Sunday 9 April 2023

Peter Hook And The Light - Manchester Albert Hall - 7th April 2023

Peter Hook And The Light played a trio of shows at Manchester's Albert Hall over the Easter weekend - performing classic and greatest hits Joy Division and New Order albums in full as has become tradition. The Friday night saw the five-piece tackle both bands' second albums - Closer and Power Corruption And Lies as well as a short encore of singles and favourites from around the period of the release.

It says something about the enduring legacy of the music that Joy Division and New Order created in the late 1970s and early 1980s that one of their founder members Peter Hook can still gather his trusted lieutenants in The Light and play these albums in full to an audience of folk who were there at the time and can recreate their memories and those who've picked up these albums on their own musical journeys of discovery given the immeasurable influence they have had on so many artists in the intervening years. 

The Albert Hall is packed out and there's a real sense of anticipation in the air as Hooky takes to the stage at eight o'clock and don't leave it, save for a couple of short breaks between albums, for two and a half hours accompanied by Paul Duffy (bass), Monaco band-mates David Potts (guitar and vocals) and Paul Kehoe (drums) with the line-up completed by keys and synths from Martin Rebelski. The band perform 63 songs over the three night residency and yet it never feels anything less than immaculately prepared.

It'd be very easy to be dismissive of these events given there's only one person up there on stage involved in the creation and the canonisation of these songs and he wasn't the singer in either band but that would be an unfair dismissal of the imposing presence of Peter Hook. He's a man to who these songs mean everything, and given the circumstances of New Order's implosion (and we're in the No Hooky No Order camp because we've seen before and after) he's got every right to take these songs out on the road with him. The marketing and release mechanisms around these album shows might be relentless at times, but there's too many musicians making very little out of their art while others profit so even that can be easily forgiven.

Album shows can often be a tricky thing, with records that were made and ordered for the at home listening experience now expected to work in a gig environment. With Joy Division and New Order's early albums it's even harder because the big singles often didn't feature on the albums. The encore's Love Will Tear Us Apart, Everything's Gone Green, Temptation (plus its b-side Hurt) and Blue Monday were all released around the period of these albums but none of them featured on the records themselves. Whereas other albums might struggle with such omissions, Closer and Power Corruption And Lies are such strong era-defining records in their own right that it doesn't negatively impact here other than, a few pockets of fans excluded, most of the main sets are people stood watching and listening to these albums that soundtracked their youth. The songs are too important to these people to lose themselves in a mosh pit, or so it feels.

Hooky is obviously the focal point of everything, a man who gives everything in each performance, these songs as important to him as the blood flowing through his veins. With his bass slung in the manner that has almost become as synonymous with his influence on younger bass players than his style itself, he struts the stage, taking on lead vocals on most of the songs, leaving David to sing lead on We All Stand and The Village. The older Joy Division and early New Order material definitely suits his voice better than their later work, the darkness and sense of foreboding in many of the tracks on Closer means they, in particular, benefit from him as lead.

The encore in many ways feels like a loosening of chains, the point at which New Order became a band in their own right rather than a continuation of Joy Division without their leading character. There's a sense of boundless joy as the room erupts to the New Order trio of Everything's Gone Green, Temptation and Blue Monday where the whole place, upstairs and down, are either bouncing along or holding their phone aloft to capture a moment. The night finishes on Love Will Tear Us Apart, the ultimate turning of absolute despair and loss at what to do into a cathartic celebration, one of, if not, the greatest song to emerge from this city. Hooky takes his shirt off and throws it to the crowd and leaves bathing in the adulation of two thousand people. It's a fitting way to end the night.

Peter Hook And The Light played :

Set 1 Closer - Atrocity Exhibition, Isolation, Passover, Colony, A Means To An End, Heart And Soul, Twenty Four Hours, The Eternal and Decades

Set 2 Power Corruption And Lies - Age Of Consent, We All Stand, The Village, 5 8 6, Your Silent Face, Ultraviolence, Ecstasy and Leave Me Alone

Encore - Hurt, Everything's Gone Green, Temptation, Blue Monday and Love Will Tear Us Apart

Peter Hook And The Light's website can be found here and they are on Facebook and Twitter.


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