New Order has been together for almost a decade, but the quartet from Manchester, England, still has the same testy, sloppy edge of a disgruntled post-punk garage band. Maybe that's part of the appeal that packed in all those screaming techno-teens on the first of two nights at the Universal Amphitheatre on Thursday. Or maybe it was just the striking lighting patterns or the booming sequencer patterns that had 'em bouncing.
It can't be stage presence: Peter Hook, resembling a gnarly refugee from an German S&M; biker club as he pulled dinosaur growls out of his low-slung bass, was inappropriately weird, while guitarist/vocalist Bernard Albrecht's watery little dance moves and wisp of a voice shouldn't threaten Michael Jackson in the near future. But it's this lack of pretension, the vulnerable way that a shy, disenfranchised Albrecht struggles to convey a message of personal pain above the din of the disco machines in songs like "Perfect Kiss" that makes New Order still worth a scream or two.