Disclaimer – I am such a New Order fanboy that if you are here for a objective and nuanced review, then you have come to the wrong place…
I was a bit late to the world of concerts and my first foray into gig-life was the aforementioned New Order in 1988 (I was 17) when they starred in a three-band billing with A Certain Ratio and Happy Mondays at the G-Mex in Manchester, still one of the best concerts I have ever attended, not least because I adore both New Order and A Certain Ratio.
Two years on and a friend and I journeyed up to Glasgow to see them at the SEC Centre, in which was another fantastic concert.
These two concerts were important, not just because it was New Order but also due to the fact that this was the band’s golden era, as in 1988, Substance had only been out a few months and was a fantastic compilation of New Order’s 12″ tracks, a format that the band themselves admitted to being their favourite. In 1990, arguably one of their finest albums, Technique was out and the tour setlist was full of tracks from this particular gem.
Even though I have followed them ever since, I have not warmed as much to the later albums: Get Ready (2001), Waiting for the Siren’s Call (2005), Lost Sirens (2013) and Music Complete (2015) as the previous classics, basically anything from Movement (1981) to Technique (1989). This also meant that I haven’t put too much effort into catching up with them since my move up to Sweden in 2001.
And then, hearing from my wife that they would be performing at Dalhalla over summer, I decided it was time to revisit one of my absolute favourite artists again in a venue famed for being unique in beauty and cool factor. It’s actually a former limestone quarry converted to a summer concert venue and it is immense.
I had checked the setlist from earlier concerts and saw that Music Complete would feature quite heavily, but so would my older tracks, and in all likelihood some of my favourites. I also noticed that tracks from Get Ready, Waiting for the Siren’s Call and Lost Sirens would be extremely thin on the ground, looking as though New Order were aiming the gig at their hardcore fans. This was exemplified by the fact that there were not one or two, three or even four but five Joy Division tracks on the previous concert, which made me even more excited about the whole thing.
The next thing was to introduce my son (a huge Blue Monday and Love Will Tear us Apart fan) to a bit more of the band’s repertoire. He was very excited about this concept, so all good there and off we set for our four and half hour drive to the concert.
The concert itself was majestic and I had my viewpoints on Music Complete changed with a great introduction of Singularity and Restless, which worked well live and got the audience going. Then came a couple of Joy Division classics, She’s Lost Control and Transmission (I don’t think New Order played anything other than Love Will Tear us Apart at my previous two gigs), before moving into one of the best tracks from one of the best albums (if not the best) Your Silent Face, from Power, Corruption & Lies (1983). If I wanted to be picky here, I could have easily switched this out for my all-time New Order track, Age of Consent, from the same album.
Then it was back to Music Complete, with the track I am still struggling with, despite its popularity, Tutti Frutti. I don’t know what it is but it just doesn’t feel like New Order to me and is a big reason why I have struggled with the album in the past.
Then, surrounding Plastic, also from Music Complete, which I have to say is really growing on me, came the heavy hitters, in the form of Bizarre Love Triangle, Sub-Culture, True Faith and Blue Monday and the crowd went wild, fans who had been sitting enjoying the show suddenly came alive and started jumping and dancing (me included) and everything was as it should be. I was transported back to those two years of my teenage years when for some reason I only played New Order or Joy Division for the whole period, to the consternation of friends and family. Nostalgia was at its core and the more the songs went on the more immersed I became.
And then, a song that I have always loved, but obviously not realised just how much, Temptation came on and I was forced down to the front to dance and shout with the fans. What a moment!
They were on fire and after Temptation came the classics, Decades and Love Will Tear us Apart and the nostalgia session was (music) complete.
In reality now it’s time to prepare for my next concert (Eels in Stockholm) next month but I just can’t seem to stop playing New Order, I’ve been dredging through the back catalogue and even made a concerted effort to give the later albums a whirl too.
Thank you New Order for an immense concert and for being the band that has made me realise my passion for music again and again and again.