The rain falls. The crowd increases in the pit, covered with umbrellas and raincoats. Among the droplets of water, the smoke machines create an eerie mist in front of the stage. The yellow lights come on with jolt – and after a 23-year absence from the Atlanta stage, New Order begins with a brief interlude of a few lines from the instrumental composition, “Elegia.” The fans start screaming and the rain stops. The band seamlessly transitions to the song “Crystal,” from the Get Ready album, followed by the hit “Regret” from the 1993 compilation Republic. As Bernard Sumner took center with lead vocals, Phil Cunningham accompanied, easily going back and forth between the guitar and the keyboards, as did original band member, Gillian Gilbert, jumping between synthesizer and guitar. Stephen Morris was on drums while Tom Chapman, the most animated of the group, played bass. New Order performed exceptionally, covering the bands varied musical styles, from an electronic sound to an instrumental rock motif.
As a longtime New Order fan, the musical and entertainment qualities of the concert were impressive. Sumner provided a consistent and solid vocal performance with his guitar in hand, with Cunningham, Gilbert, Chapman and Morris providing their master skills on their respective instruments. As the band played, videos played on the large display behind the band, and I soon realize MTV videos are playing as they performed hits from the MTV days. It’s a risky maneuver for the band to put such focus on their early success, but it was successful in creating a reminiscent and engaging mode among the audience. The lineage to Joy Division was kept alive with the rendition of “Isolation,” as well as with a complete encore dedicated to the music of the predecessor band. The encore included “Atmosphere,” “Shadowplay,” and for the finale, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”
At a time when Joy Division and New Order came to be, the music scene of the time dictated either the intensity of a “Punk” theme or a synthesizer “New Wave” dance motif after an era of disco. But true success of a band came from lyrics to complete the compositions.
Both Joy Division and New Order emphasized electronica instrumental sounds, with strong lyrics and sobering vocals with an uncanny techno beat.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart” was the Joy Division song popularized for these qualities in 1980, only to be followed by the 12” release of “Blue Monday,” by New Order in 1988.
The unfortunate truth is New Order has gone through some rough patches over the years. With two breakups since the mid-nineties, and band members leaving and returning, the most monumental change was the departure of Peter Hook in 2007.
As an original Joy Division and New Order member and songwriter, band differences resulted in his leaving the group. Although Peter Hook was missed and can not truly be replaced, Chapman was well qualified to step up and fill his shoes. With this, the band took the stage, and provided an awesome show to an audience of appreciative fans.