The curse of emerging from a chrysalis as the reincarnation of a one-time great means you get half-wit groups of macho dad types saying things like this: “Uurrr, well they’re not what Joy Division used to be.” Well quelle fucking surprise – it’s 35 years later, it’s a different band with predominantly different people in it, and you haven’t just blown a line. Can we not appreciate the music of Peter Hook’s band for what it is in its own right?
The answer is tricky. To escape the shadow of a band with such cult status, you must first cease clutching at its fraying apron strings – you can reinvent yourself completely or keep playing the old songs, but you can't really have both.
That was the thing with Joy Division, and with New Order: the first band, shrouded in the wretched mystery of Ian Curtis’ depression and the second born out of the tragedy of his death, they were tarred with a brush that meant their image eclipsed the music, in spite of its quality. Peter Hook and the Light, a third-generation by-product built on the stilted foundations of the bassist, has no such image, and the result is new tracks that are ghostly reminders of a different time.
So yes, it was different. But the gloomy, melodic sounds and trait beats were instantly recognisable (good GOD Interpol are indebted to the style). Waves of synthesised beauty and gothic electro surpassed the occasional bum note and dodgy melodica rendition, the drumming was fantastic and the arrangements near flawless.
About half way through, the lights went out and the mammoth audience were disappointed – they thought that was it, they wanted more and when Hooky returned saying he’d “just had a bollocking for forgetting the last verse like a twat,” they were pleased. The crowd were waiting for ‘Temptation’ and ‘Blue Monday’, and they got what they wanted right at the end of the set.
Peter Hook and the Light is a band for people who were there the first time around. The music doesn't say anything about today, so to form a band off the back of another (two, in fact) so late on is a self-fulfilling prophecy, a catch-twenty two, a risk. You won’t gain new fans, but some of the old ones will worship you for bringing the music back to life; others will say you’re killing it. Change your style and some will accuse you of disloyalty, of forgetting your roots; play the old favourites and others will say you’re stuck in the past – and so on. Peter Hook knows all this. So maybe he is just making a living by doing what he loves – not for the fans, but for him. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is for you to decide.
Words by Mia Bleach
Photos by Anna Kroeger