Home > In the Spotlight > At Long Last…New Order Live!

At Long Last…New Order Live!

October 25, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

photos by Mari Stauffer

by Mari Stauffer

New Order (including its previous incarnation, Joy Division) has and always will hold a very special part of my heart. From the post-punk rawness of Joy Division to the more new wave/pop/dance signature that is New Order, I’ve always loved the music these people make. The thing about New Order is, since they rose like the phoenix from the ashes of Joy Division, they’ve always been able to provide either more of a post-punk/rock sound, or an electro-dance sound more fitting for a night on the dancefloor. From the gritty guitar work and funky bass hooks to driving dance beats and exquisitely-timed samples, these folks know how to get their musical groove on!

During all the years I’ve been loving them, I’ve never had the chance to see New Order live…until a recent Friday night, on October 5, at the Fox Theater in Oakland, CA. The band hadn’t played live in North America in seven years, and only scheduled seven shows for their tour here. So, as you can imagine, those tickets went FAST…and I feel very fortunate to have gotten the chance to attend. Sure, this time it wasn’t the original line-up (Bernard Sumner/Stephen Morris/Gillian Gilbert/Peter Hook). For especially the most die-hard fans (um, myself included of course), a New Order show without “Hooky” may seem just wrong, but let me tell you, they came through just fine, and delivered! Guitarist Phil Cunningham replaced Gillian Gilbert in 2001 so that she could take time to focus on her children (whose father is Stephen Morris), and also on stage was bassist Tom Chapman (from Bernard Sumner’s recent band, Bad Lieutenant). They are both obviously accomplished musicians but they did not try to upstage any of the three original members, and seem to have a good rapport with them all.

Gillian Gilbert, in her first live performance since 2001, was graced with a subtle spotlight during the whole performance in a nice show of recognition. She held down the keyboards, as she always did in the past, with a stoic grace. Bernard Sumner’s voice still sounded great, and he seemed to be less stage-shy than he’s been known to have been in the past, chatting up the audience a bit and dancing around. Stephen Morris laid down the rhythm and beats in true “human drum machine” form, and clearly hasn’t lost his percussive talent.

Since this was the first show of the tour, and it had been seven years since they played in North America, the audience was truly excited! New Order has such a vast catalog that every song was a sing-a-long and they delivered the songs beautifully, staying true to how they sound on the album, but with just enough of a different live twist. There were, of course, a few classic tracks that got a more ecstatic response: it seems everyone was waiting for “Blue Monday” and when that legendary beat kicked in, they tore the roof down! In the middle of their set, they played “Isolation” and got quite an elated response….I know that I, along with many I’m sure, was waiting to hear some Joy Division tracks as well. The encore was just two Joy Division songs: “Atmosphere” followed by…wait for it….. “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” During these songs, the visuals screen behind the band showed a montage of the famous “Atmosphere” video directed by Anton Corbijn, stills of Ian Curtis, and the words “Forever Joy Division.” All of us in the crowd became a little more subdued. It was a very nice and touching tribute, and a beautiful way to end the show. Thank you, New Order for maintaining not only your musical talent for creating engaging, thoughtful, groovy, fun, dreamy, pop-y, dance-y music, but also for holding on to your musical integrity. I hope it will be far fewer than another seven years until North America is graced with your presence again!

Elegia/Crystal/Ceremony/Close Range/Age of Consent/Isolation/Here to Stay/Your Silent Face/Bizarre Love Triangle/586/True Faith/The Perfect Kiss/Blue Monday/Temptation. ENCORE: Atmosphere/Love Will Tear Us Apart

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