Live review 30/1/82 Melody Maker 30/1/82
Live review by Lynden Barber

North London Polytechnic
  First the resounding echo of the cumbersome mythology surrounding 
this group, then the subsequent, inevitable dismissals and sneers. Now,
perhaps for the first time, it's possible to listen to New Order 
freely, untainted by excessive fears or prejudices.
  Not that they don't share responsibility for some of the more
unfortunate aspects of their image. Nobody can control the stupid
dead-pop-star religion, for sure, but New Order seemed too keen to
encourage the growth of some special aura, quite happy to be shrouded 
in mystique on some sacred pedestal of musical greatness.
  There was the reluctance to speak to the press, of course, and those
portentous lyrics and self-important song titles - "The Him", "Truth",
etc., but it didn't stop there - these tendencies found a natural
reflection in the music too. When does passion stray into pomp and 
dignity into posturing? Their first album seemed to suggest they 
weren't even sure themselves.
  To judge New Order properly the myth needs to be shattered - they're
ordinary, down-to-earth people who happen to have a bent for music, 
right?  - and at tonight's gig, in a small, high-ceilinged students 
hall, they oblige perfectly.
  Humanity, frailty? At first things look like becoming a disaster. On
"Denial", the second number of the set, Bernard Albrecht seems totally 
out of touch with what the others are playing, his guitar cutting in 
and out as inappropriate junctures. Whether it's incompetence or just a
technical fault (bad monitors?) doesn't seem to matter though; from 
here on New Order launch into a selection of some of the most divinely
physical dance music you're likely to hear all year.
  Live they aren't all dark and gloom at all. Those negative tints are
there to add emotional shadings, not to dazzle; stand watching in too
much awe and you'll miss out on some of the pure joy involved in their
  New Order provide a much-needed slug of passion tonight, reviving
nerve endings that have grown tired from under-use. Too many groups at
the moment are content with just playing, making sure they've got the
notes right; New Order are more concerned with the way they play,
pushing themselves to the limits on every song, forcing the pressure at
all available points.
  There's two responses to all this - stand and gawp (as most of the
audience did, still obsessed by the myth, no doubt) or throw yourself
into the music with the spirit it demands.
  General preconceptions of what kind of rhythms constitute "dance 
music" are still so narrow - too many people assume that "white rock" 
ain't for dancin' and "black funk" ain't for listenin'. 
  New Order are proving that's not necessarily so; their last piece, an
irresistible application of Giorgio Moroder's electrodance ideas (in 
much the same style as "Everything's Gone Green", excluded from the 
set), hit a gloriously punishing level of intensity from the first note 
and never let up. 
  New Order may only have just begun. - LYNDEN BARBER

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