Concert Review: Peter Hook And The Light In NYC

The legend brought the hits to Webster Hall.

By Jared Olmsted - Oct 5, 2016
Photo by Mark McNulty
Peter Hook and the Light took the stage at Webster Hall on September 22, playing hits from Hook's previous bands, New Order and Joy Division. The legend brought the hits to Webster Hall. Peter Hook & The Light

Peter Hook is a bass player from Manchester, UK. Having been born at an age where the industrial haze of his town, still billowing smoke, might have blinded the sunnier sides of his inner-self, there’s an innate harshness to his bass playing style: A person playing largely what is relegated to the background, yet played so well, he might have been the lead guitarist on a six-string.

As the story goes, Hooky (as he is known to his confidantes) was at an infamous performance by UK punk pioneers The Sex Pistols in summer 1976 at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall. The very next day “Hooky” bought a guitar.

After small false starts together, Hook and his childhood friend, Bernard Sumner, who had also been at the legendary Sex Pistols show, found vocalist Ian Curtis and drummer Stephen Morris via a couple want ads in a local record shop—because of this, Joy Division was born. They earned national attention quite quickly and soon joined up with Factory Records, owned by the enigmatic Tony Wilson, sealing their legend in the pantheon of 24-hour party people.


Two cult status albums later with producer Martin Hannett, Unknown Pleasures and Closer, Joy Division was over. Singer and lyricist Ian Curtis had committed suicide on the verge of the band’s first US tour. Hooky, Sumner (now on vocal duties as well as guitar), Morris, and his partner Gillian Gilbert on keys, regrouped calling themselves New Order. New Order’s first single? “Ceremony”, a Joy Division track that was only performed once at Curtis’ final concert.


In the 26 years since Curtis’ death and the rise of New Order (as one of the most prominent and enduring bands from the 1980s era of New Wave) his legend and lyrics have only grown. Thus, after several years no longer playing with New Order, Peter Hook formed a new band with his son and members of his former band Monaco, calling themselves Peter Hook and the Light.

Their M.O. was simple: Honor and expand the legacy of Hook’s fallen friend Ian Curtis, while doing justice to Peter Hook’s own playing style—something that has influenced multiple generations of bassists. In recent years they’ve toured performing the entire albums of both the aforementioned Joy Division records with immaculate recreation techniques.

Last week inside Webster Hall, Peter Hook and the Light took the stage for two nights performing Substance, both the Joy Division / New Order best of’s, bridging the gap and filling the audience in on the transformational cuts between groups as the band mutated and survived implosion.

It was astounding how good they sounded live, especially when comparing the Joy Division BBC Peel sessions to the current might being displayed on stage. The edge is off, the instruments mastered, and Hook’s Curtis yelp is a near perfect mimicry. He was channeling some rare creature and owned the crowd with a wave of his right hand (Hook only joined his son on bass when he wasn’t singing).


Peter Hook might have a thespian heart, as his vocal delivery was completely altered for the Bernard Sumner vocals and lyrics.

I surveyed my fellow crowd, largely dressed in black, as they danced with fluid ferocity. I thought perhaps this was a Grateful Dead concert for a moment, but then remembered I was still in the city, so thought it better to make a parallel to dancing goths in Hollywood nightclubs circa 1996. I felt like I was in both places at once, actually, one foot in Manchester, 1980.

1349094Peter Hook & The Light

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Jared Olmsted

Jared Olmsted grew up under the umbrage of pomegranate and oak trees in a forgotten suburb of Los Angeles so small, it must be referred to with a hyphen ~ Sunland-Tujunga. His first live concert was an early '90s Barrington Levy gig... BROADER THAN BROADWAY! [Please don't hold that against him]


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