Music review: New Order, Hydro, Glasgow
New Order, Hydro, Glasgow ****
Despite an unassailable reputation as electro-pop trailblazers over the past four decades, it is only now that New Order have made the jump from their comfort zone as mid-size venue headliners to playing select arena dates beyond their native Manchester. Although diffident performers, they have a formidable back catalogue from which to cherrypick and easily filled the challenging vastness of the Hydro with a beefy version of their 2001 single Crystal.
They had more of that somewhat generic indie rock muscle to show off later but wisely there was no time wasted cutting to the classics, Age of Consent and Ceremony, two songs on which the New Order sound was built 40 years ago. These were non-conventional epics accompanied with slick new visuals splashed across a huge screen – the standard arena rock currency which they also deployed alongside material from their most recent album, 2015’s Music Complete. The emphasis here was on efficiency rather than inspiration, though Stephen Morris could be counted on to elevate any old track with his powerhouse drumming.
Joy Division song Isolation was polished up from its solo synth beginnings while retaining a certain punky roughness but the show was really set on its upward trajectory by the Kraftwerk-with-melodica strains of Your Silent Face. The glossy travelogue visuals were replaced with acid-hued geometric patterns and lasers for an epic Sub-culture and cosmic visuals for the thumping Hi-NRG-inflected Bizarre Love Triangle.
Frontman Bernard Sumner demonstrated that even dad-dancing ropey vocalists can successfully helm "a few dancey tunes", including the newest song in the set, 2020 standalone single Be A Rebel. Having hit their stride, they brought out the big guns, True Faith and Blue Monday, before releasing the mirrorball for Temptation. Wisely, they segregated the sacred Joy Division mini-set for the encore, mustering a tribal intensity for Transmission before climaxing with the anthemic Love Will Tear Us Apart.