Denver area Joy Division fans got a special treat at Saturday night's Peter Hook and the Light show at the Gothic Theatre.
Denver was the last stop on the North American leg of the band's world tour performing two New Order albums in their entirety, Movement and Power, Corruption and Lies. Peter Hook, known fondly by fans as "Hooky," was a founding member of Joy Division and the original bass player for New Order. While fans were eager to hear these long ago albums live, Hooky got the house thrumming with an opening set of Joy Division classics, including "Leaders of Men" and "Dead Souls."
Peter Hook and the Light got started in 2010 with Hooky's inspiration to do a show in honor of the 30th anniversary of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis' death. That one show quickly evolved into a world tour to rave reviews for the new band's ability to capture the sound and feel of Joy Division at their height and Hooky's eerie ability to reinvent Curtis' resonant and soul-scarred vocals. That tour made a Denver stop at the Bluebird in September 2011. Two years later, Peter Hook and the Light mesmerized Denver fans once again with an amazingly authentic Joy Division sound at the Gothic.
The performance of the two New Order albums was enthusiastically received and had fans dancing for nearly three hours straight. For long time fans, it was also a fascinating opportunity to revisit the band's early '80s transition from Joy Division to New Order following Ian Curtis' death. Peter Hook is probably at his best doing Joy Division material, but it was a unique opportunity to imagine how the sound might have been with Curtis' style of vocals for New Order songs. Some early songs on New Order albums were actually in the works before Curtis' death so this isn't actually much of a stretch. However experiencing something like it live was something fans could never have expected to do. It was a night many will long ponder.
Peter Hook recently published a memoir of his years with Joy Division, Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. If you've ever heard Hooky interviewed, you know he's an energetic story-teller with a caustic wit and a no-nonsense style. The book is worth checking out for a detailed and entertaining look at the proto-punk, punk and post-punk music scene of 1970s and '80s Manchester, in addition to the insider view of Joy Division's brief history. If you're a Manchester music lover, you will be inspired to seek out some forgotten bands. Joy Division fans will also want to check out the excellent Ian Curtis biopic, Control as well as the documentary, Joy Division: The True Story of the Meteoric Rise and Fall of One of the Most Influential Bands of Our Time.