Thursday 29 November 2012

Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield, The Institute, Birmingham

These dates looked like they may never happen. The ones in Europe had been cancelled because Juliana Hatfield was unable to make them, so Evan Dando did one on his own, which didn't go down that well, so they scrapped the rest.

The UK ones don't seem to be that well organised either. The Institute’s Facebook said this morning that stage times would be up later. They were, at about 7.30pm, half an hour after the doors had opened and I’d already arrived there straight from work.

Now we learn that the guys are on at 9pm, which would be fine but there’s no support. So two hours to kick one’s heels with only some really bad lager for company. No support is unforgivable really. How many local artists would have played for nothing? Plenty I’m sure.

The show has also been moved from 'The Library' to the smaller and cosier upstairs 'Temple' which is packed. Actually I think we're all here now, we’re just missing two people... I look at my watch, an hour to go... This better be good.

Evan and Juliana come on just after nine and spent the next five minutes tuning up while the PA continues to play. Couldn’t they have done that earlier...

16 years ago I stood Juliana up, well I didn't buy a ticket. I'd had what I hoped was a better offer and I'm still with that better offer, so it's looking like I made the right call. She and I had met up just the once before in October 1993 at Sheffield Poly or was it already Sheffield Hallam by then? But it’s a long time ago and I've not seen her since until tonight. We were both much younger then of course. Not that she seems to have changed much.

Finally tuning up is done and we’re off. Into Evan’s 'All My Life'.

The two of them are old pals as well as musical collaborators. Juliana played bass and provided backing vocals for the Lemonheads back in the day while Evan briefly returned the favour by filling in on bass for Hatfield’s The Blake Babies. So there’s some crossover as they produce a selection of songs from both of their extensive back catalogues.

Occasionally they share the lead, such as when they cover The Velvet Underground’s 'Pale Blue Eyes' but usually they just back each other or as often happens simply let the other one get on with it and take centre stage. It’s an off-the-cuff format that works well.

In fact it’s so off-the-cuff that both ,but particularly Evan, have a plethora of crib notes scattered on the floor in front of him. Occasionally this off-the-cuff-ness degenerates something a bit disjointed and rambling but the evening is probably all the better for that. It’s a really relaxed evening unless you’re Juliana who does seem a bit nervous at times. I get the impression they haven’t practised together much, if at all, since they last toured together over a year ago.

It’s a lot of fun with some very good natured banter between the two, making fun of Evan’s university days or lack of them, among other things.

The crowd throw multiple requests at the stage and they do their best to meet some of them. A shout for ‘$1,000 Wedding’ though, which is a Gram Parsons song they’ve covered before, is a step too far for Juliana. She recoils in horror, reveals a dislike of Gram Parsons and complains that she can never get Evan to take his records off her stereo. Then someone yells ‘Streets of Baltimore’ another Gram Parsons song. ‘Yeah, I’ll do that’ cries Evan, I think Juliana gives up at that point and disappears.

They seem to be totally making this up as they go along but I’m not complaining as Juliana chucks in ‘Ugly’ having previously given us ‘My Sister’. Playing it doesn’t go that smoothly though. She blames her guitar which she found in her mother’s garage and then apologises for blaming her tools, hating people who make excuses.

Then Evan was taking another request off the crowd with Juliana just telling him to give the people what they want while she puts her feet up. Cue ‘Laying Up With Linda’

The audience is pretty much split into two camps, Juliana fans and Ewan fans, with a bit of crossover. Evan’s ‘Into Your Arms’ and ‘The Outdoor Type’ win the singalong contest but Juliana offers some great highs too, ‘Candy Wrappers’, ‘Waiting For Heaven’ and a great cover of Teenage Fan Club’s ‘Cells’.

After a slightly shaky start, they seem to bring the best out of each other and what really shines through is that both have excellent voices. The only problem with the venue is the very subdued lighting. It’s not good for photography and I hate using flash. However Juliana likes it and complains when they turn it up, so back down it goes.

Then after a closing ‘My Drug Buddy’ they go off and the house PA comes back on. No encore?

After raucous protests from the crowd Evan reappears briefly before heading off to drag Juliana back. She appears alone and plays a slightly stumbling version of ‘Nirvana’ but she sees it through and then launches into ‘I Picked You Up’ all with Evan nowhere to be seen.

Then she goes and he appears to round off the night with a rousing ‘Big Gay Heart’. Then sadly it really is all over but a 24 song night, so all in all, a bit special.

Now I'm off home to that better offer.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Feeder, The Civic Hall, Wolverhampton

Supported by The Virginmarys & Dakota Beats

Thanks to the M6, why is it always the M6? I only catch the last two minutes of the Dakota Beats. So I can’t really comment guys. Except to say, of what I saw, you were noisy, animated and got a good round of applause when you went off, so you may have been quite good.

Then the Virginmarys come on to Jay Z, which is not how to get me on side. It's the second time I've seen them and the first time, about 18 months ago, they didn’t leave much of an impression. This time they do.

They are the best kind of a three piece; just drums, bass and guitar. They open powerfully with ‘Bang Bang Bang’ and don’t really let up.

I like lead singer Ally Dickaty’s raspy vocals, even if he does tell us he’s ‘Out of (my fucking) mind’ before moving seamlessly on to the next number ‘My Little Girl’, which is perhaps not as sweet as the title suggests. I’ll get back to you on the finer lyrical points of that one.

‘Dressed to Kill’ is as close to a ballad as they get and even that's got serious balls. It’s a top tune, which I try to find on the CD’s they’re selling post-gig but I don’t think it’s been released yet.

In terms of pure entertainment you could actually just watch the drummer, Danny Dolan, who is ace and have a great evening. He’s a man with loads of energy and knows how to batter a drumkit, which half the time he’s out of his seat doing.

I recommend you catch them but I would do so smartish if I was you because the way Mr Dickaty sings I’m not sure how long his voice will last.

There's a huge gap between the crowd and the stage here at the Civic. Is that really necessary? Stage diving will require a most impressive leap of Olympic proportions. So unless Greg Rutherford is in tonight it ain't gonna happen.

So to Feeder. You may ask if this blog needs another Feeder review? I've seen them so many times it must be getting monotonous and what with me whinging more about what they don't play rather than commenting on what they do play... but they're one of the few bands that I got into from the start and that are still going 15 years on. So it’s personal, we have affinity.

That said, I almost skipped this tour because Wolverhampton is a fair trek on a Wednesday night and there's nowhere closer. It's also a fairly large unintimate venue and having seen them twice earlier this year in smaller venues, could it really be any better? They did say they would chuck in some real oldies on this tour... but then they always says that... then don't... either way, I promise not to whinge tonight.

As they’re setting up the stage, they're taping down around four sheets of paper for lead singer Grant Nicholas. That’s more than just a set list, has he forgotten the words of some of the stuff he intends to play?

Then the lights are down and is that Grant’s dulcet tones I can hear them playing over the PA? Are Feeder going to come on to their own backing track? I know this song... but can’t place it... quick, Shazam it! Ahhh, ‘20th Century Trip’, the last track or ‘outro’ on Polythene, their first album. Nice touch. Hope that’s not the extent of the oldies.

'Oh My' opens the show, it’s the opener to the new album and a great opener, the only question is why it's taken so long for it to get to that spot for the gigs.

'Sentimental' is the selected extra from the ‘Renegades’ album tonight which wouldn't have been my choice but perhaps serves a warning to the crowd that this is going to get heavier.

Previous nights have got either 'Yesterday Went Too Soon' or 'Hey Johnny'. Hell I want both, they are both great tracks. YWTS is a must in any Feeder set for me. A track that still gives me goose bumps every time I hear it live, which obviously isn't often enough. It's a song about not realising what you've got until it's gone. A bit like one’s back catalogue... Damn I promised not to whinge.

Grant seems undecided about which guitar to pick up next, as if weighing up what song to play. Finally the distinctive intro to YWTS tumbles forth from the stage. Good choice. I’m a happy man already. Then later we get ‘Hey Johnny’ as well, bonus. It’s a special song for anyone who knows their Feeder history.

I'm happy to see 'Tender' appear because it's a change and any change is good. Grant recently played it acoustic at the London Guitar show, where it went down well. Tonight, it’s full band and it sounds pretty ace actually. Another good choice mate.

Grant jokes that he’s lost the coin toss yet again about whether to include the next track in the set. This is met with a chorus of cries for ‘Tangerine’.

It’s always Tangerine’ he complains.

A track he claims to dislike and has tried to retire for good more than once. Yes it's always ‘Tangerine’ and probably always will be. I don’t understand it either.

You write two of the most ridiculous throwaway pop songs on the planet, one is a success and one isn’t, you grow to hate both of them but both haunt you forever. The band plays the other, more successful one, ‘Buck Rogers’. The crowd go predictably ape.

‘Buck Rogers’ actually brings to the end a sequence of seven consecutive singles played back to back tonight of which only 2010’s ‘Renegades’ didn’t chart. An impressive collection. Then four of the last five tracks showcase the new album ending with the epic title track of ‘Generation Freakshow’.

Encore time. Starting with 'Children of the Sun' with just Grant on guitar and CC on keyboards but then the rest of the band join until it’s full band part way through, as it is on the album, and it sounds better for it.

Then something for the ‘old skool’. It’s back to the early ‘Swim’ EP for ‘Sweet 16’ which is simply amazing and this ‘old skool’ reviewer is one very happy bunny. Then without a break straight into ‘Descend’. ‘Descend’ has certainly been toned down a touch, possibly to try and appeal to the newer fans who may find its original format a bit too heavy. Although I still thought it sounded absolutely immense as it echoed around the Civic Hall and probably down the street.

Grant looks a happy bunny too playing this and who wouldn't be, it’s such a colossal tune. Much better than a throwaway pop song eh? I would be more than happy for this ‘new’ version to become a permanent fixture.

Then as it comes to its conclusion and so too the night, the long jump competition starts with ‘Just A Day’ and there’s a lot of entrants. Despite that though, no one makes the stage. Clearly if Mr Rutherford is here, he's on the balcony.

Then its back to ‘20th Century Trip’ to play us out of what has been an awesome night. See what happens when you shake the set list up a bit. More please.

People who know better than me say the band’s manager wants Grant to ‘man up’ and play more of the old classics and is apparently twisting the thumbscrews for a Swim/Polythene/B-sides tour. I like their manager, whoever he is.

Sunday 11 November 2012

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls, Rock City, Nottingham

Supported by Jim Lockey and the Solemn Sun & Tim Barry

Not for the first time Rock City opens its doors at 7:30 for a sold out gig with the first support on at 7:45. No chance. The queue is down the street, around the corner and disappearing inside the neighbouring multi story. Then of course Jim Lockey & the Solemn Sun finish five minutes early. So I don’t catch a lot of their lively full throttle folky-country-punky-rocky mixed baggy sound all the way from Cheltenham but it was good while it lasted Jim. Sort of like Mumford and Sons on acid.

So Tim Barry, a Yank, who doesn’t like coming on to Iron Maiden (they’re playing ‘Run to the Hills’ on the PA) and who might just talk his way through his entire thirty minute slot if he’s not careful. He takes time to tell us the back story of how he met Frank Turner on the US Revival Tour in 2008 and had to take the stage after him. Tonight he's somewhat relieved to be on before him.

He also tells us that that anyone can do what he does; all they have to do is learn the same three chords. This is perhaps why he seems to play the same song all set. It’s a good job it's a good one. He’s also so nice and thankful for his upgrade from his normal bar gigs that the crowd take him to their hearts. His is an entertaining set from a chap who’s clearly as passionate about what he does as the man who’s coming up next. Right you can turn Iron Maiden back on now.

Now it’s Turner Time for, rumour has it, the 1286th time. To his huge credit, no matter how big the man gets, and he’s very big now, he still stays grounded in his venues. He’s as likely to pop up in the 450 capacity Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms, like he did last year, as the 12,000 capacity Wembley Arena as he did in April this year or anything in between for that matter such as Rock City tonight. It’s the first night of his latest UK tour, a sell out of 25 UK venues plus 3 in Ireland and one in Germany all before Christmas. Now that’s a tour. The guy could have just done half a dozen arena shows and be done with it but that’s not his style.

This is his style. We start ‘a capella’, well the crowd does, I can’t actually hear whether Frank is joining in to the opening of ‘If Ever I Stray’ because the crowd are already drowning him out before he's even opened his mouth.

Does the guy ever get sick of everybody singing almost every word back at him, often before he can even get started? Not one bit, well not that he lets on. Audience participation is the big thing here, if you’re not singing you’re not doing it right.

It's nice though when he drops in a few less frequently played numbers such as the excellent ‘Isabel’ which allows Frank to rest back control a bit, with just a few hundred backing singers on that one.

There is also a bit of understandable quiet on the new numbers he plays tonight, ‘Time Machine’, ‘Four Simple Words’ and ‘Wherefore Art Thou, Gene Simmons?’ The latter of which is an interesting ode to the man from Kiss who once claimed of having slept with 4600 women and has the photographs to prove it. It’s a piss-take not a tribute, I think.

Other highlights? Well where do you start? Pick any from the nice mix of solo acoustic and full band numbers backed by the excellent Sleeping Souls.

My own personal favourite, as ever, is ‘Substitute’ which he dedicates to his moustache. He’s not totally happy about his Movember participation but he’s doing it anyway, as it’s all in a good cause.

Then there’s the popular mostly crowd sung ‘Reasons Not To Be An Idiot’, the brilliant blasphemy of 'Glory Hallelujah', the home town tribute from the ‘Wessex Boy’ himself, ‘The Real Damage’ - the best song about a hangover ever or the hugely sad ‘Long Live The Queen’ which now seems to have metamorphosed into one of his rockiest numbers. Kind of the point I suppose, keep it upbeat.

They’re all good and we’re all having a good time. Which is why I suppose he chooses to end tonight’s session of togetherness with ‘I Still Believe’ with its message that everyone can find a song for them, ‘for every time they've lost and every time they've won’. Yep, ‘who'd have thought, that after all, something simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all’.

For the encore, there’s the stunning and heavily requested ‘Redemption’ before the usual elongated sing-along to ‘Photosynthesis’ which means then in order to cram in one more he hurtles through ‘Dan's Song’ in about one minute flat, whilst spending most of this riotous finale on his back in the mosh pit.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Reverend And The Makers, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Supported by Bitter Strings & Twisted Wheel & Danny Mahon

Blimey, four bands. It's a festival.

Bitter Strings are a local Nottingham three piece who claim to be influenced by 60's rock music. I can’t see that. Pretty standard stuff if you ask me. There’s a little bit of Alex Turner about lead singer Ben McConnachie but it’s often drowned out by the driving bass and drums. A work in progress no doubt. Their best moment is a track called ‘Wonder In Our Eyes’, which McConnachie tells us is a new one before adding the afterthought ‘well they're all new if you haven't seen us before’. There’s promise in that track, if that’s the direction they’re going.

Next, hang on its ‘From The Jam’. Oh. That's not Bruce Foxton. Twisted Wheel you say? The name seems familiar. Oh that Twisted Wheel. I've seen these before haven’t I? Weren't they supposed to be the next big thing about five years ago, got a support slot with Weller by mimicking Weller? Twisted Wheel released one album back in 2009 and their second album 'Do It Again' is just out, although guitarist/lead singer Jonny Brown, looking very Weller-like if I may say so, is the only constant between the two records.

The sound, punk-by-numbers guitar tunes, remains the same and clearly they remain popular. Lively but nothing special, it is only when they find out they have a mere five minutes left, that they step it up, with some older tunes I assume. Actually I make it less than five minutes, more like minus five. They play for ten. One more track? Why not? Curfew? Pah.

So now were behind schedule but Danny Mahon comes straight on. This is a first. I've never seen the previous band packing up their gear around the current band whilst they’re playing on stage. It’s all happening tonight. Mahon and his acoustic guitar are here at the personal invite of Jonny McClure to warm us up (some more?) after which, he says, he’ll be joining the crowd and going mental with everyone else whilst the Rev is on. His angst-y songs are pleasant enough and have catchy titles like ‘I'm a Twat’. You get the idea. Bob Dylan eat your heart out. He's a laugh at least.

I've been waiting a long time to see Jon ‘The Reverend’ McClure. Whenever he plays locally it seems I've already got tickets for something else. So here I am, finally, and surprisingly it's only the Rescue Rooms. Perhaps his star has fallen somewhat, then again, it's a packed to the rafters Rescue Rooms that is jumping, literally, from the off. The off being 'Bassline', for which the Reverend’s gone rave, a hallmark of and a departure they’ve taken, with their new album.

Oldies ‘Bandits’ and ‘Open Your Window’ remind us that the Makers are fundamentally an indie band and are at their best when they are in this mode because ‘Warts n All’, a song about people on Facebook, just doesn’t really cut it.

This is, though, typical of the sound of the new album, which is appallingly named ‘@reverend_makers’ for the hashtag generation. This begs the question, should that album stand the test of time over the next ten years or so, will Twitter? Will they have to stick a label on it explaining what Twitter was? Bad call, IMHO.

The album itself is a patchwork of good and bad, and it doesn’t help the bad when you follow it with corkers like the ‘State Of Things’, the title track of their brilliant and witty debut album. Now, as McClure states, things have properly got going. Indeed. Until ‘Noisy Neighbour’, an ode from a Wednesday fan to those across Sheffield at United, keeps the momentum in check.

The set is drawn primarily from albums one and three but ‘No Soap in a Dirty War’, probably the standout moment on ‘A French Kiss In the Chaos’ surfaces. This is more like it, lyrically stronger but it sadly doesn’t seem quite as focused tonight as it is on record.

‘Sex With The Ex’ is the moment of the night. McClure stripping the band down to just him, his guitarist and his wife on keyboards/blow thingy.

Yes, it’s always handy when you can bring the wife along, though perhaps not very rock n roll. She’s the effervescent beauty behind the keyboards by the way, in case you haven’t noticed.

The ‘hit’ ‘Heavyweight Champion of the World’ follows and weaves an unlinked path, that I’m desperately trying to link, from boxing to wrestling and ‘The Wrestler’, a new track which is more like a traditional Rev song, via ‘1+0’ and ‘Miss Brown’

The Rev loves to criticize Radio 1 but, call me cynical, the new album seems to be an attempt to get airplay. There’s hooks a plenty but little substance. The focused subject matter of their first two records seems to have gone in an effort for sales but tracks like ‘Out Of The Shadows’ are just twee, an aerobics class workout track, something he might have written for Britney.

We finish with some highs. ‘He Said He Loved Me’ is energetic and the band are animated in their delivery of it. When the vocals are dished out around the band, as they are on a few tracks, it brings added life to the show, making you not just focus on McClure himself.

Not that McClure isn’t worth focussing on. He’s a performer, I’ll give him that, and banters continually with the crowd. Not really an enigmatic one but he’s the boss nonetheless and his crowd love him.

Then finally ‘Silence Is Talking’ closes the set, from that difficult second album. A set that, at 19 tracks, may have outstayed its welcome a little but in general it’s a good fun gig. A party as McClure would say.

Do they still do an encore in the car park?

‘Outside in 2 minutes’ he tells us. That’ll be a yes then.

The encore, performed on the steps of Nottingham Trent University’s Newton Building in the rain with Danny Mahon and the chap from Bitter Strings assisting is good, if disorganised. Tracks such as ‘Hidden Persuaders’ and ‘Sundown On The Empire’, Britney again, would have been better in the main set at the expense of some of the newer stuff but when you’ve got an album to promote you’ve got an album to promote, haven’t you.

‘Sundown On The Empire’ is cut short and morphs into Bob Marley’s Jammin' but by now his heart isn’t in it. He hands his guitar to the chap from Bitter Strings who, after some debate about what to play, attempts a cover of ‘Blue Moon’ much to Danny Mahon’s disgust.

Meanwhile the Rev poses for some photos with his public before grabbing his guitar back and diving into a waiting car. Which speeds off in the wrong direction, stops, turns around and speeds off again in the other direction battling against Nottingham’s one way system in an attempt to find a way back, one would assume, to the stage door. They’re probably still driving round now.

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Editors, The Institute, Birmingham

Supported by Swim Deep & Victories at Sea

I'm in Birmingham tonight where the Editors have announced their only UK date of this year. Well that was until they announced another one, the day before. Already I feel a little bit cheated.

It’s my first time at the HMV Institute in Birmingham. I like it. It’s a nice tight little venue which looks like an ornate old theatre but was actually built as a Methodist congregational chapel. Sort of appropriate for the locals who have come to worship Tom Smith and co.

First though, a couple of support bands and it’s good to see that the Editors have kept these local.

Swim Deep apparently make ‘sun kissed noise’, so their Facebook says. Well perhaps grunge kissed and as if to emphasise the point the singer is in his Nirvana t-shirt. Meanwhile the bass player appears to have pyjama bottoms on. Must be students.

They make a nice racquet though, although perhaps too much keyboard, at one point I thought they’d got Jean Michel Jarre there on the ivories. The overall effect is not unlike early Editors at times. So on safe ground then and oh he can spit wine upwards over himself. Yeah, must be students.

What can you tell from a band’s t-shirts? Well now we have support band number two and a Sonic Youth number adorns their bass player. This is Victories at Sea, who open with some frenetic drumming and a mostly instrumental number which is actually pretty epic. Then the bass player goes on the keyboards, then the drummer goes on keyboards and in his place we get a drum machine, then the drum machine goes on keyboards... only kidding. In between the musical chairs they make almost gothic soundscapes but their songs have a bit of everything, which means they sound like everybody and yet nobody.

Sadly they did slide a bit into the ordinary after a very promising start but certainly a band to watch out for. Not only that but they were handing out 200 free CDs at the end with unique Polaroids on each. Nice lads all round. Sadly such was the scrum for these that I didn't get one.

As tonight's gig was primarily marketed to the fan base I was sort of expecting something a bit different from the Editors but that’s not really what we get. True we get four new tracks but two of those ‘The Sting’ and ‘Two Hearted Spider’, part of the encore here, have been around for a year or more. The other two ‘Sugar’ and ‘Nothing’ bookend the set.

‘Sugar’ is a dramatic and an intimate way to start with Tom Smith at the piano delivering a brooding song that shows that whatever is new about the Editors it will still include a good dose of darkness. The piano continues with the unmistakable introduction to 'Racing Rats'.

This starts a bit of a crowd pleasing run through of the hits, which as part of the point of these gigs is to warm up for a couple of foreign festival dates is understandable but I expected a bit more tonight.

New guitarist syndrome I guess. The old chestnut of musical differences has seen off former lead guitarist, keyboardist, eye candy (so I’m told) and possible driving force Chris Urbanowicz. How important he was to them will, I guess, become clearer in time. One compliment paid to him tonight is that it takes not one but two people to replace him. Tonight the Editors are a five piece.

Perhaps I’m being a bit over critical about the set. We do get the not often played ‘Fall’ which is massive. Beautiful. ‘You Are Fading’ goes down a storm and a new version of ‘The Weight Of The World’ equally so, literally sending shivers down your spine. Otherwise it’s a set a bit short on surprises for saying it was a homecoming one off. Well, two off and the main set is exactly the same both nights.

There are also new versions of some songs, perhaps out of necessity. ‘All Sparks’ for one has been given a right spanking. In fact Tom introduces it as a ‘new song with an outrageous bass solo from Russell’. Hmmm, not sure what I think to that, so moving on quickly to the always outrageous ‘Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool’.

Performance wise you can’t fault them and they are clearly loving it, we get repeated thumbs up from the band, which is better than a thumbs down obviously but I do wish they’d shift Tom’s piano to the side and some of their other mountain of kit while they’re at it. There’s a drummer in there somewhere fighting to get out.

They leave us with nothing, the previously mentioned ‘Nothing’, the most immediately impressive of the new ones. Then as they leave the stage we discover that none of them can manage to flick a guitar pick as far as the front row. Lightweights. The bouncers have to scrape them up off the floor and hand them out.

The encore starts quietly as Tom returns alone for his Twilight moment and ‘No Sound But The Wind’. Then ‘In This Light...’ builds things up further before ‘Munich’ blows everyone away, only for the newbie ‘Two Hearted Spider’ to make things feel perhaps a bit overblown.

But then as the closing and reworked ‘Papillon’ demonstrates, the Editors are still very good, still have their great energy but yet they’re now sort of different. Time will tell if this is progress.

Sunday 27 May 2012

Peter Hook & The Light, Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

Supported by Humanizer

First up tonight are a band that Peter Hook himself signed to Hacienda Records, Salford’s Humanizer. They combine two musical forces of the Manchester music scene, dance and indie into songs that are complex, ambitious animals. Lots of bass and heavy guitars but at the heart the pulsing technology of a dance beat. It's something that's been done a lot recently but somehow after a slightly indifferent start Humanizer quickly grow on me. Clearly they have something the others don't. Well worth a listen and listen I will.

Peter Hook and the Light take the stage to the Pogues’ ‘Dirty Old Town’. Whether this is a statement of sorts on the mud being flung from both sides after his acrimonious split from New Order, I don’t know but I thought I’d start the rumour anyway.

Post split, Hook decided to revisit the work of their former incarnation, Joy Division, and with his band he’s been playing both of the JD's famous albums 'Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ in their entirety, as well as more recently the cobbled together compilation 'Still’.

None of which went down particularly well with those remaining in New Order. In fact Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris viewed it as something akin to sacrilege. Hook’s actually gone further and been reinventing some of the songs with X Factor’s Rowetta on vocals. For which, Sumner and Morris might have a point.

There’s no Rowetta tonight however, which is fine because I’d rather hear what Hooky himself can do with the material. Tonight its 1979’s 'Unknown Pleasures’, which is fairly obvious from the fact that we have the album cover as both the backdrop behind the drum kit and on Hooky’s t-shirt. Actually it's good to get the first album first although I prefer 'Closer', which will hopefully come to Nottingham another day.

They don’t start with 'Unknown Pleasures’ though. First up is ‘Exercise One’ a track recorded during sessions for the album but not included on it. Then follows ‘No Love Lost’ and ‘Leaders Of Men’ from their debut EP ‘An Ideal for Living’ from 1978, the rest of which surfaces later. Then it’s ‘Glass’ and the splendid ‘Digital’ from their label’s ‘A Factory Sample’ also from back in ’78.

It seems we’re getting almost a chronological history lesson here as they then, five songs in, launch into the full album set.

The crowd are already impressed, have gone pretty much ape for every song so far and continue to do so all night. A factor in this is probably that the majority of the audience tonight, me included, will never have heard the bulk of this material live before. This, I guess, is why we're here and why I think Sumner and Morris are wrong. There never will be a tour by a fully reformed Joy Division because there can't be. I think Hooky understands this. It would be nice if the others were on board but they’re not and tonight it doesn’t seem to matter because what we get is simply terrific.

Hook and his band deliver a respectful and faithful reproduction of every Joy Division song they take on, not just recreating them but giving them an awesome power than you simply cannot get just from the records. The Light have a terrific guitarist in Nat Watson, an amazing drummer in Paul Kehoe and then of course there’s Hook’s bass, although he shares bass duties tonight with son Jack, who is no shirk himself. There’s also a keyboardist in Andy Poole and you can’t fault the passion that any of them put into it. Making the songs seem rather fresh and modern, not at all dated.

Vocally, things are different of course. Hook isn’t Ian Curtis and probably doesn’t want to be. Yet his vocals seem to fit the material almost as well. It helps that his singing has improved immeasurably since the days of Revenge and Monaco.

Meanwhile the whole thing is conducted amongst one of the best and most enthusiastic atmospheres I’ve seen at a gig for some time. At times, it's actually quite moving.

There are so many highlights but the trio of tracks that form the midpoint of the album - ‘New Dawn Fades’, ‘She's Lost Control’ and ‘Shadowplay’ are particularly outstanding. Not just because during ‘She’s Lost Control’ Hook appears to wave at me, even if it does turn out that I'm stood next to his Mrs.

Then after what seems like no time at all, an immensely powerful ‘Interzone’ segues in to the dark ‘I Remember Nothing’, which closes the album and the set.

The band return for an encore, some of which is drawn from ‘Closer’. ‘Isolation’ and ‘Twenty Four Hours’ are sandwiched between ‘Dead Souls’ and an amazing performance of ‘Ceremony’ before they leave the stage again.

Is that it? No. The band return a second time to treat us to the rest of ‘An Ideal for Living’ in the shape of ‘Warsaw’ and ‘Failures’ but still they’re not finished as they complete the second of two four track encores.

Which isn’t bad coming from a band, in both Joy Division and New Order forms, that have been notorious in the past for not doing them. I've never seen New Order do an encore. Although I see their current line up are doing them these days and also doing the odd Joy Division track as well. Wasn’t that supposed to be sacrilege? Lol.

As The Light get around to probably Joy Division's most famous numbers ‘Transmission’ and of course ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ you almost want to burst in to tears in gratitude. Then when it really is the end, Hooky sheds his t-shirt and throws it triumphantly into the crowd. Job done. Point made.

You could call The Light a tribute band, and maybe we should, but OMG it was some tribute.