Revisiting New Order’s storming performance of ‘Temptation’ at Glastonbury back in 1987
This summer, music lovers around the world are being forced into being starved of live music with a glaring omission of the festival season. In a bid to lift the blues, we are trawling through our archives to find some of the most memorable festival performances ever, such as this stunning rendition of ‘Temptation’ by New Order from their headline set on Glastonbury’s Pyramid Stage on June 19th, 1987.
New Order, the band famously born out of tragedy when Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis tragically took his own life, saw the remaining members of the seminal group feel unable to carry on the band without him so created a new alias. Under the name of New Order, they would conquer dizzy heights that they never came close to achieving under the guise of Joy Division who, on reflection, never actually enjoyed commercial success despite being one of the most revered acts of all time.
1987 would mark the pinnacle of Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris’ career to date when they would light up the Pyramid Stage with a headline performance that would go down in the history books as being one of the most important sets in the history of Worthy Farm. The show would also right the wrongs that they made during their disastrous co-headline set in 1981, which drummer Stephen Morris recalled this to The Guardianabout that night to forget: “Unfortunately Bernard rather over-imbibed on Pernod and halfway through one song just completely fell over and started playing the guitar on his back,” he said. “As a performer, you have to draw the line between enjoying the festival and keeping yourself in a fit state to play.”
In the six years that had passed following the band’s last performance, they had gone on to release three near faultless albums and had formed their own identity which was no longer in the shadows of Joy Division, which is who the fans in 1981 really wanted to see rather than this new entity that they were presented with.
One of the new track’s that New Order had acquired in their arsenal since their previous visit to Worthy Farm was the wonderous 1982 hit ‘Temptation’. This was the first song the group produced themselves following their split from Martin Hannett, a figure who the band credit for teaching them the mechanics of recording. However, this track well and truly marked the start of the New Order era we all love.
“Producing ourselves we get more satisfaction,” frontman Bernard Sumner told The Face in 1983. “We know what we want and we can do it. With Martin, the songs often turned out different, sometimes better, sometimes not.”
Sumner would later confess to Mojo in a 2015 interview that this is probably his favourite New Order song: “It’s got a spirituality to it. It’s really uplifting without actually getting a specific message across. It was interesting to see that you could do that while, at the time, being fairly abstract. I struggled with the literalness of my lyrics in the early days. I didn’t want to expose my inner feelings to the general public.”
This footage from their headline set in 1987 marked New Order announcing themselves as being their own institution and cemented their place as being members of British music royalty who, at the time, had successfully pioneered two completely different sounds in the space of just ten years.
Watch them plough through a top draw performance of ‘Temptation’, below.