Review: New Order at Bestival

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In a career stretching back more than three decades New Order can rarely be accused of doing things the easy way.

Having formed from the ashes of post-punk icons Joy Division after singer Ian Curtis committed suicide, they have proved to be an enduring and influential act.

Bass player and co-founder Peter Hook maybe missing from this latest reunion, but ironically, the band, who have been notoriously ropey live in the past, seem energised and are in the form of their lives.

Replacement bassist Tom Chapman wisely opts not to imitate Hooky’s trademark low-slung playing style, but he is still integral to the band’s sound. When they launch into Joy Division’s Isolation, the bass sound is thunderous, hitting hard in the gut and the spotlights on the stage twitch in time as if in sympathy.

Frontman Bernard Sumner, initially seems in dour mood, apologising for his ‘smoker’s cough’ and complaining about the smell of beefburgers onstage, noting that Morrissey would have quit the stage by now.

But as the set goes on his mood improves and he looks to be enjoying himself up there.

True Faith hits a high point, but when that is followed by the distinctive drumbeats that announce the start of Blue Monday, the crowd responds by going truly crazy. Given a light makeover the song that first brought them to the attention of most people sounds as fresh as ever.

For the encores Sumner is practically playful, joking that keyboard player Gillian Bernard in her spangly outfit their Lady Gaga. They then play a punchy Transmission from their Joy Division days.

After that though there’s still one song everyone wants to hear - as Sumner says: ‘There’s only one way to finish a festival set. And it’s our song,’ as the unmistakeable opening of Love Will Tear Us Apart begins.

The big screen at the back of the stage shows images of Ian Curtis, denied the chance to grow old like his colleagues, before flashing up the legend ‘Forever Joy Division’.

As the band takes its bows at the front of the stage, the chorus of their final song is still echoing in the crowds up the hill. It’s a spinetingling moment, the kind that great festivals see made of.

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