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PETER HOOK AND THE LIGHT

Peter Hook
Peter Hook

The Astor Theatre

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Following up his successful 2010 tour playing Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, Peter Hook was back with his band, tackling two classic New Order albums, 1985’s Low-Life and 1986’s Brotherhood that defined the sound of a generation and paved the way for many acts that followed.

Much has been said of the ongoing spat between Hook and his ex-bandmates who continue to tour under the New Order name, but while the latter tend to play it safe with Greatest Hits-type setlists, it is Hook that has given diehard fans something special by going back to the band’s roots and seminal early material.

The band kicked off with a half-hour set of Joy Division classics, starting with the sombre Atmosphere, which Hook dedicated to recently-departed ’80s New Romantic icon Steve Strange of Visage. The thrashier sounds of Dead Souls followed. With a double bass guitar attack, the band has a heavy bottom end. Hook plays a more a ‘lead’ role, while his son Jack Bates backs up on a matching red bass. Completing the lineup were members of Hook’s ’90s band Monaco – Andy Poole on keyboards, Paul Kehoe on drums and David Potts on guitar and vocals.

After winning the crowd over with a blistering version of Digital, the brilliant Disorder, She’s Lost Control and fan favourite Shadowplay, the band left the stage.

Returning to kick off the gig proper, they lifted the vibe with the distinctive, upbeat, melodic sound of New Order. Starting with a few rare early tracks, Hook dedicated the beautiful 1984 B-side Lonesome Tonight to all the Valentine’s lovers in the room before following with its better-known A-side, Thieves Like Us. The joyous synth strains and lyrics had rapt couples swaying arm in arm. The crowd returned the love with an impromptu rendition of Happy Birthday for Hook, who turned 59 the day before.

Then it was time for Brotherhood, Hook striking his classic pose – legs apart, guitar angled upwards, with that distinct, trademark, high-end, chorus-drenched bass tone for Paradise. Bizarre Love Triangle got a huge reaction from the crowd, and they finished this set with Every Little Counts.

After another break they returned to play Low-Life – the earlier seminal record that saw New Order make the transition from post-punk to their genre-defining dance-rock sound. Hooky whipped out the melodica for the familiar intro to Love Vigilantes. The Perfect Kiss sounded better than ever with more cowbell and Potts helped recreate the original sound with his Sumner-like harmonies. “That’s how you play The Perfect Kiss!” shouted a triumphant Hook, having a bit of a stab at his old band.

The beautiful, instrumental waltz Elegia, a tribute to Ian Curtis, saw Hook take a seat to play the more intricate bassline. Hook’s lower register was less suited to some tracks, with Potts taking over lead vocals on Sooner Than You Think, sounding a lot like (and arguably better than) Sumner. After an epic finale of Face Up, the band returned with a three-song encore of Ceremony, True Faith and a blinding version of Temptation. It was great to see the mostly 40+ crowd lose themselves in the music, reliving their youth and dancing with reckless abandon – the ecstatic smiles plastered on their faces more than proving the worth of Hook’s retrospective endeavour.

ALFRED GORMAN

 

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