For those of you unaware of who Peter Hook (or ‘Hooky’ to his mates) is, you’ll definitely know the music he helped create over a long and turbulent career – but here’s a little context. Not only was Hook a fundamental cog in the legendary, highly influential and treasured Salfordian post-punk machine Joy Division, he was also the man behind the genre-bending New Order that brought you hits such as ‘Blue Monday’ (1982) amongst his many other endeavours including side project Monaco (who I hear have recently reformed for some live shows).
His basslines, many made possible through his 6-string bass array, are not only powerful but hook (pun intended) the ear with their higher register melodic leads and phrasing. He is the rock-solid backbone of a sound that generations have kept alive for over 40 years – whether through the stereo or through their own artistry. Beyond this, he established the infamous Hacienda club in Manchester which was frequented by many famous artists and celebrities of the time (sadly now a block of flats with the same name) and has published several books documenting his shenanigans, debauchery, and questionable business decisions throughout the years.
For one man, he has surely kept himself busy. Shamefully, despite his numerous visits to Belfast during tours performing albums that I’m quite fond of, this was the first time I managed to catch him live. Each time he arrived in Belfast, something either came up or I was out of the country. I’m often reminded that his 2012 visit to Limelight to perform Unknown Pleasures in its entirety was beyond words. I kick myself for not attending every now and again…
However, Hooky came to the rescue bringing The Light to the Limelight 1 yet again to now perform two classic New Order albums – ‘Technique’ (1989) and ‘Republic’ (1983). Not only were fans getting their New Order fix, the man and his band of merry-men definitely earned their corn by also providing an opening Joy Division set to sate concert goers properly. Collectively, that’s an impressive 30 songs and nearly 3 hours of performing. I commend your energy and vitality!
Approaching the stage at 7:30pm on the dot, Hooky and the lads kicked off proceedings in true post-punk fashion with the early Joy Division anthem ‘No Love Lost’ with its thumping bassline and gritty chops before running the feedback into ‘Glass’. It was great to hear ‘New Dawn Fades’ and the sullener ‘Heart and Soul’ added into the mix giving the set a much calmer flow.
With a bit of research into the two shows preceding Belfast, Limerick and Dublin, he has been changing the flavour of this opening set each night by including tracks such as ‘Dead Souls’, ‘Transmission’ and ‘She Lost Control’.
Dublin definitely received a more conventional Joy Division set which isn’t a bad thing per se – variety can be more enjoyable! Hooky rounded the first phase of his performance off with ‘Ceremony’ which got fans of both tribes reciprocating his liveliness and singing along as he leaned into the crowd with the bass neck pointed outwards within easy arms-reach of the front row. The band exited stage left to get ready for round 2.
Coming back for round 2, we see a complete change of demeanour with Hooky bathed in red light and seated on a stool centre stage performing ‘The Happy One’ on his lonesome. As his band members joined him again, samples ran and ‘Fine Time’ was initiated. Punchy beats, 808-esque drum sounds, a double bass guitar attack, frequent hi-hats and striking claps, and overturing pads coloured the frequencies coming from the appropriately sized club PA. All characteristic of the New Order wall of sound. From ‘Technique’, the highlights of this set included ‘Dream Attack’ and ‘Guilty Partner’.
However, I am a little biased. I was always fonder of ‘Republic’ with singles such as ‘Regret’ and ‘World (The Price of Love)’ and songs such as ‘Young Offender’ and highly driven dance anthems such as ‘Spooky’ and ‘Chemical’ with powerful break beats juxtaposing softer lead vocal lines. Moreover, the crosscutting beams of light and other visual features were a nice touch to the atmosphere.
Whilst the two albums bring their own dynamics to Hooky’s set, Republic uplifted the crowd towards a climatic finish. Returning to the stage for the 4th and final time, Peter Hook and The Light performed three New Order classics ‘Blue Monday’, ‘True Faith’ (a personal favourite) and ‘Temptation’ one after the other before giving attendees a proper goodbye with the Joy Division masterpiece ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’. What an experience…
Review & Photography by Steven Donnelly