Peter Hook and The Light
Well. This was very special.
After this set people are in tears.
For all the right reasons.
Peter Hook and his band have just delivered a perfects et of Joy Division classics that pay the songs the kind of respect they derive and drench them full of the resonance of emotion and bring the house down.
It’s 37 years since Joy Division played at the Imperial Hotel in Blackpool and here they are ten minutes up the road and whilst time has not always been kind to the tatty seaside town it’s somehow made these songs into holy pillars of popular culture – a long way away from a small cult band that they were at the time.
Much has been said about Joy Division and New Order and the great schism and much more will be said in Hooky’s upcoming 700 page book about the later band but on nights like this the narrative stops and the music takes over and it’s a stunning suspension of belief.
Hook has built a great band around him – including his own son playing all the twiddly bass bits that he can’t play himself whilst he’s singing the hallowed Curtis lyrics before he comes back in for the lead lines. It’s those bass lines that are still the backbone to these classics – these are things of great beauty and melody they belie a sensitivity and aesthetic skill that their creator likes to hide behind his gruff and darkly funny facade – they are quite simply some of the greatest bass lines ever written – they somehow rock hard and display a sensitivity that is like an emotional rush when you are int he middle of them.
Perfectly framed by the Opera House and its sense of history (Laurel and Hardy once played this stage and Jimi Hendrix’s famous TV clip of burning his guitar was on this stage as well) Hooky is in command. His voice is surprisingly good – he may not be a natural singer but he delivers the emotional depth of his former best mate’s songs and their dark elixir of emotional spree that resonates through the decades. It is yet another reminder of the power of Ian Curtis and his genius and vision that none of these songs sound dated – these are eternal emotions and landing in the middle of punk and the darker days that were ahead they somehow caught a nerve that now resonates around the world.
The audience is open jawed – this set is one of the highlights of the festival and this music is part of people’s lives. Initially when he started doing this, cynics whinged about Hook revisiting his back pages but when its done with this much skill and conviction and tear jerking power then it makes total sense.