After seeing Peter Hook do such a stellar job performing the classic material of post-punk legends Joy Division, one of his former bands, what might he do with his other band New Order’s classic first 2 albums, 1981’s “Movement” and 1983’s “Power, Corruption And Lies”? Since gig 849 last June, Hooky, with his young band The Light, has moved on from interpreting Joy Division albums to focussing on the back catalogue of his most recent charges New Order, and given the acrimony with which he split from his former bandmates, I wondered if the same amount of passion, commitment and, well, sheer ownership, would be prevalent for this material. Let’s see…
So I hit the road after the kids went to bed, surmising that with a 7.30 doors and the 2 support bands published on the ticket, I’d be there well in time. How wrong I was, though, after I parked up in my new spot behind the venue at 8.20 and heard some familiar basslines as I wandered up to the venue; Hooky was already on stage! D’oh! Luckily, this was a self-support slot under the pseudonym of Slaves Of Venus, running through some less well-known Joy Division material in front of a packed house, so it seemed I was the only one who didn’t get the memo. Anyway, “Colony”’s regimental drumbeat and sinister growl, and the dark dramatic stomp of “Means To An End” were the best numbers on display, before a harsh, strident “Dead Souls” saw Hooky wordlessly lead the band off.
An unexpected treat; however, I was here for the New Order stuff tonight, and loitered down the front, stage left, for their return at 9 to a dramatic swirling regimental music backdrop. “The support band were good, weren’t they? Don’t think they’ll get anywhere with a name like that…” quipped Hooky as he led his young charges through the opening, elegiac “In A Lonely Place”. However the familiar opening riff of “Ceremony”, next up, charged the crowd into movement, and Hooky, bass slung low in his usual Ramones-esque stance, boomed out the lyric in his potent, lionesque growl. Obscure oldie “Homage” (“last time that was played was Blackpool Scamps, 1980!”) preceded a smooth, galloping “Procession”, before the intricate riff and building intro of “Dreams Never End” heralded the “Movement” run-through, in order. Varying from slow, moody and elegiac hymns to fast-paced proto-synth workouts, this album was the embryonic New Order, the point where the haunting paeans of late Joy Division mixed with the band’s future metronomic synth dance. I was surprised how much of it I remembered, and also surprised as to how much (and tonight’s excellent versions) had Hooky’s trademark bass riffery imprinted all over it!
“Denial” was a highlight, a rampant rollercoaster of tumbling drums and growling bass to close part 1 of the set, at which Hooky and the boys took a deserved 5 minute break before set part 2 – or 3, depending on your view. “This is like running a marathon,” remarked a nonetheless determined Hooky, as a pulsing and pulsating “Everything’s Gone Green” preceded the “Power, Corruption And Lies” performance. Opening up with a brilliant “Age Of Consent”, they swept through an upbeat, synth-led and happily funky “Village”, through a spooky, insistent “586” with an excellent slow-down to the climax, then the final, touching and almost introspective “Leave Me Alone”. Overall, “PCL”, a largely synth-based and dancier album, more representative of the future New Order direction, was better played tonight, cleaner and more coherent, with Hooky’s more strident vocals providing a touch of power and drama absent from Bernard Sumner’s quieter, more introverted vocal work.
Encores of a magnificent “Temptation”, probably my highlight tonight with its’ brilliant staccato synth riff and huge singalong chorus, and an inevitable and slightly perfunctory “Blue Monday”, brought a mammoth 2¼ hour set to a close. As the man said, a marathon, true, but one which never dragged or sagged on the journey, with Hooky once again belying his 57 years and doing full justice to another of his old band’s classic material. Another splendid evening; I hope he continues this musical odyssey and does New Order’s 3rd and 4th albums “Low Life” and “Brotherhood” next. I’d love to hear The Light’s versions of the likes of “Perfect Kiss”, “1963” and “Love Vigilantes”!