“Isn’t it great to be alive again?” Bernard Sumner asked Heaton Park on Friday night. Time to make up has been lost.
The eve of the annual Park Life Festival has grown into a legendary local slot. Without a pandemic, Liam Gallagher played last year and his brother played the year before.
But for New Order, this was the biggest headline show they’ve ever played in their hometown, even if they cheekyly reminded Sumner that he was actually from Salford when the set began. ..
When New Order was last performed in town, it was part of a series of shows at the Manchester International Festival. There, they invited a “synth orchestra” from the local Royal Northern College of Music, both of which accepted interdisciplinary collaboration. He ran on a unique light show by artist Liam Gillick, avoiding classics and instead sprinkling deep cuts on the setlist.
But on Friday night, there was no shame in their monolithic back catalog showcases. A large amount of early material from the heyday of the 80’s reminded me of both sides of the band. There was a stately shimmering synth of “Your Silent Face”, but alongside them was the exposed nerve vividness of “Age of Consent” and “Ultraviolence” where Joy Division’s post-punk cast a long shadow.
“I hope it hasn’t corrupted any young people,” said Sumner, the latter, staring at a crowd that was demographically very difficult to pierce.
“Written in a very dark time in Manchester. That’s not the case anymore.”
Elsewhere, you’ve got a “subculture”, a gladly eccentric “Bizarre Love Triangle”, and perhaps the best electronic hat-trick you’ve ever heard to close the set. .. “Monday”, “Temptation”.
More cynical among the audience may have felt that Angkor was a place where the procedure fell into complete nostalgia. Three Joy Division tracks. Images of Ian Curtis and Tony Wilson are flashing on the screen behind the band. Sumner’s often swaying vocals remain a world away from the cold commands Curtis had in “Decades,” “Transmission,” and “Love Tears Us,” while the latter two tracks are aerial fists. It worked fine as an anthem for. Especially in front of a crowd who just saw the New Order transition from punk strength to electro supremacy on this career-long set.
Looking forward, the question remains about the group: were they serious when they titled their seemingly final album? Music complete Back in 2013?
Will they make up with Peter Hook? Could John Barnes not take part in the “World in Motion” celebration take?
At least on Friday night, I felt these questions weren’t a problem. It wasn’t in front of a crowd hungry for live music for a long time. Instead, it was a perfect homecoming. I’m really happy to see the artists and the audience again.