Peter Hook and I have a bit of previous. He once, inadvertently, nearly cost me my summer job in a Blackpool amusement arcade. I turned up for my Sunday morning shift, put ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ on the arcades sound system and nearly caused the death of two OAPs on the Penny Falls, when Hooky’s bassline suddenly shattered the Sunday morning silence. At least I learned a valuable lesson. Always check your levels.
Tonight’s gig is in a venue, that is slowly becoming one of my favourites in the city, The Shankly Hotel rooftop. It would move up more quickly if you could get a pint without queueing for an eternity and taking out a mortgage for the privilege. However, it’s spacious, light and modern. It also has an excellent view of the city. But not tonight. It’s raining, so it’s ‘wet-play’. We are all indoors. That’s a pity because a damp, dark, cityscape would be an ideal setting for Peter Hook and The Light’s presentation of the music of Joy Division and New Order. The gig is a sell-out and the packed crowd wait patiently and expectantly for the bands entrance.
As Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express fades the band enter stage left. After a slight hiatus with someone forgetting to set-up the music-stand with Mr Hook’s lyrics, we’re off. Tonight’s gig is basically two mini gigs. The first half is all Joy Division in chronological order, the second half is all New Order, with one notable exception. The first half opens with ‘No Love Lost’ from the ’An Ideal for Living’ EP and progress through the contents of ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’. The first half worked well. The band were tight, disciplined and note perfect. Peter Hook’s husky, baritone vocals reflect Ian Curtis’s originals precisely. Importantly, Hook is himself. He isn’t trying to sound like Ian Curtis. This is his interpretation of the songs. It’s honest and true. The stark, harshly back-lit in red and blue stage was the perfect setting for the moody anthems that are ’Atmosphere’, ’Isolation’ and ‘She’s Lost Control’. Hook looks happy in his role as lead singer and there is plenty of pointing and interaction with the crowd. He looks relaxed. He seems to have been able to put the ‘Joy’ into Joy Division for himself. The crowd join in where they can or stand listening almost reverentially at other times. They got what they came for and Peter Hook and The Light leave the stage at half time to a raucous ovation.
Part two kicks off with two tracks from the ‘Technique’ album, ‘Fine Time’ and ‘Vanishing Point’. No chance for me to have any ‘Power, Corruption and Lies’ flashbacks as they play nothing from that album. Crowd pleaser ‘Blue Monday’ which is played later doesn’t count. Hook’s intention is clearly to get the crowd moving in this second half. ‘Temptation’, ‘Round and Round’ and ‘Regret’ are all wheeled out. There is an interesting twist in the second half. The backing vocals seem to come a little more into the mix. This works well as it brings the whole vocal sound more into the register of the original songs. Hooks deeper voice is still there at the forefront, it’s still his version of the songs, but his respect for the source material is obvious. ‘World in Motion’ is in there for a sing-along and the New Order section ends with ‘True Faith’. I said earlier that tonight was a really a game of two halves with one obvious exception. The final song of the night and was Peter Hook The Light going out big with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. This leaves the frenzied Liverpool crowd dancing ecstatically to the sound of Joy Division. The Wombats would be appalled. Everyone else was thoroughly delighted.