New Order are more than just a band. They are more than seminal band even. They are pioneers and aren’t far off genius having repeatedly touched perfection with their stupendous back catalogue. I can sort of understand those that have never got into them. My Mrs for one has criminally likened them to sounding nothing more than a 5 year old playing a Casio keyboard. This is coming from a woman who holds Right Said Fred seven inches in her record collection and thinks Mumford & Sons are the cutting edge of popular music. They are a band that need to be digested and embraced. One you do and you take them in, you will have fallen in love and there is no way out.
Their live shows have often been the matter of much debate with their playing and vocals regularly being brought into question by sceptical critics. Personally, when I am at a gig I don’t want to hear the latest LP being played out exactly as it is on record. I could save the £4 a pint and turn up the stereo in my house to do that. And that’s where New Order for me always stand up amongst the best when it comes to performing live. What is beautiful about any New Order gig is the reworking of their songs and turning the whole thing into something brilliantly new.
This could not be illustrated any better than on their new release, ‘Live at Bestival 2012’. The album, as the title suggests is a live recording of their headline slot from the fancy dress Saturday at Bestival and is being released as part of the IOW youth trust charity showcases New Order in all their glory.
The set starts with the gloriously spooky ‘Eligia’ from ‘Low-Life’. I imagine there would have been the odd confused look between neutral spectators as this is not one of the more well known tracks, however I’m sure these were all banished by the opening strains of ‘Regret’ which sounds as blissful as it always did. It’s also the first chance to hear Barney’s vocals which sound spot on and it’s also cracking to hear the trademark “wooos” in there.
Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’ follows with its frantic drumming from Stephen Morris is and it becomes apparent that there is an overwhelming wealth of material that New Order have to choose from. This is confirmed with the more recent (if a 10 year old track can be called recent) in ‘Krafty’ and then the track written with the Chemical Brothers, ‘Here to Stay’ which I imagine went down a treat on a Saturday night in Bestival
‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ follows and it’s thumping house beats give you a slap in the face before ‘586’ from ‘Power Corruption & Lies’ comes in, all kitted out with its epic electro groove with and Phil Cunningham’s thrashing guitar which makes you wish (probably for the only time in your life) that you were in 1985. The intro to ‘586’ is somewhat reduced from the recorded version; however in its defence this just adds to the high octane pace that the classics are belted out.
‘Perfect Kiss’ is up next up and given a reworking whilst still keeping that euphoric beauty which stands New Order alone. Then ‘True Faith’ keeps the trend going with some disco drumming giving it a more ‘housey’ feel. Bliss. ‘Blue Monday’ follows and you can feel the crowd’s reaction. It could be the Hacienda as opposed to a muddy field in the Isle of Wight
Throughout there is minimal crowd interaction although at the end of ‘Blue Monday’ Barney does apologise for his smokers cough before you hear Morris’ shuffling drums, then Gilberts signature keys and then Cunningham’s guitar signalling the beginning of one of the greatest songs ever written, ‘Temptation’. A heaven, a gateway, a hope….
This signals the end of the set. Luckily as this is a CD we don’t have to contemplate the “shall we get another pint in before they come back on”
The encore consists of two Joy Division songs. First up is ‘Transmission’ which remains a classic of epic proportions. It is only the warm up for what, in Barneys words “the song to end all festival sets – and it’s ours” – ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Amazing.
Last year The Cure released their album which was very Cureish and came in at over 3 hours as a set (which for them is a short set – check out their set list from Cuba recently – 58 songs!) and for the non-Cure obsessives at the show it was a tough one to digest. New Order absolutely nail this offering. There may only 13 songs here, but what a set, and how masterfully delivered.