Friday, June 23, 2017

Peter Hook & The Light - “Closer - Live In Manchester 2011” 2xCD, “Unknown Pleasures: Live in Leeds 2012” 2xCD, “Movement: Live In Dublin 2013” CD, “Power, Corruption & Lies: Live in Dublin 2013” CD

Co-founder revisits Joy Division and New Order classics

Peter Hook and his band The Light have a right, a legacy and a license, to cover the immortal Joy Division (and early New Order). Even more so as the rest of New Order are busy releasing tedious and vapid disco pop and generally ignoring their inspirational and innovative roots.

Fans like me were either too young (me) or just not around during the prime eras of the Manchester bands’ heydays, so Peter Hook and The Light are the closest we’ll ever get to seeing and hearing Joy Division’s material or the earliest (and best, in this writer’s opinion) New Order tracks in a live setting. Hook had a prominent part in these band’s sounds, and his re-claiming of them is a true godsend for fans of all ages and eras. 

All that said, these 4 CD releases of live shows from 2011-2013 capture the feels and vibes of the great studio recordings in top quality. Hook’s vocals are admirable and quite close approximations to Ian Curtis’, and his band, which includes his son Jack Bates on bass, cover Joy Division and New Order’s finest work with respect and power. 

“Closer Live Tour 2011: Live In Manchester” is a 21-song, double-CD set of album and single cuts, closing with (pre-Joy Division) cuts “Warsaw” and “Failure”, and climaxed by the legendary “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. “Colony” and “Atmosphere” are sung by former Happy Mondays and The Light collaborator Rowetta, bringing a soulful and reverential side to the “covers”. Overall, a great addition to any Joy Division collection, and a riveting live set.

“Unknown Pleasures Tour 2012: Live in Leeds” is another double-CD, including 24 tracks (with minimal overlay of the “Closer” set). The entirety of the great “Unknown Pleasures” LP is performed here, of course, alongside another wealth of other cuts from the era. As with the “Closer” set, it all sounds top-notch, with a post-punk fire that does the originals proper justice (and even reanimates them into a new era). “Interzone” or “The Drawback” out-punk the younger generation, and classics like “Transmission”, “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, and “Ceremony” close it all out with intensity and passion. Hook and his boys know these songs inside out, and these albums do them a great service, bringing it all back to life again.

“Movement Tour 2013: Live In Dublin” is a single disc and opens with 7 Joy Division cuts, including faithful and intense covers of “Incubation” and “Autosuggestion”, as well as “Ceremony”, before hitting the New Order debut LP, “Movement” and the album’s great opener, “Dreams Never End”. This album was a sort of middle ground from the band’s previous Joy Division incarnation and their more electronic and dance-worthy future as New Order. It echoes Joy Division’s starkness and raw post-punk sound, only hinting at the group’s lighter future. Hook’s band pound through the brief album’s 8 cuts before hitting a few New Order single B-sides. In all, it’s 18 tracks here, well worth any fan of either band’s time and cash.

“Power Corruption & Lies Tour 2013: Live In Dublin” is another single disc, with 14 tracks beginning with early New Order favorite “Everything’s Gone Green” before hitting the band’s second album in it’s entirety. The band transitioned from the darkness of their earlier work with this electro-pop album that had great tracks like “Age Of Consent”, as well as lighter, funkier cuts like “586” that don’t hold up as well. Favorites like “True Faith”, “Temptation”, and “Blue Monday” are used as finales alongside “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, closing this chapter in Hook’s homages to his past works. Of the 4 albums released here, this is the one that to me seems a bit less necessary. Nonetheless, it’s a solid work that invites further re-investigation into New Order’s earlier releases.

Overall, Hook and The Light do great justice to these classic albums, leaving any serious fan impressed and relishing the originals, yet making a new life for them as well, keeping them alive and making them as much about “now” as “then”. Bravo.