New Order: Sonar Festival – live review

New Order.
Sonar Festival, Barcelona.
15th June 2012.

Sonar festival is, arguably, the best electronic music festival in the world. This years headliners, who are appearing at the festival for the first time, are the “electronic pop legend” that is New Order. Nick Cope was present for the first of their shows there & has rushed this review over to us.

New order open the 19th sonar festival annual event to a lucky 10,000 people who got a free ticket by consuming 20 bottles of beer and collecting the tokens on the back of the bottle, something I, for one, didn’t have a problem with.

The official Sonar website describes the festival as ‘…three days and three nights in touch with the most up-to-date developments in electronic music and featuring the most relevant national and international artists…’ and as ‘…the essential meeting point for an alert public, with cutting-edge artists and the most influential professionals from all sectors of music and modern arts’. By just looking at the array of previous Sonar festival acts, which includes Kraftwerk, Beastie Boys, Orbital & Human League it becomes clear why this festival is rated as possibly the best multimedia festival in Europe.

New Order: Sonar Festival – live reviewGiven all that, it seems fitting that the band that gave us a glimpse of an electronic future, New Order, can now write their names on the walls here. They opened with the beautifully dark instrumental “Elegia”, with lasers all fired up & visuals taking you on a helterskelter mind melt. The band then blast us with two of their signiture hits “Crystal”, followed by “Regret” during which a mosh pit starts to form.

New order are really on great form tonight and with the introduction of Phil Cunningham (guitarist) and Tom Chapman it brings that extra added injection which is needed, these two lads tonight are having the time of their lives interacting with the crowd and moving up and down the stage like they own the place. Joy division classic “Ceremony” follows with Gillian Morris joining Bernard Sumner on guitar at the end in front of a dazzling digital backdrop. During the song the mosh pit builds and builds.

New Order: Sonar Festival – live reviewBernard Sumner´s voice sounds strong and is in good form even though at some points he is overpowered by the band. Despite this he fights back and regains control. Steven Morris is playing like a man with ten arms, a mancunian animal with time on his side.

“Age Of Consent” lays up a 10 year rebirth for “Isolation”. “This is my one consolation, this is my one lucky prize isolation”, screams Sumner as he entices the crowd to get on board. “Thank you Barcelona it´s good to be back, it´s been a rough ride but we’ve made it” exclaims Sumner”. “Waiting For The Sirens Call”, “1963”, “Krafty”, “Bizzare Love Triangle” and “True Faith” showcases the quality of tunes New order have produced over their career.

New Order: Sonar Festival – live review“Ireland lost 4-0 to spain…” shouts Summner “…football is suicidel” as he holds up a printed score line of the game.

Extra extended versions of pure synthesizer tracks “5-8-6” and “Perfect Kiss with Tom Chapman on the synth drums sets us up for “Blue Monday“. The whole place erupts into now what is a giant mosh pit. Lasers fill the entire venue & lights bounce off the gigantic disco ball which revolves above the crowds heads. The 5 giant screens inside are filled up with glowing Blue Monday logos that dissolve into a matrix effect computer data mash up. The thing I love about Blue Monday is that I can listen to it everyday and never get bored of it.

New Order: Sonar Festival – live reviewIt´s getting hot in here. The air conditioning seems to have gone for a siesta and the impossible prospect of getting to the bar is made more impossible as the band burst into “Temptation” and Sumner’s impression of your dad dancing at a wedding seems oddly so fitting it not only looks cool but adds to the atmosphere. The whole place sings along, brought together by this 30 year old timeless classic that sounds as fresh as it did back when it was written.

Bernard Sumner gives the peace sign and the band leave the stage. People start to exit and the space near the front gets greater so I make my way to the barrier in front of the mike. The light show begins again & the band take their place. “We haven’t got many songs left exclaims Sumner” as the heavy bass line of Transmission kicks in. Listening to this song makes me want to convulse in a good way, Ian Curtis style, and as Sumner sings “Dance To The Radio” it´s like we’ve got no option but to dance.

New Order: Sonar Festival – live reviewNew Order are taking no prisioners tonight as the show culminates with a rocked up version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” with all five members firing on all cylinders.

Tonight was a party – a celebration of the history of New Order. They have another headline set here on Saturday night and a world tour set to begin after that. On the basis of tonight the rest of New Order’s year is going to be as successful as their past.

New Order’s website (including those world tour dates just mentioned) can be found here.

All words Nicolas Cope. More features by Nicolas can be found here.

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