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New Order At Roseland, Friday, October 19th, 2012 Reviewed

Back in the 1990s, I made a deal with my buddy, I'd buy the tix for David Bowie at Roseland and he would stand in line for hours so we could get to the front of the stage. It worked without a hitch. It was wonderful seeing Bowie in such a relatively intimate club. But I can't spend a day  queueing to catch a band and to big perfectly honest at $70 a tix, I don't see why I should have to.

Going to Roseland is the definition of insanity. Last year with Beyonce,  Friday night with New Order, it was a completely unpleasant, harassing and annoying experience. Two bands I really wanted to see (of many, by the way) were not watchable and not much to listen to either. Roseland is a straight, long floor, and if you are at the back there is nothing to do but listen to people buy drinks and get hassled, jostled, bumped into and irritated by fatheaded fans. 

With no close circuit TV, it is hard to hazard a guess as to  what the band were doing on stage. My bet is nothing much as they picked their way thru a Joy Division song, a handful of hits and some deep cuts. Bernard was pleasant enough. Gillian Gilbert had returned to the fold, I interviewed her and her husband drummer Stephen Morris, and didn't much like them but there they were any way, I think I saw her bob her head once. I didn't see anybody else all that clearly.

And I couldn't concentrate though when I could a couple of things were clear:

1. The early version of "Isolation" and the encores of "Atmosphere" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart Again" are much better then bad boy Peter Hooks versions at Irving Plaza. Like, really much better. It still didn't sound like Joy Division, and the picture above the band at the end just reinforced it. The vocals were, obviously, not there, and New Order themselves sounded too muscular and, well, bouncy. But it wasn't Karaoke.

2.When the band got bottom heavy, they emerged as the great dance band they always were,  especially on a singalong not to mention move along "Temptation" and mid-season highlight "Bizarre Love Triangle". In different circumstances, besides the bands somewhat anonymous stage persona, it might have been big time stuff. 

All well and good but how can you enjoy a show when your back is right at the bar, as far away as you can get from the stage, and people are STILL PUSHING INTO YOU. 

New Order were pushed to get back together after giving Hook the hook and playing a benefit and a music fest before bringing the show to the US for the first time in seven years. They are the synth band of the dream, a vastly superior dance band with a strong back catalog and, after Pet Shop Boys, maybe the best attitude of all Britain's nominally named New Romantics. 20 something years after the fact, they sound better than ever. When I can concentrate on the music, it sounds terrific. None of the jams go on too long, Sumner is in fine voice, and the sound, even in the not so hot Roseland, rings pretty well if you aren't on the outer edges.

But so what? This is no way to see a band, it just isn't. It was a monumental waste of money and energy and I was very disappointed… but why should I be? If Roseland could make an intimate Beyonce gig a nightmare, they can certainly do the same to New Order. Take the grade to be a condemnation of the crappy venue, not a forum on the band… except, they should have provided close circuit screens as well.

Grade: D+ 

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