New Order Returns to the Fillmore for Another Sold-Out Show

New Order has a bit of a crush on Miami, and based on the response at last night's sold-out show at the Fillmore, the feeling is mutual.

The influential British New Wave group responsible for enduring dance-rock masterpieces such as "Blue Monday" and "Bizarre Love Triangle" announced a Miami stop on the heels of a rescheduled Chile tour date in early December. Within days of going on sale, tickets to the January 12 show had sold out.

"Who wouldn't like Miami? You'd have to be out of your mind," original New Order vocalist and guitarist Bernard Sumner mused after opening the night with "Singularity," from 2015's Music Complete. The crowd at the 3,000-capacity venue clung to every note during the two-hour-plus performance that spanned New Order's nearly 40-year catalogue and even dipped into the group's origins as Joy Division.
In a city of transient vacationers and hedonistic ravers, it can be tough cultivating a culture around proper live music. Miami isn't exactly known for its engaged crowds. New Order, though, seems to strike the perfect balance for captivating the Magic City's attention: It's electronic music for rock people — underground pop with a healthy dose of melancholy. There's something about the nostalgia-tinged irreverence of Britain's synth-pop pioneers that appeals to Miami's Gen-X club kids and postdisco millennials. It just feels right here.

The five-piece lineup also included original percussionist Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, flanked by later additions Phil Cunningham (guitar, percussion) and Tom Chapman (bass). Together, they undoubtedly make up one of the tightest and highest-energy legacy acts performing today — even after the dramatic departure of founding bassist Peter Hook, who's often credited with helping establish the band's signature experimental sound.

Visuals throughout the show would have been familiar to anyone who attended New Order's last Miami appearance in 2016, also at the Fillmore and also sold-out. A mix of edited vintage clips and minimal geometric graphics, the dynamic video backdrop to the performance highlighted the band's influence over the aesthetics of New Wave and the future of alternative dance music, a sort of visual precursor to vaporwave.
About three-quarters of the way into the set, after spurring a crowd sing-along during one of the group's early, defining singles, "Temptation," Sumner paused for an announcement. He wanted to thank Miami, he said, because earlier that day, the bandmates learned they were being honored by the mayor with a key to the city. Though New Times has yet to confirm with the city, the band would join the likes of the Jacksons, Shaquille O'Neal, and Lil' Kim as entertainers who have also received keys.

After a quick break, New Order returned to the stage to wrap with a mini-set of Joy Division songs, including the still-pervasive crowd pleaser "Love Will Tear Us Apart." Fans of the band's original iteration as Joy Division will have appreciated that the late singer Ian Curtis came up more than once throughout the night, marking his lasting impact on both the group and the shape of postpunk music to come. The audience was also treated to a surprise opening DJ set from the legendary New York producer Arthur Baker, who worked with New Order on some of the group's biggest hits.

Sumner ended the night by promising the room that New Order would be back to Miami. Let's hope that when they return, it will be for another show at the Fillmore, whose fate as a historic midsize beacon for live music remains in the balance as further Miami Beach Convention Center development looms. The general-admission concert lent itself perfectly to an eclectic audience of mixed-age Miamians who showed up to dance, party, and pay homage to a band whose sound has set the stage for so much of the city's musical DNA.
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Falyn Freyman is a freelance multimedia journalist based in Miami.
Contact: Falyn Freyman