Concert Reviews

Joy Division Material Fares Better Than New Order Under Bassist Peter Hook's Care

An at-capacity crowd greeted Peter Hook’s visit to the Granada Theater on Friday night. Accompanied by his backing band, the Light, with Hook’s son Jack Bates on bass and harmony vocals, the show rolled into town almost a year to the day of his previous visit to the same venue. However, from the first glimpse of the line snaking around the theater entrance to the assembled mob spilling out into the indoor lobby, it was readily apparent that a year was not too soon for a return visit.

Hook appeared psyched to be back, warmly greeting the audience before tearing off into a long and frenetic night of music. The first part of the evening’s proceedings consisted strictly of New Order material. While the biggest cheers greeted the well-worn numbers like “Blue Monday,” “Thieves Like Us” and “Bizarre Love Triangle,” it was the depth of their catalog that impressed.

A band with as storied a career as New Order surely has a breadth of material to pull from, but seeing Hook and the Light run through nearly 90 minutes’ worth of it was remarkable. The crowd certainly appreciated it, as well. At times the middle floor area broke out into dance parties, with the folks in the balcony cheering them on. Hook, who also doubles as an in-demand DJ, served as master of ceremonies, energetically finger pointing and clapping along when not in his signature low-slung bass playing position.
After a set break, Hook and company returned to the stage to perform a solid set of Joy Division tracks. From “She’s Lost Control” to “Transmission” to “Love Will Tear Us Apart," the fan favorites were covered, but as with the New Order material, equal attention was given to deep cuts such as "Leaders of Men," “Dead Souls” and “Incubation.” These were particularly stellar and made it clear why the band has left such a profound legacy. Since it’s a safe bet that no one in the crowd had seen the original lineup working out these tracks in dingy European clubs, Hook’s interpretations become more than just tributes and memorials.

Hook kept the talking to the minimum throughout his set. A few thank yous, a quick joke during an instrument malfunction and a short dedication to the recently departed Leonard Cohen were about all the audience received in terms of banter. The general silence was a little jarring, seeing that Hook is such a hearty raconteur, but generally it was enough to see him physically enjoying himself, losing himself in the tunes and musicianship and leading the crowd through frequent sing-alongs and rowdy applause.

Hook’s singing voice suited the Joy Division material a bit better. His deep baritone evoked Ian Curtis, and the staccato rhythm of the lyrics favored his cadence more than Bernard Sumner’s airy vocals from the New Order originals. Of course, Joy Division material was always much more menacing than New Order’s and this came through on stage: The lights were dimmed, the band members cut back on some of the theatrics and the crowd bobbed along with precision.  At the night's end, men and women alike were proud to wear their “Hooky” T-shirts.