There was joy in the air when New Order took to the stage last night on a beautiful summer evening at Trinity College in Dublin. The band, making their entrance to music by Vorspiel, New Order main man Bernard Sumner announced to the crowd that he was nursing a monster hangover, opening with ‘Singularity’ and ‘Academic’, both from their most recent studio album, ‘Music Complete’.
The lead singer then addressed the audience and asked, “Any Joy Division fans out there?” Going onto add that he wasn’t a big fan of anniversaries (Joy Division’s seminal album Unknown Pleasures turned 40 this year), the band ripped through ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Shadowplay’ and ‘Transmission’, much to the delight of an audience that spanned half a century. Sumner’s vocals have never been the strongest part of New Order, however, Stephen Morris’s drumming is truly hypnotic – a picture of intensity and utter concentration; both exhausting and exhilarating to witness live.
Sumner’s introduction on his melodica alerted the audience to the poignant ‘Your Silent Face’ from the ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’ album.‘ Tutti Frutti’ then got the crowd into dance mode with Sumner (as only he could) dedicating the song to Geno’s Gleatos Ice Cream stall in the Dublin venue. As dusk descended, ‘Subculture’ rang out in the college grounds. Sumner had ditched the guitar for the past couple of songs, and as always, looking slightly awkward in his dance moves without it; not that he cares. During ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ he delightfully poured the mic around the front row of the crowd as the singalong began. Before the final crescendo of tunes, the band sang ‘Plastic’ another track from their latest LP.
‘Perfect Kiss’ delighted the New Order die-hards before the notes of ‘True Faith’ took over with Sumner’s guitar and Morris’s booming drum beats knocking the crowd for six in the Trinity cricket grounds. ‘Blue Monday’ followed with new bassist Phil Cunningham deputising confidently yet modestly for the departed, charismatic bass-slinger Peter Hook. Sumner closed out the track sharing Gillian Gilbert’s (looking as non-fazed and super-grounded as ever) keyboard on its’ final notes. ‘Temptation’ topped off the party atmosphere, bringing one of the biggest reactions from the crowd on the night.
A quick gap in the proceedings led into ‘Decades’ for the encore, overseen by the words and imagery of Ian Curtis. The song was played for the first and last time at Joy Division’s final gig at High Hall in Birmingham on 2nd May 1980, long before many of the audience were born, but the significance of its appearance on the set-list last night was truly felt in this communion of remembrance for Curtis. As the words ‘Forever Joy Division’ flashed up on-screen, ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ was the fitting and final act from a defiant & inspired New Order on a memorable night.