They’ve only played Toronto a hand­ful of times, but their his­tory here runs deep

NOW Magazine - - MUSIC - By CAM LIND­SAY mu­ | @yas­d­nil­mac

NEW ORDER with HOLY GHOST! at Bud­weiser Stage (909 Lake Shore West), Thurs­day (Au­gust 30), doors 6:30 pm, all ages. $39.50-$99.50. tick­et­mas­

When New Order re­turn to Toronto for the first time in six years this week, it will mark only the eighth show here for the in­flu­en­tial Manch­ester band in their 40-year ca­reer. Still, they have a long and sto­ried his­tory with the city, one that ac­tu­ally be­gan be­fore New Order even ex­isted.

On May 25, 1980, the post-punk band known as Joy Divi­sion were set to make their Cana­dian de­but at Toronto’s the Edge, a new wave and punk club lo­cated at Ger­rard and Church.

Put on by lo­cal pro­mot­ers the Garys, the show would join them in the ranks of up-and-com­ing acts the club had pre­vi­ously hosted, in­clud­ing the Po­lice, the Cramps and XTC. Sadly, one week be­fore the con­cert, front man Ian

Cur­tis died by suicide.

“We were sup­posed to be go­ing on tour in North Amer­ica the day af­ter Ian died, but it never hap­pened,” ex­plains Joy Divi­sion gui­tarist Bernard Sum­ner from his ho­tel in Min­neapo­lis. “Whether [the tour] was a con­tribut­ing fac­tor to Ian do­ing what he did, we’ll never know. The pres­sure of go­ing out on tour in Amer­ica may have pushed him over the edge. But he never showed any of that pres­sure. He had said he was look­ing for­ward to it.”

The re­main­ing mem­bers – Sum­ner, Peter Hook and Stephen Mor­ris, along with new re­cruit Gil­lian Gil­bert – went on to form an­other band, New Order, and in al­most no time they be­gan rev­o­lu­tion­iz­ing mu­sic with their in­no­va­tive use of syn­the­siz­ers, sam­plers and drum ma­chines. New Order would even­tu­ally make it to Toronto in Novem­ber of 1981, just two days af­ter the re­lease of their de­but al­bum, Move­ment.

“We played the Ma­sonic Tem­ple and just about ev­ery sin­gle piece of equip­ment broke down and it was the gig from hell, re­ally. I’ll never for­get it,” re­calls Sum­ner. “One by one we elim­i­nated the songs in the set list that we weren’t able to play be­cause of the tech­ni­cal prob­lems we were hav­ing. I think we had five songs re­main­ing in our reper­toire. Do you know what though? It was still a great gig. We got to the point where we just had to ei­ther laugh or cry at what was go­ing on.”

Since then, New Order have per­formed only a half-dozen times in Toronto: at the In­ter­na­tional Cen­tre in 1985 with A Cer­tain Ra­tio; two shows at Massey Hall in 1986; at the CNE Grand­stand in 1987 with Echo & the Bun­ny­men and Gene Loves Jezebel; and again in 1989 with the Su­gar­cubes and Public Image Ltd; Kingswood Mu­sic The­atre at Canada’s Won­der­land in 1993 with Sun­screem and 808 State; and most re­cently the Sony Cen­tre in 2012.

“I was tak­ing a lot of drugs back then, so I’m afraid I don’t re­mem­ber all of them,” ad­mits Sum­ner.

One thing he can still re­mem­ber is our city’s 80s club scene. When­ever they vis­ited Toronto, they had a firstrate chap­er­one tak­ing them around to the dance clubs where their 12-inches were sound­track sta­ples.

“We used to go out with our friend Chris Sheppard, who was a DJ and one of the first guys to start play­ing house mu­sic in Toronto, or even maybe Canada.”

New Order have had their share of ob­sta­cles to over­come over the past few decades. There was the death of long-time man­ager Rob Gret­ton, the bankruptcy of their la­bel, Fac­tory Records, and mul­ti­ple hia­tuses, which spawned var­i­ous side projects like Elec­tronic and the Other Two. Then there was the ac­ri­mo­nious and highly pub­li­cized de­par­ture of co-founder/bassist Peter Hook a decade ago, which re­sulted in a law­suit over us­age of the band’s name. (They reached a set­tle­ment last year. Hook now per­forms both Joy Divi­sion and New Order al­bums with his band, The Light).

Although New Order per­form reg­u­larly, Sum­ner isn’t sure why Toronto was left off the tour docket en­tirely be­tween 2001 and 2012. But we are the only Cana­dian date on New Order’s cur­rent North Amer­i­can tour in sup­port of 2015’s Mu­sic Com­plete and 2017’s live NOMC15. And Sum­ner is look­ing for­ward to it.

“We’ve al­ways thought of it as a re­ally chilled-out New York,” he says. “That’s a good thing, be­cause we usu­ally need [some re­lax­ing] by the time we get to Toronto.”

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