We’re dipping into the Far Out Magazine vault as part of the now-dreaded Blue Monday to bring you the originators of the phrase doing their best work as New Order offer a candid performance of their now-iconic track. Not only that, but we also get a particularly eighties introduction to the new-fangled technology of synthesisers.
New Order are a band with a textured and collaborative past. Consisting of Stephen Morris, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Gillian Gilbert, the band was formed from the remaining members of Joy Division following the tragic loss of lead singer Ian Curtis to suicide. Born out of tragedy, the band transcended their post-punk roots and move on to truly embrace electronic music and digital creation. They became, in fact, the missing link between the two. New Order is one of the connectors every genre can agree on.
Their track ‘Blue Monday’ was somewhat of a revolution upon its release in the early ’80s. The song is often interpreted as a track about drug abuse (the opening line “How does it feel to treat me like you do” being the key indicator) and in fact, the band have openly admitted to being under the influence of LSD when writing it. None of which takes away from the song’s ability to weld genres to one another with hindsight and minimal effort.
Although Peter Hook (perhaps typically) thinks differently about the lyrics: “I don’t think there is a great deal to tell behind the lyrics if I am going to be brutally honest,” he once said in reflection. “It was just one of those things where Barney just went for it and the rest was history.” The song went on to be the highest-selling 12″ single in history and it remains one of the decade’s most iconic tunes, influencing not only the entire decade but pop music as a whole following its release.
The track, and the track’s title, has since gone on to represent one of the darkest days in the year. ‘Blue Monday’ now often refers to the scientifically proven most depressing day of the year—an unfair link to a band marred with mental health tragedy.
Below we have a brilliant piece of history, however, as we take a trip back to 1983 to not only see the band perform their hit track on ‘Europe’s Number One Music Show’ Countdown—but to finally hear Stephen Morris talk.
The drummer, alongside lead singer Sumner, offers a brief introduction to their digital synths which seem to enamour the Dutch presenter so much. Moving in his seat like an excited 12-year-old waiting for his chance to play with a toy. Morris and Sumner taking him through the band’s growing range of technologically advanced instruments. The simple synths may seem archaic to us now, but in 1983 this was the sharpest of cutting edge technology and New Order play it with a certain swagger that seems to say “we’re ahead of the game”. In truth, they were.
New Order were setting the pace in 1983, just as Joy Division were in the late ’70s. This performance is just another show of that command and another lightbulb moment for a generation of bored kids at home. Now, they didn’t necessarily need to perfect an instrument to make music, now they could rely on technology to help them along the way. This, for many people, was their first introduction to a brand new passion.
The band then treat the show to a flawless rendition of ‘Blue Monday’. It’s simply brilliant watching, well done to Reelin’ In The Years for archiving this incredible footage.