Review: Peter Hook, live at Colchester Arts Centre

I can’t believe I’m admitting to this. While I’m now a huge fan of New Order, it wasn’t until last year that I actually listened to one of the band’s albums in full…

I know. I’m an idiot. When I think about the melodic, bass-driven, grandiose music that dominated my younger years – the fundamental ingredients of New Order, no less – I can’t for the life of me figure out why it’s taken so long. I mean, I’m a bloody bass player!

Time to make up for it then, I suppose. Catching the band’s iconic bassist, performing live with his own band, Peter Hook & The Light, seems like a good way to do that, I think. And here’s the best bit: they’re doing two sets. First, New Order material. Then, a set filled with Joy Division songs.

Hooky
(Hooky and me at Classic Album Sundays’ celebration of New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies)

Oddly, I’d previously met Hooky at a Classic Album Sundays event (pictured above) and, although it was brief, he came across as very likeable and “normal”. The moment he walks out on stage tonight, I sense that again. However, as soon as the music starts, he becomes Peter Hook of New Order. Larger than life and full of swagger. I love it.

A roll call of memorable songs, including In a Lonely Place, Procession and Ceremony (a personal favourite) kick things off, and it’s not long before I’m thinking about just how much incredible music Hooky’s been a part of.

After standing in awe for a while, gorping at Hooky’s idiosyncratic bass lines – played mostly by his son tonight, who’s on lead bass – I find myself getting completely caught-up in the moment. Before I can put much thought into things, though, the first set draws to a close.

Hk 24
(Hooky does his thing during the New Order Substance set)

Now, personally, being a bigger fan of New Order than of Joy Division – I know, you probably hate me – I’m already more than satisfied. But, as the band takes a short break between sets, the excitement emanating from those around me is palpable. It’s blatantly obvious what material they want to hear most: the Joy Division stuff.

When Hooky and the boys finally do return to the stage, they appease the audience by firing into No Love Lost, Wilderness, and From Safety to Where…?. Immediately, it’s obvious: despite Hooky’s protestations that both bands mean something totally different to him, Joy Division’s music has the biggest place in his heart. Understandably so, too.

Either way, I’m sticking to my guns. I’m a bigger fan of New Order’s music. Especially after hearing both of tonight’s sets, side-by-side. It’s the melodic amalgam of instrumentation in their stuff that does it for me.

Oh, and I’ve decided: next time I hear a band I “kind of” like, I won’t leave it the best part of 20 years to actually listen to one of their albums. Fool.

To get your hands on Stylus’ May box – featuring New Order’s Power, Corruption & Lies; newly commissioned artwork; and a magazine that includes an interview with Peter himself – just visit our website and grab yourself a copy. Or, subscribe and get yourself a Stylus box every month.

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