My hubby is a huge New Order fan. We had tickets to see them before the pandemic hit. The gig rescheduled and because of this I knew we could get a refund. I had already got a refund on all our other gigs that had dates cancelled. However, I knew I had an argument on my hands to try to talk hubby out of this gig. He said he would go but I didn’t have to. I said I couldn’t do public transport. I had seen the images of crowds with no masks on the underground. I knew that could set off a panic attack. So, hubby paid for parking and said he would drive. This is a big deal as in our 16 years together he has never driven to London. We only live 50 miles away and the trains are very reliable.
I have hardly been out since March 2020. But recently I have been to a few theatre shows locally and I figured that this was only one step further. It was my sister that convinced me. She said how can I be sure he will wear a mask the whole time if I am not there. I knew she was right, so on Saturday 6th November, knowing I could backtrack at every step, I agreed to go.
He took a convoluted route to avoid the M1 and also avoid the congestion charges. We ate out lunch on our journey and arrived at the O2 around 3.30pm. We spoke to an O2 angel, who gave us all the information we needed. We bought merch and put it back into the car. One of the new rules is their clear bag policy. I think this should be clearer (excuse the pun) on the website stating no handbags. I had bought a clear bag so knew I would be okay.
I suggested we buy a meal deal out of Tesco’s to leave in the car as we knew it was a long journey home and we might be hungry. This turned out to be a good idea but more of this later.
At 5.30 the Blue room opened. I have never been so happy to be an O2 customer. Since my last visit it has had a refit and is fabulous and is very luxurious. I felt like a VIP. We choose a booth (aptly named storm) and this meant no one was sitting near us plus it had the added benefit of being able to charge up my mobile phone. Drinks had 20% off and it wasn’t crowded. To get into the Blue room you need to go through what feels like airport security. There is a metal detector and you place our bag/possessions into a tray to pass through. This means you can go directly from the blue room into the venue with no further checks. The music in the blue room was 80’s and electronic and felt a perfect fit to see New Order. In the Blue room I did not feel stressed, probably because it was limited on amount of people who can go in. We left the Blue room in time to see the support act, Fujiya & Miyagi. They were very electronic and an excellent choice to support New Order. If you like electronic music, check them out.
Most O2 angels wore masks, but there was one man around our peer group age who didn’t, but what shocked me more was when he was introduced to a new employee, he shook her hand. I haven’t seen anyone shake hands in almost two years. Why would you do that? It felt at odds with all the rules around covid at the O2. The O2 was strict on their policy. You do need to prove your covid status and will not be let in if you cannot do this. Although I know that proving your status doesn’t mean you cannot catch it; the venue rules help to keep people safe. I had even read on the website about how they extract the air in the arena. Its people who are the problem. Not just that older Angel but a lot of the general public. The truth is my hubby and I were very much in the minority for wearing masks both inside the venue and in the wider O2 building. There seems to be no social distancing and people of course, were singing and dancing. If Covid was present, this is an ideal environment for it to spread.
However, I felt I made a decision to balance my mental and physical health. I have worked from home since March 2020, so my Fitbit was ecstatic that I was doing so much walking and dancing. I kept myself as safe as possible, wearing a mask at all times and keeping away from people as much as I could. I knew I would be sitting next to someone I didn’t know and sure enough he didn’t wear a mask either, but I had prepared myself for that. Some may feel a big venue like the O2 is a risk too far, but I am saying it was worth it. My mental health felt so much better – yes it did feel a bit like old normal. My life before covid was full of gigs and theatre as well as travel and eating out. And I had missed it.
New Order were live streaming the gig and so I expected a great set list. I was not disappointed. Opening with Regret, which my hubby and I always thought was ‘our New Order song’ (You used to be a stranger, now you are mine), set the night up beautifully. There were of course the hits, Blue Monday, True Faith and honestly, I could not believe the reaction to Bizarre Love Triangle. I was up on my feet for Ceremony and surprised to hear 1963. They even played their new track, Be A Rebel. There was a lot of Joy Division, more than any other New Order gig I have been to (and I have been to a fair few), and even a few from music complete such as Restless and Plastic. I was disappointed there was no Tutti Fruitti but otherwise a great set list and Barney’s voice was really on point which has not always been the case in the past. I was not as emotional as I had expected to be. This was my first gig in almost two years so it was significant, but I just felt elated. I loved the gig so much, I put down my small camera and just enjoyed the gig. I danced and sung. I am sure those around me were grateful for my mask to mask my voice but boy did I have a good night. New Order ended as they always do nowadays, with Love Will Tear Us Apart, with photos of Ian on the big screen behind them. I love how respectful it is. This gig (in my humble opinion) was so much better than Alexandra Palace. I do hope the live stream is put onto a DVD as this was such a joyous gig.
We decided to be the last out of the venue to avoid the crowds. This worked perfectly. After the gig we checked the merch one more time, made the obligatory toilet stop and then headed to the car for our sandwiches. We had pre-booked our parking but the ticket didn’t work to lift the barrier and hubby had to get some help. I think this threw him a bit, as leaving the car park, he started going the wrong way up a dual carriageway. I may have shouted at him, but he turned around and finally at midnight we were heading home.
For some of you, you may not be ready for a gig. For others, I know you are way in front of me and have attended many already. I am still not booking any new gigs and have already got my money back on all the rescheduled ones that I could. However, there is a gig in Birmingham next month that hasn’t been rescheduled and Twickets couldn’t sell my tickets. So, after such a great experience at the O2, I have decided to go to see The Human League do the Dare album in full. How on earth is Dare 40 years old? With support from Altered Images and Thompson Twins, I will be in 80’s heaven. I look forward to seeing some of you there.
As for New Order…was it worth it? Absolutely!