TEXT/PHOTOS BY MICHAEL PASSMAN
Summer is the time for ‘80s acts to get out there and play mid-sized shows for people wanting to hear the old hits, but not necessarily the deeper cuts. Over the past Summer, Big Country, Adam Ant, The Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Peter Murphy reprising Bauhaus, which he vowed to never do, and Bow Wow Wow all toured, minus original members, but playing to large crowds and raking in some cash on their popularity with Generation X and those WHO “remember” the ‘80s even if they weren’t old enough to.
In walks Peter Hook, founding bassist for Joy Division and New Order, playing songs with his band The Light that only covered the first two New Order albums? On paper, it sounds much better than the “Let’s play the hits” mentality. After all, the older New Order stuff was great, and not too many people knew anything of their music before “Blue Monday.” God, I hope he doesn’t play “Blue Monday.”
The opening act was Slaves of Venus. Never heard of ‘em, so there was no need to get there early, but I did anyway. It was actually the same band with Peter Hook, but they did obscure Joy Division covers! They opened up with “Atrocity Exhibition.” It was a bit of a shock. Joy Division never toured The States and everyone knows the story, but this was pretty damn cool. No “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” no Isolation, but “Digital,” “Shadowplay,” and lesser known stuff. We’re off to a good start here!
The first New Order album I bought was Everything’s Gone Green. It was an EP, but technically considered they’re first album. He played “Mesh,” “Everything’s Gone Green,” and “Temptation.” Power, Corruption, and Lies had some great gems such as “Leave Me Alone” and “Age Of Consent.” He played those, but New Order really triumphed song wise when the songs were more guitar driven, and it was great to see a band that had dimensions instead of songs that people are nostalgic about. “Your Silent Face” was mostly synth, and they played it, but the bass was deeper and lends to great melodic moments that one remembers, aside from getting to sing along to “You’ve caught me at a bad time, so why don’t you piss off!” He played it.
Included in the set was the first New Order single “Ceremony.” A prime example of how melodic and forward Peter Hook’s bass playing is. It wasn’t New Order, but could have been a better portrayal since Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner switched off on lead vocals in the earlier days. Most people don’t know that Bernard was lead vocal on a lot of songs.
Peter Hook is what made Joy Division and New Order stand out by making the bass a melodic instrument that carried the melody instead of being part of the rhythm section. Funk bands did it before him, but he was the first to do it with popular music. Not only that, but the bass as melody became the central trait of Goth music, whether it’s The Cure, Bauhaus, Siouxsie (sparingly here; Siouxsie created her own music that really didn’t sound like anyone else) in songs like “Happy House” and Christine, and others. He was very happy to hear me say that.
But they played “Blue Monday,” dammit. Sometimes, ya gotta play the hits, I guess. It’s forgiven.