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.


  1. theres me on the front row :) great pics, awesome gig

  2. Me too on the front row. The sound of the bass was flapping my shorts. Excellent gig!

  3. Have you got these pics in a bigger size?

    1. They're on flickr

      Pics not great, too much smoke and dim lighting. Great for effect, not great for photos.

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