December 02, 2016 by Shane O'Connor
Peter Hook and the Light played to a jam-packed Trocadero Theater Nov. 25. For those who may be wondering, Hook was the bassist in the legendary bands Joy Division and New Order.
After a falling out with the rest of New Order a few years ago, Hook has struck out on his own, though mainly to play material from his previous two groups instead of his own material. But hey, I am not one to complain.
Playing New Order’s “Substance” and Joy Division’s “Unknown Pleasures” in their entirety, Hook delivered a really unique concert-going experience.
I hadn’t seen the Troc packed to capacity in quite some time, but the legions of New Order and Joy Division fans filled it up practically all the way back to the entrance.
The demographics skewed a bit older as you might expect, but there were some younger folks scattered about.
With no opening act, Hook and the Light came on-stage just past eight o’clock to begin what would turn out to be almost a three-hour-long affair.
The night would be broken into halves, with a brief intermission in between the two. First up was Hook’s rendition of “Substance,” a New Order compilation album featuring all the band’s singles up until 1987 as well as a few B sides.
The set started off strong with “Ceremony” and “Temptation,” two of the best New Order songs. They both lack the heavy use of synthesizers and drum machines that would become a hallmark of the group later down the road.
Hook played bass alongside a backing band of four other gents. His vocal range is not quite as high as Bernard Sumner’s which took a bit away from the performance for me.
Sumner’s vocal delivery really makes “Temptation” for me and Hook’s lower range would prove to be a bit of a burden during the performance of “Substance.”
Just because his singing wasn’t great doesn’t mean that Hook’s bass playing has degraded at all. The man can really shred. With another bassist backing him up, Hook’s bass lines had double the punch. On songs like “Ceremony” you can see how Hook uses the higher bass lines to great effect.
Songs like “Thieves Like Us,” “Perfect Kiss” and “True Faith” really stood out while others like the mega-hit “Blue Monday” fell a little flat for me. I think it was because the drummer absconded from the stage in place of a drum machine so it was just Hook and a guitarist played over the drum and synth track. It gave the proceedings a bit of a karaoke vibe that felt just plain weird.
Thankfully the Joy Division portion of the event had a more traditional concert feel to it. Hook’s low register was well-suited for covering the deep drone of the late Ian Curtis. The full band powered through close to fifteen or so Joy Division tracks.
I’d never gotten too deep into their discography but there are some real catchy tunes in the lot Hook played Nov. 25. “Leaders of Men,” “Digital,” “Transmission” and of course, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” kicked ass.
Seeing Peter Hook and the Light is certainly the closest anyone in America can get to a Joy Division show since Curtis committed suicide just before the band was scheduled to depart for their inaugural U.S. tour.
Plus, seeing Hook play is the second closest you can get to seeing New Order live since the rest of the band came through town in support of their new album a few months back.
While the performance was a bit uneven and went on much longer than expected, it was great to hear some of my favorite songs performed live in the intimate Trocadero.