New Order. Live at the Birmingham Ballroom. 29/04/2012
With not exactly a shortage of bands reforming in the recent years you would be forgiven for thinking that recently reincarnated eighties ensemble New Order would be little more than a brief injection of euphoria for angst ridden forty-somethings desperate for that last dose of 1983. Instead, we are presented with a measured snapshot of a unique moment in British pop music history, in a fitting scenario that sees Bernard Sumner and co return to Birmingham, thirty two years after the University of Birmingham played host to the last ever Joy Division performance before singer Ian Curtis’s suicide forced Sumner to take to the microphone and lead New Order into a new era.
Considering this was clearly going to be a ‘greatest hits’ affair, any danger of passive nostalgia was quashed by an urgency to go out and enjoy the moment, both by band and fans alike. Classics such as True Faith and Temptation teased a vibrant reception as few seemed affected by the absence of founding bassist Peter Hook, currently touring the life out of the Joy Division back catalogue. Jubilation ensued at hearing debut single ‘Ceremony’ and the entire crowd, however balding, seemed to form a mutual connection for an upbeat version of Joy Division classic ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, a rendition that seemed to complete a night of simply exceptional music.
Despite Sumner’s niggling cold, (he had a little lean up a wall during Blue Monday – which could be forgiven given its longevity), the band forged on, with unrelenting vigour, ensuring a performance that never once felt laboured and gave the crowd, not just a flash back to their heady days of ‘then’, but a fresh performance for ‘now’, certifying synth-pop’s relevance in the 21st Century.