Peter Hook & The Light


Artist: Peter Hook & The Light

Date: 23rd November 2023

Venue: La Laiterie

City: Strasbourg France

Peter Hook is my musical idol.

He learned about this when I spied him out from the audience during the PIL set in 1989. I held up a banner saying “Peter Hook you the greatest” (misspelled, but he got the message). He talked to me for a minute and signed it, mostly to get a freaked-out 15-year-old fanboy to shut up. When I met him again in 2013, I mentioned that to him, he said “Wait, was that you?” I said “Yes,” and he said, “Well you fucking grew up then”.

When I was interviewing dUg Pinnick from the prog metal band “King’s X” we talked about other bassists. Pinnick himself, a legend in so many circles said “Man, Peter Hook is so innovative, he invented a style, and championed it, his work stands out in bass playing”. (He also said that Killing Joke was one of his favorite bands too, seriously high praise)

In the long history of “Non Top 40” music, there have been few bands to hold the title to have conquered the music world, and influenced so many bands, as have the Joy Division flowchart.

Joy Division was the 2nd only to The Velvet Underground as far as who influenced so many bands that said ” I can do that”, and then tried, and so many succeeded, and we have all been blessed by it. None of us can say we don’t owe it to the Manchester band that shook the world for music fans.

We know the story of “Joy Division”, in the tragedy of the death of Ian Curtis, rising from the ashes to become “New Order”, then to move into countless other bands and projects.

For now, we have Peter Hook, the bassist who created his signature sound, that inspired so many, but no one has been able to steal his sound. He has everything in the world to be proud of for that.

Peter Hook picked up with a local music school project in Manchester England, called “The Light” to do a cover with Rowetta of Joy Division’s haunting epic “Atmosphere” which sparked the urge for Hooky to pull “The Light” into a long-term touring outfit, with grueling tours, playing marathon sets of the New Order and Joy Division catalog.

Living in Germany at the moment, I saw that Hooky was playing a gig just over the border in Strasbourg France, another country I once called home. I have been ALL THINGS PETER HOOK, for 36 years, so naturally, I had to go.

I drove down with a friend from high school, and we got in line and met punters from Germany, France, Belgium, and even England.

While I was in the pit waiting I spoke to some punters who were much older than I am. One guy told me he had seen Joy Division in Paris, and Brussels, among countless Hooky and New Order shows. It seemed a strange honor to meet someone who had seen Ian Curtis perform. This guy had a solid opinion on the subject.

As I waited, I saw the venue was half full 10 mins to showtime. I was thinking this was going to be a bust, then 5 minutes to showtime, the venue filled in. I had no idea you could fit so many people in a venue like that.

Hooky came onto the stage with the same classical horn music for the intro he has had for years. He greeted the crowd with “Bonne Soire” and kicked off the “Substance” set thumping out on the two lowest strings, playing the tune I know so well, the first New Order song I ever learned to play “Ceremony”. From the 2nd note, the crowd went mad. Peter Hook sang the first verse then at the chorus “I bring them down, no mercy SHOWN!!!” The entire venue erupted with “HEAVEN KNOW’S IT’S GOT TO BE THIS TIME!!!”

I have seen Peter Hook & The Light several times, and a privilege every time, this was by far the loudest I have ever experienced.

“Everything’s Gone Green” did exactly what it was supposed to, we all found ourselves in a trance with the early new wave/post-punk synth on dark foreboding basslines that once they were first played, no one knew what to think. 40+ years later, we still don’t, just let the beats take over, and feel what the song makes you feel. “No More Mistakes”, it’s not a song to remember the lyrics, or even make meaning of them, they just take over your mind while you sway to the music.

My 2nd fave song, which is a staple of every show “Temptation” began and the punters were all howling the “Ooo ohhhh oooh oooh” so loud Hooky and the Bernard “Stand in” David Potts was overpowered. It is one of those songs that everyone knows, and we sang with them, it was a loud joyous experience. In taking on lead vocals, Hooky has been singing this one with as much intensity as when they recorded it in 81. We didn’t feel the haunting from the original version, but were thrilled to be in the substance version of this great song. A song about someone in your life that you can’t live without, never invited, always welcome, but as much as this person means to you, there is no place for them in your life. This song is an anthem to the great friendships that you just can’t understand. During Temptation Hooky came right in front of me and posed with his guitar as if it was a weapon or a Harley Davidson. Only Hooky could be so cool.

Everyone danced their way through “Blue Monday” with Hooky’s most famous bassline, half James Bond, half surfer rock.

David Potts, Hooky’s right-hand man since the Revenge project in 89 took lead vocals for “Thieves Like Us”, a song that had escaped setlists for New Order for a very long time, and it is always a welcomed tune in the Hooky setlists, otherwise no one hears it anymore live.

A gem from the “Low Life” album “A Perfect Kiss” rode on top of the Bach-esque synth lines, and is the only New Order song that Hooky played “Traditional” bass in sound, and technique, up till the haunting bass solo, among so many other greats on the most underrated album in the world. This was New Order’s intensity at its purest given to us in those basslines.

By the time we got to “Bizarre Love Triangle” the venue was bouncing up and down through the intro, and the fun nuances added into the “Substance” album. However, by this time I found it hard to dance when the place was so packed you couldn’t fit a razor blade between the punters.

They finished out the New Order Set with “True Faith” with Pottsy singing the higher vocal sections, and he did sing the original lyrics “When I was a very small boy, a very small voice talked to me. Now that we’ve grown up together, they’re all taking drugs with me”. Giving it to us the way they meant to all those years ago.

A short intermission, and the crowd wasn’t going to back off, I managed to get back up front for more pics, but the bouncers wouldn’t let the photographers back into the pit. So I stood right in front of the PA system for the Joy Division segment. We all knew what was coming, and were fine with knowing what was coming. For shows like this, there is no pressure to get in the songs from the “New Album”, we were all there to hear these songs. So many of us never got the opportunity to hear the Joy Division songs, so this is something that fans will jump on to get in to hear these songs that never got played, or run their course like other great music. We all wanted to hear these live, and Peter Hook is giving that to us almost 50 years later.

They gave us “New Dawn Fades” to sheer AWE, at this moment the crowd became irreverent showing their appreciation for this number, then without missing a beat we got “From Safety to Where..” then “Failures” songs normally missing from some of the Joy Division “Substance” sets I have heard over the years, but no one was complaining.

They played “Disorder” the opening track from “Unknown Pleasures”, and I have heard it performed by Peter Hook & The Light, and even by “The Slaves of Venus” but tonight it was so powerful, we felt like we were on a space ship being catapulted through space for this song. For some reason, this performance of the song could have been the audio soundtrack to a Stanley Kubrick flick.

He played “Warsaw” the opening song, sort of out of sequence, but what was so cool about it this evening was Hooky was playing it with the “New Order-esque” sounding bass, and it was so amazing hearing it this way, I had to snag this on my phone and share it here, for you all to “Get it”. I was honored to hear them mixing the New Order sound into the Joy Division songs. Somehow it felt like this was the way it was supposed to sound, or would have if Joy Division had stayed the course, thank you Hooky.

At “Digital” there was a supplied chorus singing “Day In, Day Out, Day In, Day Out”, as the band watched us kind of smiling knowing that we were going to be doing those parts for them. Maybe this one stood out to New Order fans because of the way it caught the moment watching the semi-biopic film “24 Hour Party People”. ( I have spoken to several people who were in that story, and they all said it didn’t happen quite that way, but it was a great movie anyway and caught the spirit of the story, even though as Hooky has said they got much of it DEAD WRONG.) This time “Digital” had more of the “Tuned” bass from the “Brotherhood” vintage.

Now, I will just describe it as this, a completely packed venue, covering the span of age from teenagers, to people well into their 60s, all howling along “Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! Dance! TO THE RADIO” in perfect key as if it was a well-orchestrated sing-along, imagine that, because that is exactly how it was.

Hooky in his book “Substance, INSIDE NEW ORDER” realized how hard it was being the one to sing and play guitar. I have noticed that singing on top of basslines is really out of the wheelhouse of rock and roll. The bass is to give a rhythm for the guitar to ride on top of, but not play the notes that the vocalist had to focus on. Hooky has been able to master doing this with a 2nd bassist who can play the lines exactly from the album to play off of, while he also sings. In the multiple shows I have seen of Peter Hook & The Light, I have come to appreciate the “Jam” band experience of having two bassists in there playing the same style off each other. If you are a Peter Hook bass line fan, seeing them live like this is rather a remarkable experience. It’s not just the bass player’s ego, it’s how these songs were meant to be played, and adding to the dynamic like this makes the music almost 3 dimensional.

During “Dead Souls” Peter Hook walked over and pounded the electric drum pad with his fists, off of Paul Kehoe the drummer, smiling at him also looking like he was taking out aggression and smacking them so hard.

For anyone who has seen Peter Hook perform live, you know that the guy has this charisma on stage, in how he plays, moves around, and interacts with everyone. He has a serious amount of swagger that I don’t see in bassists, but more in vocalists. His stage presence is tantamount to guys like David Gahan, Peter Murphy, and even Mick Jagger. He is on stage, and you just watch him while he does his thing, strangely, he has always been that charismatic frontman.

He closed out the show, dedicating the song “Atmosphere” to the memory of Ian Curtis, stating that it was no different tonight than any other performance of the song. We all enjoyed it and respected the performance for what it was.

The 16th beat and world-famous chords on the bass started the anthemic “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. The masterpiece of history, that will go down in the annals of music with Beethoven’s 9th, and Chuck Berry’s “Johnny Be Good”, and I’m sure with Handel Messiah too. It is the most covered non-pop song of all time. It has stood the test of time and will live on long after any of us. It was just an honor to hear it played by one of the original musicians.

Peter Hook & The Light gives you the nostalgia for the music you got to hear as New Order, and the music few ever got to hear live as Joy Division. I have flown to San Francisco, and Denver to see them, and now even driven to France. Once you see them live, you will understand why.

#peterhook #peterhookandthelight #joydivision #joydivisionforever #davidpottsmusic #bassgods #postpunk #newwave

The Residents, “A Sight for SORE EYES vol.2”

Book Review

Melodic Virtue, photo taken 1990, Credit Henrik Kam

The Residents, “A Sight for SORE EYES vol.2” by music archivist Aaron Tanner.

I am a fan of the most eclectic band in America, San Francisco’s performance art collective known as “The Residents”. They formed over 50 years ago, and while managed by “The Cryptic Corporation” the band has been able to make some of the weirdest and most wonderfully unusual music, with each member of the band being anonymous. Only a part-time collaborator “Snake Finger” is known by his true identity.

I got to interview Homer Flynn, the President of The Cryptic Corporation 2 years ago, and I spent untold amounts of time diving into the music, the art, and the world that only the most extreme minds can pull ideas from. I also covered their show from SLC earlier this year. AS amazing as that “Bucket List” show was, this book took me days of reading, and going back to hit the images again and again, giving me a long-term dose of excitement, similar to what I experienced at the concert.

After countless albums and collaborations, films, and books about them, reading this book “A Sight for SORE EYES vol.2” has filled my world with such a great visual history of the band, and I was able to see who they influenced and how they inspired so much of the music I have enjoyed for the last 40 years. From all of this, I am no closer to their identities than I was when I first started listening to them, and all of this was the point.

Photo By Jackson Tanner

It is a limited edition print, much like everything else they have done, get it if you can.

The book tells the story of The Residents, but from the point of view of musicians, artists, producers, etc. through their history with them. It has quotes from so many musicians we know and love, and their experience with the music, their concerts, and the art on the whole.

The Residents collided with the earth like a meteor-killing the dinosaurs and creating the world anew. They led the charge for bands like DEVO, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, and countless others who were now licensed to pat a capital “A” in their art rock.”

Alex Winter

The book is a collage, of clippings, write-ups, and other people sharing a quick blurb. I had no idea they had so many fans, I knew they inspired The Butthole Surfers, The Pixies, Primus, and The Dead Milkmen, as I turned each page, and read the little statement from so many artists, I began to see how expansive they were. These artists might not taken any direct ideas from the Residents or their art, but they all pay tribute to the inspiration they got.

It’s not hyperbole to say that everything else we sold made some sort of sense when compared to the Residents. Were they aliens? Disembodied eyeballs? I loved being baffled.MOBY

I have watched plenty of The Residents live, but several people commented on this one video clip of them playing Teddy Bear on the debunked TV show “Night Flight” from the 80s. Several artists have mentioned this moment saying the outlandish story and performance was so over the top it sold them on The Residents instantly.

The book even had a sighed photo of Pee Wee Herman “I sure do love the Residents!” your pal Pee Wee Herman. Brought a tinge of sadness because when the book was sent to me, Pee Wee was still alive. I suddenly went back to watch a few episodes of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, realizing that even Pee Wee was a fan, and they influenced his art. I have considered myself a fan of theirs for a while now, but this book showed me how their influence has been in so much of what I grew up enjoying, a thousand times, just a step beyond what I loved, which was The Residents.

“They’re the kind of band that you either get, or you don’t. And I most definitely did at first listen. I was already on board when I first heard them, but then I saw how they dressed-the eyeballs, suits, and top hats-I was sold immediately. The juxtaposition couldn’t be any more perfect.

My musically deranged 11-year-old mind was now complete”.

Ray Mayorga, Ministry.

The graphics show a very detailed history of the band, and they have fliers for shows, that are in my mind wonderful historical artifacts. They also show you the painstaking details in the color schemes for the album covers. There are notes on mixing console settings, dates, setlists, and backstage photos of men in suits with eyeball helmets. It was in one of the notes I saw that they did a cameo in uniform in the “Laying It On The Line” video for Jefferson Starship. (Starship formed from the remnants of Jefferson Airplane, just a few years after The Residents, I have to say, The latter has had a much more successful run than the former). I did have to go back to watch the video to see them, YEP they were there.

I have collected a great deal of The Residents’s printed and produced work, including CDs and LPs and I even scored a cool poster. The Residents are one of those bands that if you are a collector, you could easily go broke trying to obtain the collection, and all the different pieces to it. This book shows so much that is out there, and even more of the back story of stencils, art scraps, and notes, you see how much effort went into creating the finished product that was available to fans. They are truly one of the hardest-working art collectives in music history.

In the mid-’80s, a co-worker turned me on to The Residents. They opened doors in my mind that I never knew existed. I didn’t know a band could be that brave and strange. And they continue to inspire me to this day.”

Thor Harris, SWANS

There is an entire chapter to the 1988 epic “God In Three Persons”, where I was beyond shocked to see the following.

The Residents are a truly inventive and hugely underrated band. Their eyeballs saw it first and understood the collision between surrealism, art, and music way before everyone else woke up. Unique, creative, and fearless are the most admirable credentials to have. Combine that with parody and satire, and you will end up on their street, which is a great place to visit.

Nick Rhodes, Duran Duran.

Seeing all of these artifacts, quotes, wonderful endorsements, and just memories people have shared around the history of this band, helped me make up for a lot of lost time, I found myself laughing repeatedly at some of the stories. I also felt like I missed so much just by not being at these concerts or other events. Aside from the FOMO I suffered, I felt entranced by so many of the different pieces of art, be it an album cover, or just a photo proof sheet of negatives, it all just unloaded a flurry of bizarre art. As most of the people explaining their experiences, we saw that The Residents are not in any position to explain themselves. Frank Zappa once explained his art that way, saying “I make music for people, and if they like it, then it was for them if they don’t like it, there is plenty of other music out there for them to like, I’m not making my music for them”. The Residents lived that philosophy.

I finally did meet The Residents in 1985 when they invited me to visit their mysterious compound in San Francisco. The first thing I saw when I entered was the four iconic eyeball heads lined up neatly on a shelf. Next to those were several large glass jars containing what appeared to be pickled human embryos! That night, I was fortunate enough to witness the 13th-anniversary show at Wolfgang’s,”

David J, *You all know who David J is

Through the course of the book, I also saw how much of their work evolved with technology. The Residents embraced and used the technology as it became available to enhance their theatrics, stage shows, music, and production on the whole. By the end, I understood clearly that there were no boundaries they wouldn’t push, break through and leave the previous paradigm behind. If you want to know more about the backstory, and just general wonder about “The Residents” this book is the story behind the music, none of it coming actually from the band in words, only the photos and art were from the band. Everything else in this volume was from fans, famous or not, no matter who reads this book (and enjoys the art and images) you get an amazing view into this eclectic history. (Cause it’s all about “Eyes” right?)

The book has so many easter eggs in it, and so many people have said “I have worked with them for years, and to this day, I still do not know who they are”, you might get some hints, but The Residents’s anonymity will remain in tact. Score this book if you can.

See links below, (it’s a wonderful and exciting rabbit hole I promise)


The Things We’ll do this summer, Let’s do “X”

Touring on their new album “Alphabetland”

Live Review

Artist: “X” (Supporting artist “The English Beat”)

Date: July 17, 2023

Venue: The Depot

City: Salt Lake City, UT

There are legends, and then there are the legends that legends hang out listening to wishing they could just grasp what they are about. The Los Angeles band “X” are exactly one of the former, too many legends to mention point towards Legends “X”, just know it is a long list.
I got into “X” in 1987 when I moved to Salt Lake City, I became friends with a Hispanic Punk Rock chick (whose parents I found out later owned a cemetery and a funeral home, how goth), and her boyfriend was a Hispanic Punk-Rockabilly Cholo, a mix of Prince meets Buddy Holly. They were several years older than me, and they turned me on to so much great music, they swore by X. I walked home with several tapes, “Wild Gift”, “Under The Black Sun” and my fave “Ain’t Love Grand!”. Over the years I listened to X along with Dead Kennedys, Husker DU, Modern English, Joy Division, and even some Buddy Holly, with these friends I learned there was great depth to punk that no matter how hard you looked, you barely scratched the surface, I still feel that way coming up on age 50.
An important fact to this entire story is that the first time I ever got to see X live was in Hollywood, July 26th, 1993 on the “Hey Zeus” tour, with 808 State, opening for New Order, that was a clash of styles for sure. In 1993, I was right behind the sound booth at the Hollywood Bowl, and they sounded fantastic, they were great live, but for some reason, bootlegs, and “Live at the Whiskey”, had much better energy than that evening.
I saw them again a few months later in a more intimate venue, the energy was incredible, and I felt like I was hearing them the way I was meant to. (If you haven’t heard the “Live at the Whiskey a Go-Go on the Fabulous Sunset Strip” go score it,… You’re welcome).
Prior to the set I went backstage and got my album of “Ain’t Love Grand!” signed, I got to speak to Billy Zoom, Craig, and Exene. I thanked Billy for giving me a smile when I was shooting their show last summer with the Psychedelic Furs. He was polite and smiling and said: “Of course!!”. Exene didn’t remember opening for New Order at the Hollywood Bowl, she said “It must not have been a memorable night”. Well, it was for me.
The English Beat.
Well, we all know Dave Wakeling and The English Beat. I have seen them 22 times, and Bang once, so that is 23 shows of Dave Wakeling for me. They played a brief 35-minute set, with the hits, opening with “Rough Rider” and churning through with “Hands Off (She’s Mine)”. There is a certain amount of bantering you get with The Beat, and so much of the fun relies on “The Toaster” This time around it was veteran Antony, and a new cast of characters on drums, bass, keys, and this time I believe it was Dave Wakeling’s daughter taking the “assistant toaster” position, also doing percussion. I have to say, a woman’s voice was a welcomed change in the performance. His new crew are great musicians, and I wish them well on this tour. They all said they were just a few days into this tour, clearly, they were having a great time playing for us.

They played the staples and gave us “Tenderness” the General Public song that is always a pleasure to hear live. They were playing “Ranking Full Stop”, and without even blinking they switched to “Mirror In The Bathroom” to finish the evening. The Beat always delivers, you can expect nothing less than excellence from those guys.


While waiting in the photo pit, John Doe was just spending a lot of time getting his “X 1977” flag to hang exactly right on his rig. I stood in awe at his bass guitars, one of which looked almost like a flattened cello. I knew we were in for a great night.
A few minutes later the side curtain opened and the band took the stage, and kicked off “Water & Wine” in great form. Then we were already underway with “In This House, I Call Home” The venue was dancing up a storm, everyone was in a great mood, and the floor was shaking nicely. They were very tight and most of us in middle age just enjoying these great songs we grew up with, everyone knew the words to “Los Angeles”. Exene was dancing in her skirt and cowboy boots, while Billy was just sitting on his stool cranking out these fabulous guitar riffs, everything about this band and their performance was impressive, they were giving it to us as raw as if the last 30 years hadn’t happened yet, and they were just as excited to be playing these for us back then.

John Doe said “Good hell, on a Monday night, you guys are out like this!!!!”, he was impressed with the reception they were getting, everyone was feeding off each other. John Doe then said “So you know these songs, how about this one, I dare you, I DEFY YOU to sing this one with us, we haven’t played it till this tour, so this is probably the 4th time it has been played live”, and they gave us the new track “Smoke & Fiction”. (If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s a beauty, plenty of it on youtube already).
They were playing like the Ramones, they would finish one song, get 3 claps in then DJ taps his drumsticks 3 times, and they are off into “Poor Girl” or “Breathless”. As they invited us all to dance with them, they killed it with the cover of “Dancing With Tears In My Eyes” the Regent Club Orchestra cover.
Exene was dancing the entire time, sometimes as if the rest of us weren’t even there, she was in her zone enjoying the ability to dance to her songs. I noticed this time around, Exene had a very intense look on her face, she was very present, giving us everything she had, as she always does, but the “Goofy” or “giddy” fun expressions gave way to a stoic vibe this evening.
By the time they hit “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts” the audience was well into the experience, THIS WAS “X” and we all knew how to dance. Billy Zoom was playing his sax, and it all seemed surreal as if we were transported back to a late 50s dance hall band cranking out some rockabilly. Billy is a man of many talents, and this song is a must for every X show. Watching Billy on his “Gretch” made all of this feel timeless.

With a few breaths between each song counting in, we maybe even got a “Thank You” from John and Exene, the band was giving us everything, song after song, “Beyond and Back”, “Free”, “Because I do” still sounding as if they were released last week, but still mixing up the vintage to current, and everything in between. X was keeping us on our toes not sticking to one phase or album, they just pulled from the catalog almost at random, and I was THRILLED with the setlist so far.
The iconic “Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not” had me sort of laughing, reflecting on the fact that the technology that existed at the time this song was written gave its title some meaning. Nowadays, who has their phone “off the hook”? A strange historical shift happened for me during this song, and I did appreciate that the term could still be used today, even though its technology doesn’t exist anymore. During “Nausea” Billy was singing along without a mic, enjoying the song, cause, well, it’s a great song we all like singing that one. With “Sugarlight” and “Motel Room In My Bed” and somewhere Craig switching onto the drums while DJ went over to the xylophone to show his skills for a couple of songs, X on stage are continually proving themselves that the spirit of Punk began with, still exists in their performance. It was during this one that I realized X had created so many guitar riffs and songs that had been nicked so many times over the years, this one was the inspiration for “It’s Yer Money I’m After Baby” by The Wonder stuff. “If I were to list all the songs with bass and guitar lines stolen from X it would be several pages.” There were plenty of young people there too, though, unlike the last time they played SLC, this venue was sold out to the doors, and little or no room for the swing dancing we saw so much of last time. It was standing room only tonight, and we were limited to just swaying a little side to side, or jumping up and down. They gave us a cover from The Doors, “Soul Kitchen” that was very well done as they closed out the first part of the set. For the encore as John walked back on stage, he said again how much fun it was to play to a rowdy crowd on a Monday night, and thanked us all again for showing up like this (on a school night). They finished up the set with “Year 1” and no X show would be solid without the classic staple “The Hungry Wolf”. It was one of those songs we all wanted to hear and knew would be in the set, and a set like this, just mix it all up, we would have had just as much fun.

Giddy with the performance high, I spoke with the band after the show for a minute. John was showing me his custom-made cowboy boots, with an “X” carved into the leather. They looked great, on him… I joked with him that I just couldn’t wear cowboy boots. They never looked good on me, and I NEVER could wear them comfortably, and the best I could do was my combat boots from the Navy. Then John asked me about the soccer jersey I was wearing. I was surprised that he knew Leon Mexico. He said he was more into American clubs of the sport. Now this was surreal, I told him how I collect and have 233 jerseys, but only two American clubs. We could have talked soccer all night. It was just cool having an American musician notice something like that. I have had plenty of bands comment on whatever club I was wearing that night, but to get this from John Doe from X, really make the moment. I told him about the New Order gig at the Hollywood Bowl, and he remembered that night, he said: “Oh yeah, that was terrible”. His experience was similar to mine, they sounded great, but the energy of X is not for the side of a mountain when you can’t see them. The best way to experience X is a sold-out venue of 2000. (On a Monday night). A show this good you would think is once in a lifetime, until you realize they do it like this every night.

Love And Rockets “all Aboard”

Love and Rockets

Time goes by (So slow when you start to live)

In my interview with David J and his current project “Night Crickets” he told me the story of them being in the studio for the album “Express” and they were already planning on the 3rd album. David was at an all night party with Pat Fish from “The Jazz Butcher”, having smoked a spliff as the dawn was breaking (1985) and they were listening to the first album by “Violent Femmes” and David knew that was going to steer the next album of Love and Rockets. That was how we got the epic coming of age album in my life called “Earth + Sun + Moon”. I had heard a couple of their songs but the night I sat down with the CD of “Earth + Sun + Moon”, Love and Rockets managed to mosey into my top 5 and park it, staying roughly at number 3 (with all their family in tow) since 1988. I even have it written in my will that I want my ashes pressed into a vinyl record of “Earth + Sun + Moon”. A psychedelic folk rock album filled with eastern philosophy.

I first saw them perform in July 1989 at the Park West Amphitheater in Park West Utah, and I got a few words with them that afternoon. I have met them on and off over the last 30 plus years, as they are all fantastic musicians and songwriters. They filled the side of a mountain, and told us at the end of the night that we were the nicest crowd they have played for yet on the tour (There is a bootleg recording of Kevin saying that to us).

I saw them at a festival in Denver in 1996 at Fiddlers Green, by then I was no stranger to driving long distance road trips to see concerts, especially someone as beloved as Love and Rockets.

When I saw the announcement of them rolling through Salt Lake, in their first time here since 1996, and playing a decent sized outdoor venue, I was counting the minutes (that dragged) for months. Something I never expected to ever experience again was Love and Rockets live.

There was so much chatter and excitement in Salt Lake over this show and friends from all over the state of Utah were rolling in for this monumental event.

The venue was to no one’s surprise packed, to even more surprise, a sort of absence of black clothing, and it was a “Class Reunion” of some sorts, of all the old school punk/goth scene folks. Basically everyone who went to see them in 1989 was here that night, and it was great to see everyone again.

The opening act was “Soriah”, a bloke in First American shaman clothing, face paint to match, with a drummer. He began his set by singing a couple verses of “Proud Mary” by Ike n Tina Turner, giving a humble respectful tribute to the queen of Rock & Roll who had passed into the beyond that day. He then blessed everyone with his feathered scepter in the calmest softest voice, it was so soft you could barely hear him as he spoke. He then began his throat singing, chant like. There is no way to describe this guy accurately, only that his music takes you to places in the far reaches of the space time continuum. He had performed and recorded with Peter Murphy, so no serious effort to connect the dots as to how he ended up performing for us that night. All I can say is that when he pulled out his Aztec Death Whistle and as he blew through it, the spirits came out to haunt all of us, and scare the hell out of everyone there. This guy is absolutely amazing, and worth whatever you would pay to see him live. He takes you to the metaphysical space that you would have to be to really enjoy the Love and Rockets catalog. Just look him up, it is an amazing performance.

After a quick shift, the intro tape “Angels and Devils” began to play, and we all knew what was coming. Kevin Haskins took his seat and started playing in sync with the hollow drums pounding away, David J came into the stage with his bass strapped on ready to play, and Daniel Ash came on the opposite side of the stage, the band was complete. Everyone wearing glam sunglasses, and ready to go. They opened with the unexpected “I Feel Speed”, to an overly excited crowd, we didn’t really mind that they picked that one, it just was out of place. As the punters cheered louder than the band was playing, at that moment, everyone there, band and fan knew they were in the right place. “No Big Deal” came right after with no words in between.

Daniel Ash was wearing his hair in typical Daniel fashion and a very glam mirror panel jacket and alligator shoes, David J was wearing a crimson velour leisure suit, with Buddhist prayer beads around his neck and gold loafers. There was nothing Goth about their appearance this evening, it was a mix of the image of Love and Rockets being a glam band with eastern religious influences, only Love and Rockets could be so adorned and pull off being the coolest band in the world.

Daniel Ash can still pull it off as the coolest glam star

David J said “All aboard” and there was a train whistle, and they went into “Kundalini Express” playing as tight as ever. The band was playing on top of the sound from Kevin’s High Hat cymbals sounding like they were “hissing” the steam out from an old train engine. Nothing in the world is as cool as a band playing on top of the steam engine sound coming from the high hats, NOTHING EVER.

With not even a “Thank You” Daniel started cranking out C, F#, G, D, F#, and churned out “Dog End Of A Day Gone Bye”, a long song, hypnotic as far as the guitar and base lines, just repeated a couple measures. The real wonder of this song is the imagery they give you, walking through all kinds of religious dogmas and in the end making sure to tell you “Don’t let the smoke get in your eyes”. Don’t be deceived, at least not for long. This is a classic that still sounds current, in content (more current now than ever actually) and composition.

A few songs later, David J finally said something, poetic, and insightful, if we were still bearing the burden of the Aztec Death Whistle, and those spirits Soriah called forth, he simply said “The word that would best describe this feeling, would be “Haunted””, and we got another trance inducing “Haunted When The Minutes Drag”. By the time we got to “Haunted by your soul, Haunted Your hair….” we were all pretty in a trance just swinging around like we were caught in the sway of the twirling dervish. I don’t know how long they played that song, but it felt like a long time, but that was also the point of the song.

As the evening moved on we all realized these guys had only 2 real charting hits, but everything they played was straight of the fan’s songbook. “No New Tale To Tell” seemed like it was only 25 seconds long, and didn’t seem to last long enough for all the memories I had from this song. It was fantastic, but, I wish it went on for a while longer, like another 9 minutes or so.

They played their biggest hit, because they had to “So Alive” which, was ok this time around, it was boring when I first heard them do it in 89, so I guess the song improved with age.

We got some gems from the later albums “Deep Deep Down”, “My Evil Twin”. This was the part of the set where I was hoping to hear the total gem from the self titled album, “Rock and Roll Babylon”, it would have fit perfectly here, but alas, the only one we didn’t get that I was hoping for.

“The Light” was the only piece that didn’t feel like they were into it. Daniel Ash said in an interview that he gets bored with playing Love and Rockets music, and it took a few measures for this one to get going. It ended well.

A staple of all live performances, we got “Yin and Yang (The Flowerpot Man)”. That song is a must for every live gig, and is the one where everyone cuts loose. At previous gigs David’s mic stand fell down and he was laying on his back singing “BEAUTY, BEAUTY, BEAUTIFUL”, this time around he was at the edge of the stage in everyone’s face thumping out the bassline, while Daniel was doing the same on the other side of the stage.

Beauty Beauty Beauty Beautiful

They left the stage for a few minutes, and back for the encore, they started of that segment with “Holiday on the moon” then “Love Me” and then “Ball of Confusion” the Temptations cover, which was just awesome live. The history for that song is that they usually open the set with that one, but the first show they played in 89, it was absent from the set list. They tore through it with strobe lights flashing on each drum beat, everyone was pleased with this one.

They closed with “All in My Mind”, without having said anything the entire evening, just playing songs, it was this moment that we could all say with clarity, that Daniel Ash and David J have managed to maintain their voices. David J was singing very smooth, his token half David Gilmore half Roger Waters voice, sounded just as good now as he did when we first played their records. Daniel was tight and smooth with his voice, also as genuine as ever.

All in all, Love and Rockets taking the road, 30 years after their “biggest hit” days, might have seemed risky, but a band like this, having been continually playing in other bands and still writing and producing music, gives them an edge that we all were able to hear. They are sharp and as tight as ever, and it wasn’t a “nostalgic” moment, they just put on a show that you would want to go to if they came through once a year, very few bands can do that, but Love and Rockets did, and still do.

Check out the upcoming dates.

June 6, 2023 Riviera Theater, Chicago, IL

June 9, 2023 Kings Theater, Brooklyn, NY

Jun 15, 2023 The Factory Deep Ellum, Dallas, TX

June 19-20, 2023, The Theater at Ace Hotel, Los Angeles, CA

M83 “Fantasy” tour, yeah, it kind of was.

Event: M83 “The Fantasy Tour”

Date: May 6, 2023 (SOLD OUT)

Venue: The Ogden Amphitheater, Ogden Twilight series concerts.

City: Ogden, Utah

In a world where we are all so connected by technology, sometimes you have to just “Be there” to connect. The French Electronic rock band “M83” will do just that. They are an atmospheric “Dream-Pop” band, that covers so many genres of sound, riding somewhere between New Order and Tangerine Dream, whilst venturing into Vangelis spacescape territory. You have heard plenty of their work for the better part of 20 years in some of the strangest films, “Oblivion”, “The Gambler”, a perfume commercial, and even the zombie comedy film “Warm Bodies”. Like the friendships in the song “Temptation” by New Order, you have no place for them in your life, their music is never invited, but always welcome.

Utah is a “High Desert” mountainous territory, that is usually dry. May 6th was a very cold, and rainy day in Ogden, sitting at 5000 feet, with snow still coming down just 2 miles away. That set the atmosphere for M83 to give deliver in an almost torrential downpour, and honestly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Sitting in the 4th row was the supporting act, Jeremiah Chiu, just hanging out with friends. He then just walked onto the stage and started playing his analog synthesizer. It was really cool to see, in a “Wendy and Walter Carlos” kind of way. As he played, he switched out cables and turned knobs to make his music, while delivering a “pre” Depeche Mode type synth sound, reminiscent of Kraftwerk, and Yello. He did a Kraftwerk cover, and didn’t sing a word, but reminded us all of the early 80s video games.

The stage had a “Stranger Things” motif for a very “Sci-Fi” feel, but we were still unsure what we were going to experience. The intro piece for any show is incredibly important, whether it’s an atmospheric intro song by another band, an audio clip, or a speech, the mindset and mood you need to be in are so important for the rest of the show. For so many bands, the performance begins before the set, often before the band even takes the stage.

The band came to the stage while Kaela Sinclair in a dress with the funkiest clash of colors began playing a synth line to “Water Deep” that the rest of the band plugged in and started playing on top of as an intro with Anthony Gonzales on vocals, he managed to keep the focus not just on himself, but to blend in with the rest of the band. The rain was pouring down on the punters, with beautiful seascape background lights until everyone was in position with their instruments. Suddenly there were “Red Alert” lights flashing, showing the entire band onstage, and the drums kicked in, synced with the lights, we were now into “Oceans Niagara”, the fog and the mist from the rain added to the ambiance coming from the stage. The band were in hoodies and it was so cold you could see their breath in the air. The lights illuminate the stage and at the same time leave only the silhouette of the musicians.

Kaela Sinclair taking lead on synth

They went from atmospheric to danceable as they rolled into “Amnesia”, a very joyful sounding tune you would have found easily in the new wave clubs of the 80s, mixed with synth and bass lines of Ultravox and a Flock of Seagulls. This is just “Feel good” music with a great atmosphere.

Kaela Sinclair moved over to a sit-down piano, and they went into “Us and The Rest”, another dreamy opus with acoustic guitars and the light show slowed down to keep everyone just swaying in the rain. “Run Into Flowers” had a switch out of instruments, violin instead of guitar, and the light show animated on the screens behind them looked like some of the monsters on “Stranger Things”.

The Visage of the "Fantasy"

The Light show for “Gone” was reminiscent of the alien ships landing in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, so many times through the show, I almost forget that you have a band there to watch, as you are paying more attention to the lights and the screens. By this time we were unsure if that was atmosphere fog, or just from the rain. It was strange to see it this way because the backdrop looked like a very bright sun obscured by the heat shifting off the ground. We could see the effects, but still experience something so cold at the same time.

There was a vocal like “chanting” as the new age “Kenny G” sax kicked into a disco riff while they played the title track from the new album “Fantasy”, with the visuals of the face of a monster in luminescence on the screen. A scary-looking space alien, to disco music, yeah, that’s what we came here for tonight.

They played through “Lara” with a lot of saxes, “Don’t Save Us From The Flames” and then “NOISE” until they got to the one song that made me fall in love with their music “Wait”. It was a dreamy opus, that you just had to let it take you where it wanted to. It reminded you of the sound of water dripping down a deep shaft before it splashed at the bottom, and how that sound travels. They sang like you were at sea, and underneath them were the sounds of great whales carrying the music. Yeah, it was all just like that. “No Time” was the only word you could discern from the rest of the song, and that was all you needed to know. M83’s music is heavily focused on moving feelings around inside of you, more than you trying to listen to the words.

Kaela Sinclair was the only band member in the lights while she sang “Solitude”, the rest of the band was barely lit while they took us through this dreamy Pink Floyd-esque experience. This was just a science fiction soundtrack, while the violin played, the drums began to pound and I was feeling it shake my entire frame. “Teen Angst” along with “We Own The Sky” lead us to a dancy synthesizer tune straight out of the dreamy ambient numbers we had just been through. It was almost like CHVRCHES on ambient speed, it was absolutely wonderful to be seeing and hearing this carnival of light and sound.

After a high-intensity dream, M83 gave us “Midnight City” with all the power you would expect. Even the band was dancing, almost pogo-stick dancing, these guys are very energetic on stage. While the rest of us were in the cold, the drummer was stripped down to only his shorts, and Anthony the singer was out getting everyone in the audience to clap along with him, while steam was rising off the drummer. (It was a cold night). Everyone was disco dancing to “Mirror”, and since it was sold out, and standing room only, one of the guitarists took off his monitor pack and went crowd surfing knowing there were plenty of people to pass him around. Anthony G sat down on the edge of the stage and sang to everyone at eye level in the pit. If you think they would be mellow, and just play their instruments, you would be so surprised at how animated and interactive they are with the punters. The visuals were a mix of the original “Bubblicious” gum commercials from the 70s, with early 80s video game graphics, with the light show meant to distract you from even noticing the band on the stage playing the music.

They closed out with “Outro” and a blinding crescendo of blue lights, and at full volume. It was so loud, my body was shaking, and my earplugs were useless, it was as loud and as perfectly in tune as if it was a SWANS concert.

With a stage setup looking like it was from some of our favorite science fiction films growing, up and the music taking us to exactly those places and beyond, M83 is a must see performance. Even better if it is a cold rainy night.