Peter Hook & The Light
The Castle, Oldham
16th November 2011
For anyone who doesn’t know, Hooky started to play Joy Division songs after he left New Order, as a 30th anniversary tribute to his old singer Ian Curtis. Originally intended to be a one off, that expanded to a two off, then, as more and more promoters around the world offered him gigs, to well over 50 performances by now that’s taken him to North & South America, Australasia & Europe. He started off playing the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album in its entirety, and then moved on to ‘Closer’, Joy Division’s posthumous album.
Tonight is a warm up gig for 2 sold out shows at Salford’s Lowry Theatre at the weekend, where he and his band The Light, will play both albums back to back.
Hooky handles most of the vocals in the band and his voice closely resembles Ian Curtis in that respect. Bass duties are shared between him & his son Jack Bates, who is the same age now as he was when his father was in Joy Division. Drummer Paul Kehoe is powerful and tight, while guitarist Nat Watson does a great job replicating Bernard Sumner’s lead guitar lines. The line up is completed by keyboard player Andy Poole, who gives the songs the extra depth they have on record, which you didn’t get in the Joy Division or New Order live versions.
300 people are packed into Oldham’s tiny Castle venue which is this week celebrating its tenth anniversary. The audience consists of a mixture of youngsters and people that saw Joy Division in their heyday, and there’s not a raincoat in sight!
Tonight’s set is the ‘Unknown Pleasures’ album in its entirety, preceded by a few pre album tracks. They start with ‘No Love Lost’ & ‘Leaders Of Men’. Next up are the 2 songs from the Factory Sampler EP, ‘Glass’ & ‘Digital’, but it’s not until the latter quickly segues into ‘Disorder’ from ‘Unknown Pleasures’ that the band really hit their stride- it’s majestic & powerful, as are all the songs on the album. They’ve religiously gone back to the recorded versions and reproduced them faithfully and lovingly. There’s much reverence in the room as all the audience are surprisingly quiet during the gig, barely a word is spoken during the songs, save for a lost chav woman down the front.
Hooky doesn’t sing all the songs though; X-Factors Rowetta Satchell sings ‘Insight’ then puts in an absolute stunning performance on ‘New Dawn Fades’. She puts infinitely more passion into the song than the likes of Chris Martin have in their little toe! The vocals then revert to Hooky for a powerful ‘She’s Lost Control’, in which he snaps his G string, handing it out to a girl in the crowd afterwards (are you sure about this Alex? The editor). Hooky plays on as a 3 string bass player, urging Jack to “step up to the breach”Â, you can see the look of terror on Jack’s face at times as he has to fill in the bass parts normally played by his dad. After a thundering ‘Interzone’ the set ends with a version of the darkest track on the album, ‘I Remember Nothing’, which is stunning as it is brought to life with the shattered glass sounds present on the record really shining through.
Despite the band’s excellent performance the crowd are much muted and beside for a few members of the audience, don’t really cheer for an encore, but just stare blankly at the stage whilst Hooky’s bass is restrung. After what seems like an eternity, they return with Rowetta to power through ‘Colony’ from ‘Closer’, which is every bit as intense as the version of ‘New Dawn Fades’ earlier. You would think she would struggle with Ian’s vocals, as all the Joy Division songs are highly distinctive with Ian Curtis’s dark vocals, but she really makes it her own, a lot different than some of the other things she’s sung in the past, and it was certainly the highlight of the ‘Closer’ set played at The Factory back in May.
After ‘Atmosphere’ Hooky sings fast and hard versions of ‘These Days” & ‘Ice Age’, during the latter, drummer Paul Kehoe resembles Animal from The Muppets at times! There’s only 2 more songs left now, crowd pleasers ‘Transmission’ & ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, which get the throng at the front pogo-ing away.
Anyone attending the 2 Lowry gigs, sold out for over a month now (some tickets changing hands for a reported ÃÂ£100) is in for a treat based on this 90 minute warm up, and there wasn’t a “come on”Â or a “whoo”Â in sight.