Release Date: Jul 8, 2013
Record label: Sunday Best
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
“Hello! Guess who we are? We are New Order. Obviously.” Since reforming two years ago without Peter Hook but with Gillian Gilbert back in the fold, the legends of Manchester music seem to have been having a rather good time, taking a crowd-pleasing set around some of the more pleasant festivals and dishing out cracking performances to extremely happy punters. Sounds good, doesn’t it? And it is.
It's easy to take a band with a storied history and try to impose thoughts and feelings about where they should be heading instead of taking them at face value. This recording of a headline show by New Order at 2012's Bestival on the Isle of Wight offers plenty of moments that don't necessarily sit well-- Bernard Sumner bellowing "come on!" in the middle of a stadium-ized version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart", the inclusion of non-classic era songs "Krafty" and "Here to Stay", the absence of Peter Hook on bass. But if you trace their history it's clear that the stoic image they partly cultivated has gradually loosened and fallen away as the years have passed, sometimes becoming distinctly at odds with the impeccable Peter Saville sleeves and Factory marketing acumen of yore.
Rob Da Bank’s Bestival festival is back again this year (with a cheeky nautical theme!), which contributes to my general impression that New Order’s 2012 headline set did not in fact sink the Isle of Wight with the force of its brilliance, that a live recording is not the single most sought after artefact of the twenty-first century. So what’s the deal with Live at Bestival, then? Nominally it exists as a charitable effort, with proceeds raised going to the Isle of Wight Youth Trust. In that respect the band was presumably approached by Mr Da Bank, and would have been monstrous bastards to have said ‘no’ to releasing the record.
Not too long ago, the thirst for live recordings sparked a black market of bootleg cassettes available at local record shops or from your neighborhood music nut that somehow got a hold of all sorts of gems by offering some cash to the mixer board operator at the show. Times have changed, and bands often allow professional tapers to share their music free of charge. These recordings and a various other live videos are only a few clicks away, but despite that availability, a live album curated by the band themselves are often momentous occasions that mark a particular period in a band’s history that requires preservation.