It's been a fantastic 18 months for New Order. Not only did they return to the charts after a lengthy break with a critically and commercially successful album, but they’ve also been immortalised on film, sampled by Kylie and played some of the most well-received gigs of their career.
The biggest of these was an open air performance at Finsbury Park in London last June. Patient New Order fans, standing in the mud and ignoring the rain, waited for their heroes to a soundtrack of Echo & The Bunnymen, Super Furry Animals and Air.
Then finally frontman Bernard Sumner, drummer Stephen Morris and bassist Peter Hook ambled on to the stage just as the sun decided to join the revellers for the show.
Those who missed New Order’s storming and storm-repelling performance can now catch it on video and DVD, in the dry and warmth of their own living rooms, and those who were there can relive what was a highlight of the band’s year.
“It’s probably the biggest stand alone thing we’ve done,” says 46-year-old Hook, or Hooky as he’s better known. “We were offered the chance to do it and because we were up and running it felt good. The gig turned out really well, it was a shame it bleedin’ rained.”
Much to the delight of fans, New Order have been revisiting their back catalogue for the slew of gigs they’ve done this year. Not only do they play old favourites like Blue Monday, but they also go deeper into their past playing songs from their previous incarnation as Joy Division.
“That came about with us being away for a hell of a long time,” explains Hook. “We began to appreciate the old stuff because we were listening to it and looking at it in a different way. We took it for granted before.”
The band also found themselves digging up the past when they got involved in the filming of Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People. With Steve Coogan as Manchester’s infamous music impresario Tony Wilson, the film was a paean to the Manchester music scene that revolved around New Order and Wilson’s Factory Records during the 80s and 90s.
“It’s somebody else telling a story about our life so they’re bound to get things wrong,” says Hook.
“But I did enjoy it and it’s flattering that they made a film about us while we’re still alive.”
Hook helped out on the film by supplying items from the band’s past such as an old Joy Division bass guitar and even the original doors of the Hacienda, the legendary club they ran with Wilson.
But what Hook and his band members did find hard was watching the enactment of the suicide of their friend Ian Curtis, Joy Division’s troubled frontman.
“We’d confronted it mentally many times and lived with it for a long time,” Hook says quietly. “But because the guy that played Ian was so much like him, it was really harrowing. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.”
It’s been 25 years since Hook and Sumner formed Warsaw after seeing an early performance by The Sex Pistols. They later enlisted Curtis and Morris to become Joy Division.
“The best thing was that I didn’t have a direction in life before and all of a sudden I had one,” recalls Hook. “That’s the best memory of those 25 years really, of finding what I want to do in life. When you’re a teenager that’s the scariest thing in the world.”
Even though New Order managed to rise from the ashes of Joy Division, taking on Morris’s girlfriend Gillian Gilbert as a keyboardist while Sumner took on vocal duties, the band have not been without trouble since.
The 80s were a fertile period for the band but the early 90s saw the collapse of Factory Records, the closing of the Hacienda and friction within the band leading to a period in limbo.
After the poorly received Republic album of 1993, the band members went their separate ways to pursue solo projects and, although there was no official confirmation of a split, it seemed we’d heard the last of New Order.
But in 1998 they reconvened and began work on what was to become 2001’s hit album Get Ready. It was a triumphant return, though none of the band were sure it would be that way.
“Right up until the release of the LP we were very worried about it,” admits Hook. “You have to say you’re not bothered just in case it doesn’t come off but we were and luckily it did. After eight years off it’s a hell of an achievement really.”
The band are currently a three-piece as Gilbert is looking after her daughter Grace who has a degenerative illness. But the others are currently in the studio working on the next album which Hook says is coming together quickly with their renewed confidence.
After a tumultuous 25 year history, the band are in their happiest period and although Hook laughs at the thought of New Order becoming the next generation Rolling Stones, they seem set to go on for a long while yet.
“It’s an old rock’n’roll cliché that you can’t imagine doing it when you’re old,” he says. “But I’ve got a bit of a surprise for young people – when you get old you don’t feel any different.
“So I suppose we’d have to say, just as Mick Jagger and Keith Richards say, that we’ll be doing it until we fall over. We get such a satisfaction doing what we do, writing music that moves people, that we’re going to go on as long as we can.”