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Ghost Canyon

Concert Reviews
Peter Hook & The Light
(The Magic Bag, Ferndale, MI - September 11th, 2013)

For those not in the know, Peter Hook is an English bass player, musician, singer, DJ, nightclub owner, record company boss and author. Oh, and he is currently lead vocalist and bassist for Peter Hook and The Light.

What's that? You think you know him from some other bands? Well, Hook was a co-founder of the seminal post-punk band Joy Division along with Bernard Sumner in the mid-1970s. And following the death of lead singer Ian Curtis, the band reformed as the modern rock band, New Order, and Hook played bass with them until his departure in 2007.

Never one for being a true-blue lead vocalist, Hook only ever sang co-vocals on one Joy Division song and only two New Order songs. So to come see him sing center stage tonight for three hours was an undertaking that I took with reverence, that's for sure.

Taking the stage at 8.30pm as his own opening act, together with The Light he gave us 40 minutes of old Joy Division material. And no, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' was not played, much to the disappointment of the gathering. It's noticeable that Hook's right arm seems to have a life of its own when not strumming, as it continually wants to introduce progressive beat changes in an Elvis-like manner!

He doesn't chat with the audience, which is an ongoing thing throughout the entire three hours, the stage lights are either blood red, burning orange or musty yellow, and all the JD songs are, as you would expect, dour and foreboding.

After a 10 minute break, they come back onstage. Still wearing his 'GEEK' tshirt, Hook mumbles, "You all look vaguely familiar," before they launch into the first New Order album of two to be played tonight at length, Movement. In truth, a set of electronic New Order songs is much like a set of JD songs, save for the fact that the tempo has risen. Hook stops one song in to quickly pay mention to it being a "bad day for everyone" and that as much as he didn't know what he could do about it he just wanted to play a song for us all to sing along to.

As the band played their way through the gloomy, melodic sounds and raw beats that were instantly recognizable to each and everyone stood here tonight in this small club, it should be noted that Peter Hook and the Light is a band for people who were there the first time around. This is not music for those new to the scene, trust me.

Let me put it this way: As we plow through Movement and then after a scant three minute intermission into Power, Corruption & Lies, it's more than obvious the mohawked British bass player isn't the best singer in the world. And after three hours, and with his voice going and no crowd interaction to allow him to get his breath back, Hook begins to look and act like nothing more than a punk thug with a mic circa '77.

Resembling actor Ray Winstone, in more than one way, Hooky (as he likes to be known) is at his best when knee-deep in an emotional song. And that song tonight was the stirring rendition of 'Ceremony.' Already drenched in sweat, vocals at the strained max, the emotion and relief that flowed through the song was immense.

Ending that third set, they leave the stage and put on a recorded mix of 'Blue Monday,' before six minutes later coming back on stage to perform three songs - including the quite brilliant crowd-pleaser, 'Temptation.' Culminating in a by-the-numbers 'Blue Monday' they had performed a Joy Division back catalogue combined with two stand-alone New Order albums back-to-back. Indeed, Peter Hook & The Light brought all they could to the masses for three solid hours. And my goodness, it was worth every incredible second spent standing there watching.

Review & Photo by: Russell A. Trunk