Peter Hook and The Light - Live in Toronto (Cover Artwork)

Peter Hook and The Light

Live in Toronto (2022)

Live show

On August 12, 2022 Peter Hook and The Light played the second night of their North American Joy Division: A Celebration tour at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, Ontario and it was a religious experience.

From the moment I stepped foot in the venue and staked my claim on the floor, I knew that it was going to be a special night. Not only was this my first show in three years but through the anticipation and excitement, a spiritual presence seemed to fill the room. Right at 8pm, the house lights dimmed and Peter Hook and The Light walked out onto the blue lit stage to a roaring crowd and began their opening set of New Order material. They launched into “Thieves Like Us” and every single person in the venue started dancing and screaming along to the words. The band ran like a well-oiled machine as they kicked out “Regret”, a punked up version of Monaco’s “What Do You Want From Me?”, and “Vanishing Point” one after another. Peter Hook was moving around the stage, throwing in a couple of kicks, crouching down and leaning towards the audience while soloing on his bass (and never missing a note) at every chance he got. Then they started playing “Crystal” and that’s when the room just about exploded. I heard more than one person yell, “OH MY GOD” and everyone, including myself, broke into even more enthusiastic dancing. We were all singing the chorus at the top of our lungs and you could tell that our response served to energize the band, who were on top of their game and giving each song their all. As the “keep it coming” chant began during verse 2, Peter Hook stood in the middle of the stage with his arms outstretched, palms up and fingers wiggling at us in the universal sign to keep going. He lowered one hand back to his bass, keeping the other one held out to the crowd before diving back into the chorus. After another exuberant “keep it coming” chant to finish off the song, the band closed out their opening set with “Temptation”. David Potts handled the co-vocals and backing vocals perfectly, moving around the stage from Martin Rebelski’s keyboard and synth setup to the front near the crowd. On the left side Jack Bates was doing the same, leaning toward the crowd as he blew us away with his bass tone. Paul Kehoe’s drumming was out of this world on every track. Peter Hook’s voice was strong and full of so much emotion as he pointed and reached for the crowd. Before they walked off David Potts leaned into the mic and gave us a “goodnight”, eliciting laughter from the crowd. Throughout the set and afterwards the room filled with an overwhelming feeling of love. You could really tell how much everyone in the venue and how much everyone on stage wanted to be there.

After a 10-15 minute break, the band returned to the stage to kick off the Joy Division part of the night and were welcomed with even LOUDER cheers and applause. Peter Hook stood in the center of the stage and said something to the effect of “Ian used to say that spirits can hear this music” before launching into “Dead Souls”. With every “they keep calling me”, he held out his hand to the crowd, reaching to us from the stage as we yelled back and reached our hands out as if to meet his. From there the band kicked off Unknown Pleasures with “Disorder”. The song was full of an energy that you could feel in your soul and filled you with a desire to move. Peter Hook changed the lyric “and who gives a damn right now” to “who gives a fuck right now”, giving us a sly smile as he did so. “Day of the Lords”, “Candidate”, “Insight”, and “New Dawn Fades” followed. Then came “She’s Lost Control” and the energy of the crowd intensified. The instruments felt like they’d taken on a deeper tone and on each of the last “control”s in the chorus Peter Hook’s voice took on a gutteral quality. People were dancing all around and this energy level continued as the band started “Shadowplay”. The bass tones were immaculate and when “I let them use you for their own ends” was sung, the crowd let loose. Next came “Wilderness” and “Interzone”, before the band closed with “I Remember Nothing”. Throughout the set, Peter Hook, Jack Bates, and David Potts were moving around the stage and leaning in toward the crowd while they played. Peter Hook continued to reach out to the crowd and just as we were drawing energy from their performance, they were drawing energy back from us. The crowd was singing all of the words back and it felt like a true celebration of Unknown Pleasures. The songs retain their bite, the lyrics retain their depth and desperation, and the band played the songs in a way that lifted them up to new heights. At this point, I was drenched in sweat, my mask was soaked, and I was nearly vibrating waiting for them to come back on.

After another 10 minute or so break, Peter Hook and The Light returned to whoops and claps even louder than before and launched right into one of my favourite songs and Closer’s opener, “Atrocity Exhibition”. The heavy, ominous instrumentals filled the room and you got the sense that this song in particular was a living, breathing thing. Peter Hook’s facial expressions changed with every lyric and when he sang “this is the way, step inside”, he sounded every bit like the morbid, gleefully obsessed carnival barker urging us into the exhibition. The chorus was sung loudly by every single person in the crowd and when he whispered “this is the way” a hush fell over us as we collectively leaned closer, held in place by his voice. The song picked back up and as Peter Hook sang the closing line, “Take my hand and I’ll show you what was and will be” he reached out his hand and we all reached back. “Isolation” was next and the crowd again went wild. Everywhere you looked people were dancing and singing. “Passover”, “Colony”, “A Means to An End”, “Heart and Soul”, and “Twenty Four Hours” followed. “The Eternal” (also one of my favourite songs) came next and it absolutely blew me away. The song filled the room and once again, I had the strong feeling like the song itself was an ever-evolving, immortal, living thing. The slower pace, the atmospheric instrumentation, and the superb vocal delivery consumed the crowd, everyone swaying and never taking their eyes off the stage. The song ended with a drum part that sounded like a heartbeat that slowly faded (CHILLS) before the band closed the set with “Decades”. Near the end of the song Peter Hook whipped out a melodica and soloed. The energy exchange between the band and the crowd was apparent during this set as by the end, everyone was sweating and looked like they could continue for three more hours at least. As I said about the Unknown Pleasures set, the Closer set also felt like a true celebration of the songs and of Joy Division.

After another 5-10 minute break, the band came back out on stage for the final time and they were met with cheers of such magnitude, I swear you could’ve heard them miles away. The band were indefatigable, still full of energy and stoked to be there. The last set started with the unmistakable “Three, five, zero, one, two, five, go” of Joy Division’s “Warsaw”. The crowd yelled the intro back and gave the chorus of “31G” the same enthusiastic treatment. Following that was New Order’s “Ceremony” and Joy Division’s “Transmission” that had everyone dancing and saw Peter Hook giving a couple of vigorous kicks. The night closed off with “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. If you have never been in the building when Peter Hook and The Light play this song then you need to remedy that at once. The energy level kicked up as high as humanly possible as everyone screamed “Love will tear us apart again”. The level of connection I felt with the rest of the crowd and with the band at that moment will always stay with me. It felt as if we were all one giant organism, speaking with the same voice, drawing the same breath, projecting our gratitude for the moment. At one point, it was just the crowd singing as the band continued to play and looked on in awe. Then Peter Hook stepped back up to the mic and finished the song. He stood at the front of the stage after the song was over, holding up his still ringing bass as if in tribute. Then he put the bass down, took off his shirt, rubbed the sweat off his face, and hurled it into the crowd. (I was one person to the left and three people behind the person who caught it.) He took to the mic to say, “Thank you. Good night and god bless” while clapping for the crowd. The band walked off the stage for the last time that night and people began leaving the venue. When I got outside and was able to take off my mask, I felt whole again. I felt like all of the parts of me that have been missing for so long appeared and fell back into place. I have seen The Light and I have been reborn.

Seeing Peter Hook and The Light could only be described as a transcendent experience. It is clear from the get go that every single person in the band wants to be there and the care and effort they pour into these songs is astounding. During every set the band sounded beyond phenomenal and their energy level only grew. I have never been to a show where the energy exchange between band and crowd was so reciprocal and where love, care, and respect were palpable. The next time Peter Hook and The Light come to Toronto, you can bet anything that I will be there (hopefully a bit closer to the front row) singing along with all my might.