New Order – review

Jodrell Bank Centre, Cheshire

In the 1980s, when New Order signposted pop's electronic future with Blue Monday, the idea of a gig at a centre for astrophysics would have seemed impossibly futuristic. Even in 2013, there's something very Doctor Who about a stage that is dwarfed by a gigantic radio telescope. Attendees to the Jodrell Bank observatory's annual Transmissions festival receive another treat during Johnny Marr's set, when New Order's Bernard Sumner joins him for Getting Away With It from the duo's days as Electronic.

New Order make their entrance – as they have done countless times – with the hymn-like Elegia, but shortened and minus Peter Hook's mournful basslines. Since his 2007 departure, Hook tours their moody early material with his own band, the Light, while his former bandmates mostly celebrate the poppier end of their back catalogue. Still, the setlist finds room for the rarely aired World, five Joy Division songs and a glorious Age of Consent.

"This is a new old song," deadpans Sumner, introducing I'll Stay With You from last year's Lost Sirens collection of Hook-era leftovers. Tension has given way to deadpan wit: the headrushing Ceremony is "a song we wrote as Joy Division, before our singer inconveniently died". A sideline in standup doesn't beckon, but he seems to have found new liberation in the simple joy of singing.

Hook's raw heart and soul are irreplaceable, although Tom Chapman's facsimiles of the famous basslines only go seriously awry during Your Silent Face. Elsewhere, modern technology has given new oomph to early classics of electronic pop such as Temptation, Blue Monday and a thrillingly reworked 586. As dazzling images are projected on to the 76-metre dish of Jodrell Bank's Lovell telescope, it feels like the headiest combination of future and past, sci-fi and quaint. "Thank you to Jodrell Bank," yells Sumner. "It's a stately institution – just like us."


Dave Simpson

The GuardianTramp

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