New Order’s Blue Monday is always a hit on the dance floor. For me it invokes happy memories of a time when I would go clubbing almost every night at The Wave Waikiki and Pink Cadillac because music always made me happy. After three decades of dance music, Blue Monday’s catchy beat appeals even to the millennials who understands the influence it has on the dance floor.
It’s New Order’s defining anthem. 35 years ago, it was released on a 12-inch single through Factory Records, the Manchester-based record label founded by Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus in 1978, which started it all for New Order. Blue Monday was created by the latest technology at the time: pre-computers, pre-MIDI. It’s a classic song and it never grows old. It was iconic then and it still remains powerful as ever.
I talked to New Order’s bassist, Tom Chapman and multi-instrumentalist, Phil Cunningham on a phone interview just an hour before they went on stage to perform at the Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach, California. They recalled there was nearly a riot in the venue when the band didn’t play Blue Monday at one of their concerts. They said it’s always a tough choice and you can’t always please everyone. “You always get someone shouting out ‘Play Blue Monday!” They assured me that the set that they will be performing in Hawaii is probably one of the best they’ve ever done. “It just feels good from start to finish with the song selections. You’re in for a treat,” Chapman said. Chapman and Cunningham complete New Order’s current lineup along with the three original members: Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert. We can then expect that Blue Monday will be on the setlist for Friday night, October 5th at the Neal Blaisdell arena.
Chapman and Cunningham recently formed supergroup “Shadowparty,” a collaboration with musicians from other influential groups such as Josh Hager from Devo and their drummer, Jeff Friedl; guest musicians, Denise Johnson of the band Primal Scream and A Certain Ratio; The Verve’s guitarist Nick McCabe and DJ Whitney Fierce. Shadowparty is a diverse group of talented musicians “who bring different elements to the music, something you probably wouldn’t come up with yourself,” Chapman said.
Shadowparty’s self-titled, 80s-inspired, synth-pop album with haunting guitars is highly recommended. Songs in the album I like are Celebrate, Reverse the Curse, Marigold and Present Tense. If you listen to A Feast of Friends on KTUH 90.1 you might have heard me play a few tracks within the last few weeks. “It’s a good feeling to know we are being played in Hawaii,” Cunningham commented. Shadowparty’s debut album was just recently released this summer on Mute.
Mute Records is a British independent record label founded in 1978 by Daniel Miller who also went under the electronic musical project, The Normal. Warm Leatherette was the first release on the Mute Label. Since then Mute Records features a catalogue of prominent musical acts such as Depeche Mode, Erasure, GoldFrapp, Fad Gadget, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, the early pioneers of industrial music-Throbbing Gristle, just to name a few. New Order’s tenth studio album and the band’s debut on Mute Records is called Music Complete.
After a 10-year break, New Order embraces electronic music again with Music Complete and this time without Peter Hook who left the band in 2007. Reminiscent of the album Technique but with some guitar driven tracks, Singularity, Restless, Plastic and Nothing but a Fool are my personal favorite tracks with Chemical Brother’s Tom Rowlands contributing to the album. Guest vocalist, Iggy Pop’s baritone voice in Stray Dog gives you the chills about unconditional love. The companion piece or the alternative remix version of Music Complete is called Complete Music which features extended versions of eleven tracks which I actually prefer.
Surprisingly the artwork of Music Complete, a geometric design was created by Peter Saville who “came out of retirement and added the final piece of the cake.” The legendary graphic designer is responsible for many of New Order’s and Joy Division’s most cherished album covers. Perhaps the most iconic is the famous image in Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album cover taken from a page in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy which depicted an image of radio pulsar waves. The artwork remains to be an inspiration all over the world, from t-shirts, dresses, tattoos and English footwear.
New Order recently released a concert documentary in September called Decades. Part film, part concert, the film captures the band at the Manchester International Festival 2017 where they played with a 12-piece synthesizer orchestra. Documented by British TV Network, Sky Arts, Decades highlights the highs and lows of the band which included interviews, looking back at the past and understanding the visual philosophy of New Order’s aesthetic and design and their collaborative creative efforts, the players and the technology.
New Order performed and delivered a solid and powerful concert on Wednesday at the Maui Art and Cultural Center. A friend who now lives in Maui who almost didn’t go described the show as “Melodic and hypnotic and dark and complex and amazing.” At the end of the show, “the bassist flicks his pick,” my friend said and “I reach out my hand and it just floats into my palm” Wow ! Now that’s magical ! She’s glad she went to see New Order and so would you.
Many Thanks to Bamp Project for bringing down New Order to Hawaii. New Order will be performing Friday, October 5, 2018 at 8pm at the Neal Blaisdell Arena. For tickets: www.bampproject.com
After the concert, there will be an “After Concert Dance Party” at Wisp to celebrate the music of New Order, Joy Division, the 80s, the 90s, and so much more. On the decks spinning are DJs Rhombus, KSM, Missy Black and DJ Nocturna. There is no cover. Wisp Restaurant and Lounge ( 2885 Kalakaua Avenue) is located on the Gold Coast and is the perfect spot to unwind after the concert. They curate a nice classy lounge with lots of seating, great food and variety of drinks and spirits. But above all, you can definitely expect Blue Monday to be played on the dancefloor.