The musical and personal history of Peter Hook is familiar to most: bass player, musician, singer, DJ, nightclub owner and author to name but a few of the strings to his bow (or bass!). “Hooky”, as we all know him as, has reinvented himself after the much-publicised spat with his former school friend and bandmate Bernard Sumner.
Hook has set himself the target of playing every song he has ever recorded with Joy Division and New Order with his current band The Light, featuring his son Jack on extra bass duties. Cynics and critics have universally denounced this as an exercise in topping up his pension pot, retaining no artistic credibility, whilst the band touring as New Order seem to be able to function in a similar guise without any condemnation.
Performing at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham on Thursday, 3rd July, they had arrived at the twin colossus of New Order’s Movement/Power, Corruption and Lies period in Hooky’s trawl through his back catalogue, that was preceded by a short set consisting of Joy Division material. From listening to Hooky on vocals during his time with Revenge and Monaco, it was plain to see that he could cope with the tracks that were in an Ian Curtis baritone, but would possibly struggle with sounding like a whining nine-year-old child (Bernard Sumner).
With the practicalities and inanities dealt with, it was time for the art, or heart (and soul?). It began with a death – Annik Honore, the ex-girlfriend of Curtis had died that very day and the opening piece “Atmosphere” was dedicated to her memory. It was a short aggressive set, plucking songs from as early as “Leaders of Men” from the early Ideal For Living EP right up to “These Days” (b-side of “love will tear up apart”). After a brief intermission, they were back and launching straight into a track-by-track assault on the first New Order album, Movement. This was the genius that was Martin Hannet’s last involvement with the band as producer and was at that time in a dark place himself, grieving over the death of Curtis and immersed in a plethora of class A drugs. Hook junior played most of the bass parts with “Hooky” embellishing during vocal interludes, using his bass more as a prop than an instrument. Movement segued seamlessly into PCL, and any doubts on his vocal range being able to cope were quickly dispelled. “Age of Consent”, “586” and “Ultra Violence” were immense generating a mini-mosh pit consisting mostly of middle-aged Joy Division aficionados.
They all departed again, but returned swiftly for a greatest hits encore consisting of “World In Motion”, after Hooky (who was wearing a England football crest) had made disparaging remarks about their World Cup performance. They finished with the ubiquitous “Blue Monday”, which closed over two and a half hours of stage time. Whatever the arguments on the pros and cons of Hooky presenting his musical history in this way, it should not in any way detract from the passion and above all the quality of his shows. In this era of manufactured pop trash we need genuine legends of the calibre of Peter Hook, long may he continue.
Thanks to Helen Reed (pen) Fegs (pictures) and Andy Coupe (inspiration)