Peter Hook and The Light played December 9th at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland, OR performing Joy Division’s 1979 album Unknown Pleasures as well as other Joy Division songs. For most Americans, this would be their first time seeing many of these songs performed live due to singer Ian Curtis committing suicide May 18th, 1980 on the eve of Joy Division’s first U.S. tour. The band carried on as New Order for decades until their ‘final’ breakup in 2007. Hook and The Light had performed Unknown Pleasures at the opening of his new club in Manchester last year as a tribute to Curtis. According to interviews, he had intended the playing of the album to be a one-off event, but due to the positive response, he decided to take the show on the road.
The Light features Hook on vocals and some bass, his son Jack Bates as primary bassist, Nat Wason on guitar (ex-Haven/Strays), Paul Kehoe on drums and Andy Poole on keys (both ex-Monaco). The anticipation in the crowd was interesting, as many didn’t know what to expect. Would this be a black mark on the Joy Division legacy (or more likely, Hook’s), or would it all work? The band opened the night with two songs from Joy Division’s debut EP, An Ideal For Living (“No Love Lost”, “Leaders of Men”) and the crowd was sold from the start. The next two songs (“Glass”, “Digital”) were from A Factory Sample, the first vinyl released by their label. It became immediately clear that Hook had put thought into this evening as he had started the show basically in chronological order of their discography. The only songs omitted were “Warsaw” (which was performed later), “Failures”, and “At a Later Date”.
With the opening chords of “Disorder”, the crowd erupted and maintained their frenzy throughout. The band was very tight and Bates did a masterful job on bass. This allowed his father to focus on the vocal duties and, when not singing, treat everyone to some great double bass action. Guitarist Wason was particularly impressive and when the crowd wasn’t staring at Hook, they were fixated on his brilliant fretwork. Obviously care was taken to add the right musicians for this tour and drummer Kehoe and keyboardist Poole were equally important to this night. Another highlight from the Unknown Pleasures set was the one-two punch of “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay”. At the conclusion, the band took a quick break and came back out with the aforementioned “Warsaw”, and then lit up the crowd with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. Up to this point the whole night was a success, but the inclusion of this song simply took it over the top. Any questions regarding how the night would play out were completely erased. The band stepped off for a second encore and then came back with “Ceremony” to close out the night. The presentation by Hook and the band was extraordinary and if he decides to tour Joy Division’s Closer album, there will be an audience for that as well.