- 21 Oct 01
Watching a New Order performance is more of a pleasure than writing about one.
Neither Bernard Sumner nor Peter Hook attended New Order’s last end-of-tour party. Each assumed the other would be present, so they both stayed away and sulked. After 15 years and three incarnations (Warsaw and Joy Division being the others) the former school chums could no longer bear to be in the same room as each other.
Eight years on, they’ve reconciled their differences and are back doing the rounds, joshing about the bad times, plugging their latest opus, Get Ready, and happy that the only thing threatening to go pear-shaped this time around is their bassist. “I’ve had to work out for this tour,” Hooky told one interviewer. “Otherwise people would be leaving the gigs wondering who the fat bastard they got in to replace Peter Hook was.”
Hell, they’re even happy to do encores now, having tried and failed to remember why it was they steadfastly refused to do them in the old days.
Watching a New Order performance is more of a pleasure than writing about one. There’s so many questions: Didn’t they just play that? Was that an old flip-side or a new single? Was that a Joy Division track or a cover? Is it conceivable that younger hotpress readers won’t have heard of Joy Division? Is it conceivable that younger hotpress readers won’t have heard of New Order? Is that bloke over there crying?
It’s fair to say the similarities between assorted gems in the New Order back catalogue are striking – a bit like Jamiroquai, but in a good way. Thankfully, there the similarities end: Sumner’s dancing is even worse, silly hats are conspicuous by their absence (as is Gillian Gilbert, who has opted out for family reasons and been replaced by some young whelp whose name I didn’t catch) and although their trademark bass-driven post-punk electro-pontifica spans centuries, new tracks like ‘Rock The Shack’ and forthcoming release ’60 Miles An Hour’ sit easily with certifiable classics such as ‘Regret’, ‘True Faith’, ‘Temptation’ and the three Joy Division calling cards dusted off for a packed Academy’s listening pleasure tonight: ‘Transmission’, ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Love Will Tear us Apart’.
Unfortunately, the sound throughout is of dubious quality. Whether the blame for this skuzziness lay with the aforementioned roadie, the Academy’s acoustics or yours truly for standing too near a speaker stack for the first half hour is anyone’s guess. Then again, of all bands, this lot are never going to sound anywhere near as pristine off the record as they do on. Aware of this, they have Mr Peter Hook to compensate and use him well. He leaves no inch of the stage unprowled – grinning, scowling, growling, posing and throwing shapes like a man relieved to have rediscovered his mojo and general raison d’etre. And as for those bass lines…
The long awaited sequel has finally arrived. They’re back and this time they’re, eh, less miserable than usual.