The concert, New Order’s first in Chicago, has become the stuff of legend: At the end of a scorching late-June day in 1983, the band takes the stage at the Cabaret Metro, where a packed crowd drives the on-stage temperature to nearly unbearable heights, knocking out power on-stage mid-set and forcing the sequencer-dependent quartet to strip down to guitars and drums.
Bassist Peter Hook, in his memoir “Substance: Inside New Order,” calls it “one of the hottest gigs I have ever done,” recalling that a member of the band’s crew bought a thermometer and measured the on-stage temperature at 118 degrees Fahrenheit. “Even Gillian (Gilbert) was sweating,” Hook writes.
Joe Shanahan, the Metro’s owner, recounted the gig to the Chicago Sun-Times in 2003, ranking it as the No. 2 most memorable show in the venue’s history (R.E.M.’s performance in 1982 was No. 1).
“When New Order came, it was one of the hottest days in the city of Chicago’s history. ‘Blue Monday’ had been a huge club hit — it was like the change of music going from guitar-based punk to synthesizer-based New Wave or post-punk — but at that show, the power went down onstage because it was so hot in the club. Before it came back on they did a sort of ‘New Order unplugged,’ and it was the closest thing to Joy Division playing ‘Blue Monday,’ because they had to play it with just guitar and drums and none of the electronic gear.”
It’s that idea of New Order playing “Blue Monday” unplugged that has long made the June 30, 1983, show a holy grail for collectors, but no known tape — not even an accurate setlist — has ever circulated.
But then, on Saturday night, The Power of Independent Trucking blog — a largely dormant site run by a mastering engineer who goes by the handle The Analog Loyalist — posted the first known audio of that concert, a 10-song set that was recorded by an unknown fan and now has been mastered by the Loyalist himself from what’s believed to be a first-generation dub of the original tape.
So what does this tape reveal?
Well, to begin with, there’s no “Blue Monday,” unplugged or otherwise. As the Analog Loyalist — who has previously cleaned up and shared rare Joy Division and R.E.M. material (and gotten into some hot water for doing so) — speculates, it’s possible that performance was edited out of the Cabaret Metro recording at some point in the past, but that seems highly unlikely given the popularity of that song, and the fact that a sequencer-free performance of it would be highly noteworthy.
Listening back to the recording these 34 years later, it seems the power issues surface following a mid-set performance of “Leave Me Alone,” when there’s an extended gap during which you can hear audience members talking about the heat (“Sweats dripping in my eyes,” a woman says near the mic. “I was rubbing ice all over my face,” a man replies.) as the band fiddles with the electronics.
The Analog Loyalist writes:
“Eventually, ‘Your Silent Face’ starts. It devolves into a unique and fascinating exposition on what a sequencer-using band does when the sequencers are failing mid song — Steve Morris jumps behind the drum kit far earlier than usual, and essentially drives the song to its skittering end as the sequencers never recover. I think this take is spectacular and I think you’ll agree.”
Then, despite Bernard Sumner’s threat the band will just jam, New Order finishes by powering through four straight guitar/bass/drums tracks: “Denial,” “Age of Consent,” “Ceremony” and “In a Lonely Place.”
I remember waiting for over an hour to get into the Metro that night and being packed shoulder to shoulder. We left drenched and satisfied.
— Bob-0 (@Tongo5000) August 6, 2017
It was so hot kids splashed themselves with toilet water to cool down. My gf (now wife) passed out & nearly fell from balcony! @peterhook
— Rob Glander (@RobGlander) August 6, 2017
Shanahan, the Metro’s owner, is quoted on New Order’s website saying of the 1983 gig: “I will never forget it, we all fell in love with each other that night! Chicago became Manchester by the lake for evermore.”
Stream the full 1983 set from Cabaret Metro below, or download it for a limited time in the FLAC format — and read more about the show — over at The Power of Independent Trucking.
LINK: New Order 30 June 1983 Cabaret Metro, Chicago
2. “Chosen Time”
3. “The Village”
5. “Leave Me Alone”
6. “Your Silent Face”
8. “Age Of Consent”
10. “In A Lonely Place”
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
- Peter Hook to bring Joy Division/New Order ‘Substance’ tour back to North America
- Watch: Livestream of New Order’s Manchester International Festival set with synth orchestra
- Watch: New Order digs deep at opening of 5-night Manchester run with synth orchestra
- New Order announces one-off headlining date at Hollywood Bowl with Goldfrapp
- Watch: New Order closes Coachella main set with a glorious 9-minute ‘Temptation’
What a find ! Great job by Steven Morris on Your Silent Face. Would have been cool to hear Blue Monday “unplugged” though…
Wow! Thank you!
Would love for some sort of official release of this.
Thanks so much for posting this. My girlfriend (now wife) & I drove from Madison to see this show, waited outside in the heat for hours before finally entering the sweltering Metro. Then we waited a few more hours, geeked to be seeing New Order but dehydrating by the minute. People were irritable and when the sound problems started, Bernard snapped at the crowd “We’ve suffered more than all you bastards put together!” At one point my gf passed out and nearly toppled over the balcony railing! When it was over, we weren’t sure if we enjoyed the show or not but knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
It’s amazing when something like this is unearthed, defying probability and time. And what a document! This heralds that run from 1983-86 when NO were simply untouchable.
I worked with new order on various projects.
This independent engineer isn’t remastering. He’s fucking with.
If the artist isn’t involved, boycott.
Funny how so much legend becomes just that – legend. Joe Shanahan’s memory is hazy at best, it seems. Not only wasn’t “Blue Monday” played (although it’s fair that it would have been an encore and just didn’t get recorded. This is ~55 minutes, so maybe the taper only has a 60-minute cassette!), but as for it being “one of the hottest days in the city of Chicago’s history,” multiple weather archives concur that it was only a high of 85 degrees in Chicago that day. Maybe Joe just forgot to turn on the A/C that night!
The weather archive I checked said it was a high of 99 in Chicago on June 30, 1983.
That’s the same one I looked at (as well as WGN). This page defaults to the monthly view up top — 99 was the high day of the month (on 6/26). Gotta scroll down to the bottom of the page for the dailies, or click “Daily” tab for 6/30. :)
OK, but we have every commenting gig attendee (here, elsewhere and the original FB comment thread started by a reputable fellow who was ALSO there) and the band themselves complaining about the heat. I agree various historical weather sites suggest otherwise, but it also shows 98% humidity and a significant temperature difference between ORD (official weather station) and the city itself is not uncommon. 98% humidity is miserable no matter what the temp is, too…
For the record, ten songs and no encore would be pretty typical of New Order back then. Blue Monday wasn’t played every gig. In fact, there was a different playlist basically every night. Seeing as they played Confusion and YSF, it seems likely that Blue Monday wouldn’t have been in the set list.
Wow, and Ministry played the Metro with the Blackouts opening just two days later! The Blackouts included Paul Barker and Bill Rieflin, who became Al’s partners in Ministry/RevCo/PTP/etc. Much greatness!
The gig was terrible and they were trying to film it so they had all this extra equipment that blew out the power and the ac. This was caused by the artists not god. Sure it was a hot day. That gig was unbearable.
Thanks for posting this. Many good returns to you!
Would Have suffered the heat to be there! And I HATE being hot.
i recorded the show in detroit from that same tour. it was just as hot there. i remember the temperature going up a degree for each step up to the balcony. when blue monday started, i thought the balcony was going to collapse as it was moving up and down six inches from everyone jumping in unison
Anyone care to re-upload that recording? I’m too late. Would love to get a copy…
Working as of the 28th
It’s up here: