Concert Review: New Order Keeps New Wave Alive at the Fillmore

new order
New Order, photo by Warren Jackson

What a way to ring in the new roaring 20’s. 

Nearly a year ago to the day, New Order let loose an instant-classic set at the Fillmore Miami Beach, and the show was lauded by music fans in South Florida as one of the most legendary concerts Miami had seen in quite some time. The acclaim for the show was so widespread that it almost wasn’t a surprise when the fabled British New Wave band chose the Fillmore as the site of its first-ever North American residency and first performances of the new decade. 

Following an opening set from Donzii, a local band that seemed more interested in confusing the crowd than entertaining it, the members of New Order were invited to the stage to accept a proclamation stating that January 15th has officially been named New Order Day. The honor was a well-deserved love letter from Miami to the beloved band, and served as the first of many moments throughout the night that would recognize their mutual affection. 

Wednesday night was the second of four shows in New Order’s “Four at the Fillmore” residency, and the love that the band feels for Miami couldn’t have been more palpable. As the lights dimmed before the main set began, screens hung at the back of the stage displayed vintage video clips of the city, as if to announce to the crowd just how special the residency is to the band. It’s a love that was not unrequited– New Order and Miami were made for each other.

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New Order’s inimitable catalog of danceable hits and unrelenting synths have solidified the group as a bastion of New Wave since the genre’s inception, and the band’s Miami residency found them fighting to keep the defining sound of the 80’s alive in the city where that decade’s culture had thrived so immensely.

With four decades and ten albums to cull material from, it was predestined that the evening’s setlist would contain plenty of hits. Even so, it was a thrilling shock when the show began with my personal favorite New Order song, “Age of Consent,” the lead track from Power, Corruption, and Lies, one of the band’s most beloved albums.

The Wednesday night crowd was admirably amped-up, with a number of middle-aged (and post-middle-aged) fans maintaining a startling amount of energy throughout the 18-song set. Whether or not that energy was aided by certain narcotics is anyone’s guess (but not unlikely.)

As the set unfolded, spectacle was delivered not just by the musicians on stage, but also through the large video screen that hung behind them. The visuals were nearly as engrossing as the performance itself, with skittering cityscapes, rolling waves, and shifting CGI patterns stealing the attention of the audience with each new display. 

And yes, don’t worry, they did play “Blue Monday,” the best-selling 12” record of all time and perhaps the band’s most timeless hit. But as remarkable as the set was, containing so many of New Order’s best-known and most beloved tracks, the magic of seeing Joy Division songs performed live was beyond compare. Selections from the musicians’ prior band included “She’s Lost Control” and “Transmission” in the main set, followed by an encore that consisted of “Atmosphere” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which was accompanied by images of the late Ian Curtis, which elicited perhaps the night’s most boisterous reaction from the crowd.

In all, the show amounted to nearly two hours of pummeling synths, breakneck drumming, a surprising amount of melodica playing by frontman Bernard Sumner, and incalculable amounts of dancing. It’s been 40 years since 1980, but New Order is ensuring that the spirit of the New Wave decade is alive and well.

Though it fell short of being truly revelatory, the show was undoubtedly exceptional, and left the crowd wondering what great heights the band could possibly reach for at the two remaining shows with the benefit of a day’s rest. Regardless of what happens in the last two nights of this historic residency, one thing is certain: love will never tear New Order and Miami apart.

SETLIST:

Age of Consent

Restless

She’s Lost Control (Joy Division cover)

Transmission (Joy Division cover)

Academic

Touched by the Hand of God

Your Silent Face

Tutti Frutti

Guilt Is a Useless Emotion

Subculture

Bizarre Love Triangle

Fine Time

Plastic

True Faith

Blue Monday

Temptation

ENCORE:

Atmosphere (Joy Division cover)

Love Will Tear Us Apart (Joy Division cover)