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.
2. “Chosen Time”
3. “The Village”
5. “Leave Me Alone”
6. “Your Silent Face”
8. “Age Of Consent”
10. “In A Lonely Place”
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