Review and photos by Tony Gaskin
As music lovers, I think we all have bands that we wish we could have seen back in the day. I have many, but right up there near the top is Joy Division. Their dark, ethereal sound was like nothing else at the time, but with the sad loss of Ian Curtis, the band ceased to exist and I never got the chance to see them. Funnily enough, for one reason or another I’ve never seen New Order, despite my admiration of the first few albums, which reached a peak for me at 1986’s Brotherhood. So I finally get around to seeing ex-bass player for these two iconic bands, Peter Hook, perform songs from both bands, with his band The Light
No support acts here, Hooky opens up with half hour of Joy Division songs and I’m instantly drawn back to a dystopic 80’s with the opening bars of ‘Ceremony’ (I know it’s technically a New Order song, but so much of Joy Division is in it). What surprises me here is a healthy number of young people in the crowd who are not just making up the numbers but thoroughly getting into the music; a tribute to a great band that spans the generations.
What follows is a powerfully emotive set. Hooky avoids playing the obvious tunes so no room for ‘She’s Lost Control’, ‘Transmission’ or even ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. Instead it’s a short but sweet connoisseurs collection of dark, moody and genuinely sympathetic renditions of classic tracks.
To say that Joy Division left a legacy is a given, but New Order went on to attract a much bigger audience as their sound developed and had cross appeal with their songs being re-mixed into countless dance classics, but through all this evolution there was one constant. Peter Hook’s bass transcended both eras and was a key signature of both bands, so, as with the opening set, we were hoping for a faithful rendition of 1986’s Brotherhood.
Kicking off this second set though was the song ‘Lonesome Tonight’ a bit of an obscure B-side, but a track that had that Joy Division feel to it, bridging that gap so to speak.
We were soon catapulted into the more vibrant, poppier sound of New Order though with ‘Paradise’; the opening track off Brotherhood. This album marked a definite change for the band, cleaner productions with heavy keyboard and synth elements which captured the attention of a bright new club scene emerging from the darker post-punk!
Highlight was ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ which was a massive dance club hit, but here in a dark club, stripped back to it’s barest bones it feels completely different.
For some reason the later album was played first with 1985’s Low-Life following, which means stepping back into that crossover period, from indie darlings to dancefloor fillers. ‘Love Vigilantes’ captures that period perfectly, similar in sound to their contempories “The Cure”, it was catchy but still retained the post-punk feel. With this album it finally felt that they had shrugged off the ghost of Curtis, embodied by the electro-pop vibes of ‘The Perfect Kiss’ and ‘Sub-Culture’, a sound that they refined on later albums. The crowd were definitely more animated now and I got the reasoning behind the order of play, but for me the highlight for this segment was the short rendition of ‘Elegia’, a haunting instrumental piece.
The only disappointment was no encore due to the ill health of bass player Jack Bates who had admirably battled through a long evening so far. We were expecting three tracks; ‘Thieves Like Us’, ‘True Faith’ and ‘Temptation’ would have been a great end to a brilliant show.
All in all a great gig, my partner for the night was relatively ignorant about the music on offer tonight, but she thoroughly enjoyed it, which just goes to show, even after 30+ years these songs can still grab you.
Joy Division Set List
1. Ceremony (New Order)
2. No Love Lost
5. Twenty Four Hours
6. Shadow Play
Brotherhood Set List
8. Lonesome Tonight
11. As It Is When It Was
12. Broken Promise
13. Way Of Life
14. Bizarre Love Triangle
15. All Day Long
16. Angel Dust
17. Every Little Counts
Low-Life Set List
18. Love Vigilantes
19. The Perfect Kiss
20. This Time Of Night
23. Sooner Than You Think
25. Face Up