New Order, Io Echo | Chicago Theatre | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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New Order

New Order

Nick Wilson

When: Wed., March 16, 7:30 p.m. 2016
Price: $49.50-$79.50
It’s easy to separate the work of New Order into two eras. There’s the original formation, during which the remaining members of postpunk visionaries Joy Division teamed up with keyboardist Gillian Gilbert to push the genre into a dancey, electronic, synthetic realm, and there’s the mid-2000s incarnation, with guitarist Phil Cunningham stepping in for the departed Gilbert and helping the band make a turn into slick, sophisticated pop. Out late last year, Music Complete (Mute) finds the band forging ahead into a new chapter, with Gilbert returning and, alongside Cunningham, creating a massive combination of past and present: vintage dance beats slam behind walls of shimmering guitars and glossy synths while the old band sound bigger and fresher than they have in years. The major challenge Music Complete faces is the absence of founding member Peter Hook, whose glassy, sweeping bass leads became the hallmark of both Joy Division and New Order’s sound (Peter Hook & the Light, which features material from both bands, will actually tour North America in September). But replacement Tom Chapman shows that imitation is the highest form of flattery, perfectly channeling Hook’s playing—without reading the liner notes, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the latter had even left the band. The record also features various guest vocalists that pop in to complement New Order front man Bernard Sumner, including Brandon Flowers, La Roux’s Elly Jackson, and most notably godfather of punk Iggy Pop, whose creepy spoken word on “Stray Dog” adds an unsettling note to an otherwise cheery outing.
— Luca Cimarusti
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