Peter Hook & The Light
Liverpool O2 Academy
Friday 25th May 2012
Has the slanging match between Messrs Hook and Sumner abated; I’m not sure really, and having witnessed tonight performance it really doesn’t matter anymore.
Both were previously responsible for creating some of the most inspirational music of the last 30 years, their contribution to both Joy Division and New Order is difficult to fathom, suffice to say both their previous bands were responsible for music that altered the very fabric of the then current music scenes, and their influence continues to loom large today.
Fast forward 30yrs and Hook has publically called Sumner a “twat” with Sumner’s response suggesting that Hooky has become a tribute act to his own band; a shame that a history as grand as theirs was in danger of being sullied.
So how did they end up in the current situation? I would suggest we can only speculate; Hooky; for many, the very embodiment of New Order is no longer a member having being unceremoniously replaced, what’s more, it seems without his knowledge. New Order are now gigging under that title, and Hooky is now playing as Peter Hook & The Light, and taking the opportunity to re-visit arguably Joy Divisions finest work, the timeless ‘Unknown Pleasures’
I was fortunate enough to see Joy Division a couple of times; they were regulars at Eric’s, Liverpool and often played the legendary matinee shows allowing under 18’s access. At the time no one could possibly imagine the full impact of the songs being played; the band were always good, but hampered by struggling equipment and the poor acoustics of the venue; as such I was fascinated to witness what the passage of time and change of location would produce.
The lights dropped and from the speakers came The Pogues ‘Dirty Old Town’ which rattled a few in the audience – as is the nature of these ‘playback’ gigs they should follow the track listing of the album, so from the darkness Hooky steps forward flanked by The Light to the lone microphone centre stage, the entire scene backlit swathing the stage in blue light. The bass slung low, but definitely not as low as days gone by, and no black leather trousers; tonight preferring jeans and a grey Elesse T-Shirt – to his right is his son Jack also on bass, and as they start it is obvious that Jack is taking the main bass duties, his father handling all the vocals, drummer Paul Kehoe is powerful and tight, guitarist Nat Watson effortlessly reproducing Sumner’s guitar lines, add to this keyboard player Andy Poole, who along with his Apple Mac adds all the extra’s that Martin Hannet injected into their studio recordings; the footsteps, the breaking glass.
Opening with a couple of ‘Factory Sampler EP’ tracks including both ‘Glass’ and ‘Digital’ and its apparent The Light are one of the tightest units out there, crisp, precise faithful reproduction, its Hooky who looks somewhat vulnerable, theough as ‘Digital’ closes and ‘Disorder’ opens he noticeably gains in confidence, his voice gathering strength; the sound is glorious, the rich warm cavernous bass resonates, solid robtik beats, Watson’s choppy angular guitar flourishes; this really was spine tingling. I grew up with Joy Division, was devastated when John Peel announced the death of Ian Curtis; but to be able to hear those songs reproduced tonight was mesmerizing; this is how Joy Division would of liked to have been heard some 30 odd years ago, how they should of been heard, but equipment and small venue PA’s prevented it.
Joy Division are to this day considered by some as dour, in intense introverted band; Hooky and The Light have taken their sound, his sound and turned it into a snarling all conquering rock behemoth, the crowd respond; we get a mosh pit, we get the crowd picking up the vocals during ‘Shadowplay’ – Hook pauses, draws breath before breaking into a smile, he looks humbled, perhaps recalling the tragic loss of his friend and all that they could have achieved, before he quietly walks from the stage.
They return as Hooky himself recalls playing at Eric’s and acknowledges the influence of its sadly deceased owner Roger Eagle before introducing ‘Isolation’ telling us that they are playing it as a fan he met outside the venue asked to hear it.
I stand stock still, realising that no matter what they play I will not be fully sated, on this performance tonight I want to hear it, all the entire Joy Division output, but that was never going to happen.
‘Transmission’ begins, a sweat sodden Hook reaches for the microphone and literally roars “dance, dance, dance to the radio” as the crowd begin pogo-ing in gleeful abandon, beaming smiles across their faces, Hooky thanks the crowd before the opening riff to ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ ushers forth, its effect is instant; the entire venue erupts, everyone understands the magnitude of what we are witnessing; Hook is dispelling the naysayers, the doubters, reclaiming his music and delivering it the way he always wanted to, as the song ends he looks emotional, he strips to the waist, balls his shirt and tosses it into the crowd.
Joy Division were always a rock band, and Peter Hook will always be a rock star; but a rock star who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t ashamed to show his emotions.