New Order performed their only UK show of 2018 at Alexandra Palace in London on Friday night, delivering a timeless set filled with songs both old and new from the band’s 40-year history.
The Manchester band, formed out the ashes of Joy Division following Ian Curtis’ suicide in 1980, followed in the footsteps of Mancunian legends Morrissey and Liam Gallagher who have also performed at Ally Pally in the last 12 months.
The synthpop icons used Wagner’s ‘Das Rheingold – Vorspiel’ as a prologue to their set. The classical tune simmers and builds to a rapturous finale, perfectly mirroring New Order’s performance to come.
Over the 135-minute set, they performed 21 songs from over 10 of their albums as New Order and Joy Division, offering something for everyone, from the belting chorus of ‘Temptation’ to the sombre drum driven tones of ‘Atmosphere’.
The crowd were somewhat still for a majority of the post-punk anthems, but this seemed to be more a reflection of the general age of the audience rather than a showing of disapproval.
There were small huddles of dancing attendees littered round the venue, but it was long stretch from the bands performances in the 80s at venues such as the Hacienda, where there wouldn’t be a still body in the room.
Five songs in, and they play the first Joy Division cover of the night, ‘Disorder’ from the band’s first record. Tom Chapman instantly sent the crowd into furore when he started the song’s iconic bass line intro, and for a moment the audience were taken back to 1979.
They surprised the audience with the last three songs of the set, performing ‘True Faith’, followed by ‘Blue Monday’ and then ‘Temptation’.
These are three of the band’s biggest songs, with ‘Blue Monday’ being the highest selling 12” single of all time, but the last time New Order performed in England, playing five shows for Manchester International Festival in 2017, they didn’t make the setlist once.
This was a welcome change, as pints flew across the room when the kick drum intro to ‘Blue Monday’ began. Temptation and True Faith had the whole room singing along with their catchy hooks.
In the past the band had a reputation for being standoffish, often playing short sets with no encore, but from the off on Friday it was clear the night was special.
Singer Bernard Sumner exclaimed at one point: “We’re having a f*cking great time up here”, a sentiment shared by the audience.
The 18 songs played were followed by an encore, of three Joy Division songs – a real treat for the attendees. Sumner, 61, joked after he returned to the stage: “Does anyone here like Joy Division?” before breaking into ‘Atmosphere’.
This was followed by ‘Decades’, both of which somewhat toned down the mood after the raucous trio of New Order hits played minutes before, but this was reversed entirely with the finale of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’.
These three tracks were backed by images of Ian Curtis throughout, with the crowd paying homage by singing every lyric back to the band.
Waiting in the pouring rain for the shuttle bus to Wood Green after the gig, the chords of ‘Temptation’ were still being sung by the half-cut crowd, showing that everyone there knew they’d experienced a truly special night.