It's hard for most bands to keep an unending momentum up for four decades or more. That's what makes New Order's new audiovisual live release, Education Entertainment Recreation, a marvel. Even though you're seeing a group that's been making music together in some shape or form since the late '70s, their performances and the vibrant visuals that augment them give off the energy of a band with half their longevity.
In fact, in some way, this 2CD/Blu-ray set lives up to each word in the title. Let us explain:
It's a perfect education on the New Order discography. The set - recorded at Alexandria Palace in London in 2018, their only performance within their native country that year - features 20 favorites from across New Order's entire history. There's "Blue Monday," "The Perfect Kiss," "True Faith," "Bizarre Love Triangle," "Regret" and "Crystal," all classic U.K. radio and U.S. club hits. There's also plenty of tracks from the group's newest, electronic-heavy album, Music Complete, including "Singularity," "Academic" and "Plastic." And the triumphant encore features three songs from the band's first phase as Joy Division, with vocalist Bernard Sumner honoring the late Ian Curtis with powerful renditions of "Atmosphere," "Decades" and "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
But this isn't just a pop history lesson: it's entertainment. The band - Sumner, guitarist Phil Cunningham, bassist Tom Chapman, drummer/keyboardist Stephen Morris and keyboardist Gillian Gilbert - remain in fine form, bringing new life to favorites old and new and interacting with the crowd. And their visual accompaniment - dazzling lights and digital images - are a feast for all the senses.
Which brings us to recreation. All over the world, music lovers are buzzing with anticipation that - perhaps this year, perhaps next - the time is right and safe to start attending concerts again. The pull of live music is unifying and intoxicating, and being without it for so long has been difficult. While we ease back into that portion of our lives, Education Entertainment Recreation is as good as any a place to start - think of it as strength training for when you next get to see them yourself!
Education Entertainment Recreation is one of several titles that our friends at Rhino are offering on sale for Memorial Day weekend. Through Monday, May 31, it's 15% off at their official store, and all orders over $50 will come with free shipping!