"This is the only American show where people are smoking pot in the front row," Bernard Sumner noted during Wednesday's sold-out New Order show at the Fillmore Miami Beach.
Perhaps it was because it was the band's last show in its very short six-date U.S. tour, but New Order seemed excited to be playing in Miami, its first time since a 2012 appearance at Ultra Music Festival.
New Order's influence on synthpop, postpunk, and dance music cannot be overstated. Its touch can be heard in contemporary acts like Cut Copy, the Killers, and Chromatics, while hits like "Blue Monday" and "Bizarre Love Triangle" have aged surprisingly well — still considered essential club hits — despite their strong new-wave foundations.
Therefore, critiquing a New Order performance has nothing to do with whether that band is any good — every person at Wednesday's show would argue this is one of the greatest bands still performing today. Instead, the show had to provide a framework of New Order's place in music's pantheon — both in the past and the present.
Besides, Sumner and his bandmates don't really have to prove anything to the crowd — they just want to hear the hits anyway.
Kicking off the set with "Singularity," off 2015's Music Complete, New Order showed that even after more than three decades, they can still write a killer song. "Restless," "Tutti Frutti," and "Plastic" are other cuts that still manage to sound like classic New Order without sounding like stuff we've heard before. Music Complete also marks the first album recorded without Peter Hook, whom some fans consider essential to the New Order lineup.
But if anyone was upset at a Hook-less New Order, it didn't show at the Fillmore. The excitement was palpable in the room, and by the time the band started on the second song, "Regret," you would have thought that this was a tween-filled Justin Bieber concert.
The last — and only — time I saw New Order was at Ultra 2012, when the band played on the same night as Kraftwerk (squeal!). Festival sets are not usually the greatest, but the band aptly handled the shorter allotted time and still delivered the fan favorites.
At the Fillmore, New Order really took advantage of the extra time, giving the crowd a two-hour show that even included a moving tribute to Joy Division and the late Ian Curtis with covers of "Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart." The audience loved every minute of it and seemed genuinely shocked by the surprise.
However, except for a few notable exceptions, the real highlight was the visuals. Similar to Kraftwerk's 3D show, the visuals set the tone for the songs. Footage from B-Movie: Lust & Sound in West Berlin provided the perfect '80s music backdrop, while "Your Silent Face" got a Miami Vice-like opening sequence that touched on the tropes that made the parody Too Many Cooks instantly recognizable.
Visually, the showstopper was "Plastic," which seemed to borrow Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" graphics and paired them with a spectacular lighting sequence that radiated into the crowd.
This being the final show on the tour, the band kept teasing the audience. After the Joy Division tribute, Sumner said goodbye and exited the stage, while the familiar drum machine intro of "Blue Monday" began. Sumner emerged a few minutes later to sing the vocals — not that he needed to. Everyone in the audience knew the words by heart and sang along.
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The band also blessed Miami with an extra song in the encore. (During the five other U.S. dates, the band has exited the stage after "Blue Monday.") After tearing into "Superheated," Sumner said a final farewell and promised to return to Miami again. Here's hoping he keeps his promise.
- "5 6 8"
- "Your Silent Face"
- "Tutti Frutti"
- "People on the High Line"
- "Bizarre Love Triangle"
- "Waiting for the Sirens' Call"
- "The Perfect Kiss"
- "True Faith"
- "Atmosphere" (Joy Division cover)
- "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division cover)
- "Blue Monday"