Peter Hook and The Light - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Peter Hook and The Light - Rescue Rooms, Nottingham

by Lawrence Poole Rating:8 Release Date:2012-04-08

There is something perversely English, and in turn New Order-y, of belting out a World Cup anthem in the midst of a tournament in which the national side have performed with such ignominy as to make even the most patriotic of England fan doubt his commitment to such a pitiful cause. And yet, as 250-odd sweat and beer-drenched souls belt out "Arrivederci, we’re one on one" repeatedly during a lusty encore, it proves strangely uplifting and cathartic.

With the remaining three-quarters of his alma mater currently plugging away on the other side of the pond, even airing new material (surely to Hook’s huge annoyance), one of Manchester’s great luminaries is ploughing less subtle, if still significant furrows. After proving the unexpected highlight of last summer’s Splendour Festival, Hooky and Co returned to Nottingham to musically travel less commercial paths.

Taking the opportunity to air less well-known material from both gothic-indie noisiks Joy Division and electro-tinged spin-off outfit New Order’s pop cannon, the quintet open proceedings with a set paying homage to Macclesfield’s finest. Opener 'Atmosphere', perhaps the post-punk luminaries’ most majestic moment, made for a fitting start. Brooding, dark and swirling – in essence, everything you would expect from Joy Division’s music – it proves a fitting foundation for what's to follow.

Following a short interval, the five-piece return for the first of a New Order album frenzy double-bill, with 1981’s Movement and 1983’s Power, Corruption and Lies unleashed in their entirety. Despite Movement being released only a year after the death of Joy Division’s enigmatic frontman Ian Curtis, the hallmarks of New Order’s future direction were certainly evident here.

Oozing Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder, tracks like 'Denial' and 'Leave Me Alone' sound just as stark, dark, pulsating as intense as when they were first recorded, mostly thanks to the sheer commitment, will and passion of Hook and The Light’s performance. Between-song banter is kept as ever to a minimum, except for a few wry comments about the sweatbox atmosphere old Auntie Beryl would have described as ‘close’.

And while I, and many others I imagine, would have preferred the hit-fest they unleashed in Wollaton Park, there is undoubted merit to hearing these albums in their entirety, if only to show the progression and journey New Order went through in their post-Joy Division early years. And as encores go, it’s hard to argue with ultimate 12in single 'Blue Monday', a joyous 'Temptation' and smile-gleaning 'World in Motion' (with Andy Poole – no relation – doing a sterling job with the John Barnes rap!).

Hook, looking thoroughly exhausted after a near three-hour set, departs bare and barrel-chested after tossing his sweat-soaked England T-shirt to the crowd. He may only be 25 per cent of his former outfit, but Hook’s commitment to their legacy remains admirable and honourable.

Picture taken by Tasha Shipton.

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