LIVE CONCERT REVIEW
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