Concert Review

Edinburgh Gets “Closer” to Peter Hook and the Light

Peter Hook and the Light reached Edinburgh after a three-night residency at Manchester’s Albert Hall.

13th April 2023 02 Academy Edinburgh

No stranger to Scotland, it’s only 9 months since the Glasgow gig where the two iconic albums were faithfully performed at the Barrowland Ballroom. No sign of Jack Bates this time, he’s off on Smashing Pumpkins bass duties but he was ably replaced by Paul Duffy. The rest of the band remains the same as long-time collaborators David Potts (Guitar), Paul Kehoe (Drums) and Martin Rebelski (Keyboards) make up “The Light”.

As Hooky addressed the mic after strolling on stage to rapturous applause, he announced that it was Potts’s selection of New Order songs that would kick off proceedings. The beauty of having such a massive back-catalogue to call upon and having songs on rotation to keep the set relatively fresh. Not just one band collection, of course, Hooky can dip into either as his signature bass drove them both. There were a few gremlins with Hooky’s wireless system on his bass, but this didn’t detract from “Chosen Time” or “Ultraviolence”. The recognisable “Subculture” brought the archetypal electronic feel of New Order to the fore.

This was further replicated as Hooky strained at “The Village” as the higher notes sounded a bit fragile, much like how Barney would strain through it as well. The New Order set closed out with a rousing version of “Regret” and the band drifted off stage to a massive cheer.

As Hooky returned to the stage, he dedicated the first song to the loss of Oliver Park, son of Hacienda DJ Graeme Park. A sombre moment normally reserved for the memory of Ian Curtis but very touchingly dedicated to a life lost so young.  “Atmosphere” filled the venue and the hearts of everyone in attendance. “As we all know, life goes on…”, Hooky reminded the crowd then announced “Disorder” and the seminal album “Unknown Pleasures” was unleashed on the eager audience. Not many bands can carry off what Peter Hook and the Light do, replicate and enhance such a tour de force.

The album was the only one to be released during Ian Curtis’s lifetime and for an album that barely registered within the mainstream at the time, it has gone onto legendary status. Bleak and uncomfortable, visceral and emotive, the songs reverberated throughout the building. It was a classic performance, the trio of “New Dawn Fades”, “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay” animated the audience as the rest of the album’s darker tunes had them captivated in wonder. Hooky led the band off stage for a second time.

It was the heavy drumming of Kehoe that signified the return of the band. Seven minutes between sets, there was barely time to catch your breath. “Closer”, the album that was released just two months after Curtis’s death brought an altogether different feel to Joy Division and some insight into where they would evolve. After a dominant rendition of “Atrocity Exhibition”, “Isolation” almost felt like a pop song! “Colony” and “A Means to an End” brought light relief to a crushing end. Each song was delivered with dynamic precision and an energy that was never realised by the original members.

I only saw Joy Division once, supporting the Buzzcocks, but to hear the songs live is always monumental and Hooky does it passionately, this was evident in “Heart and Soul”. There was no break between songs as “24 Hours” followed without any pause.

The set closed out with two of the more emotive songs from the album. “The Eternal” dropped the tempo but “Decades” certainly raised the intensity. As Hooky sang “Here Are The Young Men”, it made me wonder what the band could’ve achieved but in the same vain, the two albums were frozen in time to be revisited without any possibility of being tarnished. As Hooky played his melodica, you could feel the empathy in the room. Pott’s guitar work was sublime nearing the end of the song as he took the baton from Hooky and drove the song to its inevitable climax. For a third time, the stage was bereft of bodies.

The four-song encore was like a Joy Division CV. “Digital” took you back to the early stripped-back sound, “Transmission”, probably the first time most people had seen or heard the band on TV, followed by “Ceremony”, the signs of where the band were going. Last but not least, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, the song that made sure Joy Division would be remembered not just in the memories of those who like their music dark and bleak, but celebrated universally and covered by many fledgling artists and karaoke singers across the planet. Hooky’s final fling was his T-shirt and he removed the sweaty garment and launched it into the pit to be ripped apart.

With two sold-out shows to follow from Edinburgh, there’s no end in sight anytime soon for Peter Hook and the Light.

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About The Author

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Raymond Thomson - Deputy Editor

I am a photographer/musician/engineer living in Scotland. My passion is music and motocross and I share my work on facebook/punk4RT and facebook/madmaxmedia. I do like a bit of throw back to the heydays of the 60’s/70’s/80’s when it comes to taking shots of bands. I grew up on the music papers (NME/Sounds/Melody Maker) and drew influence from Pennie Smith/Jill Furmanovsky/Anton Corbijn/Bob Gruen/Adrian Boot/Charles Peterson.
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