Flashback: New Order Play a 10-Minute 'Temptation' in 1981 - Rolling Stone
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Flashback: New Order Play a 10-Minute ‘Temptation’ in 1981

Months before the song was in stores, the post-punk band played a wild rendition of ‘Temptation’ during a New York tour stop

Joy Division were prepping for their first-ever American tour when frontman Ian Curtis committed suicide on May 18th, 1980, bringing the band to an immediate end just as they were starting to get some real momentum. The surviving three members of the group spent a few months processing the unimaginable shock before deciding to carry on under the name New Order, finally arriving in America that September to play four club shows. The handful of people who got to see the group at those gigs witnessed New Order in their most nascent form – still playing as a trio, and uncertain as to whether guitarist Bernard Sumner would be their permanent vocalist.

When New Order came back to America 14 months later, they were a different band. Keyboardist Gillian Gilbert had joined the band, Sumner was singing with wildly increased confidence and power after a year of gigging around Europe, and their debut album, Movement, was about to hit shelves. A professional camera crew was rolling when they played the Ukrainian National Home in New York on November 19th, 1981. The bulk of the setlist came from Movement, but they closed out the show with an early version of “Temptation,” which you can watch right here.

The song wouldn’t be officially released until May of 1982, but they’d been playing it in their show since September ’81, and it was already one of the highlights of their set. The lyrics on this version from the Ukrainian National Home show are far from complete, but the music is pretty close to the final version, though this one runs for over 10 incredible minutes. It ends with the group’s members walking offstage one by one as their equipment continues to run.

MTV was only three months old at the time of this show, and few cable subscribers had access to it, but soon enough the network would be a major force that would help turn future New Order songs like “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle” into major hits. By the middle of the decade, New Order were more popular than they could have ever imagined back in their Joy Division – but to many fans, their live show was never quite as powerful as their early gigs around the time that Movement came out. 

In This Article: Joy Division, New Order


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