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Oslo Chateau Neuf 25.5.81
Taken from the article "D-days for Norway with New Order" by Jan Arne Handorff which appeared in the Norwegian music paper Nye Takter no. 10 - 17 June 1981.
Review of New Order's gig at Chateau Neuf, Oslo 25 May 1981;
"Chateau Neuf had just gone bankrupt. Air Promotion has black-listed the two Norwegian music papers. You are bound to meet unpleasant people (even Englishmen!) before a concert.
And Nye Takter eventually had to pay to see New Order. (Nothing wrong with paying for a concert ticket - it was just the way they treated us!).
Kjeller'n [i.e. the basement - where the concert took place, instead of in the main hall as originally planned] got filled up, but it was not exactly crowded. The atmosphere was neutral, normal, and maybe a bit excited. And not everyone among the many different people who turned up had heard (about) New Order, nor their past.
Waiting for New Order was nothing unique.

[The support band Cosmic Overdose from Sweden play a set that does little to impress the reviewer, he finds their performance gloomy and boring]

half an hour passed. Turn the lights off! Without any greeting New Order enters the stage and performs a slim, transformed version of In A Lonely Place. New Order up close! Bernard Albrecht's eyes are wide open, unblinking. He stamps his foot authoritatively to the threateningly calibrated punchy drumming style of Stephen Morris, who with amazing power is hammering away on his congnac-coloured kit. Gillian, with a cold and apathetic look on her face, caresses the keys and a thin, silvery keyboard-sound snakes its way out. Albrecht blows harmonies on a small, gothic mouth organ before he starts singing graciously. With a soulful tristesse in his voice he lets the words drift out forcefully into the hall. Peter Hook supports Morris for a while by hitting the cymbals, before strapping on his 6-string bass for the climactic finish. New Order are not anonymous on stage, and that's impressive.
Albrecht, much younger and shorter than I had imagined, sings on all but one song, and he usually prefers having his big scarlet-coloured Gibson around his neck, but he was by no means the only one in focus.
Peter Hook was just as present, older and more powerfully built than I had imagined (clearly the oldest member of the band - almost in his thirties?) - and how that bass jumped! Dressed in a khaki shirt and tie, his features reddish and slightly puffy, he wrestled his bass with [Jean-Jaques of The Stranglers] Burnel-like power, - producing angry and often complex lines and chords both on 4- and 6-stringed bass.
Stephen Morris, like Peter Hook, was impressive as a musician too. Athletic and wiry, he was oozing with bright dynamics, and his punches were incredibly hard, in varying circular motions and patterns.
Gillian, unskilled, inexperienced and with a blank expression, switched fifty-fifty between guitar and keyboards... she was always present.
To see New Order up close on the small stage in Kjeller'n [the Basement] was strange. Their indefinable, barren, sombre, and slightly arrogant aura was more of an expression of shyness and innocence than any real unfriendly cynicism.
New Order up close: rather intimate, and almost alien! Ambitious and deeply committed, they seemed paradoxically warm, the main reason being that the music moved.
All the new material consisted of songs.
New Order's songs are powerful, massively powerful. They are deep, delicate sketches not completely removed from the vibrations and sounds of their past.
Reworked fragments of Joy Division-like music is hammered and embroidered out. The music is full of underlying impulses, memories and dreams from far away and close by. Feelings are aroused.
The sinister atmosphere is still there, but less intense, more displaced, and rejuvenated.
New Order were physical, seeking, dramatic and never comfortably self-assured.
But the lyrics? Hard to tell yet.
Presentation was the main thing. It may be private and arrogant, but at the same time it seemed topical, almost sacred and determining. New Order fights on.
After a while they moved into uncharted terrain. A generator is turned on, and a concise, mechanical rhythm-complex is being shot out. Hooky joins in on his rough bass, and Morris is now over on synth. Albrecht, unblinking, sings his way slowly. At full pulse it's building up, and immediately Albrecht and Gillian in unison provide some sharp, organised, guitar chords before returning to the basics of the song.
There were no signs of communication with the audience, who mostly stared and listened. No-one dared to upset something that delicate. And Albrecht's eyes were potentially explosive too - so just try....
Time went by quickly.
New Order marks the end with Ceremony, which is a lot faster than the single, and is met with immediate approval from an unusually disciplined audience.
Then New Order walks off the stage without a word of good-bye.
They're called back for an encore: not bad.
Albrecht programmes Gillian's synth for her, and once she touches the keys a compact generator is reactivated. The hall is filled with intense cycle-like robotic music and a sequencer is oiled with a neat song structure, upon which Morris is banging away a sweaty and suggestively monotonous drum-pattern. Hook dishes out his familiar meaty basslines, whilst Albrecht is handling a strange, little white guitar and provides some vocals before he too moves on to his synthesizer for the long, intense outro.
The song fades out, and the band leaves the stage for good whilst generator and sequencer are left to continue on their own...
It's over.
Not everyone was satisfied.
It wasn't flawless, but strengthening.
For me, unforgettable.
New Order may become big".

Jan Arne Handorff (painstakingly translated by Erik (thanks Erik).