New Order in Leeds live review: Here's what I thought of the Manchester legends' show at the First Direct Arena

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There are few major acts that could soundtrack a Saturday night out in Leeds better than New Order.

The Manchester legends’ catalogue of club classics and rousing anthems could get anyone in the mood for a night on the tiles; and while their set at the First Direct Arena certainly had its moments of euphoria, there was also a nagging feeling that the hangover had already kicked in.

The sense of displacement was felt during Confidence Man’s support slot, as the boundless energy of the Australian dance duo was met with an almost comically muted response and looks of befuddlement from the beer-clasping and beard-scratching crowd.

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By the time New Order made their way onstage for their mammoth two-hour long set the 13,000, three-tiered arena was packed to the rafters and let itself be known.

New Order at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Photo: Warren Jackson/@wvk33New Order at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Photo: Warren Jackson/@wvk33
New Order at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. Photo: Warren Jackson/@wvk33

Early outings of Age Of Consent followed by Ceremony demonstrated the band at their finest. The angular and static rhythms of drummer Stephen Morris and duplex simplicity of the guitar and bass lines have a crystalline brilliance that are complemented effortlessly by singer Bernard Sumner’s everyman vocal style.

But there’s a noticeable lull during the middle of the 19-song show where not even the magnificent light show and gripping visuals can distract from the audience’s tepid response to the deeper cuts. Whether it’s a lack of enthusiasm that inhibits the songs from feelings totally authentic or the absence of original bassist Peter Hook – whose cavalier confidence made his solo gig one of the most surprisingly enjoyable shows I’ve ever been to – it feels like there’s something off.

Things inevitably pick up as the sure-fire hits are dished out though, with Bizarre Love Triangle kicking things back into gear before the trio of True Faith, Temptation and the still-as-great-as-it-sounded-on-day-one Blue Monday lift the room to the rafters.

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The iconic visuals of the funereal ‘Atmosphere’ accompany a cover of the spellbinding Joy Division track as the band returns for an encore before rousing takes on ‘Transmission’ and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and tributes to the great Ian Curtis bring the show to an elated end.

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