BBC Radio – Live in Concert
Fuel 2000 Records
New Order can be described as one of the most definitive bands of the ’80s and one of the earliest founders of ecstasy-driven techno. They have produced some of the greatest club hits of all time and they are continuing to be remixed by Perfecto, Shep Pettibone and Armand Van Helden. The original mix of “”Bizarre Love Triangle”” can still rock any party with good musical taste.
However, in the live album they recently re-released for the American public, you can hear just how vulnerable and uncomfortable New Order were with their success at Glastonbury in 1987.
Bernard Sumner, the frontman of New Order, was still recovering from the suicide of his close friend and bandleader Ian Curtis. Curtis had led Joy Division to mythical proportions and from its ashes came New Order. Sumner was not sure how to handle his colleague’s death, but in the memory of Curtis, New Order pushed on.
In this timeless recording of their show in Glastonbury you can hear the energy and nervousness of the New Order performance. Being on stage took away their cool and clean studio sound and revealed the abrasive guitar of Bernard Sumner over the melody of Gillian Gilbert’s keyboards and Peter Hook’s definitive bass riffs. Their sound is reminiscent of a punk-rock group pushed along by the technology of the time. Their raw Glastonbury performance almost recaptures their punk influences of bands like The Clash and sheds any image of a sappy pop-techno group.
Sumner tears through the songs on his guitar with such ferocity you almost forget about the clean studio tracks that we have gotten used to.
Raw intensity and powerful vocals lead the group past missed chord changes, flubbed lyrics and the general insecurity of a group coping with something it has always been uncomfortable with: success.
“”Touched by the Hand of God”” opens the album and sets the tone as Sumner wails and yelps throughout the song. “”Temptation”” is played at an amphetamine pace as Sumner cries out, “”up, down, turn around. Please don’t let me hit the ground.””
This performance reveals a band that is on the verge of success. As they introduce their “”new”” song “”True Faith,”” you can hear an early version of what was to become a massive international hit. You can also feel the vulnerability of Sumner as he stumbles through the verse before he comes back with a rousing chorus.
You can only imagine the frenzied dancing of the crowd as the first few bass notes are plucked out on “”Bizarre Love Triangle.”” Sumner growls through the words of the song as the now classic synths build upon each other to climax at a glorious finish. Amidst the cheers of the crowd you can hear a self-conscious Sumner tell the crowd, “”notice that all our songs finish with big endings. Big songs, small dicks.””
The nostalgia of “”Perfect Kiss”” beautifully melts into grinding guitars and an angry and distorted solo. “”Age of Consent”” follows with more thick guitars doused with chorus effects and the passionate vocals of Sumner, who yells, “”I’m not the kind that needs to tell you just what the fuck you want me to.””
A guitar-heavy cover of Lou Reed’s “”Sister Ray”” at the end of the show seems to cry out that New Order still remembers Ian Curtis and their previous band, Joy Division.
New Order’s performance on this album is not polished nor is it cleaned up in the studio. This will not be best performance that you will hear from New Order. There are other New Order albums you should probably get before this one. But this performance on a summer evening at Glastonbury in 1987 is what defines the attitude and energy of the enigmatic New Order.