Day-Glo yellow, screeching lyrics and punk-inspired rhythms were predominant Wednesday night. Unfortunately for New Order, so were technical problems.
The band from Manchester, England, performing third on the program as the headline act, simply couldn't pull themselves together into the cohesive performing group they appear to be in recorded dance tracks. Their performance brought the program to an anti-climactic ending.Iceland's Sugar Cubes began the concert enthusiastically by lipsyncing to rhumba music and then breaking out into their unrefined punk. The pace was furious as their lead male vocalist screamed rather than sang the words, using his voice as a percussive instrument.
The back-up band of two guitarists and a drummer was dressed in various combinations of Day-Glo colors. However, the lead female vocalist broke this trend with a vintage red velvet mini-dress. Her voice was clear and confident as she wound melodies around her male counterpart's lyrics.
Most of their music was of a lighter tone, but once in a while the band lapsed into a dark, heavy, pulsating beat the audience enjoyed, such as in "Delicious Demon."
Although the band played up to the audience, they were unable to keep them on their feet. However, they did accomplish the awesome task of the first band on stage - they warmed the crowd up for the next act.
PIL, also known as Public Image Limited, was the high point of the evening. Lead singer John Lydon, in a Day-Glo yellow suit, performed using the philosophy of "less is more." He never broke out into wild dancing and thrashing about, although the band's music did. Lydon sneaked around the stage, pausing occasionally to give the audience a bug-eyed stare, as if mesmerizing them.
PIL's performance was more refined, better mixed and better sounding than the other two groups. "This is not a Love Song" was the band's best effort of the evening. Lydon made full use of his scratchy yodeling voice during this song, as well as vocals from his four-man back-up crew (all wearing Day-Glo colors, of course).
Then came the big disappointment of the evening. New Order started off with technical problems and never recovered. Roadies were constantly on and off stage fixing microphones and cords, while the backup music was so loud that lead singer Bernard Albrecht could barely be heard.
To gain their special studio sound, New Order used some sort of tape system to fill out their music. This caused nothing but problems as live guitars and keyboards were out of tune with the tape.
Audience rapport was poor, as Albrecht insisted on looking at the floor instead of the audience while singing. The female keyboardist didn't crack a smile during the whole concert.
The one redeeming factor was New Order's sophisticated and entertaining light show. Lights were constantly moving and changing color through smoke.
The audience enjoyed songs off the band's new album, "Technique," and renditions of older dance tracks, even though the performance was less than perfect. However, many left before the concert ended.