Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Live Review - Peter Hook & The Light @ Gramercy Theater

At the end of last year, Peter Hook and his band, The Light arrived in North America to bring his former band, Joy Division's debut masterpiece, Unknown Pleasures to life for the first time. Amidst a cloud of controversy with his former bandmates from New Order (the band that was formed after Joy Division singer Ian Curtis committed suicide featuring all the surviving members), Hook and the Light, which features his son Jack on bass return to North America to bring Joy Divisions epic final masterpiece, Closer to life.

Hook came to New York for the first stop on his North American tour and it a crowd that was more than ready for his return, gave him a welcomed reception on stage. Much like Hook's last appearance in December at Webster Hall, there was some technical issues with a rather long and not very involved 30-minute film about Joy Division that played before the band came on. Once the clock struck 9, the band was on playing an instrumental overture and then kicking into "Dead Souls," with the audience going crazy. Hook, who was singing all of Ian Curtis' parts looks very stoic on stage and does not do much, but deep down you can tell he is happy to be playing these songs. When I spoke to him earlier this year, he said "After 30 years of denying Joy Division to actually get the music back, when Ian died we put Joy Division's music in a box and just buried it. We never did anything about Joy Division, we never celebrated anything about Joy Division, it was an unwritten law between us that we never talk about Joy Division and we never play the music." So in essence, this is him not just bringing his songs to life, but bringing his fallen friend and bandmate back to life each and every single night.

"The interesting things I realized whilst I have been rehearsing Closer, is that Closer is more difficult to sing than Unknown Pleasures [...], the feel of Closer is much more intense and much more melancholy," Hook told me back in the spring during that same interview as he was rehearsing for the tour. He was curious to see the fans reaction to all of this and in New York last night it was rather special; songs like "Passover," "Ceremony," "Isolation, "A Means to an End," really elevated the atmosphere and for a crowd that never had the opportunity to see Joy Division in concert, it was rather special. Unlike the Unknown Pleasures tour, Hook seems much more relaxed on stage, as I had the opportunity to watch the band soundcheck, Hook in shorts arrived on stage, kissed and hugged his son Jack, who he would praise much later on in the night, is very grateful to still be playing his music. Much like the Unknown Pleasures tour, it is seeing the worlds greatest Joy Division cover band and Hook seems to be enjoying bringing his old music out of the boxes and back into life.