Well in Order Sounds 12/12/81
Live review by Tim Sommer

Well in Order

New Order
New York
  Standing around the Ukranian National Home on Manhattan's lower Second
Avenue puts me in a sour mood. This is a prestigious gig in an odd venue,
and the audience, like the hall, is truly pretentious in it's self-conscious
unpretentiousness. The place is full of the cream of New York's pseudo-
Continentals, the transparent and ridiculous '80's would-be bohemians with 
their long dark coats, scarves and faces. Unfortunately, very much the crowd 
you would expect for New Order. 
  The evening's whole mood has been strongly anti-rock, so it's refreshing 
and pleasantly surprising when New Order's set begins brightly, with real
strength and power. It's a vast improvement over their debut here, about
fourteen months ago. Their gigs then, their first ever as New Order and with
one less band member, are best left forgotten. The band then was static, 
bleak, impenetrable. But now, we find them to be warm, human, open, and 
confident. If their predecessors had a reputation for being a Joy-less 
Division, New Order are just the opposite while working with much the same
means - they are positively uplifting.
  As a live band, New Order have really nothing to offer but themselves and 
their skills. There's not a hell of a lot to look at, to keep your eyes 
rivetted on stage, but their music glows, and that's good enough. New Order's 
sound and music is chins-up, and though it deals with a lot of edges and 
highs and lows, I find it to be surprisingly straightforward. Albrecht and
Morris and Hook and Gillian use sound so well, they're so firm yet so 
intricate, truly expansive. Yes, they are serious, but not gloomy at all.
There's this bounce to New Order that Joy Division rarely had (or was just
beginning to develop near the end), a bounce that always keeps them moving, 
never down.
  Each instrument spells a counter melody and rhythm, weaving together and
interacting spectacularly. Peter Hook's six-string bass chimes and adeptly 
sets both a meter and a melody, Albrecht ringing and layering his guitar 
over that, all over Gillian's solid and basic synth and rhythm guitar and
Stephen Morris's spinning drums. New Order are able to convey the support 
and strength in their sound while also bringing forth it's delicateness, it's
vulnerability. Rarely will you find a band so capable of using music as such 
an expressive emotional metaphor.
  Throughout, the audience, disappointingly, remains polite, applauding
measurably after each number but little more, barely responding to New 
Order's feeling. They deserve so much better than to be intellectualized, and
stodgily observed, filed away into post-new music, post neo-disco braniac
gloom. Much of the other new music I hear on their level just lies lifeless,
souless, and flat, but New Order soars.
							        TIM SOMMER    

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