The Palace calls for a New Order…
There is a lot to be grateful for in the music world when it comes to New Order.
Without them carrying on after the demise of Joy Division, the electronica sound of the 1980’s and beyond would be very different indeed. And on Friday 9th November, a sell out crowd came to Alexandra Palace to celebrate this remarkable band.
And right from the beginning, everyone knew that this would be a night to remember. It opened up with Wagner’s Das Rhiengold Vorspiel, before they launch into Singularity, from the Music Complete album. The band – Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman – looked very up for it, with Sumner giving his all, and still sounding great, in the vocal department. There was no messing about as they then launched into Regret. The beauty of New Order is that they write memorable songs and Regret is definitely one of them. Even I was singing along (and my voice sounds like a blocked drain) and that’s what this band make you feel. Involved.
No time to stop as they go straight into Love Vigilantes. Just the start of the 1980’s hits, and sounding better than ever. Stephen Morris showing why he is one of the most versatile drummers around, and Tom Chapman certainly not missing a trick on the iconic bass sound of the band. Not much more time gets wasted either as Ultraviolence is the next classic number to delight an already dancing crowd, with a lot partying like it’s the 80’s again, and Sumner remarking how better it sounds nowadays.
The first Joy Division song soon comes to the fore with Disorder. A real blast from an illustrious past as Sumner does a fine job on the vocals made so famous by Ian Curtis. Then it’s the turn of Crystal, the band barely stopping for a moment. Gillian Gilbert making the keyboards on this song sound so easy and Phil Cunningham going for it on the guitar, proving why he is a key element to how New Order sound live. It then comes right back up to date with another from Music Complete, in the shape of Academic.
The brilliant Your Silent Face is the next classic to treat the crowd, with the graphics and lighting throughout this and the entire show adding to the already brilliant atmosphere. The names of the band members come up individually to great cheers from everyone. Tutti Frutti follows soon after that, an underrated song, but one that is still a crowd pleaser. Subculture turns Ally Pally into a big disco hall, with Sumner getting his groove on as well as the audience, with the couple dancing in front of me really going for it.
Bizarre Love Triangle keeps up the smile factor, especially on stage as Sumner patrols the parameter whilst his happy comrades continue to keep the music flowing. Vanishing Point continues that flow, and it does make you appreciate that there is so much more to this band, as well as the big hits. Waiting For The Sirens’ Call is one such song that deserves much more credit and is one of the New Order that sounds great live as well as on the album. Plastic is the last number from the Music Complete album, and has Star Wars style graphics to go with the music. Top marks to the technical team for making the gig a real visual treat.
Then comes four of the best. First up, and thanks to the fella who shouted this down my ear, is The Perfect Kiss. Still sounding as good as ever, with Sumner doing very well to maintain the more higher range of vocal that accompanies this song. True Faith is the first of the two mega hits, and every fan of every age in attendance is singing along to perfection. Then, it’s Blue Monday. Yup, the biggest of them all. The song that changed the way people perceived electronic music. And every member of the band really put in a shift, with Chapman in particular making the bass sound his own. The last New Order classic of the four is Temptation, and keeps everyone on their dancing toes before the band go off for a well earned break.
“Are there any Joy Division fans out there?”, enquires Sumner to which he gets an enthusiastic response. So the encore begins in earnest with Atmosphere. Behind the band is the video of the song, a poignant tribute to the late, great Ian Curtis. Still haunting, yet still sublime at the same time. Decades is the next great Joy Division song (and the title of the recent Mike Christie documentary) to be played. And one that can still capture the imagination, as the video tribute to Curtis continues in the background. The show closes with a song I personally have waited all my life to see live. Love Will Tear Us Apart. My favourite song of all time, and the only song to end the show with. The audience singing in unison, a regular terrace chant if you will.
New Order maybe getting older in age, but their music is timeless. The whole band can still mix it with the rest of them. Stephen Morris just doesn’t know how to drum slowly on some songs either, which is great news for everyone who goes to their live shows. But catch them while you can, and when you do, you won’t be disappointed at all. Just ask everyone in the Friday night crowd.