As a person who’s attended his fair share of live electronic music shows, it was a little weird to be immersed in a completely different demographic last night at New Order. Wait, what am I saying, it was just a bunch of old mostly white people rather a bunch of younger mostly white people. Still, it felt like a tectonic shift to suddenly be at the younger edge of the spectrum rather than where I was at deadmau5: old and crusty and not to be trusted. (Photo album for the word-averse: LINK)
This wasn’t my first time seeing New Order perform live. I first saw them play at Coachella 2014 from the way, way back of one of the large tents. As a photographer shooting from the pit in front of the stage, there was a marked difference in my experience. I got to be up close and personal with the people whose music shaped me in so many ways. It was New Order that taught me that being vulnerable is not being weak, but brave, that being soft is a good thing, and that in the wake of tragedy, the only way to move is forward. And suddenly there they were, mere feet from me, and I had to snap myself out of a passive concert goer mode a couple times, reminding myself that I was up there to photograph.
New Order, born from the ashes of Joy Division, following the loss of singer Ian Curtis, pressed on and shifted into different musical territory. It’s impossible to track their influence, in terms of who they opened doors for, who they inspired, or how they pushed the limits of what music could be, chiefly due to the fact that they’ve been at it for over forty years. It makes me wonder if picking out songs for their setlist is just a simple series of darts thrown at a dense word cloud.
So what is New Order like in concert? For starters, they’re painfully British. Tight-lipped, furled brows, serious expressions save for the super concentration guitar-playing expressions of Bernard Summer and Stephen Morris’ very occasional, very brief smirks that looked as though they may have hurt his face. But Bernard and Stephen both shredded on guitar and played through even the most trying parts with ease. Or at least apparent ease, which isn’t easy.
There’s something to be said for proximity in a concert, of being as close as you can to the performers, but at The Palace, I’ve found a little distance goes a long way. The lighting and stage production seems a tad overbuilt at times for the size of the space, almost like a too large TV in too small of a room; you get the feeling that you can’t really take it all in in a single glance unless you’re as far back as the first level bar. After the first three songs, I planted myself right about there and enjoyed the full gamut of lighting and video production that the Palace can offer and it was the absolute sweet spot. The only issue was that everybody else in the sold-out crowd seemed to have figured that out as well.
For anybody in a town New Order has yet to visit: I cannot recommend going to see them enough, even if you only have the most cursory knowledge of the band. After all these years, through break-ups and make-ups and tragedy, they’ve still got it.
For a complete gallery of shots from the show, head here!
I work, live and play in Minneapolis.
I try to tell the story of the people that create music and experiences through pictures as well as through words.