Killburn National Ballroom, London, England, United Kingdom (1982)
New Order's live appearances have less the feel of rock concerts
(which is, of course, what they are on the most basic level) than grand
rituals of momentous importance.
That should come as no surprise. Live performances by any mouldy Joe
with a scrum of fans contain at least some ritualistic elements, but
with New order the meaning is amplified, the social significance
elevated to peculiar levels.
Forgive the ham sociology - there's not much concrete evidence to
support this particular hypothesis - but anybody who has ever walked
into one of the group's performances and stayed for more than a couple
of minutes must know the feeling. It's in the air... a wisp of
expectation... it's THEM.
This kind of open-mouthed adulation is never less than dumb, but at
least there have been times when New Order's sprays of sound have been
so spiritually invigorating that its been at least understandable. The
National Ballroom was not one of those occasions.
Plagued by a dreadful, muffled sound, New Order played well, played
with feeling, played hard, played fast, though never tipped over
the flagons of spirit welling around their edges, never truly ignited.
New Order, nevertheless, gave a worthwhile breeze through the newest
pages of their mystery and showed their ability to develop a new line
of thought. No longer an extension of Joy Division's shadow, Order have
new sets of vectors to follow.
Joy Division used the synthesizer in the Tangerine Dream mould -
waves of lapping, quasi-orchestral sound. New Orser follow the
Kraftwerk model, thrusting fierce electric rhythm to the centre.
After half an hour they walked off stage, returning for an indulgent,
directionless "jam" with members of their funk-based support band. It
seemed utterly pointless, and like the short playing time and late
arrival on stage, came across as nothing less than a kick in the teeth
to the faithful hordes in their flock. - LYNDEN BARBER
Source: Lynden Barber (Melody Maker 5/6/82)