Peter Hook And The Light 

With 808 State / Jon DaSilva

London Coronet – 21st June 2013

Macclesfield Christ Church – 23rd June 2013

Alex Stasko catches Peter Hook and The Light as they play two very different gigs of New Order and Joy Division material across one weekend.

Two totally different gigs from the same band across one weekend. You’d normally expect to hear the same set twice, not in this case. The Friday night gig in London is a Hacienda club night with DJs & bands, whilst the event in Macclesfield is part of the town’s Barnaby festival. The only thing in common between the two events is that both are in unattractive buildings in unattractive parts of town.

Friday’s gig is a set of electronic New Order songs, whilst Sunday’s is Joy Division songs. If you were only interested in making money, as many of Peter Hooks detractors say, there has to be a hell of a lot easier way to play live than to play two totally different sets of music 200 miles apart in three nights!

I’m not a huge fan of DJ culture, but Jon DaSilva’s TVMR album last year on Hacienda Records is excellent, so I give his DJ set a keen listen. It’s nice techno dance to my ears and impresses me (I’m sure purists will slag me off for that description) and it certainly gets the punters dancing.

Hooky and co have made the effort with tonight’s set. They walk on stage whilst Alistair Whitehead is still DJ-ing and managed to brilliantly segue Joy Division’s techno Isolation so it mixed into his last tune.

It becomes very apparent very quickly that tonight’s set of songs are gonna segue into one another, after Isolation we get Heart and Soul into Everything’s Gone Green, into Bizarre Love Triangle, into… well you get the idea.

A great nod to dance culture – after all New Order did invent it!

There’s a few songs tonight that The Light haven’t yet played live, the aforementioned Bizarre Love Triangle, True Faith and a stunning version of Fine Time, which goes down amazingly well.

I’d always considered it to be one of New Order’s lesser known singles, but the reaction tonight was amazing. Keyboard player Andy Poole has done a fine job on the arrangements tonight. Lesser known album tracks 586 and Your Silent Face (which sees Hooky on a melodica), also get an airing. Unfortunately, after a great Temptation and the ubiquitous Blue Monday, which sees a lot of dancing, it’s all over. Definitely the best set of New Order songs The Light have played yet, but at only 55 minutes it could have been longer.

I’ve not seen 808 State since a rather drunken night in Milan when I tried to get a huge conga dancing round a municipal park when they supported New Order (it didn’t work by the way).

I also remember seeing them play Voodoo Ray live on Radio Manchester as State 808 at the old International club when A Guy Called Gerald was still a member, great memories.

Tonight’s set brought it all flooding back, Graham Massey provides live sequencer for live drummer Carl Sharrocks and guest bass player Paddy Steer to play over, alongside keys from Andy Barker and some fine MC-ing from Darren Partington. We also get Andy’s brother Eric doing a Bez impression for half the set. It’s all live these days, and it’s fucking ace!

We get the lesser known Timebomb (a great single from the ’90s) alongside their better known work like set opener In Yer Face and an excellent version of Techno City and of course their most famous song Pacific State, which sees Graham Massey play the sax solo to a huge cheer. It’s not all nostalgia though as half of the set is newer songs that I really must check out on record. Unfortunately there’s no time for an encore after a frenetic Cubik. 808 State still pack a great punch live, unfortunately they don’t play much live these days, try and catch them when they do.

All in all a great live/club night, great sound system and venue decked out in Hacienda chic. Unfortunately I missed Super White Assassin from Brazil who apparently played a great live set earlier on in the evening.

So, on to Macclesfield for a set of Joy Division songs. It’s typically grim and raining and blowing a gale! The beer tent outside is nearly taking off and all of Barnaby Festival’s other events have been moved due to the inclement weather.

Once inside the church I realise it’s nicer on the inside than the outside. The first thing I notice when I get in are huge photos of Factory Records legends Ian Curtis, Tony Wilson, Martin Hannett and Rob Gretton, all sadly have now passed on. Just before 8.30pm the post punk music that’s been playing so far gives way to the familiar voice of Ian Curtis being interviewed, quite fitting as we’re in the town where he lived. The Light start up to the pounding bass of  Dead Souls – it sounds immense! Very quickly I notice Ian Curtis’s photo is vibrating in time to the music, but very weirdly, none of the other photos are…

Tonight’s long sold out gig is a run through of both Joy Division albums played in sequence, it’s very dark music played in a lovely setting. The funny thing is that everyone is smiling and either swaying or tapping along (those sat in the pews), or dancing (those stood up in the aisles), there’s even a bloke doing a full Ian Curtis impression on the far side to New Dawn Fades! A friend points out he’s not seen a guitarist as good as Nat Watson since Thurston Moore. Hook does all the lead vocals whilst bass duties are shared between Hook and the young talented Jack Bates.

The lighting looks great, bright and vivid in places and darker and moody in others. Looking at the stage I realise Tony Wilson is smirking right at me and Rob Gretton is sticking his tongue out at me and staring and they still are when I move to the aisle to sway along to the music, very weird.

The crowd at the front aren’t allowed to cross a Hacienda style piece of warning tape applied to the temporary church floor for some reason, thus creating a space in front of the stage. Hooky uses this area to finish playing his bass in on I Remember Nothing so he can exit through a side door after playing the Unknown Pleasures album.

There are only a few minutes gap after the first set, which takes several people by surprise, then the band are back on and straight in to a pounding Atrocity Exhibition from Closer, with most excellent drums from Paul Kehoe. Colony sounds particularly stunning and has me staring madly at the stage. People are still dancing, much more so, but tonight the Closer set seem much more darker than the Unknown Pleasures’ set, there are a lot fewer smiles, maybe it’s the reverence of the setting, or ghosts from the past making an appearance, but the atmosphere has changed, but the crowd are still loving it. Heart And Soul sounds ace, led by a great bass sequencer. A dark and moody Decades ends the set, as it does on the album, and the band leave the stage again.

Each encore song is dedicated to each one of Hooky’s dead friends’ pictures, starting with Atmosphere for Tony Wilson and culminating in Love Will Tear Us Apart for Ian Curtis.

Before Ceremony Hook points out “Everyone can actually cross the line at the front of the stage”, there’s then a huge surge into the gap which certainly livens everything up. During Transmission a stage invader appears to the left of Hooky and starts mouthing the words whilst he’s singing. Once he spots him, Hook promptly picks him up by the scruff of the neck and deposits him back in the audience. By the end of the encore, people can be seen dancing on the pews (most noticeably my friend’s wife who’s stood on a front row pew!)

Everyone loved it, from the old Joy Division fans, to the small children in attendance, they all totally raised the roof by the end of the gig. The setting and the performance made it a very very special night indeed for all who attended. Bring on the rest of the dates later in the year, where there are both New Order and Joy Division sets planned depending on the show.

All words, Macclesfield photos, London 808 State photos by Alex Staszko.  London Peter Hook photos by Al de Silva.

Peter Hook’s official website can be found here.  He is also on Facebook and Twitter.

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