For those that have followed Peter Hook’s post-NEW ORDER activities, it is quite apparent that he is one of THE hardest working touring musicians around.
Hook and his band have constantly been on the road for the last six years, helping to fulfil the artist’s aim of playing every recorded JOY DIVISION song live, before moving onto showcasing some boutique NEW ORDER album events. Hook had previously brought his ‘Movement’ / ’Power, Corruption & Lies’ show to the intimate SUB89 Reading venue in 2013, and now it was the turn of the subsequent two NEW ORDER works ‘Low-Life’ and ‘Brotherhood’ to receive an airing.
After taking to the stage to ‘Trans Europe Express’, an opening 30 minute set of JOY DIVISION songs was kick started by ‘Ceremony’ which had its 30 year old anniversary. This was followed by a tightly delivered set including versions of ‘She’s Lost Control’, THE CURE influencing ‘New Dawn Fades’ and a synth driven ‘Decades’.
Years spent on the road have honed the band into an incredibly visceral and sharp sounding unit, and to hear these songs delivered live again is certainly an experience that conjures up mixed emotions. With guitarist David Potts ably replicating Bernard Sumner’s guitar lines, the line-up is completed by Hook’s son Jack on additional bass, drummer Paul Keyhoe and synth player Andy Poole.
Since the start of this particular tour, the band has wisely switched the running order around of the two NEW ORDER albums. Following an earlier 2015 show at Shepherd’s Bush Empire, the chronologically later but arguably weaker ‘Brotherhood’ material is now dispatched first, with ‘Low-Life’ working as a stronger and more momentum-building closer to the set.
The instrumental ‘Let’s Go’ and B-side ‘Lonesome Tonight’ were followed by a track-by-track play through of ‘Brotherhood’. Whilst the current NEW ORDER line-up is happy to update and try different song arrangements, THE LIGHT’s approach to the chosen back catalogue is to faithfully replicate it and not deviate too far from the original recorded versions. Although some of the more programmed drum based songs were given added dynamics with the addition of live percussion towards the end, mercifully the crowd were spared any Christian Eigner-style overplaying!
Highlights of the ‘Brotherhood’ set were predictably the single ‘Bizarre Love Triangle’ with its faithful DX sequenced basslines and a sing-a-long ‘Every Little Counts’ with its jokey “…I think you are a pig, you should be in a zoo” line still raising a smile.
A short break gave both the audience and band a chance to draw breath before the anthemic melodica-driven ‘Love Vigilantes’ to start the ‘Low-Life’ segment. ‘Low-Life’ is one of the few NEW ORDER albums which is consistently strong throughout – showcasing a perfect Yin and Yang of electronics and guitars, programmed and live drums.
The tit for tat NEW ORDER battle with THE CURE was recalled with the song ‘Sunrise’, its low sustained synths string notes and bass cheekily templating the introduction to ‘A Forest’.
Later in the set, the Ian Curtis instrumental tribute ‘Elegia’ saw Hook sitting centre stage and the SUB89 PA system given a work out with some massive sub kicks literally moving air at the front of the stage.
After a driving ‘Subculture’ (featuring some live cowbell from Jack), the conclusion to the evening saw renditions of ‘Thieves Like Us’ and an extended sequencer-driven ‘Temptation’. Previous Hook sets had concluded with ‘Blue Monday’ and / or ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and although these were missed to a degree, none of the crowd could really deny they’d been given a fantastic value for money show with a setlist totalling 28 songs.
Also present and correct throughout was plenty of crowd banter, and after asking the Sunday SUB89 crowd, “how many of you went to church today?”, a loud shout of “this is my church!” aptly summed up the feelings of many who’d come to witness the legendary bass player.
The next scheduled Hook tour is a ‘Substance’ compilation-based one, which given its single-based tracklisting will undoubtedly prove incredibly popular with both JOY DIVISION and NEW ORDER fans alike. It will be intriguing to see whether Hook will eventually record any new material with this line-up, or go the supply and demand route and keep his fans happy with a constant touring regime.
Either way, there is no denying how good his band sounds and if his audience is happy to invest in these style of shows, the motto of “it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it” will certainly continue to apply.
PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT perform the ‘Substance’ compilations during Autumn 2016 at:
Glasgow Barrowlands (Thursday 15th September), Manchester O2 Apollo (Friday 16th September), London O2 Forum (Saturday 17th September)
Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
9th March 2016