New Order @ The Anthem – August 28th 2018

38 years ago, the death of singer Ian Curtis led to the dissolution of Joy Division and the formation of New Order by the remaining members. The transition took them from the somber post-punk of the earlier project into a new, more electronic direction, a move that was met with some skepticism from fans early on but eventually led them to become one of the most important bands of the 80s. A series of five albums in that decade cemented their influence and importance, with several of their songs becoming instant classics that are still well-known to this day. In the years since, the group’s output has become somewhat more sporadic, with break-ups and interpersonal drama sometimes nearly overshadowing the music. But the group, now consisting of original members Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert along with newer recruits Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman, continues to soldier on. On Tuesday evening, they played their first show in the Washington, DC area in over five years at The Anthem to a sold-out and very enthusiastic crowd.

Music Complete, the group’s most recent album (and first without original bassist Peter Hook) came out in 2015, and the band opened the show with one of the singles released from it, “Singularity.” Every bit a classic New Order song, it transitioned seamlessly into “Regret” from 1993’s Republic. The band returned to Music Complete several more times throughout the show (for “Superheated,” “Tutti Frutti,” and “Plastic”). The rest of the sixteen-song main set, however, was a virtual greatest hits performance, with the band playing tracks from nearly all of their albums along with popular single-only songs “Temptation” and “Blue Monday.” Highlights included a couple of songs which the band has only recently brought back into their live repertoire, “Your Silent Face” from 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies and “Vanishing Point” from 1989’s Technique, along with, of course, bigger hits like “The Perfect Kiss,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and “True Faith.”

As has become their customary practice now, the band returned for the encore to play a trio of Joy Division songs. Two songs, “Atmosphere” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” have become setlist standards at this point. Notably, though, they bookended “She’s Lost Control,” a song which has been less common in the band’s setlists in recent years. Together, the three tracks served to pay fitting tribute to the band’s legacy and formed the perfect ending to the night.

New Order

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