Our friends Marilee and Paul had planned to see New Order in San Francisco on Friday, but life (ok, work) got in the way, so they gave the tickets to us. I was SO into New Order back in the late 80s. I loved them. Ted and I saw them in concert in 1989, where New Order was headlining with the Sugarcubes and PIL (Public Image Limited). The Sugarcubes couldn’t get the audience interested, and PIL were great. New Order was boring, and a lot of people left before the concert ended. So I wasn’t sure that I would pay to see them again, but since Paul and Marilee gave us the tickets, and gosh, we do love their music, we went.
I’m so glad we did. They were great, we had amazing seats, and it was a LOT of fun. Kind of different going to a concert for a band that was huge all those years ago, though. Most of the people were in their 40s and 50s, which is fine because we’re in our 40s, getting closer to 50, but somehow in my mind we ALL should have been younger. So we had really good seats, and the venue is such that when you’re sitting, even if you’re sitting behind a really tall man, you can still see the stage. I can’t tell you the last time I saw a concert without the filter of a tall man’s head right in front of me. The downside of this is that people were mainly sitting, not getting up and dancing. So I found myself wondering, “Is it OK to get up and dance? Would it be rude to the people behind me?” I looked at the people behind me a few times, and I decided they were very dour Russians, who had perhaps not had enough vodka to loosen them up, because they were just sitting there. Not smiling, not appearing to be into it at all. This put a bit of a damper on things, and I didn’t dance.
Until they played “Bizarre Love Triangle”, and then all bets were off. The guy in front of me looked over his shoulder politely, wondering if it was OK to dance now, and when he saw that I was up, he smiled a big smile, jumped up and started dancing. So that was the scene. Sit down for the slower songs, jump up and dance for the hits. At one point I looked back at the Russians, and they still looked dour, but they were singing along to the music, and appeared to know every word. So that made me feel better, like even if they weren’t dancing, at least they were maybe enjoying themselves.
Most concerts you go to, there is a huge screen, or many huge screens, and there are cameras on the band, so people beyond the first 3 rows can see them playing and singing. Not so with New Order. They barely spent any time in the spotlight at all, mostly just playing and singing, with lights or maybe a video on the screen behind them. We hypothesized that they didn’t want to look old, which they likely do, just like their fans. Or maybe it wasn’t even them up there playing, and they wanted to cover up that fact. Who knows. I would have liked to see them a bit more, but it was OK with the videos.
There were two encores. First, they came out and played a few songs from their days as Joy Division. Ted noticed that one of the Russians behind us was openly weeping at this point. Perhaps he was a friend of Ian Curtis, the Joy Division member who killed himself lo those many years ago, and whose face had been shown on the screen. Or perhaps he had had more vodka than I thought. The second encore was brief, and they played just one song for us, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)”, which seemed like a perfect way to round out the show. We had a great time.