New Order has got a bit of a crush on Miami, and based on the response at last night’s sold-out show at the Fillmore, the feeling is mutual.
The influential British new wave group responsible for enduring dance-rock masterpieces like “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” announced a Miami stop on the heels of a rescheduled Chile tour date in early December. Within days of going on sale, tickets to the January 12 show had sold out.
“Who wouldn’t like Miami? You’d have to out of your mind,” original New Order vocalist and guitarist Bernard Sumner mused after opening the night with “Singularity,” from 2015’s Music Complete. The crowd at the 3,000-capacity venue clung to every note over the more than two-hour performance that spanned New Order’s nearly 40-year catalogue and even dipped into its origins as Joy Division.
In a city of transient vacationers and debaucherous ravers, it can be tough cultivating a culture around proper live music. We’re not exactly known for our engaged crowds here. New Order, though, seems to strike the perfect balance for captivating Miami’s attention: it’s electronic music for rock people, underground pop with a healthy dose of melancholy. There’s something about the nostalgia-tinged irreverence of Britain’s synth-pop pioneers that appeals to Miami’s Gen-X club kids and post-disco millennials. It just feels right here.
The five-piece lineup also included original percussionist Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert, flanked by later additions Phil Cunningham (guitar, percussion) and Tom Chapman (bass). Together, they undoubtedly make up one of the tightest and high-energy legacy acts performing today — even after the dramatic departure of founding bassist Peter Hook, who’s often credited with helping establish the band’s signature, experimental sound.
Visuals throughout the show would have been familiar to anyone who attended New Order’s last Miami appearance in 2016, also at the Fillmore and also sold-out. A mix of edited vintage clips and minimal geometric graphics, the dynamic video backdrop to the performance highlighted the band’s influence over the aesthetics of new wave and the future of alternative dance music, a sort of visual precursor to vaporwave.
About three-quarters into the set, after spurring a crowd singalong during one of their early, defining singles “Temptation,” Sumner paused for an announcement. He wanted to thank Miami, he said, because earlier that day, the band learned they were being honored by the mayor with a key to the city. While New Times has yet to confirm with the city, the band would be joining the likes of the Jacksons, Shaq, and Li’l Kim of those who have also received keys.
After a quick break, New Order returned to the stage to wrap with a mini-set of Joy Division songs, including the still pervasive crowd-pleaser “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Fans of the band’s original iteration as Joy Division will have appreciated that the late singer Ian Curtis came up more than once throughout the night, marking his lasting impact on both the group and the shape of post-punk music to come. The audience was also treated to a surprise opening DJ set from legendary New York producer Arthur Baker, who worked with New Order on some of their biggest hits.
Sumner ended the night by promising the room that they’d be back to Miami. Hopefully, when they do, it will be for another show at the Fillmore, whose fate as a historic midsized beacon for live music in Miami Beach remains in the balance as further Convention Center development looms. The general admission concert lent itself perfectly to a super eclectic audience of mixed-age Miamians who showed up to dance, party, and pay homage to a band whose sound has set the stage for so much of our city’s musical DNA.