An Evening With Peter Hook And The Light

O2 Academy 3/3/17

There is an atmosphere tonight. Despite there being no support and barely audible pre-gig tunes, just a roomful of men and occasional women of a certain age, waiting to see a true icon of indie rock. PETER HOOK, he of Warsaw, Joy Division, New Order and also Revenge and Monaco. He’s been around the block a few times, and built up an arsenal of absolute classics over the last 40 years.

We are here tonight to hear all the singles from Joy Division to New Order 1987 – which make up all the tracks of both Substance albums. These are songs many of us have grown up with, they have seen us through the good times and the bad, and we are all unafraid to admit that they mean something to us. So why shouldn’t Hooky play them. Currently in a legal wrangle with the rest of New Order, Hook is adamant that these songs are as much his to play than anybody else’s and he’s going to play the hell out of them tonight.

He prowls the stage, his trademark beard a little less visible now, but he still looks like a lion, a lion in a Captain America T-shirt. The first half of the night is going to be the New Order set, and every tune is a crowd pleaser. Starting with In A Lonley Place and hitting his stride with Ceremony, it takes no time to get us warmed up. Temptation is a high point, for many it’s New Order’s finest single, and out of the way so early on. Once the more dance orientated stuff kicks in, the likes of Blue Monday and Confusion etc. the tone changes as the dynamic of those tunes comes in the form of backing tracks, leaving Hooky and co. to overlay guitar and vocals. There is often a tribute band feel during these tracks, but when it sounds this good, it’s difficult to care.

Hooky looks like he’s going to keel over at times and its unfeasible that this man is as old as he is, we are reminded when his vocals give out on an otherwise storming Shellshock and he must stop for breath now and again.

The man has stamina, but once we have got through the mid-80s set of Hi-NRG singles, State Of The Nation and Sub-Culture, and the classic pop of Bizarre Love Triangle and True Faith, it’s clear Hooky needs a break. True Faith’s B-side 1963 closes the set and we hit the bar.

A short break and we’re back in the dying years of the 70s, the multi-colour Top of the Pops 80s is replaced by the industrial grey of Manchester as Hooky opens part two with a batch of tracks not featured on Joy Divisions’ Substance. As there are only 10 tracks on the album he is giving us value for money by bringing us lesser heard choices like No Love Lost, Novelty, Komakino and From Safety To Where…? before launching into Warsaw and then its business as usual.

The mood is noticeably different in the second half, obviously, the party spirit has dampened as Hook almost imitates the funereal vocals of Ian Curtis, and there is more of an appreciation then an all-out celebration taking places. Only during Transmission and She’s Lost Control does the audience spring back to life. Atmosphere is as chilling and epic as it can only ever be. A rousing finale of Love Will Tear Us Apart somehow lifts the mood and sends everyone home humming – hard to believe the dire circumstances under which this last song was written.

Hooky loves Liverpool and makes no secret of it and tonight he has brought us an absolute gift. As long as Hooky retains the right to play those tunes and continues to do so, there is a God.

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