Roughly 18 months ago, Peter Hook brought the Light to the Danforth Music Hall with both New Order’s and Joy Division’s Substance compilations in tow. I found the night a tad bit disappointing but ventured back to the Music Hall last night to catch them for round 2 on the same tour.
Hitting the stage at 8 after some spectacularly long intro music before a packed and very enthusiastic crowd, the band kicked things off with “Too Late” a track I’m not sure I had ever heard before. “Cries and Whispers” follows before they kick off the proceedings proper with “Ceremony”.
Both New Order and Joy Division would be in my top 10 bands of all time. I wore out both bands’ cassette version of Substance with the New Order one replaced periodically due to constant play, so I have very high expectations but I’m also happy to get to hear every song from them.
The band are looser this time and seem to stray from the script a bit more which is definitely a plus. My previous complaints still ring true this time around. The playing of the albums in order is too predictable – you could time bathroom breaks and they really should be crap shoots, no pun intended. Also the band play true to the Substance versions and songs like “Confusion”, “Shellshock” and “State of the Nation” could use an update rather than rely on tapes over 30 years old.
But there are genuine highlights, particularly an absolutely molten run through “The Perfect Kiss” where even Hook declared afterwards; “Now that’s how you play “The Perfect Kiss””, and he wasn’t wrong. The more guitar oriented stuff worked best including “Everything’s Gone Green” and “Temptation” but the crowd rightfully went apeshit for big hits, dancing and singing along to seminal hits including “Blue Monday”, “Thieves Like Us”, “Bizarre Love Triangle” and “True Faith”.
After a short break the band returned to do Joy Division’s Substance, a more natural fit for the band as they are not constrained by electronics, plus while New Order songs are more aimed to shake out any rump cobwebs, Joy Division songs live offer the opportunity to get out any angst and aggression.
For a band bathed in a legacy of darkness, the vibe last night was euphoric right from the start with “New Dawn Fades” and a celebratory night ensued aside from the devastating “Atmosphere”, which is the only song to consistently send shivers through me whenever I hear it.
The whole damn set is a highlight, with “Dead Souls” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart” really doing it for me. As a teenager I never thought I’d ever get to hear these songs live. It has been a treat to get to hear two of my favourite cassettes from the 80s played in full, but I do wish they would shake up the order.