New Order | Review and photos
Dance to New Order? Head bob to New Order? Open-mouth gaze at New Order? The crowd at the Aragon often seemed unsure about how to react as the post-punk pioneers—founding members Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert with guitarist Phil Cunningham, who’s been with the band since the dawn of the 21st century, and stand-in Tom Chapman, who deftly handled the bass in the wake of irreconcilable, interpersonal squabbling with Peter Hook—soared through a delectable tasting of hits and the unforeseen. The evening’s lineup was a carefully curated collection of cuts seemingly meant to satiate both the needs of the fans and the players themselves, so the crowd can be forgiven for not always knowing when to flail, when to fawn and when to do both.
Though “Here to Stay” from the 24 Hour Party People soundtrack was a nice enough surprise, I don’t think anyone expected this: a three-song encore of Joy Division covers. It was a first on this tour, and it served as a touching and fitting tribute to fallen comrade Ian Curtis, whose 1980 suicide lead to the new order of things for Sumner and Morris (whose fierce, exact drumming has not aged a lick). To be sure, there were dance-jam highlights in the form of “Bizarre Love Triangle”, “Temptation” and “Blue Monday.” But those three songs at the end—“Heart and Soul,” “Atmosphere” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart”—as well as “Ceremony,” which is technically a New Order song, but come on, lent a sobering depth to what easily could have been a knee-jerk lineup of radio hits meant to fill the reunion quota. Though Sumner’s cadence at times stretched far from the recorded versions of the songs (and not, I suspect, in a “I’m changing it up for the live show” kind of way), his marked enthusiasm for the packed setting and support of his bandmates—he joined Gilbert behind the Roland and held the mic to Chapman’s bass as it boomed during “Blue Monday”—was refreshing and enticing and enough to make me forgive him for wearing his own band’s t-shirt. This performance was certainly nothing he should regret.