New Order – review

Brixton Academy, London

"He's no Hooky, is he?" says a man behind us as New Order's new bassist Tom Chapman throws shapes and strikes poses that he hopes might one day be as memorable as the absent Peter Hook's legendarily low-slung, legs-splayed stance. He knows he has gargantuan boots to fill; it was always Hook's glowering presence and elasticated bass melodies that carried New Order live.

Since Hook split from the band in 2007 amid declarations that there was no New Order without him and a firestorm of abuse for Bernard Sumner, the focus rests solely on singer Sumner, a man with the on-stage persona of a nervous best man. He chats about Manchester United, thanks crowd members who have come from abroad, does his dad-style dancing and even tries a spot of comedy mime, checking his watch and pretending to whistle impatiently on the "now I stand here waiting" line of Blue Monday. The return of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, doing her best standing-very-still-in-a-sparkly-collar thing, does little to assuage the sense that there is something rather hefty missing.

They have split and reformed numerous times in their 32-year history, but with the remaining members now claiming there'll be no more New Order albums, there's an air of finality to this London show – besides some summer festival dates and a slot at the Olympic closing show alongside Blur, this might really be it. A shame, then, that where you'd want a celebratory blow-out, you get a squib with the odd dramatic spark.

Repeating, virtually track-by-track, the career-spanning set from last December's Troxy gig (released as Live at the London Troxy), New Order's proto-electro sound is monstrous and magnificent, laced with equal parts doom and jubilance. But Sumner's frail vocals are buried, the melodies of stone-cold classics Crystal, Bizarre Love Triangle and Regret lost beneath the breezy pop blast, leaving the impression of clumsy karaoke.

Though there's often good reason not to hear Sumner's lyrics – this is the man, remember, who sang that when he was a very small boy, very small boys spoke to him – the set only truly stuns when not relying on his hooks. When Ceremony takes atmos-pop back to its subterranean Manchester roots. When True Faith builds from flashbulb strobe pulses to a stabbing rave-piano climax that might have just invented slaughter-house. When tides of industrial metalwork machinery, ray-gun fire and poltergeist choirs convene on a superb Blue Monday. And when the encore of Joy Division numbers – Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart, glazed with an uplifting synth glitz – reminds us how formative New Order have been in modern pop.

As swansongs go, though, this lacked a fitting magic.

At Glasgow Academy, tomorrow. Box office: 0844 477 2000. Then touring until 8 May.

Contributor

Mark Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
New Order – review

There was something very Doctor Who about New Order's impressive gig at an astrophysics centre, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

08, Jul, 2013 @5:12 PM

Article image
New Order review – pure serotonin for an existential ache
Dedicating Love Will Tear Us Apart to the victims of the Paris attacks, Sumner and co shimmer through an untouchable back catalogue of electro alchemy

Ian Gittins

17, Nov, 2015 @12:33 PM

Article image
Festival No 6 – review

Portmeirion's dream-like setting makes for a surreal and captivating festival built firmly on indie heritage, writes Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

17, Sep, 2012 @5:40 PM

Article image
New Order + Liam Gillick: So It Goes review – a suitably theatrical Manchester return
There are intensely emotional scenes as New Order revisit their back catalogue on a grand scale with synth orchestra, airing songs not heard for 30 years plus rapturously received tributes to the band’s fated predecessor, Joy Division

Dave Simpson

02, Jul, 2017 @11:38 AM

Article image
New Order – review
In a week of Manchester reformations, a rejuvenated New Order delight their fans with a rare greatest hits set, writes Luke Bainbridge

Luke Bainbridge

22, Oct, 2011 @11:04 PM

FAC251 Opening Night | Pop review
The Factory, Manchester
The inauguration of Peter Hook's new club succeeded in invoking the spirit of the long-gone but not forgotten Hacienda, says Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

11, Feb, 2010 @10:00 PM

Article image
Delphic | Pop review

Garage, London
This hotly-tipped Mancuncian four-piece look set to fulfil the glowing prophecies of the 2010 hot lists, writes Caroline Sullivan

Betty Clarke

10, Jan, 2010 @10:00 PM

Bad Lieutenant | Pop review
Leadmill, Sheffield
The new order of New Order need to decide whether they're a new band or a human jukebox, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

17, Mar, 2010 @10:40 PM

Article image
New Order: Music Complete review – fresh, danceable album with intriguing diversions
New Order’s first proper album in a decade finds them sounding fresher than they have in a long time

Tim Jonze

24, Sep, 2015 @8:15 PM

Article image
Peter Hook reaches 'full and final' settlement over New Order royalties
Following years of rifts and a 2015 lawsuit, New Order have wrapped up their legal battle with former bassist Peter Hook

Ben Beaumont-Thomas

20, Sep, 2017 @4:05 PM