New Order - Manchester Apollo
So for those who haven't been paying attention, here's the rough maths. Joy Division minus Ian Curtis = New Order. New Order minus Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert = Bad Lieutenant. But Bad Lieutenant + Gillian Gilbert = New Order again, returning to their home city for two sold out shows after a six year absence and to the apparent chagrin of their former bass player.
Tonight the audience is a mix of those who remember the Hacienda and are reliving their youth, and more than a few who have never known it as anything other than a block of flats in the city centre. The mood in the room is set by lighting and projections that serve to give the venerable Apollo an atmosphere that suggests a club where a band happens to be on rather than a gig, and it produces a heaving, sweaty pit that maintains momentum at the front of a rammed-to-bursting standing area, going crazy for the classic singles.
They kick start proceedings in fine form with the one-two punch of late period single 'Crystal' and nineties classic 'Regret', a pair of tunes that most bands would consider themselves lucky to be able to encore with. Sumner's not in particularly chatty form but does announce the end of the main set by remarking inaccurately that "You've had your money's worth - nobody's played this long since the Grateful Dead", and does seem to be enjoying himself, particularly during a terrific mid-set run through of 'Bizarre Love Triangle' that sees him temporarily liberated from guitar duties and performing some particularly spirited dancing at the front of the stage.
Perhaps due to a muddy sound mix, it's not until an extended version of 'Blue Monday' kicks in that the balcony starts to match the momentum downstairs and remains on their feet through an encore consisting of a romp through Joy Division classics 'Transmission' and 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' (the former afflicted by a yelping delivery as Bernard screams "DANCE!" at an audience already compliant with the request).
The elephant in the room tonight is actually something of a non-issue. Bad Lieutenant bassist Tom Chapman was already playing these songs live with Sumner and provides a reasonable facsimile of Hook's classic bass lines and playing style, albeit delivering them while dancing in a way that it's hard to imagine from Hook.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no new tracks, but at least some reinvention of old ones with some impressive extended versions. It does leave the question of where the reformed New Order go from here. Are they happy to be a crowd-pleasing jukebox, or will they stick around and deliver something more?
Set List: Elegia / Crystal / Regret / Ceremony / Age of Consent / Love Vigilantes / Here to Stay / Waiting for the Sirens' Call / Bizarre Love Triangle / True Faith / 586 / The Perfect Kiss / Blue Monday / Temptation // Transmission / Love Will Tear Us Apart