Live Review: New Order & ACO

3 June 2016 | 11:43 am | Bryget Chrisfield

"'Temptation' causes flashbacks to clubbing flirtations when pupils like dinner plates met on the dancefloor."

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The same black and white footage of divers that kicked off New Order's appearance in this same venue last night opens tonight's show, but this time it's accompanied by lush, live orchestration courtesy of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. There's much whooping as New Order step out on stage and then they launch into Singularity, during which the band sound so loud we wonder why they bothered enlisting ACO for this world premiere performance. Stephen Morris's drumming is urgent and driving, and there's a shield behind his kit to separate band from orchestra. Regret's upbeat melodies ring out vividly, although Bernard Sumner struggles to hit the high notes of the chorus. We see Joe Duddell (who arranged the strings on New Order's latest Music Complete set) conducting and bows moving, but strain to hear the notes ACO supply.

As the striking official Restless video plays out on the back screen, we notice the superfan/self-appointed hypeman from last night's audience is back dancing in the stage-left aisle, back-handing invisible flies into the air above his head like a human pinball machine. The string section becomes a little more audible during 1963 and we're charmed by the song's accompanying video clip featuring Jane Horrocks. Sumner definitely looks more comfortable when wielding a guitar, his shuffling dance steps when minus the instrument evoking Ben Kweller's nanna Bubbie's dancing in his Penny On The Train Track video. 

There's gorgeous added orchestration for Your Silent Face's intro before Sumner performs his melodica part and then it's Tutti Frutti that lures the crowd to their feet as it did during last night's performance sans ACO. "There's something about that song," Sumner observes afterwards. The sound mix tilts in ACO's favour during Bizarre Love Triangle, although Sumner's vocals could still be turned down a notch. He tells us he hopes we're enjoying ourselves since the band "had to rough it in business class" all the way over here from Old Blighty. It's all about The Perfect Kiss: that bass line, those familiar frog ribbets plus stirring orchestral outro are everything. Those Oompa Loompa-esque jumping men are a welcome sight on the screens as True Faith keeps us up and dancing. Sumner disappears side-stage while the epic Blue Monday intro tantalises our ears. Temptation causes flashbacks to clubbing flirtations when pupils like dinner plates met on the dancefloor. 

When ACO remain onstage we're pretty sure we'll be treated to an encore. Once New Order return to the stage, Sumner thanks us, adding, "Last time we got a standing ovation viagra was involved." Pause. "Not me!" Cue Anton Corbijn's iconic Atmosphere video for a morose, reflective experience. Then Sumner introduces the next song: one they haven't played since Ian Curtis died — "so please bear with us if we cock up a bit". What follows is worth the ticket price alone and ACO are utilised beautifully in Decades; haunting, reverent and unforgettable. Here we get a taste of New Order + ACO rather than New Order with ACO as afterthought. Love Will Tear Us Apart concludes the evening, lightening the tone ever so slightly as we attempt to sing along with this song's super-low chorus.

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