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Peter Hook and the Light

Peter Hook and the Light: live in San Franciscolive in San Francisco (2011)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 4


Contributed by: JohnGentileJohnGentile
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Rumor has it that when Joy Division heard the final mixes for both their studio albums, they felt that the distanced, somber sound of the studio recordings didn't reflect their more energetic live show. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but when Peter Hook, Joy Division's bassist, played.


Rumor has it that when Joy Division heard the final mixes for both their studio albums, they felt that the distanced, somber sound of the studio recordings didn't reflect their more energetic live show. Whether or not this is true is up for debate, but when Peter Hook, Joy Division's bassist, played the group's second and final LP, Closer, in its entirety to the packed Mezzanine in San Francisco on September 17, 2011, he presented a work that was as energetic as it was morose.

Hook and his band the Light took the stage in a phalanx position, with Hook, wielding his iconic bass, standing at the very edge of center stage, his guitar player to his right and a second bassist to his left, with his drummer and keyboards completing a pentagonal position behind. Hook's very stature made it clear that the band was as interested as paying respect to the iconic album as they were showing that the piece is more dynamic than static.

When originally recorded, Closer was Joy Divison's mature statement: a thick, rumbling work that dealt with depression and loneliness from a removed perspective, all over an almost mechanical, spacey, but broad musical tapestry. Interestingly, lead singer Ian Curtis hung himself just before the album's release, making it a poignant and alarming epitaph.

Ian Curtis was a wisp of a man, a tall, lanky, slender person with twig-ish limbs, who would often stand somewhat back on the stage, so much so that sometimes the drums would bleed into his mic. In contrast, Hook is much more of a massive creature. His broad shoulders support thick arms, which in turn results in the hands of a bluesman: plate-like palms and nickel-roll fingers. Instead of retreating from the audience, Hook glowered overtime, at times playing his bass over the heads of those in attendance.

As the band cut through Closer, they increased the speed of the songs, but kept the mechanical plod of the originals, transforming them from dry endeavors to doomsday marches. Where they used to be tunes that drifted along before collapse, they became more directed, speeding towards an immediate crash. Hook's voice is somewhat remarkably similar to Curtis' own baritone, back-of-throat wail. But where Curtis' voice seemed to sink into despair at the end of Joy Division's song, Hook erupted into a saliva-filled scream, stretching back to the group's punk origins. Interestingly, on most nights, the Mezzanine is a dance club, and is therefore filled with metal decorations and furnishings, so that the bass from the latest club jam reverberates through the floor. The venue was a wise choice for Hook, because while he did delegate some bass duties to the Light's second bassist, when Hook snapped the strings of his low-strung instrument, the sound literally passed through audience member to audience member.

After the band finished the album proper, they returned to the stage and immediately kicked into a selection of Joy Division favorites, including "Transmission", "She's Lost Control" and "Digital". But, where the songs from Closer retained their slow-burning gravitas, the encore set fired up the energy and converted the songs into almost punk slammers akin to the group's earliest Warsaw recording. For the group's final song, they sped through a nearly double-time "Love Will Tear Us Apart" that converted the Mezzanine from a temple of despondency back to its normal dance club persona. Never has depression been so invigorating.

Random notes:

  • I was surprised to find that the "punx" faction was basically non-existent. Most people were dressed in downtowned blacks and grays, swathed in peacoats and porkpie hats. Some of the ladies were wearing the dance-club-little-black-dress. In fact, I only saw one up-tha-punx fellow there. Because I had on my favorite GWAR t-shirt, I think I won second-most-punx by default.
  • In the smoking section, three Brazilian dudes were smoking the weirdest cigarettes I have ever seen: The cigs were skinny, rolled in cigar-like brown paper, but twisted around like curly fries. (No, I know what a joint looks like, and they weren't joints.)
  • If you are ever at Mezzanine and get Mitra from your bartender, tip her well cause she makes one MEAN ginger ale with a straight-up fierce twist of lime.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Chadreligion (September 21, 2011)

I was at this show, and honestly wasn't expecting it to be that great(and actually, I was expecting to be bored, not to mention a little bummed that I missed the awesome FLOOD show @ Bender's that night) BUT, I was pleasantly surprised to hear Hooky on top of everything and almost sound exactly like Ian Curtis(even more so than Bernard Sumner on previous attempts in New Order). The crowd was great, the sound was great, and music was awesome, and really the only thing I didn't like about this show, (other than Peter Hook acting like a fucking rock star and tossing his sweat soaked t shirt into the crowd) was the fact it was at Mezzanine, which means 9 dollar PBR.... FUCK THAT.

cos (September 20, 2011)

People actually went to this shit? I'd rather see a real JD cover band, thanks.

eatdogs (September 20, 2011)

"Hi eatdogs. Honestly, I don't know that much about happy mondays except that they were on factory. But, assuming loretta is a woman, then she wasn't there because everyone on stage was a male."

ah, i see. i was just wodering because she was mentioned in the press releases for this project back when i read it on p4k. still, you should check out the happy mondays. especially their album, "Pills 'n' Thrills and Bellyaches". It's my favorite album from that whole madchester thing from the 90's. good rave culture stuff, but more pop-rock/brit-pop. The Stone Roses were a part of that whole scene too. gosh i love the Stone Roses...

half_Idiot (September 20, 2011)

I've seen some mixed reviews of his shows doing this but this write up really makes me want to suck it up and go to the Chicago show on Friday. It'd be a perfect back to back post-punk shows night with Swans the night before.

Too bad I probably won't because money is too short.

johngentile (September 20, 2011)

Hi eatdogs. Honestly, I don't know that much about happy mondays except that they were on factory. But, assuming loretta is a woman, then she wasn't there because everyone on stage was a male.

eatdogs (September 20, 2011)

i love this review. i sort of wanted to see this tour, but it was nowhere near oklahoma i prsume. anyway, i also felt a little weird about seeing hooky doing this solo JD stuff, but then i remembered he was jsut as much a part of JD as Ian, Stephan, and Bernard.

To go off a little bit here, JD meant a lot to me back in college. The thing is, depression...sucha massive b*tch of a thing to handle. i listened to nothing but JD, Nick Drake, Elliot Smith, and some moody post-rock stuff. These are NOT the types of music i would reccomend when faced with depression. Ah, and during this time i also got to see the JD biopic, "CONTROL". (i lived in Santa FE, NM at the time...)

Closer was an album of deep meaning, but also a very dejected type of feel. it connected with me, but on a more personal level. the music wasn't so much catchy, or weird, as it was meaningful and ever present in my life. To go to a show like this and hear it played in its entirety would have been an interesting thing i guess. still, the album compared to all those live bootlegs i have of JD is a wide open spectrum. they were a beast when they played live...

oh, and i have a question for you. wasn't loretta from The Happy Monday's supposed to be in this band as a backup singer? any info on that?

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