Remembering Joy Division in Southampton

A great album and a tragic friend are recalled as Peter Hook And The Light perform Joy Division’s two albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer at The Brook, Southampton on Monday, March 18 – their first performance in the city.

Peter was a co-founder of the post-punk band Joy Division along with Bernard Sumner in the mid-1970s. Following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis, the band reformed as New Order.

Joy Division’s debut album was Unknown Pleasures.

“What made the album special, I would have to say as a musician, is the songs, the music,” Peter says. “It was a long time ago. When I came to it, the idea was basically to celebrate Ian’s 30th (anniversary of his suicide). I wanted to form a greatest hits band, a tribute band, which is almost a dirty word. People still have a very odd way of looking at the word tribute. But when I listened to the album, I realised that most people had listened to the recorded version, not live. Live we were very, very different, so it was quite an easy decision to make to play the album in album form.”

As Peter says, it might just be a concept some people are unfamiliar with: “Youngsters tend to listen to one track at a time these days.”

The point is that an LP was something conceived as a whole, a collection of music which belonged together: “We used to take ages putting the list together for the LP; we used to spend ages making sure that each song went into the other properly, doing the cross-fades and adding atmospheric bits. That was the wonderful thing about LPs.”

As he says, performing it is also a way of remembering Ian – not least because Unknown Pleasures is also the title of Peter’s new book, subtitled Inside Joy Division.

“I have been through every emotion, every bit of guilt or frustration or whatever. I am pretty much an expert on all things Joy Division at the moment. It was very sad. But we were very young at the time; we didn’t know what we were doing?”

Doesn’t that imply they could and should have done something to save him?

“There were older people around, but you still have the guilt whether you could have done something or not. When people saw him before, he seemed to be OK. He had his moments but it seemed controllable, but it was not helped by being in a rock and roll band. The doctor said that he needed peace and quiet and rest, but that’s the things he couldn’t get – peace and quiet and rest. He didn’t want to give up on the thing that he had worked so hard for.”