Ceremony time: New Order coming to our hometown is certainly something we wouldn’t dare to miss. Touring to support their latest album Music Complete, easily their best album since 1989’s Technique, the band made one stop at Tempodrom in Kreuzberg on November the 11th. Before the show, listening to the new album, instantly got hooked on glorious tracks like Plastic, Singularity and Tutti Frutti.
Around 6pm we took the Berlin public transport adventure and arrived at the huge circus tent like building to find ourselves surrounded by people of very different age groups – maybe a few people that likely have seen Joy Division when they played The Kant (Koma)Kino in Berlin over 35 years ago, or people that were there for Power, Corruption and Lies, and Lowlife in the mid 80s. We soaked in the atmosphere of the crowd attending the sold old show, and quickly grabbed a beer and placed ourselves in the center of the audience.
New Order offered two support act: Jake Evans from Bad Lieutenant and Mute founder Daniel Miller opened the evening with a great Techno set before New Order eventually entered the stage, being welcomed by an enthusiastic audience that was perfectly teased by Daniel Miller’s beat bombardment. Being announced by their friend Mark Reeder, a Berlin underground veteran, New Order started off with Singularity, one of Music Complete’s highlights, and this was accented via the projections on multiple screens featured late 70s/early 80s Berlin footage from Mark Reeder’s Documentary B-Movie. This was indeed a great start to the evening- I am sure that quite some people in the audience recognized themselves or their friends of in the footage, or at the very least Blixa Bargeld.
The band’s 35 years of existence had certainly paying off—now having grown to a five piece since the return of original Keyboardist/Synth-Performer Gillian Gilbert. New Order presented itself with and extremely slick stageshow, with the best lighting setup I have ever seen, something that would probably make their friend Bono jealous.
The second song in the set, Ceremony, their debut single, gave the first celebrated 80s flashback, followed by the 2001 track Crystal, which immediately ignited the audience into a roar of singing and dancing. Ha, indeed it was funny to see how many youngsters were enthusiastically sang along Crystal, which was highlighted by the original video that had been aired on MTV in the early oughts; the (fictional) band in the video called The Killers is an interesting side note since outspoken Joy Division/New Order fan and front man Brandon Flowers of the real world The Killers made a guest appearance on Music Complete’s closing track Superheated.
Next up was Age of Consent, that was underlined with a beautiful video called The Earth Wins. Then…Announced by a Texas Instruments Speak and Spell voice modulation came the numbers 5 – 8 – 6 6 6 6 6 6 6, which cued New Order delivering one highlights of the evening.
This was followed up by the B-side of Thieves Like Us, Lonesome Tonight, before Music Complete’s first single Restless ironically giving only a slight respite, that was extended with the tranquil beauty of Your Silent Face (never been more happy to be told to “Piss Off” in my life!).
Next, was one of my personal favorite of the new record, the track Tutti Frutti.
Resembling the Technique era that was fueled by all the E in England and gave nods towards the Hi-NRG disco scene, along with their most prominent protagonists Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Dead or Alive, the song is pretty close to a perfect dance track that makes me feeling high whenever I feel low.
Following this was the Happy Mondays-like funk influenced track People on The High Line (a non literal “bathroom break” for me after twisting my melon to Tutti Frutti excessively), until Bizarre Love Triangle fueled the the nostalgia and caused the room to quake.
Closing their set with Plastic, The Perfect Kiss, True Faith, and Temptation, (the later of which captivated the crowd to chant along “whoa ah oh oh oh , oh ah oh oh ah oh”), how much can I possibly say?
First: The difference between a good band and a legendary band such as New Order, is the simple fact that the band didn’t have to try too hard to animate the audience to sing along, clap along and celebrate. Second: Each member of the band as individuals were not the stars of the night. The visuals provided by various sources were; the Mancunians were always fond of a certain aesthetic, and let it be the 8-bit graphics for 5-8-6, let it be the visuals for Tutti Frutti openly resembling the Technique artwork, let it be the footage of B-Movie used to underline Singularity or the weird running figures that were present on Bizarre Love Triangle – the band hanged back behind the music and the visual experience of the evening, and the excellent sound at Tempodrom made the first leg of the gig an amazing experience, despite – some tracks are better than others, and I think that a few songs, especially some off Music Concrete, will have to stand back behind New Order’s classics (I missed Sub-Culture, e.g. – but how to integrate that into a 2 hour live show fueled by amazing tracks?). But that was not all New Order generously served us on that evening.
Because there are the inevitable encores, and when I say “encores”, I say “Joy Division tracks”. Starting with Atmosphere, followed by the track that says Joy Division like no other, Love Will Tear Us Apart. T that was released shortly after Ian Curtis’ suicide 35 years ago and became their longest-lasting hymn, and one of the greatest songs in Rock and Roll history. The visuals projected on the several hi res LCD screens adoring the stage were a touching tribute to Ian Curtis along with the best version of Love Will Tear Us Apart that is possible to hear live (Jaboe era Swans is the only example of a decent cover version, I’m afraid) It’s great to see how much a song like this can bring together three generations of New Order fans, including the Post-Punk veterans, the 24 hour party people, and 21 year olds going to Berghain on a Sunday morning.
Traditionally, the set was closed with the hammering beats of Blue Monday, and what was could possibly come after that? Exactly, silence. And mermories of a great night, the proof that New Order are still relevant due to sheer quality.
Pick up Music Complete if you haven’t already, and go see New Order if they are touring in your part of the world in 2016. They are now, better live than they ever have been!