Peter Hook & the Light live review from the recent Gig at Leeds’ Cockpit.
Runner-up in the grumpiest man in Manchester stakes, Peter Hook still had music fans grinning from ear to ear when he crossed the Pennines to play the Cockpit in Leeds for a sweat-soaked bass-heavy romp through the first part of his considerable career.
“Hooky” was his own support act, running through a selection of Joy Division songs with his band the Light, and catching out anyone who didn’t arrive at 7.30pm prompt, before returning after a short break to play New Order’s first two albums Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies in their entirety. Movement, recorded just after the death of Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis, is darker in tone and the new band formed from the remains of the old still had to refine the mix of electronics and post-punk rock that made them famous.
So it was probably a bit heavy going for some of the younger people in the crowd (and yes there were some) who were expecting a few more of New Order’s greatest hits, but it was a treat for those who hadn’t heard this stuff played live for years.
However, by the second album the New Order had found its voice and the second half of the concert had plenty of songs to get men and women old enough to know better storming the front of the stage with arms raised in ecstatic jubilation.
And this wasn’t just a homage to album tracks for hardcore fans. A couple of singles from the appropriate era were sneaked in, including the most famous of all, Blue Monday, played first the way it was originally intended with computers belting out the famous rhythms while the band sneaked off-stage. But then they returned to play it live as the last song of the set, sending the crowd out into the streets surprisingly early, but anything but blue.
Yes, Hooky’s voice was often an inaudible growl, but Manchester has a long tradition of great bands with lousy singers. The diamond in the rough, a glimpse of a rainbow over the rain-soaked motorway is where the emotional power of northern music comes from. It wasn’t quite as thrilling as Hooky’s appearance at the Cockpit last year when he seemed determined to play every song he knew for the sheer joy of performing before a live audience, dragging people back from the exit as he hit the stage one more time. But it came a close second to one of the best live concerts I’ve seen in years.