Dive and Lie Wrecked: 09-16-11 – Peter Hook and The Light

Peter Hook & The Light Live at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles – Photo Andrew Youssef/OC Weekly

“Dive and Lie Wrecked” is a new feature of Architects and Heroes, focusing on reviews of live performances. Its name comes from the amazing release by Dave Aju by the same name on Context, which you can find here.

It’s easy to throw around terms like “classic record” or “influenced a generation,” but there’s little dispute that Joy Division’s record “Unknown Pleasures” created the template for what would we would now term Post-Punk. It’s with this as a backdrop that I responded with skepticism when I heard that Joy Division/New Order bass player Peter Hook was going to tour with a new band and perform Unknown Pleasures.

Perhaps it’s my demographic. As someone comfortably ensconced in Generation X, I have a soft spot in my heart for all things I grew up with. I keep my pop culture as close to me as the Doc Martins that are still a part of the wardrobe, but what happens when your memories start to be reinterpreted? Being the rabid Joy Division/New Order fan that I am, and generally optimistic about shows like this, I decided I would give this reincarnated version of Joy Division a chance.

The iconic record cover for the Joy Division record “Unknown Pleasures” design by Peter Saville

The day of the show, Peter Hook did an in-store appearance at Ameoba Records in Hollywood, signing copies of the record “Unknown Pleasures: Live In Australia.” It gave me an opportunity to road-test the record before I went to see them live that evening. After listening to the first few tracks, my anxiety about what to expect from this remake began to melt away. Now, I won’t say it stood up to the original. That record influenced everything that came after it, but this was a very good interpretation of the original. I guess there’s something to be said about the reinterpretation of a record made by a founding member of the band that originally produced the record! After the relief of that experience, I was more excited (did I mention the rabid fan bit?) to see Peter Hook and the Light perform Unknown Pleasures.

The show was opened by the always-impeccable sound selector DJ Paul V, whose set was the perfect companion to an epic night. The opening band, El Ten Eleven, played a set of instrumental tracks that sounded like Ratatat (if they didn’t use electronics). But, in all fairness, I along with the rest of the crowd could only halfway listen to them. When you have something of this magnitude about to happen, there’s very little patience for anyone else’s band.

When the band finally came on stage, the sold-out crowd at the El Rey theater exploded. Warming the crowd up, the band started with “No Love Lost” “Leaders of Men” and “Glass,” before launching into the entire record. Once they did, they ripped though a set that included guest vocalist Moby on “Insight,” “New Dawn Fades” and “Transmission,” which worked incredibly well. I would go so far as to say that the whole experience would have been better had he done vocals for the entire set, but that’s simply my opinion.

The band executed the Joy Division record flawlessly, and perhaps with a bit more exuberance and slick production than Ian Curtis might have ever thought possible for such a seemingly dark record, but at the end of the day this live experience was exactly what it should have been. A recreation of an epic record that was released 32 years ago by an artist who still knows how to put on an amazing show.

“No Love Lost”
“Leaders of Men”
“Day of the Lords”
“Insight” with Moby
“New Dawn Fades” with Moby
“She’s Lost Control”
“I Remember Nothing”
“Dead Souls”
“Transmission” with Moby
“Love Will Tear Us Apart”