Live music galleries

Live music galleries: New Order [2013]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

New Order at Osheaga 2013

Artist: New Order
When: August 4th, 2013
Where: Mountain stage, Osheaga, Parc Jean Drapeau, Montréal
Context: A week ago, the organizers of Montreal’s Osheaga music and arts festival announced that much like last year, this year’s event would not take place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was hardly a surprise and yet, though I hadn’t attended in many years, I felt a bit sad at the news. Every year, I get excited around lineup announcement time and I peruse the acts, weighing whether it is worthwhile to attend and whether I think I might be able to convince friends to go with. The last time I was able to achieve such a feat was in 2013 and though the lineup was favourable, it was mostly because my friends Mark, Tim, and I were all celebrating a certain landmark birthday. The headliner on the final night was Mumford and Sons but we were way more excited to see New Order, who were slated to perform just beforehand. Original keyboardist Gillian Gilbert had recently rejoined the group but Peter Hook had departed and was touring with his own band, performing landmark New Order and Joy Division albums in full. New Order, meanwhile, was touring in support of their latest album, “Lost sirens”, but the set list that night featured none of its songs and instead, read like a greatest hits album, much like that of The Cure’s set, two nights earlier. And then, just when we thought it was over, the band blew our mind’s further by performing three classic Joy Division tracks, going well over their allotted set time and cutting into Mumford’s set. The indie kids were pissed but we were in heaven. Afterwards, the headliners felt pedestrian by comparison and we were tired of drinking macro brewed beer so we ducked out of the final night early and went off to a local pub.
Point of reference song: Crystal

Bernard Sumner of New Order
Stephen Morris of New Order
Gillian Gilbert of New Order
Bernard Sumner, Tom Chapman and the multimedia light show
Phil Cunnngham of New Order
Bernard Sumner (and Stephen Morris obscured by the drum kit)
Forever Joy Division

Playlist: “Raging Retro” (a mixed tape)

So I was downstairs in the basement a few days ago, looking for something else entirely, when I came across a treasure trove of my old cassette tapes. Yes, you read that right: cassette tapes. And with that clarification, you may be asking yourself why I still have cassette tapes in my possession, especially when I no longer have the appropriate hardware on which to play them. Well… it would be the same reason why I still have piles of old concert tickets, old floppy discs, rough drafts of long forgotten and unfinished short stories, and other random bric-a-brac from my past, all cluttered together in the same roughneck storage bin. The memories attached to these things are priceless and irreplaceable and even though I only ever come across them once or twice a year (while looking for something else), I can’t bring myself to part with them.

It was while sorting through these cassettes, remembering when and for what reason I made each, and reading through the track listings, that I got the brilliant (well, you might not think so) idea to share one or two of these as part of my (Spotify) playlist series. I’m starting off with this one, “Raging retro”, because it’s one of only a handful of those in the box that I didn’t in fact make, but instead, was made for me. Susan, a scenester friend of mine in university (and who I haven’t spoken to in years), actually made a few mixed tapes for me, though this might be the only one that I still have.

As evidenced by the faded but still legible in some places playlist pictured below, the mix was conceived in October 1995. Susan wanted to share a taste of the songs that had been in constant rotation at an eighties night she started attending regularly the previous summer. I feel like this was one of the first times I ever heard the term “retro” being used in regards to music. I was dubious at first because the memories I had of the music from that era were not great but I ended up listening to the tape quite a bit.

Pretty soon, I was hearing the term “retro” everywhere, mostly in reference to music from the 1980s, and not necessarily the mainstream music to which I grew up listening . A couple of years later, I found myself going to a Toronto club named “Whiskey Saigon” pretty regularly on Sunday nights. Of course, that was the night the club had an eighties night that was so wildly popular that the radio station, Edge 102, broadcasted live to air every week and the club was constantly filled to capacity, on all three floors. Retro, for a time, almost became like a sub-genre of music all its own, which for some reason even appealed to young hipsters that were too young remember this music when it was originally released.

In 1997, the film “Grosse Point Blank” was released starring John Cusack (incidentally, another 80s icon making a comeback) with a soundtrack featuring a number of eighties songs, including ones by The Clash, The Beat, and The Specials (there were three other Specials songs in the movie that were not on the soundtrack). This movie and the ubiquitous presence on eighties night playlists is how songs like the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the sun” resurfaced in the nineties, was infinitely more popular than when it was originally released in 1983 and is now considered a classic in popular music.

But I’ve gone off on a tangent, let’s get back to this mixed tape. For me, “Raging retro” was the springboard to regaining an appreciation of the 1980s. So many of those tunes on this tape became favourites of mine. And for those bands of which I wasn’t already a fan, it led me to delve deeper into their catalogues. Such is the magic of a well-executed mixed tape and the main reason why I’ve decided to share it with you all today.

As I mentioned above, some of the tracks in the listing are no longer legible. Apparently, purple ink doesn’t have the staying power against the sun and the passage of time as has black ink. Nonetheless, I was able to piece it all together and laid it out for you below. At least three of the songs were apparently too obscure to be found on Spotify but I at least managed to find YouTube links for those of you who want to know what you are missing as you peruse this delicious Spotify mix.

But before I get right into the playlist itself, here are some highlights that you definitely should check out and incidentally, half of those are ones that Spotify hasn’t made available:

      • “Sinful”, the debut solo single by Pete Wylie, who got his start in punk bands with Julian Cope and Ian McCulloch and led a band in the early 80s with multiple names, all including the word “Wah!”
      • The version of the early The The single, “Perfect”, that appears in the YouTube video linked below is the one that was on my cassette but I’ve never been able to locate a physical copy of it
      • Scottish new wave band Endgames never truly broke through but their single “First last for everything” was a mainstay on Edge 102.1’s 80s shows
      • The Chameleons UK were an English post-punk band that I always meant to explore, mainly on the back the very excellent “Swamp thing”, and I’m happy to say that I finally picked up a copy of “Strange times” this year
      • This a cappella cover of Yazoo’s “Only you” by The Flying Pickets is just as good as the original in my books
      • Canadian new wavers Boys Brigade were pretty obscure everywhere but here at home but their single “Melody” is definitely worth checking out

For those who don’t use Spotify or if the embedded playlist further below doesn’t work for you, here is the entire playlist as it appeared on the original mixed (complete with side titles):

Side one “Trapped in the 80s”:
1. Dexy’s Midnight Runners “Come on Eileen”
2. The Icycle Works “Birds fly (Whisper to a scream)”
3. A Flock of Seagulls “I ran”
4. Pete Wylie “Sinful” (unavailable on Spotify)
5. Naked Eyes “Always something there to remind me”
6. Big Country “In a big country”
7. The The “Perfect”
8. Alphaville “Forever young”
9. Endgames “First, last for everything” (unavailable on Spotify)
10. Chameleons UK “Swamp thing”

Side two “Disgruntled 20 somethings”:
11. New Order “1963”
12. Soft Cell “Tainted love”
13. Talk Talk “It’s my life”
14. R.E.M. “Superman”
15. The Boomtown Rats “I don’t like mondays”
16. Split Enz “I got you”
17. The Jesus And Mary Chain “Head on”
18. Nena “99 luftballons”
19. The Flying Pickets “Only you”
20. Boys Brigade “Melody” (unavailable on Spotify)
21. The Dream Academy “Life in a northern town”
22. The Smiths “Unhappy birthday”

And here is the promised embedded Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure. Get out your Vuarnet sunglasses and neon spandex and enjoy.

If you’re interested in checking out any of the other playlists I’ve created and shared on these pages, you can peruse them here.


Best tunes of 2001: #20 New Order “Crystal”

<< #21    |    #19 >>

Happy Monday. A dubious day to announce a comeback but we’ll do one nonetheless because it feels like my best songs lists have taken a back seat of late. And of course, comebacks don’t get any better than this song.

“Crystal” was the iconic New Wave band’s first single since the standalone, “Video 5 8 6”, in 1997. But more significantly, it was also the first single released off “Get ready”, New Order’s first studio album in eight years and the last to feature all of its original members. Shortly afterwards, keyboard player Gillian Gilbert would go on a second hiatus to take care of her and drummer Stephen Morris’s kids. And then, there was the famously acrimonious departure of standout bassist Peter Hook in 2007.

But in 2001, all the pistons were firing and New Order was welcomed back to the music world with open arms by fans and critics alike. “Crystal” (as well as the rest of the album) was some of the fastest, upbeat, jubilant, and guitar-driven material we had heard from a band that cut its teeth filling dance floors in the eighties with its synth heavy tunes. The keys and effects and danceable beats are still here but this feels like rock. And of course, when I first heard it, I recognized it as New Order but felt its differences deep within my soul. I loved it and immediately clamoured to hear the rest of the album. A good quality for a first single for sure.

As an aside, the video for the song is notable for inspiring the name of what is arguably one of the biggest bands in rock in the new millennia. Just have a look at the bass drum of the fictional band performing the song in the video and you’ll have a chuckle I’m sure. That is, if you’re not already smiling along with the song. Enjoy.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 2001 list, click here.