Saturday, August 7, 2010


Great news for Joy Division fans. Peter Hook is touring Australia performing his original band's protean debut album Unknown Pleasures (see press release below). Many people still associate Joy Division primarily with their hit single, 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', a song that has become a pop standard approaching the exalted status of The Beatles or Frank Sinatra's greatest ballads, but their other work is of equal cultural significance. Their albums Unknown Pleasures and Closer are two of the crowning glories of the English post-punk scene and what 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' is to the realm of pop music, 'Disorder' and 'Twenty Four Hours' are to rock - simultaneously archetypal and transcendent.

Inspired to form by a 1976 Sex Pistols gig in their native Manchester, Joy Division's sound was initially steeped in British and American punk and its antecedents (Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, The Stooges, Pere Ubu, the noirish side of David Bowie, some of Hawkwind's sci-fi menace and Lemmy's driving basslines, a little of Black Sabbath's Ur-doom/black metal power atmospherics). The group and their producer Martin Hannett also drew inspiration from Northern Soul, dub reggae and the European avant-garde. Hannett's celebrated work is often compared to and seen as the next evolutionary stage of Phil Spector's wall of sound technique, but there are also links to the innovative genius of Lee Perry and Krautrock's finest producers. The luminous spatiality Conny Plank gave to some of the major releases by Neu!, Kraftwerk and Guru Guru is key, as is the psychoacoustic vorticality of Holger Czukay's mixes on the classic early Can albums. Joy Division's single 'Transmission' presents a sublime hybrid of the Spector and Czukay production sensibilities. The Gothic reverbscapes through which Dieter Dierks irradiated the sounds of early Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra Tempel, Walter Wegmueller and the Cosmic Jokers suggest at times a similarly psychogeographic sonic evocation of Cologne as Hannett, according to contemporary residents and critics like Paul Morley, created for Manchester in Unknown Pleasures (see Grant Gee's fine 2006 documentary).

Hannett's sonic alchemy served to illuminate the shadows cast by Joy Division's songs, Cyclopean structures of deceptive simplicity. Isolate Peter Hook's bass and Bernard Sumner's guitar lines in 'Disorder' and there doesn't seem to be anything more basic and straightforward. Put them together with the bleak impetus of Stephen Morris' drums and they pierce the affective core of your psyche in a way comparable to Miles Davis at his most incisive. The essence of Joy Division's genius was not any typical musical definition of sophistication, virtuosity or formalist innovation, but rather an emotional intelligence; a musical channelling of emotion minus the obstruction of any extraneous filigree.

Coupled with Ian Curtis' lyrics, this is music that penetrates some strange region of the subconscious where despair and hope seem to intermingle. Consider the lyrics of 'Disorder': just what is the "spirit, new sensation" Curtis keeps referring to? Given the context of the music and the soundscape in which it is enclosed, it could represent a symptom of malaise, the harbinger of imminent and complete societal collapse, or a genuine spiritual renewal. And perhaps it is both. Curtis' main literary influences were J. G. Ballard and William Burroughs, initially as filtered through David Bowie's fascination with the cut-up method and apocalypticism as psychological lens. The truest parallel may well be with Peter Hammill, another strange and visionary British songwriter, also an influence on Bowie, who combines science fiction dystopianism, surreal, cinematic imagery and urgent inquiry into the soul's more alluring and treacherous geometry.

I'm usually not a big believer in musicians reviving past glories - they're too often a recipe for embarrassment or boredom. But in this case, the body of work is too significant to ignore. As led by one of the finest bass guitarists to emerge from the punk scene, these concerts should be essential for long term fans as well as those who appreciate the experimental edges of contemporary acts like Radiohead, Arcade Fire and The Horrors.




Due to overwhelming demand, two more dates have been added to the Unknown Pleasures: A Joy Division Celebration with Peter Hook and Friends Australian tour this September.

Tuesday September 28. Her Majesty's Theatre. Adelaide.


Thursday September 30. Astor theatre. Perth.

Tickets for the new shows go on sale next Friday August 13 through Red Ant Touring and Ticketek.

Tickets for the Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane shows are selling fast.

Australian Tour September 2010

Proudly Supported by MAX

Friday September 24. Melbourne. Palais Theatre

Proudly supported by Triple R

Tickets from


Saturday September 25. Sydney. Enmore Theatre

Tickets from and Ticketek 132 849 or


Monday September 27. Brisbane. Tivoli Theatre

Tickets from and Ticketek 132 849 or


Tuesday September 28. Adelaide. Her Majesty's Theatre Tickets from and Ticketek 132 849 or


Thursday September 30. Perth. Astor theatre

Tickets from and Ticketek 132 849 or


To commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Joy Divisions’ seminal debut album
Unknown Pleasures, founding member Peter Hook and Friends will perform the album in its entirety in Australia for the first time. The epic show will include live performances of all of the songs from the album including She’s Lost Control, New Dawn Fades and Disorder. Audiences will also be treated to performances of other early Joy Division tracks, as well as the classic non-album singles Transmission and Love Will Tear Us Apart.