I’ve Lost You: New Order & Age of Consent

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Manchester synthpop band New Order live at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion in Moore Park. Four decades on from their formation they’ve not lost a bit of their sound or talent, I’d even argue they’ve improved with age.

Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris, and Gillian Gilbert, all well into their 50s and 60s put on a terrific show, alongside more recent band members Phil Cunningham (2004-) and Tom Chapman (2011-).

There was a few particular highlights from their 100 minute show, the mandatory Blue Monday performance, the three Joy Division tracks (Disorder, Atmosphere, and Love Will Tear Us Apart Again), but for me the absolute highlight was when they played Age of Consent.

Age of Consent is the opening track of their 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies. Despite being such an iconic track, played at least 251 times live according to setlist.fm, they didn’t play it live for 22 years from 1989 to 2011.

Album art for Power, Corruption & Lies, released in 1983.

Over the last few months it’s been a particular favourite of mine – according to my last.fm account which tracks my plays from Spotify, I’ve played it at least 111 times since January.

But why have I played it so often? What is it about the track that I love?

Won’t you please let me go
These words lie inside they hurt me so
And I’m not the kind that likes to tell you
Just what I want to do
I’m not the kind that needs to tell you
Just what you want me to

I saw you this morning
I thought that you might like to know
I received your message in full a few days ago
I understood every word that is said
And now that I’ve actually heard it
You’re going to regret

Well, it’s a song that hits home personally to put it the simplest way. In classic New Order fashion, Age of Consent, despite the name, has absolutely zilch to do with the age of consent or underage relationships or Romeo and Juliet or anything.

It’s about a failing relationship which both members want to end but don’t have the guts to say it and end things. Two people who know they’re at the end of their time together but can’t face the reality and are waiting for the other to call things off.

And I’m not the kind that likes to tell you
Just what you want me to
You’re not the kind that needs to tell me
About the birds and the bees

Both of them are emotionally no longer in the relationship, and I think the “birds and the bees” is about infidelity on both of their parts- or at least suspected infidelity. They don’t have the same level of love and trust anymore.

But at the end of it all, they’ll still miss the other person. The brain is great at making attachments to people but not as good at severing those attachments and feelings.

I’ve lost you
I’ve lost you
I’ve lost you
I’ve lost you

The feeling of missing someone who you probably think you shouldn’t has been a bit of my world lately. You can break up with people, go without talking, cut all contact – but the hardest thing is knowing that deep down you still feel for them. The person I think of when I hear this song, happened to also be a massive fan of this song so it’s not surprising it’s become so important in how I’ve been feeling lately.

Cutting people off and ending friendships and relationships is tough. Really, really tough. Age of Consent reflects the emotion of it poignantly. The sound of the song often reminds me of the Joy Division track Atmosphere – which is a very New Order sounding track. Synthesizers and minimalist lyricism to powerfully illustrate loneliness to the listener.

Fittingly, Atmosphere was one of the last two tracks played by New Order at the Hordern Pavilion – with a heartfelt tribute to the tragic Ian Curtis. On the screen behind them was “Forever Joy Division” – which felt like a macabre statement on the band’s identity to this day, whilst also being a heartfelt gesture to who they are and why they are.

Seeing New Order was an experience I needed. A way to cap off a few months which have been an emotional roller coaster for me, filled with ups and downs. I’m incredibly happy I went and I think it’s been a formative moment for me, particularly in realising some of my own recent problems and getting past them. Sometimes there’s nothing like a song about dysfunctional relationships to get you over dysfunctional relationships.

I’m hopeful this tour is also signs of life for another album release from New Order, in which case, catch me buying the super special limited edition release. Also crying whilst picking it up and listening to it on repeat.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s