Entertainment Music

Friday 17 November 2017

Rock: Peter Hook and The Light, Academy, Dublin

Peter Hook
Peter Hook
John Meagher

John Meagher

Peter Hook and The Light, Academy, Dublin

Bruce Springsteen and Leonard Cohen have competition when it comes to marathon concerts. Stepping into the ring is former Joy Division and New Order bassist Peter Hook, whose current tour finds him on stage for three hours.

First up, he and his band of three years run through a short set culled mainly from his Joy Division days. The music is dark and urgent and on the standout 'Digital' Hook does his best to ape the monotone vocal delivery of his late bandmate, Ian Curtis.

Then it's into the more extensive oeuvre of New Order – although Hook (pictured) focuses on those especially fertile early years when he and his erstwhile Joy Division bandmates reinvented themselves following Curtis's suicide.

New Order's first two albums, Movement and the more synth-oriented Power, Corruption & Lies, are aired in full and in sequence and it's 'Age of Consent' and 'Ecstasy' from the latter album that sound especially vital tonight.

Hook is well known for his dry sense of humour and it's not long before he's regaling the crowd with the fact that as it's the 21st anniversary of the closure of Factory Records, it's also the 21st anniversary of the day that he lost £2m (€2.4m).

Although Hook throws all manner of shapes with his bass guitar, much of the most memorable music of the night is provided by his son, Jack, who also plays bass.

And it's at Jack's behest that 'True Faith' is performed – the first of a thrilling four-song set that concludes this lengthy trip down memory lane. Musically, it sounds immense – a reminder of how New Order changed the course of rock and dance music in the '80s – but Hook's vocal deficiencies are painfully exposed.

On several occasions, one thinks of how immeasurably improved the gig would be if Bernard Sumner – New Order's frontman – was singing. But with Hook and Sumner reportedly no longer on speaking terms, such a prospect is unlikely to happen.

For the most part, Hook's singing troubles can be ignored, but the night's concluding song, Joy Division's emblematic 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', suffers in the moments he literally can't get the words out.

But it's the penultimate song, 'Blue Monday', that will stay with those present for all the right reasons: Hook and his crew breathe new life into one of the defining songs of the 1980s. It sounds immense. Hook allows himself a smile, too. Who needs conventional frontmen when you can play a tune as ace as this?

Irish Independent

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