New Order : Sydney Hordern Pavilion

Twenty-five years on, and Bernard Sumner still can't dance...

Twenty-five years on, and Bernard Sumner still can’t dance. As he hugs his guitar through ’60 Miles An Hour’, it’s like watching your dad attempting to march like [a]Ian Brown[/a]and scissor kick like Fran Healy, all in one. And there in lies the essence of [a]New Order[/a] 2002 – finally getting to play out all those years they’ve forgotten due to height of Hacienda excesses.

They’re 22-year old kids trapped in the bodies of men twice their age, belting out early 80’s electronica and ‘Substance’-era bass-lines like [a]Strokes[/a] never happened.

You can see the juxtaposition in the crowd, too. Mums and Dads who haven’t been out since the band last touched down in Australia over a decade ago check their watches nervously, whispering to each other that it’s late and the babysitter’s only booked ’til half ten. English backpackers chant that Hooky’s a fat twat and cheer at the fact that ‘Salford Rules!’ is written in duct tape on the amps. Fidgety Goths roam in packs looking out for other similarly tortured youths in black. And the rest are under 25’s in trainers, coming to see that nice young lad from the ‘Crystal’ video clip. If anyone’s looking for across the board appeal, here seems a very good place to start.

They do the same set they’ve been playing since they decided upon this reforming palaver, of course, but that matters little to those hanging off the coat tails of nostalgia. The danger passes after ‘Crystal’ that this evening will lean heavily on the success of ‘Get Ready’, and instead dissolves quickly into a greatest hits trip down memory lane. They play ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and the Goths are actually smiling. No doubt Robert Smith is still cursing the day he forgot to write ‘Your Silent Face’, and the brilliant electro ambience of ‘Atmosphere’ proves that Peter Hook is the original Bass God.

But lessons learnt from past mistakes are easily forgotten. The drums are still a few beats behind when it comes to the chorus of ‘Transmission’, and Sumner attacks the last few versus of ‘Close Range’ with all the vigour of a man who’s just come in from a ten mile run (“Are you ready to chill out?” he puffs at one stage. “I tell you what, I am.”) . Still, ‘Temptation’ is faultless and ‘Blue Monday’ is still as relevant today as it was in 1987.

Unlike Bernard’s dancing… but you can’t win them all.

Alicia Brodersen