New Order Middlesbrough Rock Garden 17th Feb 1981 & Newcastle Mayfair 11th March 1982

New Order Middlesbrough Rock Garden 17th Feb 1981 & Newcastle Mayfair 11th March 1982
neworderOn May 17,1980, Ian Curtis committed suicide at his parents home in Macclesfield, leaving the remaining members Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris shocked, and with an uncertain musical future. Ultimately they decided to carry on, initially as a three piece and under a new name: New Order. By late 1980 New Order was playing gigs at small venues in their home town Manchester. Their repertoire consisted of new songs, other than “Ceremony” (an unreleased Joy Division song which was played live before Curtis’ death) and “In a Lonely Place” (demoed in the studio). Guitarist Bernard Sumner took on the role of main vocalist and Gillian Gilbert, Stephen Morris’s girlfriend, joined on keyboards. New Order played a couple of concerts in the USA, and started to venture further afield in the UK. I first saw them at a gig at Middlesbrough Rock Garden in early 1981. The concert was reasonably well attended, although by no means sold out. I remember being struck by how different their music was from Joy Division; much more electronic, less dark, few vocals. There was a sense that we were witnessing something very special, and very different from the direction that other new wave bands were going at the time. This was a universe away from the thrash of Warsaw that I had witnessed only a few years earlier. The songs came from their yet to be released first album “Movement”. A bootleg exists of a concert in Glasgow from the same period, which suggests the set at the Rock Garden was probably something like this: In A Lonely Place; Dreams Never End; Truth; Mesh; Procession; ICB; The Him; Cries & Whispers; Senses; Ceremony. My memory (which sadly, is quite often wrong these days) tells me that they also played an instrumental version of Love Will Tear Us Apart, towards the end of their set, possibly as an encore. However, this also seems unlikely, as the song doesn’t feature in any other published 1981 setlists. Having said that, they would sometimes play the old Joy Division classic during the sound check; so who knows?
A year later local promoters The Soul Kitchen (“The Only Fun In Town” πŸ™‚ ) booked New Order (“Dreams Never End”) for a concert at Newcastle Mayfair. By now they were playing several new songs which would appear on their 1983 second album “Power, Corruption & Lies”. The Mayfair was quite full, and I saw a big difference in New Order, compared to their performance at the Rock Garden. This was a much more confident band, more dance, more electronica. Blue Monday and massive success were yet to come, but you could sense that this was an important band. Bernard Sumner was much more of a front man, and Hookie’s bass was slipping further and further down to his knees; they were both forming their own rock star personas. Support (or “Early Entertainment” as the ticket says) came from Scottish band The Wake, who featured a young Bobby Gillespie.
Setlist from Newcastle Mayfair, 1982: In A Lonely Place, Chosen Time, Denial, Ultraviolence, Senses, Leave Me Alone, Hurt, Procession, Temptation.
New Order line-up: Bernard Sumner – vocals, guitar, Peter Hook – bass, Stephen Morris – drums, Gillian Gilbert – synthesizers.

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