The first thing of note about New Order’s sell out show at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall, was the security presence, which has been written about a few times. On entering everyone was swept and frisked, including the standard bag searches. After Paris, it’s evident security is being taken seriously.
Even so it was a great way for me to be introduced to the band for the first time, with a sold-out gig; and with the room brimming with mainly middle aged fans. They took to the support act Jake Evans, who definitely set a good presence and mood for the main act. The response from the crowd showed that they felt it was a strong performance with lots of energy.
Soon enough it was time for the main act. The show started with an instrumental piece under an array of blue and yellow lights to which the band entered to huge applause, cheering and whistling. Who says the older ones can’t party! These guys are a not far off twice my age and their energy and tight, clean performance showed them to be true professionals. The guitarist played some great riffs coupled with some great poses and was totally at home on the stage. The vocals were tight, and the song choice was good, with a sense of progression as the set continued.
To start tonight’s set was the track Singularity from their new album Music Complete. Singularity being a very moody track which created an intense atmosphere, with an energetic, lively performance. There were a handful of new songs mixed in with the older hits which at times you noticed there was less interaction from the crowd. Restless was the fourth track of the night and this was very much back to the old school New Order sound. Although a new track it was greeted by great audience participation confirming the crowd prefer the traditional sound.The crowd were fully engaged and immersed in the performance, singing along to Bizarre Love Triangle. Bernard speaks to the crowd as if he was talking to friends: “It was Jason’s birthday yesterday wish him happy birthday”.
Next up Plastic; also from the new album. It was a heavily trippy display with what appeared to be a runway and speeding lines as the song progressed. We were getting a sense of increase of speed with the lines multiplying until the crowd were flying over mountains then at the speed of light with a kaleidoscope effect and feel. The track had Bernard thanking them once again, “Muchas Gracias”, before moving straight into The Perfect Kiss and then true Faith. This was my favourite from the night, it was clear the crowd felt the same by the cheering, it was superbly delivered with the crowd eagerly clapping them all the way through.
Moving on with Temptation, again the video deeply displaying in the background was amazing. The crowd joined in the song with “up down turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground” and “Oh you got green eyes”, louder and louder until the end. For the encore they came back to sing a 3 song finale: Atmosphere, LWTUA and Blue Monday in this order.
Atmosphere was a lot more than understated, starting with the display showing things such as In Silence, My Illusion Fear Us and Joy Division it obviously meant a lot to the band and their long term fans. Onto Love Will Tear Us Apart, which I felt was a great song and the crowd thoroughly enjoyed itwith lots of dancing, arms in the air. Finally it was my second favourite of the night Blue Monday; a much more upbeat and trippy dance tune and a tremendous song to finish a gig.
Coming to the close of Blue Monday, Bernard again addressed the crowd “Thank you Everyone! and Goodnight Wolverhampton”. The crowd were cheering whistling and clapping ecstatically at the end, showing the gratitude which was well deserved for such a performance.
I left overhearing some people saying it’s the best performance they have seen New Order deliver in a long while, and after a few patchy years, a real return to form!
Your Silent Face
People on the High Line
Bizarre Love Triangle
Waiting for the Sirens’ Call
The Perfect Kiss
Atmosphere (Joy Division)
Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division)
Review and photographs: Chris Bowley