New Order probably wouldn't be thrilled to be known as a "thinking man's disco band," yet that was exactly what the seminal post-punk band from Manchester, England, seemed to be at Irvine Meadows Saturday. Playing to a dance-crazy audience, the quartet followed a familiar pattern: Swooping bass lines and stately, catchy keyboard melodies formed a gray-edged patchwork quilt of sound as guitarist Bernard Albrecht, in the wispiest of voices, contemplated life's melancholy nature.
Featuring material from the excellent new album "Brotherhood," New Order's upbeat set put aside their reputation as one of the sloppiest live bands on the planet. Especially visual was bassist Peter Hook's bended-knee routine, in which his behind almost touched the ground. But New Order was never grounded. Both low-key emotionally and high-energy sonically, this band makes a case for the liveliness of lifelessness. They play the Palace Tuesday and the Palladium Wednesday.