La Roux was confined to a a 45-minute set in which the Elly Jackson-fronted British synth-pop group played mostly songs off its forthcoming album, Trouble In Paradise, out July 21 on Polydor. Although the pit at the front of the venue was brimming when La Roux hit the stage, most of the crowd was filing in or ambling around, not all in their seats yet. But as soon as Jackson started in on the chart-topper Bulletproof, to conclude the set, over half the audience was drawn into the amphitheater.
Frontman Bernard Sumner took the stage saying, “We’re New Order. In case you forgot I’m wearing a t-shirt that says it.” The legendary British synth-pop band’s set was filled with multiple original video sequences to accompany its performance, one of which was made to raise awareness for the Countdown To A Cure To AIDS (C2C 2020), which is trying to cure AIDS by 2020. The C2C 2020 video also was used to introduce the band. When Sumner’s name came up the crowd went wild, but in the pit there was a huge gathering of keyboardist Gillian Gilbert fans who, from the beginning of the show, would not stop screaming her name. Gillian kept her iconic stoic cool throughout the entire set despite her adoring fans begging for her to look their way.
After singing California Grass, Sumner joked about how it could mean grass or grass, but he definitely could smell some California grass in the crowd that night. After the cheers from the crowd he chuckled, “I’m English. I’m not used to this sort of thing. Anyway, this one’s for you,” and by “you” he obviously meant all the weed smokers, because the scent of weed became inescapable as the band started in on Bizarre Love Triangle. Later in the set, Sumner continued his L.A.-centric banter, exclaiming that the city has everything, “Palm trees, hot chicks, cold chicks, the sea, and New Order.” Bassist and founding member Peter Hook is no longer with the band, as he’s off doing New Order and Joy Division covers with his own act, much to the consternation of the remaining New Order members and many fans. Not that this crowd seemed to mind.
Although the set was primarily New Order songs, the encore was all Joy Division. First playing Atmosphere as the song’s official music video rolled, everyone cheered as the images of the late Ian Curtis took the screen. As the band finished the evening with Love Will Tear Us Apart the words “Joy Division Forever” flickered on the screen.
Photos by Annie Lesser.