New Order, Confidence Man @ First Direct Arena, Leeds, October 7, 2023 | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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New Order

New Order, Confidence Man

New Order, Confidence Man @ First Direct Arena, Leeds, UK, October 7, 2023,

Oct 11, 2023 Photography by Adam Houghton Web Exclusive
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Flicking through music’s back pages its difficult to pinpoint a more innovative or iconic band than New Order, certainly as far as the last four decades are concerned. Whether that be the groundbreaking fusion of post-punk and disco and later, acid house. New Order have always been one step ahead of the game and several more in front of their peers. So, its nothing short of a celebratory atmosphere this evening when the final UK leg of their short European tour arrives in Leeds.

New Order
New Order
Confidence Man
Confidence Man

Before the headliners take the stage, it’s the turn of Confidence Man to entertainment those revellers who’ve arrived early. Taking a similar cue from New Order by fusing elements of pop, disco and everything else in between, Confidence Man have blossomed into one of the most exciting live acts on the planet. It’s been an absolute delight watching the Brisbane collective grow, from those first humble UK shows at Brighton’s Great Escape in the summer of 2017 to the arena conquering outfit performing before us today. Although they play a shorter set than normal - understandably as there’s also New Order’s long-standing tour DJ TinTin to go on after before the headliners - the impact is no less sensational. Opener “Out The Window” still sounds like a lost outtake from the Screamadelica sessions while recent singles “On & On (Again)” and “Now U Do” are perfect fare for a Saturday night out. “Feels Like A Different Thing” takes the party to another level, focal points Janet Planet and Sugar Bones energetic and occasional acrobatic dancing passing on similar vibes to those in the stalls. Penultimate number and debut single “Boyfriend (Repeat)” reminds all and sundry why we fell in love with Confidence Man in the first place while closer “Holiday” is an anthem for all occasions, whatever the time or place. Don’t be surprised to see Confidence Man headlining venues of this size themselves before long, such is their unassailable ascension.

Confidence Man
Confidence Man
Confidence Man
Confidence Man

For a band like New Order, playing venues of this size and magnitude has been part and parcel for the majority of their careers. Which is understandable when considering their back catalogue and importance in the grand scheme of things, both musically and culturally. Founder members Bernard Sumner, Gillian Gilbert and Stephen Morris stand assured alongside more recent arrivals Phil Cunningham and Tom Chapman. Collectively they’re still one of the most forward thinking musical ensembles around, so while the setlist is a career spanning showcase of the band’s glittering career - including a nod to Morris and Sumner’s past in Joy Division - many of the songs themselves are reworked to sound as fresh and invigorating as they did when first created.

New Order
New Order

Playing in front of a backdrop that mixes videos of classic singles with colourful lasers similar to those from the Hacienda back in the day, it sets for the scene for a spectacular event rather than your average bog standard gig. Coming on to a recording of Wagner’s “Tristan Und Isolde”, the band immediately launch into 2001 single “Crystal”, which is swiftly followed by “Regret” off 1993’s Republic, debut single “Ceremony” and fans favourite “Age of Consent”, one of two songs aired off second long player Power, Corruption & Lies. As opening salvos go, it really doesn’t get much better than this and unsurprisingly, each and every song is received better than the last by the excitedly enthusiastic audience.

New Order
New Order

Newer material such as 2015’s “Restless” or “Be A Rebel”, their most recent composition from 2020 - gets an equally vigorous reception. Such is the energy emanating from the stage and back again, both band and audience feeding off each other throughout. A reworked “Isolation” is the first of four Joy Division songs aired this evening, while an elongated version of “The Perfect Kiss” - ironically making its debut on the last night of the UK tour - goes down an absolute storm. As does “Sub-Culture”, perhaps one of New Order’s most understated releases from the band’s most prolific eighties period but still no less potent, particularly in the flesh.

New Order
New Order

Album tracks from opposite ends of the band’s career spectrum “Plastic” (off 2015’s Music Complete) and “Vanishing Point” (from 1989’s Technique) find themselves sandwiched between two of their most cherished 45s “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “True Faith”, before “Blue Monday” and “Temptation” turn the First Direct Arena into a replica of a mid-eighties warehouse party for one night only. Flawless in every conceivable way, whether that be Sumner’s vocals, the musicality of his colleagues or the visuals that accompany them, this is the sound of a band on the very top of their game.

New Order
New Order

The encore pays homage to Ian Curtis and where it all began as Joy Division, Sumner delivering a sombre “Atmosphere” then glorious run through “Transmission” before “Love Will Tear Us Apart” brings proceedings and this leg of the tour to a close.

New Order
New Order

As iconic performances go, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

Confidence Man
Confidence Man



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