A stately Bernard Sumner, fronting New Order under a respectable silver crop of hair, sported a playful, personable presence at the 1stBank Center Wednesday night. It’s a persona that’s hard to find proof of in the seminal band’s three-plus decades. After seven years away from the U.S. (and somewhere close to two decades away from Colorado), New Order’s show was welcome, and the revved audience spared nothing to make sure the post-punk synth-pop pioneers felt it.
In a fitting quip, Sumner asked the house, “Are you having fun so far?” After screams of approval he upped the ante: “Not as much as we are — so you’ve all got some catching up to do!”
Awash in multicolored spotlights, fog and splintered light from giant disco balls that illuminated the hall, the reunited five-piece (including Tom Chapman on bass and Phil Cunningham on guitars and keyboards, besides original members Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert) filled two hours with their signature electro post-punk. The band sated the anticipatory crowd with “Your Silent Face,” “Age of Consent” and “5 8 6” alongside mega hits “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “True Faith,” “The Perfect Kiss” and “Blue Monday.”
While everyone on stage put on a solid performance, Chapman stood out as a formidable replacement for missing original bassist Peter Hook — making the signature player’s innovative style look effortless.
New Order also paid legitimate respect to (and fostered just a little hero-worship for) Joy Division and iconic frontman Ian Curtis with a few of the band’s tunes. Besides a moving version of “Isolation” early on, the group played overwhelming versions of “Atmosphere,” “Transmission” and the obligatory (but no less electrifying) “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” backed by moving images of the suicidal lead singer and photos of the band.
Andrew Bisset is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.