“Like the shirt!” said a friendly-looking guy at Logan. “You must be going to Miami!” Indeed, as he could tell by my red Joy Division T-shirt, I was heading for the “Four at the Fillmore” concert series by the 1980s British new wave band New Order. He was as well, and we immediately friended one another and hung out at a show at the venerable Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater.
If music is akin to religion, people who are into the same 1980s alternative rock music are just as important to me as those I befriend at synagogues and Jewish sites. In Miami, there would be plenty of opportunities for both scenarios.
The four New Order shows exceeded expectations. Yes, four. I had planned to attend one or two, as tickets, long sold out at the box office, were well over $100 a piece online. Press admission was not available unless one had a specific assignment from an editor. I felt that I didn’t even have to explain to the communications honcho that the news industry has changed, and there are fewer and fewer Perry Whites assigning coverage to us Clark Kents, who now mainly send freelance stories around to varied outlets. But I did have to explain, assuring him that I generally get them published—but no dice.
So, I joined the ticket scavengers and was super fortunate enough to see all four shows for a total of $90. Twice, people simply gave me their spare tickets and I had to force token sums upon them. Once, I paid $60. Another guy with a spare told me to buy him a beer, but when we got in we quickly became separated in the throngs.
But was I surprised? Not really. Although many had flown in for this solo North American tour appearance, most were from the area and filled with quintessential Southern hospitality.
On Wednesday night, New Order received a proclamation from Miami Beach Vice Mayor Michael Gongora declaring that day, and all subsequent Jan. 15, New Order Day.
Following the shows, a DJ manned a booth in the lobby of the massive theater, and we all danced to ’80s hits. “Wow,” I told people. “In Boston, they say, ‘Show’s over! Go home!'”
Joy Division, by the way, was the name of the sexual slave section of a Nazi concentration camp depicted in the 1955 novel “House of Dolls” by Ka-Tzetnik 135633 (Yehiel De-Nur), a testifying witness who fainted at the Eichmann trial.
The band’s song “No Love Lost” depicts such a slave. The B-side, “Warsaw” (the band’s original name), is about a Nazi deserter, Rudolf Hess. One wonders if the legions of Joy Div shirt-wearers, such as mall rats everywhere and performers who include Kristen Stewart and One Direction, know the whole story.
In the introduction to “So This Is Permanence,” a collection of Curtis’s writings, editor Jon Savage contends that the group was deeply affected by and empathetic toward the victims of the Holocaust.
Bernard Sumner, Joy Division member and lead singer/guitarist/keyboards and melodica player of New Order (which is also a defiant Hitler reference), claimed in his memoir “Chapter and Verse” to have been the one to show Curtis the De-Nur book. (Joy Div drummer Stephen Morris is also in New Order.)
It was a new live experience for me, as although I am firmly entrenched within the vast global network of Joy Division minions, I had never seen New Order before. My sister, brother-in-law and many friends are huge fans, but I’ve always preferred Joy Div’s other offshoot from former bassist and cofounder Peter Hook and the Light. “Hooky,” who commands his own international following, is punkier and grittier, where New Order is more synth-poppy. Also, Hooky, who was also a founding and longtime (1980-2007) member of New Order, sounds a lot more like Ian Curtis. I lean toward the grit.
But New Order’s songs are masterfully catchy, and maybe it was the moon over Miami, but I fell under their spell as well. I posted videos onto YouTube and photos to the Facebook page, and was delighted to see that they were liked by none other than Sumner. Friends were impressed, as was I. You just may see me at the Fillmore again next New Order Day.
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