Peter Hook is still immersed in his crusade of playing all the catalogue of Joy Division/New Order to everyone interested, and to let people discover or re-discover lost tracks of both bands or give them new life with the approach his band displays on every gig.
Barcelona tends to be the last Spanish city in his tours and the legendary bassist feels very much at ease with the audience, and how we live each and every one of his concerts.
This time, it was the occasion to hear both New Order’s and Joy Division’s Substance, from start to finish, on Saturday, November 25th at Apolo.
In 2015, we lost in Spain one of the top three Rolling Stones historians, Jordi Tardà. The well-known (for us, that is) music critic and DJ was one of those walking encyclopaedias of Mick Jagger’s band, and even Keith Richards once publicly acknowledged: “This guy is my memory.”
Why do I bring this up? Because Tardà also loved the post-punk vibe and claimed in one of his books that “Joy Division’s Substance is clearly the testament of Ian Curtis,” and when you think about it, it seems about right. For both bands.
Both versions of Substance benefit from a revision in sound from the band and how they should’ve properly sounded live. Both are a testament not only of the man who left the building but also of the craft and the endless experimentation of all the members. From their first forays into electronic music – “Everything’s Gone Green” – to fully-fleshed hits – “True Faith”; from straight punchy punk – “Warsaw” – to the eternal sadness of timeless classics – “Atmosphere”, dedicated for both the victims of the terrorists attacks in Manchester and Barcelona of last summer, we can feel the legacy of a band and its successors, who always tried new things and methodologies and who never got it wrong because they were always moving, always testing, always getting bored enough so they had no other choice than to keep looking.
You can draw three conclusions from a gig like this:
1 – This is not a revival. Hook and co. don’t get onstage and treat the gigs/audience as a mere formality to earn his living. Every single song is played as full-throttle as it is possible, never leaving anything behind, offering the best musical experience.
2 – The audience responds. This is not a competition between Hook and the rest of New Order (whatever happened between them is their own business. Yes, we’d love them to stay together but if it can’t be, so be it), but it’s obvious Hook is as treasured as his former bandmates. And the spectators value the chance to hear songs they always thought they’d never be played live and how they can be translated into the live experience.
3 – Even if the main set is fixed, they keep experimenting in the encores. After “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and the five-minute recess, the band froze the audience with “Doubts Even Here”, from New Order’s Movement, proving they want to do their own thing because that’s what works with the audience, even if the response was… below zero!
So once again, there is no real reason to miss a gig by Peter Hook and The Light. History of music, of punk, of pop, of Manchester, even of Europe, and the band with which many things began.