New Order, the iconic synth-pop band from Manchester, England, didn’t shock anyone to the core at its Monday night concert at the Chelsea in the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, but it did deliver a solid set of new and old music.
Five video boards suspended above the stage displayed starkly contrasting scenes of strife, poverty, terror, serenity and everyday life as New Order worked its way through a set that included seven songs from its latest album, “Music Complete,” released last fall. Among them: “People on the High Line,” “Tutti Fruitti” and “Plastic.”
And the music, like the video boards above, had its messages. In “Restless,” the first single from “Music Complete,” frontman Bernard Sumner sang about wanting “a nice car (and) a girlfriend as pretty as a star,” but in so doing also lamented the materialism and violence that pervades society.
But it was the band’s well-known standards, along with an assist from one of New Order’s biggest Las Vegas fans, that gained the biggest responses from the audience.
Four songs into the evening, Brandon Flowers of the hometown band The Killers joined New Order onstage (“He’s upstaging us now”) to lend vocals to “Crystal,” a 2001 hit, and “Love Vigilantes,” a 1983 smash. For trivia buffs, The Killers took their name from the fictional band that appears in the video for “Crystal.”
The crowd saved perhaps its loudest response for the popular 1986 hit “Bizarre Love Triangle” (with the well-known refrain that starts, “Every time I see you falling, I get down on my knees and pray …”).
Sumner, no longer the boyish-looking singer seen in the band’s early videos, delivered a more-than-competent performance, though in acknowledging applause from the audience, he might think twice before flashing double peace signs (why in 2016 would a Brit channel Richard Nixon?).
Additionally, he might leave any dancing to his band’s music to the club rats.
New Order also features founding member and drummer Stephen Morris; guitarists Gillian Gilbert and Phil Cunningham; and bassist Tom Chapman, who played on the Chelsea stage bathed in hues of white, green, blue, yellow and purple lights that intermittently moved onto the audience.
(One concertgoer watching from the balcony reported that he had to leave mid-concert because of the effects of the beams emanating from the stage to his seat.)
Overall, the concert was engaging and entertaining. On a personal note, though, I can do without the no-seating, open layout presented at Monday’s concert. The constant pushing and shoving from many trying to gain a perceived sightline advantage on the floor before and during the concert was uncalled for and rude.
Not even one song into New Order’s set, and a full-fledged fight broke out among overzealous parties about 20 feet to my left in the middle of the floor. When a third beverage was spilled onto my partner, it was time to call it a night. We’re not like crystal, and we don’t break easily — but we had had enough.
The setlist: “Singularity,” “Ceremony,” “Academic,” “Crystal” (with Brandon Flowers), “Love Vigilantes” (with Flowers), “Restless,” “Your Silent Face,” “Tutti Frutti,” “People on the High Line,” “Bizarre Love Triangle,” “Waiting For the Sirens’ Call,” “Plastic,” “The Perfect Kiss,” “True Faith” and “Temptation.”
Encore: “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” “Blue Monday” and “Superheated” (with Flowers).
John Taylor is the Las Vegas Sun’s copy chief.