New Order are still revered today as one of music’s most cherished innovators. Taking the learning from bands like Can and Kraftwerk, the group excelled into the world of electronic music when it seemed as though they were destined for the dustbin of history. Following the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis, the members of Joy Division were cut adrift from their dreams and, without a lead singer, appeared to be falling through the pop music cracks.
Thankfully, they rallied, included Gillian Gilbert in their line-up, and began making progressive music for the leftfield. Taking the intensity they had so neatly cultivated within Joy Division, Gilbert, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris applied their sense of songcraft to a new style of making music. By 1982, the band were fully formed and beginning to explore the world of electro. Naturally, it would yield incredible results, one such moment being this fine performance of their song ‘Temptation’ from 1982.
Recorded live at BBC Riverside, the clip below demonstrates just why the band were always destined for greatness. Sumner’s performance is restrained and purposeful, Gilbert is delicate and determined in her playing, Hooky’s basslines sound as sharp as ever and, of course, the metronomic Morris keeps the ship moving forward.
Though it wouldn’t be released until May of 1982, the song found a home in their live setlist almost instantly, and it was clear from the start it would hold a special place in the hearts of the audiences who saw it. The track is one of the band’s finest songs and is usually thought of as one of the keenest pieces of their show.
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.”
Undoubtedly one of the finest performances of this song came in 1982 when New Order got spiritual for the BBC.