceremony concert which took place in Hyde Park and Bestival on the Isle of Wight. Now well and truly on a roll, amidst dates in South America and the United States, NEW ORDER announced they were to come home yet again but this time to curate Jodrell Bank’s ‘Transmission_005’, supported by other Manchester acts such as THE SMITHS’ guitarist Johnny Marr.
From the outset, they promised something special and they really did deliver – above and beyond what anyone could have expected. They can’t take credit for the glorious sunshine the venue was basked in but they did give fans a two hour set list comprising of the some well favoured classics and some lesser known tracks that would only appeal to the hardcore fans.
It was probably a wise decision for Bernard Sumner to arrive by helicopter given the number of posters en route to the gig advertising PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT! And although Sumner missed out on seeing the support acts, he did arrive in time to make an early appearance, joining Johnny Marr on stage to sing ‘Getting Away With It’, their debut hit single from their ELECTRONIC days. However, fans didn’t have to wait long before NEW ORDER took to the stage, entering to ‘The Ecstacy Of Gold’ from ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly’ followed by an abbreviated version of ‘Elegia’ they soon had the crowd bouncing on their feet to ‘Crystal’, despite the temperature which didn’t seem to dropping. “Look at the weather; it could have been so much worse… let’s party” he invited the crowd. The audience responded with a cheer and raised their drinks in approval.
Sumner spoke to his audience: “This is the newest of the old songs and we are going to be bringing you even more new material next year…sometime” he announced, nervously glancing over his shoulder as if wondering making the announcement was the right thing to do. They then broke into ‘I’ll Stay With You’ from the ‘Lost Sirens’ album which after some controversy over copyright, was finally released in January this year.
But new material would be greatly welcomed, especially if the excellence of Sumner’s most recent vocal outing ‘She Wants’ with WESTBAM was anything to go by. It wasn’t until darkness fell across the venue that the show really stepped up a gear. The 76m Lovell telescope was emblazoned with images of album covers and other graphics and a disco ball appeared from the rafters of the stage set, from which laser lights were bounced off and beamed back into space and the misty atmosphere which had been artificially created. The lead singer thanked Jodrell Bank for their hospitality, declaring the venue “an institution – just like us.”
It wouldn’t have been a NEW ORDER concert without hearing ‘Temptation’, ‘True Faith’ and ‘Blue Monday’ which rocked the audience before rounding off with ‘Temptation’. But of course, there was an encore to be had. “Start the transmissions from outer space – we’re back on stage” declared Sumner before breaking into a mini-set of JOY DIVISION covers that included the very haunting ‘Atmosphere’ and ending predictably with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.
The crowd dispersed a very happy bunch indeed amongst them the hard core NO fans known as The Vikings (FAC383) who were out in force to enjoy the day. Sandra, just back from seeing the band in Russia and France described it as “the best day ever” while her friend Jemma added: “My honest opinion it was one of the best gigs… Bernard was loving it and the day and the festival set up were spot on”.
The jury may well still be out on whether NEW ORDER are the same since Hooky’s departure but it is evident from NEW ORDER’s recent concerts that both Tom Chapman and Phil Cunningham have settled in rather well. Morris is looking tired but as ever, played with his heart and soul like it might be his last gig.
Gilbert still doesn’t look quite at ease, only looking up from her keyboard seemingly to search for daughters Tilly (of HOT VESTRY) and Grace who were among the adoring fans. Meanwhile, Sumner (who seems to be facially morphing into Tony Wilson with each passing year) can still be caught reading lyrics from an autocue for certain numbers.
Together with the fabulous soundtrack which included a re-worked version of ‘586’, the lights and lasers accompanied by a stunning sequence of projected images of album covers and video footage all went towards making the concert what has been hailed by fans as NEW ORDER’s best concert ever! Even photographers could be seen atop fast food vans and up the lighting rigs to gain a better vantage point to capture the spectacle. The production team, which included Andy Liddle of Illumination had done the band proud.
NEW ORDER are a band that have survived many a tragedy and pulled through some financial troubles to be a hugely successfully mainstay in electronic music delivering to the hardcore fans and the new following they have amassed by continuing to write, record and release new material. And long may they continue.
With thanks to Paul Kennedy at The Zeitgeist Agency and Rebecca Boulton at Prime Management
Text and Photos by Karen Buxton
20th July 2013