Gig review: Peter Hook & The Light @ Factory 251

By Charlie Bennett

Peter Hook and The Light took to the stage in Factory 251, and bolstered notions that the legendary bassist is as mad and as dangerous as ever last night. 

That’s a good thing, by the way, though there were fears that the ex-Joy Division and New Order musician may have lost it creatively when he announced he would cover his first band’s songs at his Factory night-club two years ago.

Could it be as paltry as Bad Lieutenant (that’s New Order sans Hook)? It also didn’t help that after New Order reunited without their bassist last year, Hook declared himself to be ‘at war’ with his former band mates, and more bizarrely threatened to ‘f**k them over’.

Whatever you may think of Manchester’s favourite curmudgeon, he hasn’t lost his musical spark and his new band ripped through Joy Division’s Still album with a notable intensity last night.

This gig was the latest in a string of shows where Hook and The Light reinvigorated the burly bassist’s back catalogue.

They had already performed Joy Division’s debut album Unknown Pleasures in its entirety as a 30th anniversary tribute to the late Ian Curtis.

But what began as a one-off expanded into a series of gigs around the world followed by a remake of the sophomore Closer last year.

Hook may not have Curtis’ ghostly bass-baritone, but his vociferousness for songs like ‘Ice Age’ and ‘Walked in Line’ matched their raucous tones in a way that Curtis never quite managed.

Still is generally regarded as the weakest of the three Joy Division albums as it is a compilation of B-sides and rarities released posthumously after Curtis’ death.

It’s easy to forget that Joy Division were close to being a punk band before settling with their famed spectral sound.

Yet hearing both the B-sides and canonical classics like ‘Transmission’ and ‘Isolation’ belted out with their inherent ferocity were a powerful reminder of how interrelated these songs were to the June 4 1976 revolution.

The highlights included a triumphant rendition of ‘Ceremony’, which Hook renamed for that night as ‘F*** Off You Daft Punk’, and versions of ‘Dead Souls’ and ‘She Lost Control Again’ (which Hook dedicated to his psychotherapist) so blaring they managed to electrify even the gloomy raincoat fans into a semi-mosh pit.

The show concluded, perhaps predictably, with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, though this encore choice felt pleasingly more frenetic than the familiar radio single.

Though the audience enjoyed the familiar songs the most, it was the covers of Still’s selection of demos and out-takes that stood out.

The Light had breathed new life into what were sometimes clumsily assembled and poorly-mixed recordings.

Instead of sounding like an inexperienced group still in the course of realising their own sound, the Still numbers clattered with a confidence reminiscent of a more self-assured Joy Division.

I still don’t know what Peter Hook means when he wants to ‘f*** over’ New Order, but he may very well have done it.

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