Monday, June 16, 2014

New Order

Thursday, July 3 @ BMO Harris Pavilion, 8 p.m.

new order, Summerfest, Milwaukee
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When Joy Division’s Ian Curtis killed himself just before embarking on what would have been their first American tour (1980), the band decided to hang together. Breaking with expectations, they not only replaced Curtis on vocals (guitarist Bernard Sumner stepped up) but also changed their name to New Order and their sound from synth-driven resignation to melancholy dance floor conquest. Like many emerging British bands in the early ’80s, they bridged the span between the D.I.Y. ethos of punk rock and the danceable high-toned production of disco. With their highly influential 12-inch single “Blue Monday” (1983), New Order set the template from which electro, house and other dance-club genres have drawn.

The acrimony between Sumner and bassist Peter Hook, who along with drummer Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert formed New Order at their peak, was muted in the ’80s by the group’s minimalist aesthetic. Like other acts on Manchester’s Factory Records, their album covers were cryptic. Band members seldom granted interviews, refrained from onstage banter, refused encores and went about their tasks like diligent technicians. Since the ’80s New Order has seen dormant phases and lineup shifts, side projects and tempers flaring even as band members continued to absorb new influences from the dance music they helped inspire.