As part of the 2017 Manchester International Festival, New Order played a five-night residency at a special place, Old Granada Studios, where Joy Division made their television debut in 1978. To make the event even more special, the band added a 12-member synthesizer orchestra to their regular lineup and utilized the striking stage design of visual artist Liam Gillick. They were inspired by the setting to play a set that spanned their entire career from their early days as Joy Division to 2015's Music Complete. Most albums rated a song apiece and the selections weren't obvious ones for the most part. For example, they don't play late-period highlight "Crystal"; they instead play "Behind Closed Doors," which was the B-side. The choices are striking, and it makes it clear that the band's catalog is extremely deep. Two years later they released a set's worth of songs under the bulky title of ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes.., which gives fans who weren't there a chance to experience the concerts from the comfort of their own homes. The sound is clear and powerful, like some care was put into the capture, and the band clearly were inspired to play at their best. Stephen Morris' drumming is still a marvel, and the duo of bassist Tom Chapman and guitarist Phil Cunningham do a fine job filling in for Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner. Sumner sticks to vocals and as always he's the beating heart at the center of the group's sound. He sounds suitably solemn on the Joy Division songs, wistful on the ballads, and though he's nearly swept away during the epic sound the band plus synths crank out on tracks like "Subculture" and Bizarre Love Triangle," he manages to hold his own like a trouper. The synths add all kinds of dramatic texture when they fully kick in and Joe Duddell's arrangements are masterful. The band were clearly trying to do something unusual and impressive to mark the occasion, and they succeeded. ∑(No,12k,Lg,17Mif) New Order + Liam Gillick: So it goes.. is the band at their late-period best, breathing new life into old tracks both known and obscure, filling the studio with glorious sound, and generally sounding like they could take on any of their myriad of followers and knock them out with a single punch. The set won't take the place of any of their studio albums, but it's a strong addition to their body of work that fans should treasure.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra