New Order, Brixton Academy, London, November 2005
I’m stepping out on a limb here and I’m going to pin a badge on New Order. A badge that says ‘Most Important Band Ever’. Think about it for a bit: they resurrected their genius out of the ashes of Joy Division to become one of the most original bands ever, all but inventing the 12-inch single, and bridging the gap between punk/new wave and the dance floor. ‘Blue Monday’ remains one of the most brilliant songs ever, and I don’t care how ‘cool’ the club or party you are at might be… just watch people dance when they hear it. That song repels cynicism and gets every white boy to funkily jerk about. Not quite sure about the chronology here, if New Order had technically reformed after a break (in the 90s?), but I do know it was all four of them: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, Gillian Gilbert, and Peter Hook, plus additional guitarist Phil Cunningham. Hooky later left in a huff, but in 2005 he strutted & prowled around the stage, foot on the monitor, posturing like Angus from AC/DC - but fair do, his basslines are at the core of their sound. Come on, Hooky! So what is it? Electro? Kraut Rock? Techno? House? Indie? Stadium Rock? I reckon it is a tasty mélange of all of the above, but should only be referred to as ‘New Order’. That is what I loved about their return in 2001 with Get Ready because it sounded like New Order, and no one else had tried to sound like them while they in hiatus - a band formed 21 years earlier still sounded fresh. That album’s single ‘Crystal’ was blinding. ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’, ‘Love Vigilantes’, ‘True Faith’, ‘Temptation’, ‘586’, ‘Everything’s Gone Green’ all sounded out of time. Magic. I loved ‘Regret’ off Republic, one of my favourite tracks of theirs, somehow melancholy, yet ‘up’. And then of course, there was ‘Blue Monday’, live. What a f*cking pleasure. Ethically, I have no problem with them playing ‘Transmission’ or ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ - they wrote the songs, and it is not like I’ll ever get the chance to see Joy Division play. Those tracks were real bucket list stuff the first time I heard them live. The latter is a real fave on SingStar ;-). One odd thing, which for some reason cracked me up, was just how shit Bernard Sumner’s banter was. I mean, I wasn’t expecting Jarvis Cocker-like schtick, but after 20 odd years of touring, playing in front of huge crowds, you’d expect better than one “Wooo!” and a bored “Thanks, you’re great”. The Brixton Academy resonated with hero worship that gig. If I have to nail the gig down to one song, I think I will pick ‘Ceremony’. It’s instantly recognised from the first note, and represents New Order’s genesis after Ian Curtis’ death. The fact that that song from 1981 still sounds so good is their testament.