Dreams Never End
When Peter Hook made the decision in 2010 to resurrect the JOY DIVISION albums ‘Unknown Pleasures’ and ‘Closer’ with a new live band, there was the sense (yet again) of the flogging of a fantastically influential, but long deceased horse.
But this time around, circumstances were different, Hook had split acrimoniously with NEW ORDER, had started to forge a sideline career as a writer and in his own mind probably felt that he had something to prove and to remind people that his bass playing was a pivotal part of both the song writing and sound of this iconic Manchester act.
Also, remember this is man who in a previous hiatus from NEW ORDER had called his band REVENGE, although it’s since been revealed that rather than being a sideswipe at Sumner forming ELECTRONIC with Johnny Marr, it was apparently named after the word emblazoned George Michael’s leather jacket in the ‘Faith’ video!
In some circles, the initial deployment of former X-Factor and HAPPY MONDAYS’ backing vocalist Rowetta as an Ian Curtis replacement was met with bemusement from many that had followed Hook’s career, but after some early well-received gigs, it became apparent that there was a dogged determination to hit the road hard with the intention of playing not just JOY DIVISION songs, but NEW ORDER ones too.
With a curfew in place at Sub89, the evening started early with a support set comprising of seven JOY DIVISION songs, and it soon became apparent why the sound of this tragically short-lived band had shaped the future of many to follow.
Such is their ongoing influence, songs like ‘Isolation’ and ‘In A Lonely Place’ sounded completely contemporary despite now being over 30 years old and to hear them live once again was one of the things that the packed Sub89 crowd had paid their money for.
With both this set and the two to follow there was always going to be the nagging thoughts that a) wouldn’t it be good if the surviving other band members buried the hatchet and were up there too and b) if Carlsberg made tribute bands, then this would probably be the best! But eventually the quality of the songs and the way they were delivered soon had you forgetting both viewpoints.
Playing albums sequentially live in their entirety can often be problematic, gigs are traditionally structured with their strongest tracks saved to the end (for obvious reasons), yet their recorded counterparts often feature said songs early on in the tracklisting with a tailing off of quality control towards the end.
After an airing of ‘Procession’, ‘Dreams Never End’, easily the standout song from ‘Movement’ started the set strongly and despite a small contingency of fans bewilderingly citing it as “NEW ORDER’s best album!”, it is still a hard one to truly love and embrace – a transitional piece of work which would have been far stronger had it featured some of the singles and B-sides of the period.
Once the ‘Movement’ set had been dispatched, there was a short break and after non-album tracks ‘Cries and Whispers’ and ‘Everything’s Gone Green’, the ‘Power, Corruption & Lies’< section burst into life with the wonderful ‘Age Of Consent’. Still one of Hook’s finest basslines, this was the first piece of the night to shake the crowd from its’ reverential mood and really get them going.
Throughout, Hook’s vocals held up well and although not quite hitting the higher register, easily gave Sumner’s a good run for his money. Crowd banter throughout was entertaining too, a scream along the lines of “You’re a legend!” was met with the response “I bet you f***ing say that when you go and see Barney too, I’ve got your number mate!”
Most of the following songs were pretty faithful reproductions with some excellent synth and sequencing work provided by keyboard player Andy Poole, the only track substantially re-worked being ‘Your Silent Face’.
Hook and Poole were left on the stage as the familiar ‘Europe Endless’ inspired sequencer lines filled the Reading club before the rest of the band re-joined adding live drums, guitar and extra bass for the song’s climax, it also gave Hook a chance to hammer out some syndrums at the back of the stage too.
‘Leave Me Alone’ ended this portion of the show with another iconic bassline and as the band left the stage, the strains of instrumental ‘The Beach’ was panned back and forth between the speakers.
NEW ORDER aficionados would have noted that ‘Blue Monday’ was originally written as an encore that could “play itself” at the end of a set and ‘The Beach’ being a deconstructed version of that song ably served that purpose.
For the encores we got a stunning version of ‘Ceremony’ which prompted an outbreak of frenzied moshing at the front, followed by renditions of ‘Temptation’ and finally ‘Blue Monday’. This was a passionate and energised 30 song set delivered with almost military precision, cramming in so many songs that Hook was changing basses before the current song being played had even had a chance to finish. Throughout the evening the Reading crowd was given a chance to bask in a truly inspiring musical legacy which has left an indelible mark on both independent guitar and electronic music, a true legend indeed.
New Dawn Fades
In A Lonely Place
Dreams Never End
Doubts Even Here
Cries and Whispers
Everything’s Gone Green
Age of Consent
We All Stand
5 8 6
Your Silent Face
Leave Me Alone
The Beach (Interlude)
PETER HOOK & THE LIGHT tour the UK and Ireland through the remainder of November 2013. Dates include: Newcastle Digital (14th November), Glasgow Garage (15th November), Edinburgh Liquid Rooms (16th November), Manchester St Peters Hall (21st November), Dublin Academy (22nd November), Belfast The Limelight (23rd November)
There are assorted dates in Europe through December 2013 and at the start of the New Year. There will also be a short tour of China in March 2014. Please visit http://www.peterhook.co.uk/ for further details
Text and Photos by Paul Boddy
10th November 2013