New Order and The Whip, Ibiza Rocks, September 12, 2012 – Words by ClaireB
This was one of the gigs of the summer that I’d been looking forward to most. I lived in Manchester during the closing months of the 70s and throughout the 80s, and so saw Joy Division play several times, and was as grateful as every other Mancunian for the opening of The Hacienda and its injection of some glamour into grey, post-industrial Manchester. Not that Manchester needed more clubs or live music venues – it didn’t, but the Haci was a special place, and I’ve always been grateful to Tony Wilson and New Order for their vision in making it happen. So New Order have a special significance in my life as well as making a lot of music that I really like.
But I was also approaching this gig with some apprehension. Whilst the band is currently gigging with the full original lineup with the addition of Phil Cunningham who joined them in 2001, they are missing Peter Hook the bassist, who for me was an integral part of the band’s sound. Will they be the same without him? Will I miss his iconic stance at the side of the stage, swaggering with his bass slung so low that he can only just reach it? Plus from reading reviews of recent gigs I know that they’ve started to play some Joy Division numbers. I’m not sure how I feel about that. I wasn’t sure about Peter Hook’s band The Light playing Joy Division either, but when I saw them playing Unknown Pleasures in its entirety, I was pleasantly surprised. They pulled it off. But how will ‘Love will tear us apart’ sound when sung by Bernard, which they’ve played at other gigs recently?
Surprisingly it’s also the first time that New Order had ever played live in Ibiza, so an historic night was in store for us. The gig was reportedly sold out, and most people I knew were talking about it with anticipation in the days beforehand.
DJ Doorly kicked off the proceedings in fine style playing some great old skool dance tunes from Xpansions, Beats International and Primal Scream amongst others, and quite rightly the growing crowd started to dance.
Support came from The Whip who are no strangers to Ibiza Rocks or supporting New Order – they have done both before. When they came onstage at 9.15 the area in front of the stage was already full. The Whip are a three-piece band, who also hail from Manchester: a singer/guitarist/keyboard player, a bassist and a female drummer who was practically dancing as she was rhythmically thrashing her drumkit. Their set is fast paced, with dominating heavy driving bass and drums, with vocals and some guitar over the top. They have an original sound. The intro to the third number was quite trancey and had the crowd with their hands in the air. By the end of their set most of the crowd were dancing around in the limited space that was available for them to dance in. The Whip gave a great live performance and were a great warm-up for New Order.
After another brief DJ interlude whilst the stage was prepared, New Order came onto the stage and launched into instrumental ‘Elegia’. Almost instantly half the audience held up their phones to record the moment. Next was a guitar laden, rocky rendition of ‘Crystal’, one of my personal favourites from their later material. They sounded great. The noticeable thing in the first few numbers was that there was much more guitar in their live performance, even moreso on ‘Ceremony’ when Gillian swapped her keyboards for a guitar. The venue was so packed that there was not enough space to dance, but people were dancing in the best way they could, and there was much head nodding going on.
Then they played Joy Division’s ‘Isolation’, which was a great updated interpretation of the original, combining guitars and synths. And they were sounding and looking great. They were accompanied visually by a brilliant light show with spotlights throwing straight beams of light up from the front of the stage, and at times diagonally across it from the sides. And video projections behind them changed for each song, adding to the musical and visual feast.
On numbers such as ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ when singer Bernard Sumner put down his guitar, the synths became more dominant than the guitars, and Bernard was happily dancing around the stage. ‘Perfect Kiss’ and ‘True Faith’ sounded brilliant, but when the opening beats of ‘Blue Monday’ were played, everyone in the entire venue went mad. There was an amazing, simultaneous and unprovoked response from the audience, who just responded to the music en masse. It was a magnificent sight, looking down at the scene below from the balcony. Next was Temptation, after which they left the stage to massive cheers. There was only one thing to do – shout and scream to get them back onto the stage.
And it worked. They came back onto the stage, and as soon as the opening haunting bass intro of Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ kicked in, we knew we were in for a treat. It was fast, it was furious, and it sounded wonderful to hear it being played live again. Finishing off with ‘Love will tear us apart’, everyone went mad and was singing along in the chorus. We were treated to an amazing encore of two of Joy Division’s finest tunes.
And my verdict? They were brilliant. They sounded great – all the recent gigs and festival appearances over the summer have helped them to perfect a tight performance, which combines a lot of rock guitar with their trademark synths. There’s more energy in their live performance at the moment, Bernard’s voice is stronger and bassist Tom Chapman provided some youthful energy on the stage. He had difficult shoes to fill, but he filled them more than adequately. And what’s more, they looked like they were enjoying themselves, especially Bernard, as he was dancing around the stage.
It was a fantastic atmosphere, and a fantastic performance. Ibiza was lucky to have waited for them for so long, as musically they have perfected their live show in 2012. It was definitely one of the highlights of the summer.
Setlist and videos:
Elegia (Video of Elegia and Crystal)
Age of Consent (Video by Pedro García)
Isolation (Video by Pedro García)
Here to Stay
Round and Round
Bizarre Love Triangle
The Perfect Kiss
Blue Monday (Video by Saydi Beard)
(Video by IBIZAEXPERIENCE)
Love Will Tear Us Apart
Click on images for larger versions