Album Reviews

Peter Hook & The Light: Unknown Pleasures Tour 2012: Live In Leeds (Westworld)

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Peter Hook & The Light
Unknown Pleasures Tour 2012: Live In Leeds
Westworld

Let’s just address the obvious issue concerning the existence of this record: it is perfectly okay for Peter Hook to form a band that performs the music of his old bands. It’s not as if he’s trying to be something he isn’t; he’s not calling it Joy Division, so he’s not posing. Nor is his former band, New Order, particularly interested in performing any but the band’s “hits,” so there’s a vast catalog of material that’s going unheard and unperformed. Peter Hook & The Light was formed in part to meet that need—too many good songs going unheard.

Unknown Pleasures: Live In Leeds captured Hook and his band at a 2012 gig in Leeds, and it’s an astonishingly good performance. To fill out the set, the band performed the entirety of Unknown Pleasures, a handful of the band’s Warsaw demos, and other tracks from the era. Considering the reverence and the established nature of Joy Division on modern underground music, it’s absolutely no surprise, then, that the music sounds a lot more contemporary than one would expect.

And Hooky? He’s an excellent vocalist. He’s not Ian Curtis, but he’s not trying to be, yet as he is singing Curtis’ words, he obviously has to intone the same sort of sound. Lest it be forgotten, the original idea behind the band after Curtis’ death would be that the band share vocal duties, and sonically, Hook and Sumner owed a bit to Curtis anyway. And the ‘hits’ such as “She’s Lost Control,” “Transmission,” and “Heart And Soul” scorch and burn in a way the versions by that other band simply…don’t. The lesser songs, such as “Disorder,” “The Atrocity Exhibition,” and “The Drawback” most certainly don’t slouch next to their more famous kin. And hearing the famous Hook bassline? Worth every cent.

Look, I get it. The Peter Hook/New Order schism is undoubtedly sad, and one hopes that the two camps will reconcile their differences before it’s too late, but Peter Hook & The Light shouldn’t be seen within the scope of those personal issues; instead, it should be seen as the glowing tribute to a legendary band by one of its founders, and not judged unfairly. This concert proves that Hook has only the best of intentions, and his love for his old band and his fallen best mate is obvious in every single, dark moment. Personally, I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the albums he’s covered in this live series, as this take is quite wonderful.

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