About an hour before New Order come on stage in The Troxy, in a nearby pub on The Commercial Road, East London, a fella initiates a conversation with a couple on a table, asking them what they are expecting from the band tonight; he sits down and shares memories of past gigs, before summing up the passion of the music by saying New Order playing ‘Ceremony’ live is the closest anything comes to seeing his club scoring a goal in football.
It is not the only football reference, chat or chant overheard on the night. There has been a good mix of both women and men at the last few New Order gigs in London, but if there is one predominant group at The Troxy, it is blokes, aged 30+, in nice clothes, all up for a few beers and a big Saturday night.
New Order: the band that made music that geezers can dance to.
Their last gig in London was in October 2006 at Wembley Arena, when Barney said “Tonight Matthew, we’re going to be Joy Division” when opening with six Joy Division tracks in a row. Another of their acrimonious break-ups followed that tour and it was only this summer, when they reformed for a couple of fund-raising gigs in Paris without Hooky, but with the returning Gillian, that they took to the road again.
Augmented with Bad Lieutenant, the band Bernard formed in 2009 and who on their appearances in London at Heaven and the Electric Ballroom played a mixture of Barney’s back catalogues (Joy Division, New Order, Electronic, Chemical Brothers as well as their own new material), this return to the Capital promised the classics.
And there were classics, but primarily all New Order ones. It took them years to feel comfortable enough to play Joy Division material live, but those songs were all back in their box tonight, apart from the closing ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Instead the set included some of their own treasures, rarely played live this century, including the wonderful ‘1963’, ‘5-8-6’ from Power, Lies and Corruption, and the magnificent ‘Age of Consent’.
With videos playing as visual backdrop behind them, they befitted their stylishly elegant image that Peter Saville helped create for them. All dressed in black, with Gillian front of the stage, left of a central Barney, they started with the instrumental ‘Elegic’ before going into ‘Crystal’, ‘Regret’ and ‘Ceremony’ back-to-back: an up-tempo delivery on the promise of the expectant atmosphere that was ramped up with rave music played in the venue before they came on.
‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, ‘True Faith’ and ‘Temptation’ allowed us to sing and dance some more, and within no time ‘Blue Monday’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ were finishing of an hour-and-a-half set. If there were season tickets to go and see ninety minutes of this at different venues every fortnight, they would sell out, no problem. As the bloke in the pub went onto say in his football comparison, “It’s a special feeling”.
With echoes of Glory from American Cinema to Bruce Springsteen, and full of the flavour of Escape European Travel brings, The Substantive Columnist Mel Gomes’ e-book ‘Glory Nights: From Wankdorf to Wembley’ is available from Amazon and Smashwords. New, independent writing on popular culture, it is being backed by The Substantive.