LIVE REVIEW: Peter Hook & The Light @ Metro Theatre

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Peter Hook & The Light @ Metro Theatre, Sydney, October 2nd 2017

Ten days after announcing a settlement with the rest of New Order concerning his use of various New Order and Joy Division assets on merchandising and in the promotion of shows by his new band, Peter Hook returned to Australia for a tour that honours the legacy of both acts, but for this particular show, primarily Joy Division.

Three sets and no support – no-one can accuse Hooky of shortchanging the fans or not putting on a totally professional show. They warmed up with a set of seven New Order songs. There  was little in the way of the hits, instead he went for album and EP deep cuts such as In A Lonely Place, Dreams Never End and Procession. It was a low key and somewhat tentative start that felt like a warmup for what was to come. By the time they hit Age Of Consent the band and audience had warmed to the occasion and the anticipation of Joy Division albums Closer and Unknown Pleasures, in full, was firmly established.

The Light were excellent at recreating the sound of Joy Division, the primitive synth the human/machine drumming of Stephen Morris and the dense guitar churn and simple melodic guitar lines. With two bassists in the band, Hooky had the freedom to play when he chose, clearly finding it easier to concentrate on the vocals without having to play at the same time. Vocally he nailed it, channeling Ian Curtis and his tone and intonations but adding a bit of Hooky rock bravado. Isolation, the dark and moody Heart and Soul and the even more desolate yet beautiful grandeur of The Eternal were particular highlights.

Unknown Pleasures, now something of an iconic symbol of post punk and the dystopian end of the 70s, sounded a lot better in that the songs are dynamically more fluid and intense. Hooky paced the stage, pulled low-slung bass moves and stared out across the audience, surprisingly making no comments between songs. It was a powerful rendering of a classic album with Shadowplay and Day Of The Lords as high-points. Returning for a brilliant three song encore of Atmosphere (dedicated to the tragedy in Las Vegas), Transmission and an exultant Love Will Tear us Apart before Hooky tore off his shirt, bowed to the crowd and strode off victorious.

Chris Familton

NEW MUSIC: New Order – Singularity

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New Order continue to release singles from last year’s acclaimed Music Complete LP, the latest of which is ‘Singularity’. The video is a fast-paced collage of footage taken from B-Movie, the story of Mark Reeder’s life in 1980s West-Berlin. Damian Hale, the man responsible for the incredible visuals that make up New Order’s stage show, edited the video. “Singularity” features scenes of a city divided by the Wall, it shows a cultural inter-zone in which everything and anything seemed possible.

NEW MUSIC: New Order – Restless

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Fresh off the internet superhighway, here’s the brand new single from New Order and straight off the bat it sounds better than anything they’ve done for years. That melancholic pop streak is there. Bernard Sumner’s trademark guitar riff is intact and he’s singing within the music instead of trying to be a rock singer. Nice stuff.

The new album Music Complete is out September 25th on Mute.

ALBUM REVIEW: Joy Division/New Order | TOTAL

written by Chris Familton

The story of Joy Division’s journey from post punk pioneers through the tragic suicide of frontman Ian Curtis and the subsequent and unexpected reincarnation as New Order is one that has been told many times over the decades. As far as legends go theirs is a classic tale of innocence, disaster and resurrection and though it has been romanticised to some extent through books, films and word of mouth it is a truly remarkable story.

TOTAL is yet another attempt at anthologising Joy Division and New Order though few have had the foresight to combine both bands in one document. The result is an album that intriguingly captures the evolution of five musicians while at the same time laying out the decline of their stock from a certain point around the end of the 80s. Joy Division have five tracks on the album while New Order contribute thirteen, an aspect of unbalance indeed. Most likely the compilers wanted a full career retrospective, sacrificing quality for a complete career arc.

Each of Joy Division’s tracks are absolute classics that define a time of disillusionment, post punk experimentation and the intellectual embrace of dark thoughts. Their incorporation of synth drums and cold, isolationist settings gives the songs an alien and glacial atmosphere with Curtis’ voice intoning deep and magnificently over the top. As important as Curtis’ voice is the bass playing of Peter Hook with his rhythmic approach that by its pure originality and melodic inventiveness supplanted the guitar as the dominant stringed instrument in the band. Love Will Tear Us Apart has become a definitive anthem but as important are the jerky nihilism of She’s Lost Control and the heavy, clouded mood of Atmosphere.

The transition into New Order and the addition of Gillian Gilbert on synths feels like new dawn, the emergence of the band, blinking into the sunlight of the 80s. Ceremony is a natural evolution from Joy Division but from Temptation on you can hear the band gaining confidence in their new direction with an increased optimism in the guitar work of Bernard Sumner and a rhythmic brightness to Stephen Morris’ drumming. New Order is arguably their greatest moment with its robotic drumming and the full embrace of the decade’s futuristic technology. It changed the way this writer listened to music as an eleven year old and introduced many to electronic music. Once New Order realised they had found themselves as a band they continued to write brilliant songs that married technology, traditional structures and mood. The Perfect Kiss is ebullient while still retaining its edge among its prog-tronic changes. Bizarre Love Triangle epitomises the pinnacles of 80s synth pop and compared to Joy Division it has a positively saccharine sweet glow.

The cracks began to appear around the Pet Shop Boys sounding True Faith and the lazy overkill of Fine Time. Then it was a descent into football theme songs and electro rock. The last gasp of Crystal showed signs there was still some magic but it proved to be too little too late as the turn of the century signposted the end of an era for a band(s) that had managed to stay contemporary and of the times for two decades. Listen to the first eleven tracks on TOTAL and you will experience a mastercraft of relentless inventiveness charting the brilliant evolution of a seminal band who went from amateurs to auteurs before our ears.

this review was first published on The Dwarf.