New Order - live at Brixton
New Order - live at Brixton - image by Jim Dyson

New Order – Brixton Academy, London (16th November 2015) – LIVE REVIEW

This New Order article was written by Ian Bourne, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Josh Hummerston. Header image by Jim Dyson.

The best gigs have unforgettable moments, when the group on stage and the audience become one entity — with movement, lights, dance, visuals, music and singing sweeping everyone up together in one emotional joyous wave. New Order achieve this with ‘Temptation’. It’s the massive climax of their main set as they kick off their UK tour in London.

The track starts with synth genius Gillian Gilbert playing the beautiful string intro to Lou Reed’s ‘Street Hassle’, before it erupts to take the jumping, moshing, dancing, seething crowd through each of the song’s memorable singalong passages — “Up, down, turn around, Please don’t let me hit the ground”, then “Oh you’ve got green eyes, oh you’ve got blue eyes, oh you’ve got grey eyes”, ending with “I’ve never met anyone quite like you before.” Both moving and majestic.

The set’s track selection is doggedly early-to-mid 80s, with nothing from 1993’s ‘Republic’ or 1989’s number one album ‘Technique’. The 2000s get barely a hearing, just ‘Waiting for the Sirens’ Call’ — the title track of 2005’s album — and even this is given the ‘Planet Funk Remix’ treatment. Apart from that, five songs from this year’s ‘Music Complete’ are the only material from after 1980-87. Despite this, no-one’s complaining, as it makes for a great concert; a landmark event.

‘Waiting for the Sirens’ Call’ includes the line, “Gotta catch the midnight train, first to Paris then to Spain”, and it’s not the only reference to France during the evening. New Order come on against an animated projection of the wind-blown Tricolore, Bernard Sumner shouting “Vive la France” over the swirling synth-beat of new song ‘Singularity’. The video projections are an integral and well-constructed part of the show, making it an all-consuming experience. They screen punks, riot police, urban scenes, water, space, the moon, abstract and altered images.

At the start of the encore, Sumner says: “I’d like to dedicate this set to the victims of the appalling and senseless violence in Paris”. Poignant renditions of ‘Atmosphere’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ follow, against iconic video footage including images of Ian Curtis and the slogan writ large: “For Ever Joy Division”. Performed as part of a trilogy with these songs, ‘Blue Monday’ forms a continuum, with the hallmark basslines of departed legend Peter Hook, the thread that holds New Order’s and Joy Division’s sound together, played well by new-boy Tom Chapman. This, the night’s last track, sees guitarist Phil Cunningham take to whacking the electronic drums with gusto, while drummer Stephen Morris stands up to pound his. Sumner joins Gilbert on the synthesiser to complete the party.

Sumner has grown into his role of frontman over the decades since Curtis’ untimely death. On ‘Ceremony’ Sumner shows he can hold a tune better than he used to, even if a few notes slip later on, during an emotionally charged ‘Atmosphere’. As in Gilbert’s best synth moments, the spotlight picks out Sumner during his guitar solos, but when he drops his instrument, and takes to bopping around the stage, he looks a bit like an old man at a wedding. This is especially true when Elly Jackson of La Roux joins him for two of the new songs – ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘People on the High Line’. Her slick moves are in cool contrast to his ‘dad dancing’.

The highlight of the new numbers is ‘Plastic’, already a New Order classic, which stands up well as the show heads towards its throbbing beating climax with ‘The Perfect Kiss’ (including Star Wars bleeps from the e-drums and percussive frog croaks from the emulator), and the monster bass riff of ‘True Faith’.

New song ‘Restless’ blasts out against a video backdrop like something from ‘Game of Thrones’, and is not out of place amid classics ‘Age of Consent’, ‘586’, and rare B-side ‘Lonesome Tonight’. More special moments include Sumner tooting his melodica for ‘Your Silent Face’ and the whole crowd singing “I get down on my knees and pray” during ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’.

New Order play roughly two hours of great music, breaking the venue’s set curfew. What more can you ask for?

New Order