What does it sound like?:
“In June 2017, New Order returned to the stage at Manchester’s Old Granada Studios where Joy Division made their television debut on Tony Wilson’s So It Goes programme in 1978… For the celebrated show, New Order “deconstructed, rethought and rebuilt” a wealth of material from throughout their career: familiar and obscure, old and new… The show and performance was created in collaboration with visual artist Liam Gillick and orchestrated by composer-arranger Joe Duddell, the live show was performed by the band with a 12-strong synthesiser ensemble from the Royal Northern College of Music.”
So, let’s get that title out of the way first:
No = New Order
12k = 12 keyboards (from Royal Northern College of Music, on stage with the group)
Lg = Liam Gillick (put together the visuals and stage concept)
17Mif = Manchester International Festival 2017
Obvious, really, innit? So, what do we get?
A live album of little-performed album tracks and b-sides to complement the NOMC15 live ‘hits’ album from the Music Complete tour.
Kicking off with “Times Change”, a little-loved track from the original lineup’s least-loved album, Republic, performed as an instrumental. This is perhaps wise as Barney’s attempt at rapping on the original was excruciating. Still, it sounds lovely, with the multiple keyboard parts clear in the mix but, without vocals, a bit like lift musak.
A selection from the studio albums follows: In A lonely Place (b-side of Movement-era single Ceremony); Ultraviolence & Your Silent Face (from Power, Corruption & Lies);
Sub-Culture, Elegia & Shellshock (from Low-Life); All Day Long (possibly Bernard’s best-ever lyric) & Bizarre Love Triangle (from Brotherhood); Dream Attack & Vanishing Point (from Technique); Who’s Joe & Guilt Is a Useless Emotion – possibly their worst-ever song – (from the last Hooky-era album Waiting for the Sirens’ Call); Joy Division’s Disorder, Decades & Heart and Soul; all topped off with Crystal b-side Behind Closed Doors (featuring one of Bernard’s worst “scores… Corrs… doors” rhymes).
Sound is clear and bright, if bass-light, the extra 12 keyboard players combine to make a sound… just like a sequencer. Many songs are given a bit of a makeover to make them more dancey. Bernard’s vocals are clear, he’s learned to enunciate, and mostly close to in-tune. Only a close-but-not-quite random octave leap in All Day Long, and his attempt to sing the JD songs in Ian’s low register, let him down.
Pet gripe: random audience cheering during the quiet bits.
What does it all *mean*?
It apparently takes 12 keyboard players from the Royal Northern College of Music to make a sound just like Gillian pressing a button on a sequencer.
It’s lovely to have live versions of these little-performed tracks but the massed keys don’t really add much other than visual spectacle.
Goes well with…
Live at Bestival 2012 and NOMC15, the other late-era live albums.
Official-bootleg Live at the London Troxy is best avoided.
Might suit people who like…
New Order, Joy Division, Electronic