Icons' Wednesday parties

ARTIST: New Order

VENUE: Fort Canning Park


To close their 95-minute first gig in Singapore, British rock band New Order chose two Joy Division singles - Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart - as their encore songs.

It was an apt reminder that, after vocalist Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, Joy Division's remaining members - guitarist Bernard Sumner, now 56; drummer Stephen Morris, 54; and bassist Peter Hook, 56 - had, with the addition of keyboardist-guitarist Gillian Gilbert, 51, formed New Order.

With Hook's departure in 2007, Tom Chapman is now in charge of bass.

Sumner (who had taken over as lead singer), Morris and Gilbert are still in the band, with 37-year-old Phil Cunningham on guitars completing the line-up.

Before a packed Fort Canning Green just before 9pm on Wednesday night, the quintet launched into Crystal, their single off the 2001 album, Get Ready, as videos with eye-catching graphics played on a large backdrop screen.

The first half-hour was characterised by songs with lots of jangly guitars - from Regret (taken from 1993's Republic) and Age Of Consent (1983's Power, Corruption And Lies) to Ceremony, a Joy Division song that was released as New Order's debut single in 1981.

Then, with another Joy Division track - Isolation - the mood shifted to incorporate more electronic sounds. Techno vibes imbued tracks like Video 5 8 6 and Here To Stay, a Chemical Brothers-produced track from the movie soundtrack of 24 Hour Party People (2002).

Even though Sumner had, at a juncture, declared jokingly that they would be playing really obscure songs for the entire evening, the band had no new materials to flaunt since their 2005 eighth studio album, Waiting For The Sirens' Call, and had to tap on their greatest hits to appease fans.

As expected, crowd favourites like Blue Monday, Bizarre Love Triangle and a dance remix of True Faith evoked mass sing-along sessions.

But, despite the band's best efforts that won stirring reception, the gig was less than perfect.

The sound, compared to Garbage's concert the night before in the same venue, was a little muddled, and hardcore devotees would have missed Hook's distinctive basslines, no matter how competent his replacement was.

An additional 20 minutes could have, perhaps, accommodated other worthy singles like 1963, Confusion and Fine Time, and allowed for a more thorough demonstration of New Order's genius and cult status.

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