Culture, Events, Live Reviews — August 27, 2012 at 3:24 pm

No Need for Nostalgia


Review: New Order Live in Singapore, 22 August 2012, Fort Canning Park

I said “let’s go out and have some fun”,
I know, you know, you believe in a land of love,
I know, you know, we believe in a land of love

                                                                                   — New Order, Perfect Kiss

Ever had that sweeping feeling? That swelling onrush of emotion burnished by the twinned rays of satisfaction and happiness that some call romance and some call completion? Well, Fort Canning Park was awash with that feeling when New Order rolled into town. Like the decorated virtuosos that they are, the band played to the multitudes that turned up at Fort Canning Park, and, with their enthusiasm and adoration, transformed the gig ground to the final steps of a hallowed musical pantheon.

From the upbeat opener, “Elegia”, to the bleedingly aching ender, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, the crowd sang, cheered, dance, shimmied and jived their way through the band’s set. Bernard Sumner’s vocals may not have been what they were, but the artful melding of pop/rock elements with an enchantingly distinct electronic sound carried the band onward to an incredible performance. The debt owed by the history of popular music to New Order was evinced and underscored that night. New Order’s is a sound that is born of the union of different and distinct canons of Music. When the surviving members of Joy Division decided to illuminate the gloom of their former incarnation, and marry their post-punk inflected New Wave sound with the inviting headiness of dance music, they nullified the barriers of genre and laid the groundwork for innumerable other bands to study and create anew. This showed that night on tracks like “Bizarre Love Triangle”, the accusatory love-lorn anthem, “Blue Monday” and on the syncopated thrillride, “Temptation”.

It’s a pop cultural truism that New Order are the giants whose shoulders younger musicians and performers stand on. Their music has accomplished the highest aesthetic standard: giving the world a blueprint to create something from. This is why their music plays true across demographics and tastes. From mid-lifers to teens, the audience sweated and sang in communion, in a unified fashion that would be consigned to the formless realm of idealism and imagination, if not for music like this. The encore portion of the set affirmed this: two well-played and well-loved Joy Division classics took the performance of all the other songs before them to a level that it would only be fair to call spiritual, that left many, this writer included, panting and teary-eyed. Rapturous cries erupted as the drone of the “Love Will Tear Us Apart” faded into silence. Flashed on a screen behind the band was a picture of their brother-in-arms, Ian Curtis, accompanied by the words, “Joy Division Forever”. Forever. No need for nostalgia in the eternity of a legacy.