Sunday 1989-03-26 11:26:00 PM
  Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
  N/A, Capacity: N/A
NewOrderOnline.com is supported by its members. Donations are always welcomed and appreciated.

Send a donation...

Home  / Live  / Concert Browser  
Sunday 1989-03-26 11:26:00 PM, Birmingham, England, United Kingdom

1Touched by the Hand of God 
2Mr Disco 
3Dream Attack 
4Vanishing Point 
7All The Way 
8True Faith 
10Round & Round 
11Bizarre Love Triangle 
13Fine Time 
14The Perfect Kiss 

From Ian Gittins (Melody Maker 8/4/89)

They've come a long way, New Order. A bloody long way. And yet they're
still doing it, still getting there. Tonight's show, as flawless as
we're ever going to get from this superbly flawed band, is truly
startling and ambitious, high and mighty. All the usual skilled
manouevres. They could have done so many things, taken so many
turnings, and they end up still making this hopeful, querulous, aching
music. When they could have come a cropper so many times, they're still
Think, if you must, of Joy Division. Then look at Peter Hook, the
bearded yob, with his bass by his cotton socks and his crotch in the
faces of Row C. Can there be any link? Possibly? As he sweeps his biker
locks back with his brawny forearm and mutters something about "f***",
could the band making these majestic symphonies really have grown from
those dark, claustrophobic dirges? well yeah, of course. And the
reason is that at the heart of both bands, there beats a gripping,
utterly poignant vulnerability.
Much of it lies in the persona of Barney. He's such a kid. Facing
10,000 faces tonight, after 10 years in this band, he still looks like
he's on a nervous first day at school, not knowing what to say,
blurting out what comes into his head and getting it wrong. Never quite
getting there. This is so much of New Order's appeal, the small,
anxious voice at the heart of their slick techno-machine, the human
element trying to surface. He can't always make himself heard over it
all, same as always. Sometimes, you can't. It's a daily struggle.
Tonight, New Order coast at the level of casual excellence. Which
isn't to say all is fine. When sublimity is the norm, any drops stand
out, and the first few songs here only just tick over. I even fear
we're about to get one of their occasional shamble shows. The
material's from "Technique", and as it bounces off the rafters, sleek
machine music with Hooky just about redundant, it proves no more than
that New Order have a good technique. They know how to twiddle a synth
knob as well as the next man. Even Barney's daft acid dance can't save
them from anonymity, of all things. It's hi-octane House efficiency,
and they can't touch the clouds through it.
Yet the weird thing is how New Order, somehow, can inflate the most
fragile, awkward little song to fill a cave like this. How human doubt
then joy can be made to touch 10,000. They're such awkward, cussed sods
that they're never about to go out and play a Greatest Hits selection,
but tonight is as near as they get. "True Faith" starts it off, a true,
trite holiday anthem, bouncing along the beach. And yeah, it begins
just like every New Order song should: "I feel so extraordinary."
Existential wonder. That's their bag. And this new, positive, confident
New Order have turned full circle since another song began: "This is
why events unnerve me."
And yet it's that which follows next, "Ceremony" swaying the hordes
as Barney goes loopy and Hooky, the daft sod, plays out of his skin.
Gillian and Steve, as ever, are invisible. Once a lament of misplaced
angst, now the song's an explosion of celebration, Barney still
straining to chip in his ten'penorth. He still sounds like he doesn't
know if he's right, but now it's different; he doesn't care if he
ain't. The anguish and dilemmas are over. This New Order, for better or
worse, have marked out a space for themselves and they're secure in it,
happy to revel in the space and flow. Their loss? Our gain.
New Order still spend lots of time in the studio doodling, finding a
pretty bit then adding Barney's clumsy, clever words (the oldest Sixth
Form poet going) over the top. He can still transfer a nervous sense of
privacy, of private thoughts, into a grotesque barn like this and touch
us. If ever he couldn't, New Order would be dead. The requiem written.
And then, just as they're absailing through another sleek pattern from
"Technique", Hooky pulls a miracle from his bass and they shoot into
"Temptation", guitar scrabbling like nails on skin. God, New Order can
still be this good. To this many. Who'd have thought it?
So, they're as great a paradox as ever. Still sleek and lush, yet
flawed and overwhelmingly human. Still on their nerve ends, though with
better timing. Still taking 10 minutes to decide whether to return for
an encore, after they've told us "People in this world/Have no place to
go." I'd feared for New Order, thinking they were set to fall into
mere techno-efficiency, lose the tautness that has for so long made
them our premier rock/pop group. But this was high, and serene, and
sincere, and mighty. The music of four hearts beating. New Order
torched, and burned, and turned the NEC into one great space for them
to think out loud, then dance. This was still raw.
And their only way is up. So keep climbing.


Write a review for this concert

Ticket for the show.
2001-12-16 2:33:00 PM
by James Thomas
Ticket of the show
2001-08-11 10:03:00 AM
by Andy