last sunday was the final day of the manchester international festival, at which i was a volunteer. after finishing my final shift on the saturday, a "quick drink" with some of the volunteers on my shift resulted in me getting home at 2am after partying in the main tent on festival square. closing event ceremony on the sunday was not well received by attendees and volunteers alike, with many posting lengthy reviews in the facebook group we used to keep in contact throughout the festival. needless to say, i was almost glad my hangover kept me at home. i managed to recuperate for thursday's closing party though - also taking place at the granada studios - which was an excellent night, due in part to the free wine on offer (though i did have to shell out £50 for a taxi home as no ubers were available to pick me up).
the idea of home has been on my mind non-stop since moving away to start uni nearly three years ago, and i'm still adjusting to being back in manchester two months after leaving my (awful) shared house down south. having chosen to base my magazine around manchester - the whole thing can be viewed here - i wrote about the festival as part of its content, as well as initiatives like the horsfall, which has received support from broadchurch star - and manchester native - julie hesmondhalgh.
so imagine my surprise when my mother and i spotted her in the crowd at new order's gig last thursday, blending in seamlessly with the rest of the crowd to the point where i didn't even register who she was until after she walked past us. my mother spoke to her briefly while i stood in awe at the fact such a talented actress who brought attention to an incredibly important issue in the most recent series of broadchurch, and someone who i'd written about in my uni magazine, was now standing in front of me.
all evening i had a sense that somehow everything had come full circle, from first watching the joy division documentary a few years ago, to seeing peter saville twice, to holding back tears at the true faith exhibition and finally watching bernard sumner and friends (minus original member peter hook) perform my favourite joy division track disorder, which soundtracked many bus rides home during my time working at primark two summers ago. add to that the fact the gig was taking place at the old granada studios, the place where joy division first got their start on the late tony wilson's show, so it goes in 1978, and it was emotional from start to finish. obviously the place looks a little different now, with the studio set giving way to an expansive stage setup which housed a twelve strong synthesiser orchestra made up of students from the royal northern college of music.
it was a slow start to the show, with the first few songs failing to thrill me; bear in mind that prior to seeing the band live i was only familiar with a few tracks, but i couldn't pass up the £12 tickets we somehow managed to acquire. track four however, was disorder, which as i said before, is my favourite joy division track, and i had to fight back tears at finally hearing it live. the rest of the setlist was unfamiliar but the last few songs finally brought the party atmosphere (i had to) the band are known for. highlights included shellshock, guilt is a useless emotion, vanishing point, plastic and one of my favourite tracks bizarre love triangle, another surreal moment that i still can't quite believe i witnessed.
the band had made it clear they wouldn't be performing their most well known tracks, instead choosing to focus on those rarely performed live. but after bernard tricked everyone into thinking the encore would include blue monday - earning him some boos from the crowd - they made up for it by playing decades, another joy division track that sent shivers down my spine, though i can't help feeling bitter about the fact i'll probably never hear love will tear us apart live.
nevertheless, the band - and orchestra - put on an incredible show and defied all my expectations. sumner doesn't have the strongest of voices, but that's never been the selling point of new order. what they succeed in is capturing the hearts of the city's party goers and music lovers nearly 40 (!!) years after their formation, and creating music that has stood the test of time. rising from the ashes of joy division's dissolution, they turned tragedy into triumph.
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