Oct 16th 2011
When Peter Hook announced that New Order has split it came as a shock, especially to the rest of the band and it seemed like the band had split forever. Hooky went off to his various projects including The Light- playing Joy Division songs whilst Bernard went off to do Bad Lieutenant and the Other Two went to ground.
The following months saw much acrimony and wrangling. Peter Hook continued touring the Joy Division back catalogue which was criticized in some quarters and yet was surprisingly effective live, Bad Lieutenant never seemed to really take off and at some point they seem to have made the decision to regroup as New Order adding Gillian back into the band and dusting down the back catalogue for a couple of charity gigs.
This, of course, increased the bad feeling with Peter Hook who has not been included in the line up and replaced by Bad Lieutenant bass player Tom Chapman.
So here we are in Brussels for what are rumored to be the only two gigs the band are playing but knowing in our heart of hearts that there is more to come. New Order 2011 is very much the Barney show and as the band arrive on stage it’s very noticeable that there is a large hole where the bass player used to be. There was something quite wonderful about Hooky’s rock star, legs splayed posturing that was the opposite of the New Order style and the differences between Hooky and Barney was very much the key to the band.
Tom Chapman does a great job covering the bass, afterall the beauty of the legendary bass lines is their simplicity to play but the tricky bit is making them up, Peter Hook may have not have been a virtuoso but he was one hell of a bass player and many of the classic melodies in the songs came from his bass runs and were a key part of the sound. On the other had the less interesting later releases of the band saw him slowly being moved away from the focus of the band’s sound but many of us miss his brooding presence in the band.
The New Order comeback has started with these two intimate gigs as benefits for their friend- the film producer Michael Shamberg, who is seriously ill. Shamberg produced the band’s videos during their glory years, including the key ‘True Faith’ video. It’s a nice touch but if the rumor mongers are to be believed this is a precursor to hitting the summer festival circuit and maybe a new album.
The first gig seems to be packed with people from the UK who have made the short trip over the sea to see the return of the band that many have credited as being one of the most influential in the post punk years. Barney looks sleaker than in the recent Bad Lieutenant days and bosses the show, without his Viking foil it’s very much his ship now as they launch into ‘Crystal’. The band sounds well rehearsed and tight and ‘Ceremony’- the key song that saw them emerge from the wreckage of late period Joy Division sees the band hit a top gear before they play cascade of hits and classics which are uproariously received.
Songs like ‘1963’, ‘True Faith’ , ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ pour out and like Hooky’s similar working of the back catalogue with his projects prove that there is plenty of pop history to be mined here. They end the set with ”ËTemptation’ and t he crowd is relieved that it all works and are quite ecstatic to see the return of the band, yet more returning Manchester heroes, patched up again out on the circuit. They say that every band eventually turns into a tribute act but if they do it as well as this, what’s the problem? many of us would like to see the proper line up of course, but that’s not looking that likley at the moment but then if the Stone Roses can do it…
They encore with ‘Blue Monday’, which even manages to incorporate the traditional sound problems and then a version of Joy Divison’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ before leaving the stage.
By the time they take this greatest hits set out on the festivals this summer as the rumour mill predicts they could be in triumphant form, lets hope they are not booked on the same day as Peter Hook’s similar greatest hits escapades!