Live Review: New Order, Bristol Harbourside – 18th July 2019

OK, so this one is a bit late – nearly 3 months after the show, sorry about that.

I didn’t bother with any of the Bristol Summer Series shows this year as nothing really grabbed me. I quite like the venue, and have seen Sigur Ros and the Manic Street Preachers there in 2016 and 2017.
Elbow were tempting, having seen them before (on the Seldom Seen Kid tour) – they were fantastic then but I’ve not been so fussed about their more recent material. As it turned out, their show was on a baking hot Saturday night which wouldn’t have been too pleasant.

But after the summer series gigs were announced, Colston Hall announced two more Harbourside gigs – New Order and The Specials. I can’t say I’m a massive New Order fan, but them playing in Bristol was too tempting. I thought about The Specials as their new single had been quite decent and I’d heard that they were still good live, but that would have been gigs on consecutive nights! As it turned out, I made a good choice – it pissed with rain on the night of their gig while it was a lovely evening the day before for New Order!

The band came on stage to a backdrop of elegant black and white slow-motion film of divers, which looked very 1930s to me – until it faded into colour!
They opened with Singularity and Restless, which sounded like (and I assumed were) Joy Division songs – I was a bit surprised to realise afterwards that they came from a 2015 album!
Then they did play 3 Joy Division songs – She’s Lost Control, Shadowplay and Transmission – I did actually recognise these, and I have to admit that I prefer the Joy Division stuff to the New Order. I’m not a massive fan of their electronic material, but it was all perfectly good at the show. Some nice visuals too.

Obviously I recognised True Faith, Blue Monday and Temptation, which closed out the show. I know they used not to play encores, but there was surely no way they wouldn’t play Love Will Tear Us Apart – and of course they did come back on and finish with two more Joy Division songs – Decades & Love Will Tear Us Apart.

As they started Decades, I heard someone behind me call out “Play some New Order songs!” 5 out of 17 is a fair chunk of old material I suppose, but it is what people want to hear.

The band sounded really good, but you can’t talk about a New Order gig without mentioning Bernard Sumner’s voice – one of the great rock singers he ain’t! But I suppose it’s effective within its limits and works for their material.

So while I didn’t know probably 50% of the songs they played, and some of that not being my sort of music, I really enjoyed the gig and I’m glad I can tick them off the list. It is definitely worth taking the odd punt on a gig and seeing what it’s like – especially with a big band like this, playing round the corner from the office!

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