Sunday, 28 September 2014

Review of Peter Hook and The Light, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London, 27.9.14

Up down turnaround. Please don't let me hit the ground. Tonight I think I'll walk alone. I'll find my soul as I go home.

Up: you just can't believe the joy we did receive on hearing again some of the deftest pop songs every written, played live with such swaggering gusto. The low-slung bass guitar is distinctive, dangerous and in Hooky's DNA; now his son is on stage celebrating his 25th birthday by playing it the same baggy-trousered fashion.

This was a night of Low-Life and Brotherhood, the mid-80s albums when New Order were in their post-Blue Monday pomp. Live layers of digital drums, analogue drums, punching bass lines, swelling keyboards and uncomplicated guitar melodies.

Hooky stands centre stage these days, no longer whirling like an indie dervish stage-right of Barney. He looks good; craggy-faced, neatly-combed hair, well buffed in a black t-shirt, his restless right arm pointing imperiously over the bald and greying heads of the 80s kids hoping for one night only to forget they're nearly 50 with teenage indie kids of their own.

He blows into his mini-Melodica and the three-note blast of Love Vigilantes boots us back to an era of previous desert wars, a mini-drama about a returning soldier who's wife has been mistakenly told of his death. They don't write 'em like that any more.

Down: it's still a shell shock that there are two rival New Orders out there. The version that delighted us in Brixton a couple of years ago outnumbers this one in original members by three to one. And as it's much harder to recreate Barney's fragile vocals than Hooky's basslines, that version has the most authentic sound. But the Hooky version can do Joy Division like nobody else. His lower, rougher voice sounds much more like Ian Curtis when he opens the evening with a selection that includes the magnificent Isolation and She's Lost Control but not Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Turnaround: how bad can the fallout between them be? How can the mercurial Mancunians who created True Faith - a brilliant, crowd-delighting encore last night - and Temptation - another live triumph of machine gun bass lines and drum machine beats - have reached such an end? It's never too late to Perfect Kiss and make up.

Please don't let me hit the ground: New Order were always a singles band. Their Substance collection still sounds as fresh as a Weirdo. But some of their album tracks always had you reaching for the "next" button on those exciting new CD remote controls. We could have done without the seated performance of Elegia last night. It brought us all down and sent us scurrying to the bar.

Tonight I think I'll walk alone. Not me. Like Hooky, I had my son with me. He may be into Jungle and Arcade Fire but he likes Blue Monday as much as the next man. We didn't miss it, though. Overfamiliarity can breed malcontents.

I'll find my soul as I go home. Actually we found the 207 bus waiting outside the Empire after a three-hour triumph and hopped on to be home in time for the end of Match of the Day (Hull City 2 - 4 Manchester City). But there was plenty of soul inside that famous venue.

Nothing reminds you of a slug in a Sheffield bedsit, a ruddy-faced night at the Hacienda with your brother or spending your student grant on LPs like the soundtrack of the time.

And what a soundtrack it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment