New Order
Palace Theatre; St Paul, MN

The last time New Order performed in the Twin Cities was in 1987 at the Northrop Theater. I was only 15 at the time, so I was ecstatic that the show, which also included Echo & the Bunnymen and Gene Loves Jezebel, was all-ages. It was so inspiring at the time to see bands I loved so much perform live, bands that I had up until that point only experienced through records, singing along in my bedroom. When New Order hit the stage on that sticky summer night, they looked so somber it gave me chills. I still have distinct memories of the whole balcony above me shaking as people danced along, thinking “Is that balcony going to collapse on top of me?”

Nearly 30 years later, I was overflowing with anticipation as I arrived at the Palace Theatre. Everyone else seemed to be too: the floor was packed, and the energy from the sold-out crowd was palpable. But could a band that had been around for 40 years still sound as amazing as I remembered? Would they live up to the memories of my 15-year-old self?

Unsurprisingly, they didn’t disappoint. The current lineup — featuring Bernard Sumner (vocals/guitar), Stephen Morris (drums), Gillian Gilbert (keyboard/synthesizer), and newer members Philip Cunningham (guitar) and Tom Chapman (bass) — sounded as close as I remember to the band I saw back then. Sumner’s voice was somehow still as powerful and emotive after all the years, complemented perfectly by Gilbert’s lush synth textures. Morris’s drumming was every bit as solid as you’d expect too, providing a nice base for Chapman and Cunningham to build on.

As expected, the set featured a lot of my favorite tracks from Power, Corruption & Lies and Low-Life, as well as a host of other fan staples. Also notable was the phenomenal concert lighting, which changed colors according to the feel of each song — whether it was moody, upbeat, or euphoric — all of it enhanced by the screens behind the band, which features film footage intercut with bold graphics. The whole production created the perfect atmosphere to get lost in. So that’s what I did, dancing and singing alongside the crowd, having a shared moment with the 15-year-old me who had done the same nearly three decades ago.

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