After a 2 year wait, ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ are played in full for a packed Glasgow audience
Joy Division: A Celebration. 2 years late but time stands still for no man let alone legendary bassist Peter Hook. The last time Peter Hook and the Light were in Scotland, it was to play an intro Joy Division set followed by a full run through of New Order’s ‘Technique’ and ‘Republic’ albums. The Barrowland Ballroom was the scene for the alternate with a New Order intro and ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ being faithfully played. The long standing members of the band brought the two iconic albums to life in Glasgow much to the delight of the packed crowd.
Joy Division played the famous Glasgow Apollo back in October 1979, The venue saw the fans queuing round the building and 43 years later, it was the same at the Barrowland Ballroom. 15 minutes before stage time, the crowd were still making their way into the building. It didn’t take them long to pack out the venue as Peter Hook took pride of place alongside his son, Jack Bates. Father and son keep the Joy Division legacy going in unison as they wield their Yamaha and Shergold basses. The rest of the band are all long standing friends and ex-band mates, with David Potts on Guitar and Paul Kehoe on Drums, having played with Hooky in Monaco. They are joined by Martin Rebelski on Synth and Keyboards.
The opening New Order set kicked off with songs written in the weeks before Ian Curtis untimely death. ‘ICB’, ‘Ceremony’ and ‘Dreams Never End’. The dark industrial bleak post-punk band borne out of its surroundings in the mid-70’s progressed their sound via New Order. The opening set did enough to engage the audience for what was to come.
After a short interval, the band returned to perform ‘Unknown Pleasures’. The critically acclaimed albums dark austerity would be a challenge to reproduce with the gravity when it was first recorded. Hooky appeared to be in “character” as his demeanour was downbeat and droll to begin with as the band opened with ‘Digital’. Slightly unexpected as it is not on the album, but the set list resembled the album listing starting with ‘Disorder’. Martin Hannett’s production was reproduced throughout the set as the incredible atmospheric sound effects were replicated and brought the album to life. At times, Hooky’s voice sounded remarkably like that of Curtis. The songs are menacing and challenging but the room knew this, it’s what they were there for. Having actually seen Joy Division in ’79, I could draw some comparisons and they were favourable. There may only be one surviving member in attendance to reproduce the sound live, but its authenticity is beyond reproach. The unrelenting brevity carried on after ‘Day of the Lords’ into ‘Candidate’. Hooky has involved a few artists when he has played these live sets and I could almost anticipate hearing Rowetta’s voice when I heard the start to ‘Insight’ but alas we were not graced with the ex-Happy Mondays songstress. The power of Kehoe’s drumming carried every song. The bass parts were expertly handed over between Hook and Bates and of course they complimented each other when played in unison, this was evident during ‘New Dawn Fades’. Potts guitar was not only supremely authentic but cut through with menace at times. The power and intensity was maintained through-out the set. ‘She’s Lost Control’ demonstrated what Joy Division could deliver as a band even with a stripped back sound and Peter Hook and the Light surpassed the original admirably. My personal favourite of the evening was ‘Shadowplay’, but it was hard to fault any of the classic inspired songs from one of the most influential albums of its era. As the song dipped in the middle, the crowd were very animated as they sang along with Hooky.
As the set neared its conclusion, ‘Interzone’ saw a final flurry from the fans before the austere ‘I Remember Nothing’ brought the second set to a close.
It didn’t take long for the band to return to the stage to perform the bands seminal second album ‘Closer’. Kehoe’s rhythmic drumming signalled the start to ‘Atrocity Exhibition’, as Hooky sang those distinctive lyrics, the crowd stood in awe of what they were hearing. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ is often quoted as THE definitive Joy Division release, but ‘Closer’ defined their sound and represented where the band were going. The songs were powerfully replicated and bettered for the most part. The heart wrenching lyrics of Ian Curtis still reverberate to the core and this was evident in some of the faces of the fans. As the songs were played track by track to match the album listing, the crowd’s expectant appetite was satisfied as each song commenced. Mid-set highlight was ‘Colony’ and ‘A Means to an End’. The band have mastered the delivery of each song and extract every morsal of meaning. They literally pour their ‘Heart & Soul’ into the performance! The prophetic words of ’24 Hours’ hit home and reminded the audience of what a loss Curtis was to the world, but he lives on in his audience. The second album set slipped away with ‘The Eternal’ and ‘Decades’. “Here are the young men”, sung Hooky, his youth may have gone but the music has not aged. Even after 42 years, nothing has been lost.
The band returned at the insistence of the audience as Hooky dedicated the opening song of the encore. What else could it be but ‘Atmosphere’. The prophetic masterpiece may have been drowned in sorrow and pain, but it brought elation to the Barrowland Ballroom. No Joy Division performance would have been complete without the song that kick started their career. ‘Transmission’ was the must have single of 1979 and to this day still inspires with its simplicity. The perfect end to any performance of any band ever must be ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. The roof was raised in Glasgow as Hooky and his band mates hammered out a blistering version of one of the greatest ever songs to have graced the airwaves. With a country going through such despair right now, it’s still re-assuring to find solace in live music. Peter Hook and the Light brought over 2 ½ hours of bliss with their performance. With a live tour in America just round the corner, Hooky is still living the dream and taking you along with him on his journey.
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