Thursday, 3 May 2012

More Statins than Ecstasy. Review of New Order at the Brixton Academy, 2.5.12

JULY 1983: I went to see New Order for the first time. It was at The Hacienda and I was a 17-year-old sixth form student. Power Corruption and Lies had just come out. I loved that album. Among the songs I squashed up and down to were Love Vigilantes, Temptation, Ceremony and The Perfect Kiss.

MAY 2012: I went to see New Order for the latest time of many. It was at the Brixton Academy and I was with my 14-year-old son. They played all those songs and more. They were minus Peter Hook but apart from that if I shut my varifocaled eyes to block out Barney's big belly it could have been that summer of 29 years ago all over again.

They began with Crystal. Classic New Order. Stephen's thrilling drums pounding away, then Barney's indie guitar chords, then his faltering vocals singing generally random phrases building to a rousing, romping chorus. All of it backed by those stomping bass lines played by the young bloke who isn't Hooky and those sublime synthesiser layers played by the wonderfully immobile Gillian.

Barney does his dad dancing. So do I.

By the time Regret had given way to Ceremony the £4.80 plastic punnet of lager had gone and we threaded from our respectful position near the back to the sweatier edge of the dancing middle-aged hordes. More statin pills than Ecstasy tabs this time.

"Did you ever think you'd come to see New Order wearing a tweed jacket?" asked Joe. No. Nor with a teenage son taller than me.

With that TV you just don't care, sings Barney in Krafty with a K. These days they're not two-foot tubes but 50-inch flatscreens. The song's never sounded better.

Now True Faith, cunningly disguised like many on the night by a brilliantly unrecognisable, multi-layered intro, and accompanied by those classic, Michelin-man dancers on the video screen behind Stephen. Then a couple of duffers - I never liked Perfect Kiss with it's "pretending not to see his gun I said let's go out and have some fun" daftness. And 586 was ok in 1983 but nearly killed the whole thing stone dead last night.

But then they come storming back: Age of Consent, with it's over-and-over again lament of I've Lost You; a triumphant Blue Monday, which they miserably refused to play live 30 years ago; a thundering Bizarre Love Triangle; and then the best moment of the night - Temptation. Up down turnaround, please don't let me hit the ground. I did the up and down, didn't turn around, didn't hit the ground. But by now my tweed jacket was starting to steam. One of the great songs of all time.

At 10.49 after 80 minutes they bailed out. We snaked our way to the back through the grown-up, grinning Eighties indie kids to wait for the encore. They ended by going even further back into the youthful memories of the faithful. Sensational versions of Joy Division's Transmission and, finally, Love Will Tear Us Apart. No Hooky, no Ian Curtis but still, still, still.

By 11pm the rush for the Victoria Line was on. Unlike 1983, most of the punters had to be at work in the morning.

And Joe had to be at school.

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