Peter Hook and The Light Live at the Danforth Music Hall

Peter Hook and the Light’s tours have grown with a clear sense of devotion and a work ethic that won’t quit, since hitting the world stage seven years ago. You’ve had to be there, and there could mean so many places where long time fans feel the same way: devoted to the New Order catalogue unfolding sequentially through each tour, and gobsmacked at hearing Joy Division’s music live after so many years, in all its urgency, grit, and singular power.

One cannot help but note the storied career of Peter Hook while the usual suspects – Toronto’s best music fans – who by now finally mostly know each other, against local custom – wait and discuss competing biographies and tours with the devotion of British football fans. For this is our football. Our only sport: music and its peaks and troughs, tragedy that courses through this story’s origins and even us kids like a marble vein, and the resistance to grief that New Order invented out of ashes, their improbably going ahead to New York in full shock and despair (and commitment) and discovering the saving powers of early dance club music, which they absorbed fully into their blood stream and packed in their duffles home to England, is like Camelot to us 80s kids. There is no story like the New Order story, and while it’s often sad and feels so public and yet personal to millions, it never, ever gets boring, in large measure thanks to this man and what he’s lately built.

Tonight Hooky has brought us Technique and Republic, as well as a full separate closing set of JD songs. The set list feels raw and new, considering they’ve been touring it for months elsewhere and our stop is almost at the extreme end of the run. Lead vocals are traded off between Hook and (Monaco band mate) Pottsy, who has added much to the show since he joined, with his better-than-the-real thing Bernard Sumner vocals that thrill and delight some very tough customers who memorized every note decades ago. There seems to be a few moments of confusion about who and when sings which parts, but no matter – these shows, songs, instruments, and Hook’s sheer will never have rust on them and never will, and their authenticity is always so refreshing to see that it works. The format Hook has chosen for these yearly tours is a risky one: instead of playing the tried-and-true hits, of which New Order has so many, and perfecting a formula that might be an easy one, he starts over each time with an intention to recreate full albums and see where the night takes the band.

Full albums were never arranged to be performed live at all, and not in album order, that trend that has become the (no doubt maddening) formula in the recent years of our formative music’s live resurgence. Technique is one of New Order’s very best let it play albums, but unfortunately for this writer its tracks are light on signature Hook bass lines and truly blinding moments of euphoria that we’ve become so spoiled to enjoy this close for some years now. It’s an addiction, the best kind. And we are used to getting so much of the pure stuff. It’s not a point of pride to say one misses the Substance tours, as nothing on earth can compare to that playlist, culled as it was from the best and most popular of a decade that shaped our very heartbeats and lives there still. And no real fan stops there.

Because the moments always happen. Second song “All the Way” hits in brand new ways, with its clear, pure poetry, written by a young man that resonates more with years on us:

It takes years
to find the nerve
to be apart from anyone
to find the truth inside yourself
and not depend on anyone

A surprising highlight of the evening is the rarely (if ever) played “World in Motion”, helped quite capably on guest vocals (we hear) by a mate of the band’s young son (well done, lad!) And while the crowd dances and bops and hollers for allsorts, there’s one particular glowing moment of private joy where we stand, in the form of “Regret”, which is a song that sparked love that is now in its 25th great year. It is a monument for just us two, who’ve been closer than we ever could have dreamed to this legend and now stand swaying at the back of the room.

The music of classic Technique and better than you may remember Republic is all much missed and holds up so gorgeously. The Hook shows over these years of true graft that new and hungry bands should envy and aspire to have seemed to build a solid group of us returners as well as continuing to awakening new/old fans who were under the misapprehension that our music was from a bygone time and lives only in YouTube now. This, friends, is not nostalgia at all, not a blip, but offers powerful encouragement. The word of Hooky’s stunning shows has spread so delightfully in the old-fashioned manner – hand to hand and word of mouth, that it’s become something of a resurgence of the immediacy of our 1980s culture itself, hard as that is to quantify. You had to be there.

Jacqueline “Forever and a Day” Howell

Shiiine On Weekender 2018

Shiiine On is the festival of a generation – such is the narcissism of youth that we all believe our movement to be ‘the best’, but given the popularity of 90s based music festivals such as Gigantic and Indie Daze, the reformation of so many much loved indie stalwart bands and the resurgence of the era’s fashions (not that I ever moved on much in that respect); those of us who came of age in the late 80s and early 90s could well be right in assuming that our time, really was the best time.

Shiiine on, a name which of course references the House of Love (who played this festival in 2016), taps successfully into that sense of passionate nostalgia we all feel; it unites us for a weekend every year (and more, if you include recent additions of the Hull-Amsterdam cruise and this year’s one day event in Birmingham). It gives us a chance to escape the daily grind, to feel at home among our people and to indulge in a bit of fairly (depending on the strength of your liver) harmless hedonism and indulgent reminiscence. The venues are a great size, offering a perfect selection of spaces to watch and dance to your favourite bands and now in its fourth year, Shiiine is still going strong.

FRIDAY

It is 5:45 PM with people still arriving and the beer not yet fully flowing, when orchestral pop group My Life Story take to the stage – a slimmed-down version of the band, with five members rather than Jake Shillingford’s grand thirteen piece collective of old. This is a great choice for the Skyline Stage, although I do feel they could easily warrant a later slot further into the weekend. As ever, Jake is energetically flamboyant, snappy in checked suit and white boots, with high leg kicks and ostentatious mic stand acrobatics; rattling through the hits from 1993’s debut single “Girl A, Girl B, Boy C” through “King of Kissingdom”, “Sparkle” and the wonderfully acerbic “If You Can’t Live Without Me Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” and culminating in live show favourite “12 Reasons Why I Love Her”, playing cards flung high into the crowd, our enthusiasm ignited for the weekend to come.

Next up, Sleeper (I shy away from the Britpop tag) – back on tour and in the studio after a nineteen year hiatus and with promise of a new album. Prolific in the mid-90s with eight top 40 singles, this witty band’s return feels apposite in a time of industry dominated generic female singers, for despite the famous t-shirt’s quip, this is not simply ‘another female fronted band’. Louise Wener, once so loved by teenage and 20-something men clearly (given some of the comments around me in the predominantly male audience) still lights a spark. Unencumbered by industry pressure, Wener appears less stylized these days, relaxed and feisty, full of smiles and moves, the band tight and enthusiastic. The spark lit by My Life Story has exploded and the Skyline arena is alive as we sing back at Wener our generation’s theme tunes: “Vegas’” “Inbetweener”, “What do I do now?” and “Sale of the Century’”

Tonight’s headline are Shiiine returners Shed Seven, amazingly twenty four years down the line but – with a new album out in 2017 – still very much on the scene. They always attract a large crowd here, with Rick Wittter’s sinewy snake-hipped dancing and a back catalogue of anthemic crowd pleasers. They may not be this reviewer’s first choice but they’re a great live band and perfect for tonight’s crowd.

This weekend however, is all about pacing and plenty of music takes place after the Skyline’s 10 PM curfew if you venture out to the other venues: Centre Stage, Jaks, Reds and Inn on the Green. Tonight Reds see Shiiine’s first outing for 1990s festival favourites anarcho-punk Back to the Planet, more Ska than I remember and great fun for those of us who like a bit of grunge with our dance. A quick peek at Mozza’s favourites, Bradford and it is off to bed, in preparation for day two.

SATURDAY

It’s easy to forget that the Shiiine experience isn’t solely about live music and that daylight hours bring plenty of things to do other than sleeping off hangovers: there are the exhibitions (this year a fascinating selection of black and white prints by engaging NME photographer Pete Walsh) and a retrospective featuring grainy gig shots of iconic Baggy dance band Flowered Up, along with press cuttings and original posters. Then there are pub quizzes and an interview with Steve Harrison, manager of The Charlatans and founder of Dead Dead Good Records; not to mention the Pool Parties and Crazy Golf.

Whilst previous years have relegated Cud to the 1 AM slot upstairs at Centre Stage, this year they are promoted to the Skyline, playing the much more reasonable – and less inebriated – afternoon slot. As ever, their performance is one of perfect pop, “Purple Love Balloon” an explosion of fun to start off Saturday afternoon; Carl Puttnam’s jerky hip thrusts and wildly eccentric stage presence charming his crowd. Cud are a fantastic live band and their current tour of set lists chosen by their fans – Just The Good Ones – is testament to the value they place on their audience; here inviting one of their stalwart fans to join them on stage, with only the logistical issue of getting up there, precluding a full fan invasion.

I hadn’t been aware of The Rifles before the announcement of their Shiiine performance and had been slightly surprised at their inclusion on a bill advertised on the basis of being a predominantly 1990s based music festival. A large crowd had gathered and I am assured by the bunch of lads I get talking to at the front, that I wouldn’t be disappointed. They are right and I’m not. The Rifles are a good twenty five years younger as a band than the majority of performers here, having formed in 2006, but their fast-paced Indie rock style fits well with their cohorts and they’re one of those bands you suddenly realize that you do know after all.. “Local Boy”… ahh yes, that song, that’s a great track!

Next up are Black Grape: Shaun Ryder has played at every Shiiine in one form or another and this year he and Kermit are back, although sadly no Bez this time. Black Grape’s 2016 performance was slightly shambolic but tonight’s set is tight and perfect for the Saturday evening crowd. Ryder prowls the stage, Kermit ever-smiling and exuberant and the crowd sing ecstatically along to “In The Name of the Father” as well as tracks from 2017’s Pop Voodoo. Ryder and co are loved by the Shiiine audience: we grew up on Happy Mondays and the Hacienda; on the excesses and the colour; there is something incredibly heartening and joyful about seeing Ryder now, free from the demons of the 90s and his unique stage presence and remarkable back catalogue unite us once more.  We are the generation who only need to hear the opening notes to “Wrote for Luck” and “Step On” and we are doing crazy dancing, transported back to student discos and smoky clubs.

There are always plenty of bands to choose from at Shiiine and whilst this reviewer didn’t catch Skyline headliners Ocean Colour Scene, reports are of course, excellent.  Reds sees dancing into the small hours with the a Post-Punk line-up of Brix and the Extricated, The Godfathers and Chameleons Vox, culminating of course with Steve Lamacq’s annual indie disco. The beer is flowing, the floors are sticky.

SUNDAY

Rise and shine campers! Finding the 11 AM pub quiz has been put back half an hour and all tables are full with eager competitors, we head over to Inn on the Green to see Uke2 play their usual late morning slot. They have become a bit of a Shiiine institution and after all, what’s not to love about three men playing versions of indie hits on ukuleles. The crowd sing along to Stone Roses and Oasis classics; yet again we are united by a love of great music and happy memories.

Lunchtime brings an early slot for Mark Morriss at Centre Stage, a solo slot this year after 2016’s Bluetones performance. Morriss is tired and hungover, asking the audience for Vitamin C tablets, dressed like a geography teacher and utterly charming. His deadpan, self-deprecating quips delight his crowd – a large gathering for the time of day, a fact which clearly astounds and pleases him – and the mixture of Bluetones classics and Morriss’ solo material provides the perfect antidote to a late night, easing us gently in to Sunday afternoon. Morriss’ set is one of the highlights of my weekend, his words and music both tender and invigorating and it would take a hard heart indeed not to laugh with a man who mocks his own moustache and references Absolute 90s whilst sending up his own band’s hits.

Heading over to Skyline, Deja Vega are playing their first set of the day. This band (another I had missed on previous years and was keen to discover) are a revelation, raw and loud, psychedelic and fiery, this three-piece make an incredible sound. I spot Miles Hunt watching from the back and he later name checks them during his set, noting that he needs to finish so that he can catch their second performance of the day – this is an exciting new act and I too am keen to hear more.

Next stop brings us a trip down rap-rock memory lane with Senser, a band redolent of festivals and squat parties, fueled by politically charged lyrics and heavy dance beats; “Age of Panic” and “Eject” going straight for the jugular with their still powerful lyrics: ‘propaganda written out on the pages daily, I see the system as it crumbles before me, I see the system as it dies’.

A quick return to the chalet (this weekend is brought to you fuelled by a lot of strong tea) and it’s out to catch Stereo MCs, a band highly anticipated by this reviewer after I re-fell in love with their high energy electro dance pop during their 2015 Shiiine appearance. Rob Birch is as lithe as ever in trademark baggy jeans and baseball cap and marvellous singer/dancers Cath Coffey and Aina Roxx bring the band bang up-to-date with their incredible style and irrepressible energy. This is a band you can’t help but dance to, the pace doesn’t let up and the hits flow – it could be easy to underestimate the impact this band has had, with their blend of hip-hop dance and electronica and my only regret is that they aren’t given a longer set.

However, the energy created by Birch is about to be harvested by Shiiine stalwarts Peter Hook and the Light, back for their third appearance and for whom an impressive crowd has gathered. Hooky seems to be on a constant tour and arrives in Butlins after a European jaunt culminating in Poland; but his band’s energy never seems to wane. We are treated to a crowd-pleasing selection of both Joy Division and New Order tracks with the former’s “Transmission”, “She’s Lost Control” and “Shadowplay” sounding as visceral and raw today as on those original recordings, now unbelievably almost forty years old. For this tour, Hooky’s son Jack Bates has been replaced by Yves Altana from Oscar’s Drum (Altana’s recent collaboration with Kitchens of Distinction’s Patrick Fitzgerald – a band who had originally been due to play at Shiiine – hopefully next time please). New Order fans of course get “True Faith” and “Blue Monday” as well as “Temptation” and “Ceremony’” Hooky in trademarked loose-limbed crouching pose, stalking from stage right to stage left, singing directly to his front row, the crowd bouncing high on the adrenaline created by the electrical charge of live music.

As final headliners, Orbital may have appeared to be an unusual choice for a weekend of guitar-based Indie dance and whilst the light show is undoubtedly top class, standing at the back, the vibe appears to be lacking. However, this is the kind of musical experience you need to throw yourself into and doing just that and heading down to the front, the atmosphere is electric, heavy bass beats, each track looping and morphing into the next; urging you to close your eyes, feel the music, lose yourself on this Sunday night.

And so to the weekend’s closing party, with Miles Hunt an inspired choice, this time bringing a solo acoustic set to those of us happy to stay up and sing along to a well-loved selection of Wonder Stuff classics. Hunt knows his crowd – acknowledging that this gang want to hear ‘the old ones’ and his Centre Stage crowd adoringly sing back every word, as we are taken back to the start with first Wonder Stuff singles “It’s not True” and “Unbearable” and so through thirty years of music by one of the most loved and iconic bands of the Indie scene. ‘Give give give, me more more more’ we yell back at our front man, smiles dimpling his face as he  gives us exactly what we are here for, giving us hope when he urges us to ‘have a word’ with the organizers for next year.

This festival is one which, maybe more than any other, truly unites bands and their music with their fans and is one where you just need to look around you, at the smiling faces and the happy crowds, to feel that connection. There are the lads I chat to before The Rifles, one laughing as he tells me ‘we’d never get on!’ when discovering that all the bands he loves, are ones I don’t, and so introduces me to his mate who shares my love of New Order and who has never seen Hooky play before. I am pleased when I later spot the same guy, catch Hooky’s t-shirt when hurled into the crowd and give it to his beaming, New Order loving mate. Then there is the guy who comes up to express jovial envy at my The The t-shirt on Friday night and the girls who tell me they are tired just watching me dance, at some point on Sunday evening, offering me their Fit Bit for a laugh. And there are all the smiling faces I notice when I glance around during a set, to see a crowd of like-minded individuals all singing the same line, to the same song, with the same joy.

This is the wondrous feeling of unity you get, the goose bumps emerging, when hundreds of people sing along with their musical hero as he utters those unforgettable words, the  anthem of a generation: ‘you know that I’ve been drunk a thousand times, but these should be the best days of my life’.

‘Life, it’s not what I thought it was’, but every year, for a weekend in November, it feels pretty much perfect.

Words by Sally Hamilton.  Videos by our friend and Shiiine family member, The Cobbie

 

Peter Hook and the Light Live at the Danforth Music Hall. Love and Will.

There is no other song in the world quite like “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. It is unquantifiable, except to say, you had to be there (on a night in a small room, decades ago, in another realm) or there (spinning records three thousand miles from something called Manchester, just a little too late) or even there, at a Peter Hook and the Light show, last week.

If you are over 40 and a certain kind of music obsessive, for whom music is intertwined with your rapid eye movements and synced to your heartbeat, you’ve listened to this song, and many others by JD & NO untold times in every possible scenario of your life. It’s special in a way that defies attempts at reduction, TV show faux-nostalgia mimicry, or commodification. It is a monument, indestructible,  the remaining, shining, towering anthem of the end of our beautiful century;  of rock and roll;  of underground; of punk, and the end of youth of the last generation that still held any semblance of innocence into adulthood; before the square, interrogation-room bright leash of mobile devices. When we watched and heard everything in the moment, lived without a record or a public statement, of a time so beautiful not one picture of evidentiary value exists, except in our hearts.

At the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto, seeing Peter Hook and the Light play live for the fifth time since he mounted his ambitious solo departure from New Order, “Love Will Tear Us Apart” shines, swells, and rockets around the theatre like a firecracker. It spills over friends and strangers alike like an upturned cup of overpriced lager. It shakes, rattles and rolls inside the devout like we were told to expect from religion but the calling totally missed us – it never felt like this. It threatens to bruise like the grip of a girl on her devoted man’s upper arm, the bicep, the hard won grip of a thousand youthful tears, close shaves and real tragedies, as we 80s kids understand and feel more than ever what Ian Curtis was singing about in that heavy heart of his, so long ago. A songwriter, so young to be in so much pain, maybe never dreaming it would change the entire world, or fearing it would. Peter Hook, single-handedly, and despite what anyone else thought about his decision, has erected this monument personally as a labour of love, one he’s been fine-tuning for over five years. The show is a stunning two-for one, no opener, no time. We get, these days, a full New Order Substance, cut for cut, followed by an entire Joy Division show. This time, the crowd are first timers, more cohesive, the girls not just here to “up-down-turn-around” anymore. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is always the closer. A final stunner. It cracks open the despair of love. It is an artifact of the brilliant, shining, matter-of-fact Mancunian truth-telling knack. It lets us into the bedroom of a heartbreak that would never heal, that would instead, yawn into a chasm and just stay there forever. It’s an appeal, and a self-defensive motion at once; the passive-aggressive roller coaster of young lovers embroiled in pains they haven’t lived enough, yet, to master. Some never do. Things harder than romantic love. Illness. These tragedies abound us. These young people haunt us all. Maybe if I say it, I will break the curse. Maybe I’m wrong to be cynical. Maybe if I sing it. Maybe. Without doubt, the force of this song, and others, would have conquered America in 1980.

It is all this and more, and yet it’s entirely transformative. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” transforms itself, played live by its only creator who is now able to do so, so well, into the opposite of its bald fears and hopeless despair. It rallies, it asserts, by its towering originality, its impossible, unpredictable and unusual nature, its powerful truth, and the contradictory truth that emerged out of its creation and longevity: (This) Love / music will keep us together. Forever is real. We know all too well that the bedroom gets very cold. We know too much about love’s destruction. And yet here we are, enveloped in an unlikely anthem that was the only anthem possible out of our brilliant, misunderstood time (which is still our time, our music still ahead of its “industry”.)

What “Love Will Tear Us Apart” says and what it does is a beautiful contradiction that sums up all of us spilling out of that time we now call post-punk. We are standing here experiencing it all, – for not the first time – and not even the first time of this version of Peter Hook’s / New Order’s / Joy Division’s music, but there is still discovery. How could something so full of relatable despair from faraway and long ago written by a lost poet create something so transcendently powerful? Here, in 2018? Worldwide? Uplifting and healing and something that keeps our very hearts afloat? Our feet on the right side of ledges? It’s a beautiful mystery. It takes a lot to surprise me, to raise my brow. But I wait for it. I’ve been watching & listening forever.

It’s a mystery Peter Hook understands and carries with him as casually as a low-slung bass. He wears it gracefully, he sloughs off the shallow social media comments that once followed the New Order split, and as ever, rises above the nays, and the fray, he always has. He’s written essential books about his time, and now lets his work speak for itself, for he is one of the most interesting cats to ever walk on a stage, yet elusive, so that when he appeared right beside me once, on the fan side of the barrier at the best new festival in the U.K., Shiiine On Weekender, to watch a bit of someone else’s gig, looking right at me, I failed to process it and must have looked a right arse, forgetting my good manners to even nod in recognition before he went backstage again. To me, he had always been eight feet tall, on a video screen, in my shock, my imagination was stuck in a video loop of long ago.

As reporters of the burgeoning renaissance of OUR music (the best of the best of the best artists who still remain) this magazine has happily attended a number of life-changing events that cross-cut time and make decades disappear like sinking ships* in the last three years. But this one is different. We directionless teenagers learned something from Peter Hook, faraway, long ago, impossibly grand on our floor model TV sets in suburbia. Then, it was a detached cool, a uniqueness, a devil-may-care anti-fashion that was better than any bespoke suit. We have so much to learn even now. People who don’t know the difference might miss that what occurs on stage with actual legends is quieter, with no pyro, with no razzle dazzle needed but the sound. Peter Hook, looking twenty years fitter than most of the room, leads by example not just musicianship & hard graft but about shaking shit off, overcoming, adjusting, mourning, celebrating, preserving, and the most careful budgeting of (other people’s) nostalgia that is also transformed by the artist so that it isn’t nostalgia at all, but relevant and real and alive.  Seeing “Factory Records” on a page at a current day box office creates strange, powerful feelings in me that only the most romantic souls would understand. Many of them stand in the room with me. One of them towers just a little above us, way too close to believe, fully reining in what could easily fill the Pyramid Stage right now, and aren’t we lucky? We who stood at the back of some concrete piles on top of plastic folding chairs at the bizarre setting of a roller coaster park in what used to be a nowhere north of this city to see shapes that were said to be New Order, once? Where bands used to play, where cameras had to be dashed into shrubbery to be forgotten later, where beer was elusive and so we poured whatever money we had on Republic t-shirts.

The weird, scary, wooden roller coaster, rising out of nothing, taunted us and landmarked road trips north, once. It’s now all expensive suburbia of a Toronto that is endless, that has mostly turned away from music, from self, from the fire in our young bellies. That roller coaster, that park, when it came, finally made us feel a little more American, which we thought meant cool, fun and daring. But it became something better: a place for 80s kids to see British bands we loved with all our hearts, planning our summers around their visits, like our parents would for relatives, all of us saving up middling minimum wage money. We never understood why they came down from our TV screens, which hardly ever played the best music except for late at night, once a week, and came to our Wonderland and didn’t just pass us by. Toronto had the biggest inferiority complex, then, and so did all of us born into it. Between artists and us was a sea, literal and figurative. We got music late then, by boat. We had to seek it out, on whiteboards written by someone who closely read the bible, NME, in one specific store downtown. I had one particular friend that would call the store, who would go and haunt that board, who kept us all organized, and so made sure we caught one of the only five copies of Select Magazine, which, although they never gave us the free tapes promised on the cover, we would happily shred to death; reading, sharing, discussing, in suburban basements.

The trajectory, worthiness, or current status of the music of Peter Hook-Joy Division-New Order is not something I debate with anyone. It’s like Jesus, or Shakespeare, or chocolate. Either you know, or share in this love, or you don’t. It’s beyond moot to me. In the bad divorces of beloved bands, the heartbreak and unlikelihood of long careers and the many short lives that pile up around all of us still here, in the fractured current non-culture that is screaming in pain everyday calmed only by gifs of doggies and kittens as our inner toddlers come to the fore, the fact of Peter Hook and the Light building this new show, this band, and working tirelessly around the world since 2012 could only be good prima facie, you know, if it was even okay. But it’s not okay. It’s epic. We’ve watched it grow here, and even in the U.K., traveling far and wide ourselves for music love at last, in little ‘ol Toronto and the unreal digital space that we never knew was important to the world of music at all, frail & precious things and places we must fight to defend with only our fists. What Peter Hook and the Light’s efforts have been are something monumental like the nostalgists would have you believe can only happen at a time you must have surely missed. In black and white, in another place. Wrong. Forget ’em. Listen to me.

We journalist / fans have been lucky and also smart to be there for the new and brightest era of Peter Hook, the man who now bends and folds time, who once reinvented the bass and made it a lead instrument / almost vocal like no one else has ever done and only ever plagiarizes. Hooky’s deep notes and basslines carried forth into New Order a mystical thread of Ians’s own singular voice, a subtle dirge for the lost young artist and man. New Order, after Ian’s death, went 180 degrees from Joy Division, of course they did, they had to, pivoting into synth and dance music, pioneering that also, by digging deep into scenes on two continents to keep moving, stay alive, and save their worthy dream. Ian Curtis is still a touchy subject, and now, so is New Order. But none of that is up for debate, anymore, in my circle. This music needs to be played and be heard; it is important and special and much needed today. Because, among the other reasons we all know, something in the new millennium is about willful forgetting. A tendency toward consumption, hoarding; an ultimately unromantic world of “storage” and “content” and compression and minimization. People who miss it need to see this music played live by Hooky, where it can be appreciated, and where, now, their own music-oriented kids can learn from the experience. In Toronto, A bass player friend who’s in five different local bands appears in the crowd from somewhere, he knows our usual spot; front, left. He’s here to see us, to “Woo!” Canadian-style, (we’ve slowly grown bolder over time) and he’s here for a closer look at the bass playing; the ratio matters not to us. We make room, our laughter childlike, unrecognizable, unrestrained. We’re all part of this transmission. From darkness to light.

Jacqueline Howell

Photos: Dave MacIntyre

*The Killers, Dustland Fairytale.

Peter Hook & The Light Live in Toronto

Peter Hook & The Light at the Danforth Music Hall, Tuesday November 29, Toronto

Peter Hook and the Light take the stage at Toronto’s best, most special and most fun venue, early, at 8:20, and with no opener. They’ve made a good number of Toronto stops in their just four years touring Hooky’s Joy Division and New Order music, with increasing buzz each time. In a tremendous reversal of what a lot of new music today does, or gets to do, Hook’s new work grows all by itself through authenticity and real, old fashioned, word-of-mouth. It doesn’t hurt that the music was developed over the last great musical era, in the most fertile place in all of Europe, by the most innovative band who was unafraid to experiment and take risks, even after early success and terrible loss under another name.

But it’s not name recognition or love of this iconic music that’s made this tour a sellout, conquering US city after US city like a modern day Viking before a lovely finish in Montreal and then, here, the dessert: Toronto, where someone deserving is welcomed like a god for bloody once.  Hook’s performance honed over more than 30 dates in two months is utter musical reinvention and reclamation, the purity and clarity of stripping down something monstrous- a worldwide famous household name brand- to its essence by a genius with an ear unlike any other, different than the other geniuses out there wielding an ax, but no less a guitar god than whoever in Metal is so often named. It’s now Peter Hook’s reading of New Order and Joy Division that matters. Like Johnny Marr’s recent solo efforts, it is much more these days than the sum of its parts was, and better by miles than the competition. It’s streamlined, a killer beast, majestic, lithe, the top of the food chain, rogue, punk. It’s punk again. It’s anti-establishment. And it sings.

We are told that Peter Hook and the Light, made up of members of one-time side-project Monaco with the addition of Hook’s son Jack Bates, have done 400 gigs as of tonight. More than New Order did in 40 years. Not just shade, this fact is deeply significant. It illustrates the point about stripping down, packing light, and taking only what you can carry. Like Renton escaping his groundhog day life at the end of Trainspotting. The stage is spare, no banner or flag, everything heaped in the center, musicians around it, nothing frivolous or decorative. (How often does a venue staffer say that it was an easy set up, when a legend is in town?) It looks like a jam in someone’s house. Hooky’s house.

Trust me when I tell you, Toronto doesn’t let loose unless they mean it. Tonight was the wildest, most open -hearted night of strangers we’ve ever seen, and been part of, in all these years. That I can ever remember. It was, in fact, the closest three hours to Shiiine we’ll ever find here. And all of us there helped make it so, led by the visionary co-creator and bassist of the best album of singles of the last 40 years, played live, cut for cut. After just a few minutes break, a tour of Joy Division’s works, music that demands to be played and heard, is played for another full hour. No one dares to budge. No one will succeed in pushing to the front now. Tonight, those at the front have earned it.

New Order live was never like this; beholden to machines, maybe, on big, cold, faraway stages, in the crummy sports arenas of our lo-fi youth, something sterile in the mix got in the way of the beauty of their creations, there were too many cooks. But this is raw, alive, sweaty, loud, uncut rock and roll, unashamed love and life itself. And even on the bigger stages will remain so, now-we can attest. We know every note, every beat, and yet it’s better than the records, it jumps off the records, and it simply shorts out whatever circuitry is left in the mockery of music in this era of the digital file, in the homes and heads of people who have no stereos anymore. We betrayed ourselves for pocket convenience. We’ve been conned. We betrayed our art, our own gods, this. Guys, we have to go back.

Our fandom, here in Toronto, of New Order, was strong, but very remote indeed. Toronto in the eighties felt to us like (and was) an island far away from the world we loved, Britain, where we sometimes got music a few years too late. But we’d caught up by 1987, and you see, when we got it, it stayed with us forever and forever and forever.

It is 25 years later.

We are telling people we are newly acquainted with, good, fun, interesting people, who’ve been at the gig in different places around the happiest room we can ever remember, alone, together, about our trip down to Shiiine On Weekender in the UK to see Peter Hook last year. The Kaleidoscope is flipped. For this night alone, Toronto is the center of the world. And a corner of England and a festival that, in this group, only we know about is a faraway, unknown thing. 

Peter Hook and the Light know about Shiiine,  though, they (very much) helped make it historic, and it was. He’s headlining a two night mini-cruise that’s the next Shiiine project, with two different set lists for the most devoted, in March. We know our place, but feel part of a larger Shiiine Family that extends all the way to Hooky himself, something unbreakable and special. Something new, tailor made for this new era of iconic tunes. We can’t help but tell our friends, only late at night, about what we saw and felt, there, in the afterglow of what has happened here tonight.

But the truth, that I only dare whisper to my partner and my Shiiine friends in private messages is that tonight is even better. The rest is all agog stunned incoherence, like we felt when Marr came in 2014.

Once the gig ends about 11:00 we move the night to a nearby pub we frequent for vinyl night. This is among our patch of haunts now in a new life we’ve made, and we love it. We spin our own copy of Low-Life for ourselves and everyone else with us, or not with us who’ve come rushing in for late night drinks we don’t need but conversation and understanding that we all do, will bank for regular chilly Toronto days with our blank runway stares that we wear all the rest of the year. We run into the girl who caught Peter Hook’s T-shirt. She fought a few guys for it, she tells me. I love that. Later, when the socializing is over and the night goes silent, last up as usual, it will be teary stillness and late night secret messages to early risers across an ocean, who understand this. Even though this music has never left our lives, something ricochets back to age sixteen with Substance 1987 (/2016) tonight, to that mess of tangled, knotted Christmas lights inside me. To hit the ground at 4 am, full of operatic regret, and write to a faraway friend, just daring them to respond: “It’s the sound of a time that never happened. Like the world was our oyster. It wasn’t. It sounds like fuel enough to conquer the world. I didn’t.” He rises to this unreasonableness. So, never happy, I press on “this is decidedly anti-nostalgia. I am course-correcting that stupid girl-” Well, I’m sorry, but that’s the power of music like this. From this source. Across an ocean. Across 25 years. Across a lifetime. Across the human heart. Beautifully stubborn. Evergreen. Essential. Unstoppable.

Up, down, turn around, please don’t let me hit the ground. Tonight I think I’ll walk alone, I’ll find my soul as I go home.

But two hours earlier, just before we leave, still up, never down, the bartender/DJ stops us. Wait! Wait! Don’t go. He’s young, encouraging, he started this vinyl thing last summer and he is interested in history, in histories, in music, in liner notes,  gets the wonderful absurdity in Kenny Rogers’ trajectory and the deep, obscure religion that is Elvis, celebrates with us that early period Tom Petty is deeply unsung, and much more, in a hodge podge of a roommate’s vinyl, with newer, classy items handpicked just lately, welcoming all to join in, free of judgement, erasing the usual biases buried in music snobbery; in near-downtown bars. He takes us back to the happiness of discovery & sharing a listener experience that was so important once, and the funny little details that only happen in the artwork of vinyl records of certain ages and origins. In people. Even in us. He mans the whole bar, a kind and funny word for everyone, and runs to catch the skips that happen even on the overpriced “mint condition” vinyl we all buy nearby, that we can’t afford but need to save. That we have no way to play, except for here and now. I wonder if he knows about the Peter Saville pure works of art that the New Order sleeves are, probably, he does.

He gives us hope; he brings his record player across town every single week on public transit. He wanted to go to Hooky, he gets it, but he had to work, he is needed. He stops us. He forgot to play it before, he was saving it- just today he picked up a Joy Division single of Love Will Tear Us Apart. We’ve never even held this single in our hands or seen it, and it’s from our own youth, when records were shared and special, when we thought we’d always have the friends whose bedroom floors we lounged on like cats, whose houses stood close to our own, mirrors, we imagined were our own, that have been demolished now, most cruelly, like a beating heart. In a glowing, vivid night that can simply not get any better, he plays it very loud at 2:30 a.m. just for us. We rattle apart like cheap speakers, we fly to pieces like wooden picture frames hung on finishing nails in first apartments, we feel like we’ll never be able to speak or write another word.

Words by Jacqueline Howell, gentle prodding and photos by Dave MacIntyre

Peter Hook & the Light: Substance On Tour

The city we live in, and the wider world of music lovers who know and remember the 70s and 80s, has finally turned a corner.

Peter Hook & The Light at The Phoenix, 2011.

After a committed, years-long effort to widely tour first, his Joy Division masterpieces and then, the early works of New Order, Peter Hook, an undeniable bass god, innovator, musical (and Manchester) ambassador has achieved something brand new in the cities that need routine shaking up these days: He’s made us remember, in our bones, what it felt like, back then. He’s made a clamour, just like he and his band mates did all those years ago, he’s ripped apart the complacency and staleness that befalls even the biggest music cities in between very special visits from those very special living legends across all genres that matter, and he’s done this by doing the impossible: by reinvigorating and reinterpreting music so iconic and so deep it is tattooed upon two generations’ very marrow. Songs that feel as innate as a pulse, that beat the same way. Grooves that he alone invented, using an underappreciated instrument in all new ways, that took the masses from the Joy Division depths of the darkest places of the soul, to the transcendent crystalline New Order anthems that would define and dictate what it meant to dance in the 1980s. And not just in Manchester or England or Europe, but across the world.Peter Hook should not have to prove anything to any one of us. He’s changed the world a couple of times already. But the world of music needs him now. New Order tours in the 80s and 90s in North America were spotty, intermittent things, but well-remembered, and attendance at those in the big and lucky Canadian and American cities is one of those badges of honour still carrying currency when you feel out a new friend or business associate to this very day.  The importance of Joy Division, and of New Order, can simply not be overstated. No matter how many pints are attacked and left for dead in an evening of discussing one of our bands as deeply as our own family members, and with more invested sometimes.

With or without the cred or the opportunity to have seen New Order when New Order was intact (& included founding member Peter Hook) the music he worked to create in those formative years holds an uncommon place in millions of hearts that loves it still, like a first, best crush that never let you down. Like if Molly Ringwald’s Samantha of Sixteen Candles and her Porsche driving Adonis of substance, everyone’s boyfriend Jake Ryan, stayed young and in that first bloom-freeze frame forever, candles burning brightly, never got old or fat or yelled at one another, and definitely never ended in bitter divorce, the rusted Porsche now being bitterly fought over, their bratty and ungrateful kids never even knowing how beautiful their parents were, once, that impossible red hair now gone ashen.

New Order music still shimmers and raises the roof of any room the discs are spun in, and it always will. Joy Division still hits us in those sad places, comforting and empathetic when we are at a low. The specialness, the untouchableness of these records is well known. But what’s newer, and what really adds profound meaning to all this casual beauty of all of our younger days is that as the original players and fans all age, we are confronted with the truths of mortality everyday. In music, whether because we’re pining for that heroic singer we never got to see who will be forever mourned who died long ago, or the legends who died in 2016. Our 80s dance, post-punk, and new wave (aw, hell, the best of it has no genre at all, internet cataloging be damned) has a different lifeforce than the holier than though, mono, diner sountracked 60s. It came of age, we came of age, in the cold war. In various kinds of cold wars. The end of the century. Fear and loathing. Recessions and repressions and disconnectedness as normal. And music was then our only church, our only teacher, our only dad. This truth cuts across a bunch of genres but has a feeling. It was made by, and speaks to, creative people who aren’t about databases, lists and soundbites but know the plain truth that there is a genre called, only, Clash Music. There is a genre called, only, Joy Division Music. There is a genre called, only, Cure Music. And there is a genre called, only, New Order Music. And for many of us that last genre ended,  in its original form, in 2007.

Peter Hook & The Light in Minehead, 2015

What came out of New Order’s dissolution was there for anyone fit, willing and able, to pick up the pieces and move on. Never mind the books, the press banging out the same old note, loving a feud as they do, loving to see, to fan the flames of, and to feast over any bones they can get of any ugly public breakdown, as if this majesty could be reduced to a red top headline. You need only be in one of the rooms (or watercraft) when Peter Hook has been playing with his new outfit, ably accompanied now by his son, Jack Bates, trading off highs and lows, changing the narrative and evolving, unafraid, committed, the frontman he always really was, in tour after tour now developing into an appealing singer far closer to Ian Curtis than Sumner ever was, to forget all you knew or read or wondered or grieved or griped about that band or this band or the band before; to know that this is a rare artist whose heart is bigger than his talent even; underneath that utter cool, that he breathes and lives to this music as we do, more, you know, you must know, and that the claim upon all this art and these beats is asserted because it’s right and good and erasure of the past is sometimes all you can fucking do to live again. It’s the news of the day. It has happened without much fanfare at first, with the easy sneers the now irrelevant press taught us drowned out, and been built, again, from the ground up inside a room in Manchester, and brick by brick in a new foundation of sound and feeling. You’ll know if you were there, if you’ll be there. That is, if you can get a ticket.

Peter Hook & the Light play Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall Tuesday November 29th (Sold Out).

We’ll be writing on and photographing the show when not cheering and crying as we’ve done on two continents since 2012 so check back with us for more on this story.

Words by Jacqueline Howell, all photographs by Dave MacIntyre

We wrote about Shiiine On Weekender’s first year and the historic, still talked about Peter Hook & the Light show that brought the house (tent) down, here.

Here’s a snippet of that review, just about a year ago now:  “Hooky’s God-like status intact, we are the lucky ones at a very special gig. Here we get no less than an assault of Joy Division and New Order’s finest, and their finest can touch you in places in the heart you thought for sure had died along with your innocence…it’s genius: unencumbered by the grind of breaking in new music and at last answerable only to himself, the fans get an intense and pitch perfect wave of nothing but gold. This alone would have been worth the trip (overseas from Canada to UK), and the ridiculously reasonable ticket price.”

An Interview with Richard McNevin-Duff of Space Monkeys

When you think of legendary Manchester label Factory Records, the obvious list of bands that come to mind are Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, James, and OMD.  But there is another band that signed to the label, in fact they were the last Factory signing, that missed out on some much deserved recognition for the music they created on 1997’s superb Daddy Of Them All.

We saw Space Monkeys for the first time ever at 2015’s inaugural Shiiine On Weekender in Minehead, UK and were wildly entertained by both the infectious British alternative rock, infused with elements of acid house and baggy, and the engaging stage show.  These 90s lads brought it!  The good news is the band have announced they will return this November for the 2016 edition of the Shiiine On Weekender.

We ran Space Monkeys front-man Richard McNevin-Duff through our ever popular list of questions, and he came through with some absolute pearls of wisdom…and some pretty funny bits too.

Step On Magazine: What are you listening to right now?

Richard: Currently I’m listening to Kaiden Nolan, a 16-year-old singer songwriter from North Manchester. He’s the future.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

Complete Madness and Snap by the Jam. Classic English bands of the late 70’s used to have a greatest hits album after about 3 years. Nowadays bands take 3 years to make one album. 

What is your favourite band? 

The only band I’ve bought everything they ever released on the day it came out is The Stone Roses. Your favourite band is always more than just a band, it’s an emotion. I’m patiently waiting to buy more.

Why do you live where you do?

Sheer bad luck.

What is your favourite journey?

Up the sleepy hill to Bedfordshire.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Blood On The Tracks for breakfast followed by sunshine and friends in a beer garden.

What is an “essential” to take on a plane or tour bus?

A captain.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object? 

Life’s a trip and then you get off.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Look out of the hotel window and write a song about escaping.


What inspired you to take up music?

I grew up in a Working Men’s Club in Manchester as a kid and fell in love with the jukebox. I started a band when I was 14 with my mates from school and I’ve kept that gang mentality ever since. There must be nothing worse than having to fill your band with musicians cos you don’t have cool enough friends.

What was your most memorable day job?

This is my day job but the hours are ridiculous, there’s no days off and I’m still waiting to get paid.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Keep a clean nose and always carry a lightbulb – Bob Dylan

What should everyone shut up about?

Body fascism. The only weight people need to lose is the one on their shoulders.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would be on the menu?

John Lennon. 6 bottles of Merlot and two acoustic guitars.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

Jesus Christ or Hong Kong Phooey. Too close to choose just one, both equally gifted. 

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended?

Reading Festival 1992. Nirvana’s last UK gig. Rumours were spreading that Kurt had OD’d. They came on stage an hour late and wheeled him on in a wheelchair for a joke. Proper rock and roll band.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?

Salvador Dali. Blonde On Blonde. LSD.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Wet with a chance of rainbows.

Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Don’t have heroes. We are all VIP’s.

Thanks Richard!

Watch “Let It Shine” featuring footage from the Space Monkeys 2015 comeback tour.

DISARMing Questions for Richard McNevin-Duff of Space Monkeys

When you think of legendary Manchester label Factory Records, the obvious list of bands that come to mind are Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays, James, and OMD.  But there is another band that signed to the label, in fact they were the last Factory signing, that missed out on some much deserved recognition for the music they created on 1997’s superb Daddy Of Them All.

We saw Space Monkeys for the first time ever at 2015’s inaugural Shiiine On Weekender in Minehead, UK and were wildly entertained by both the infectious British alternative rock, infused with elements of acid house and baggy, and the engaging stage show.  These 90s lads brought it!  The good news is the band have announced they will return this November for the 2016 edition of the Shiiine On Weekender.

We ran Space Monkeys front-man Richard McNevin-Duff through our ever popular list of questions, and he came through with some absolute pearls of wisdom…and some pretty funny bits too.

Disarm: What are you listening to right now?

Richard: Currently I’m listening to Kaiden Nolan, a 16-year-old singer songwriter from North Manchester. He’s the future.

What was the first LP/tape/CD you remember owning?

Complete Madness and Snap by the Jam. Classic English bands of the late 70’s used to have a greatest hits album after about 3 years. Nowadays bands take 3 years to make one album. 

What is your favourite band? 

The only band I’ve bought everything they ever released on the day it came out is The Stone Roses. Your favourite band is always more than just a band, it’s an emotion. I’m patiently waiting to buy more.

Why do you live where you do?

Sheer bad luck.

What is your favourite journey?

Up the sleepy hill to Bedfordshire.

What’s your idea of a perfect Sunday?

Blood On The Tracks for breakfast followed by sunshine and friends in a beer garden.

What is an “essential” to take on a plane or tour bus?

A captain.

What is your dream vacation if money was no object? 

Life’s a trip and then you get off.

What do you do with 4 hours to yourself in a new city?

Look out of the hotel window and write a song about escaping.

What inspired you to take up music?

I grew up in a Working Men’s Club in Manchester as a kid and fell in love with the jukebox. I started a band when I was 14 with my mates from school and I’ve kept that gang mentality ever since. There must be nothing worse than having to fill your band with musicians cos you don’t have cool enough friends.

What was your most memorable day job?

This is my day job but the hours are ridiculous, there’s no days off and I’m still waiting to get paid.

What advice should you have taken but didn’t?

Keep a clean nose and always carry a lightbulb – Bob Dylan

What should everyone shut up about?

Body fascism. The only weight people need to lose is the one on their shoulders.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest, living or dead, and what would be on the menu?

John Lennon. 6 bottles of Merlot and two acoustic guitars.

Who is your favourite hero of fiction? 

Jesus Christ or Hong Kong Phooey. Too close to choose just one, both equally gifted. 

What was the best live gig or music festival you attended?

Reading Festival 1992. Nirvana’s last UK gig. Rumours were spreading that Kurt had OD’d. They came on stage an hour late and wheeled him on in a wheelchair for a joke. Proper rock and roll band.

Name something you consider a mind-altering work of art?

Salvador Dali. Blonde On Blonde. LSD.

What does the next 6 months look like for you?

Wet with a chance of rainbows.

Always meet your heroes or never meet your heroes?

Don’t have heroes. We are all VIP’s.

Thanks Richard!

Dave MacIntyre

Shiiine On Weekender: Saturday – Atmosphere

Shiiine On Weekender –Butlin’s Arena, Minehead, Somerset UK. November 6-9th, 2015. Day 3: Saturday

Here it is. We 6000 strong are not teens on the bedroom floor spinning “Ceremony” on an LP on repeat wanting to ingest it, young enough still not to know the darkness (and Light) of what we wish for.  We’ve teleported from those dull suburban unseen places where these records were totems, where the right T-Shirt compliment could set the course of your entire adult life and marriage and all the grey areas between, where we once talked late into the night in cars parked in driveways about how much this music meant to us, hardwired in to the best place in us no matter how remote we were from it.

It was currency, the only currency that mattered. It still is, as evidenced by this weekend. As kids we talked about “Hooky” like we knew him but could not fathom what it might be like to be in close proximity to musical genius and see, if not ever understand, how it’s made. But through some strange alchemy, we’re right here. All these years later. It all still matters. Musically, its not been replaced, not at all. Rather, its legacy is assured. As Shiiine On Weekender’s James & Steve said so well in their editorial: “We are the last generation to whom loyalty to a band means something. We are a subculture that’ll never die.” “Forever, watching love grow.”

Midday: Now rounding the 48 hour (party people) stretch, festival success is assured. People who’ve been on site since Thursday have settled in to, not a routine, but an ease, a homeliness that is rare anywhere, let alone among thousands of people. Ok, yes, it does include a routine of good-natured heavy drinking. With pride,  festivalgoers celebrate as taps are drained here and there (but never alarmingly). The balance between proper crowds to build excitement and space to breathe has been struck. The organizers are getting well deserved shout outs from the main stage. Saturday’s screens already shiiine with the delightful news that 2016 dates have been booked and are already on sale. It’s not a one off.  It’s now the best of all possible things: a new tradition. It’s Christmas Eve. Let the wish lists begin, or leave it to the wizards.

Full disclosure: the Step On team has fallen off plan Saturday midday via a long pub lunch with new festival friends who are, themselves, a side stage of delight. We’ve no choice but to like them better than the idea of Bez’s Pool Party that was in the plan for months. There is time for chats with pub staff about earlier and later visits, its swiftly become the “local” and suddenly, languorous time is made: for a long lunch where we eat chips with beans or with cheese, and for good measure, crisps as well, in a plan that revolves around a packed house of agreeable Leeds fans (who win) the usual cider “it’s only cider” and lager, a random bit of darts, and a whirlwind of music talk and great stories that circle through the hit parade of the 90’s that we are here celebrating (but,  to be clear “this is not a retro festival…it’s a celebration and hopefully a reminder to people that a lot of these bands never went away and still carried on and made cracking music.” ) If people in general have forgotten some of this music, it’s down to the demise of old media that ate itself and a push towards trendy music in the years since.

Today, this whole four days, that all melts away and numerous great old gigs and amazing stories that are not mine to tell are remembered like sporting achievements, for they were to us. The plan to get us ruined completely leaving us with just a tale of the time we missed Happy Mondays and Peter Hook in the same night whilst passed out minutes away JUST fails and balance is restored to the universe. (Nice try lads. We owe you rounds before a future Wedding Present gig.)

2:00 p.m. While this is going on, Saturday rolls on with Winachi Tribe (we heard raves) and Space Monkeys “would have loved to see that one…how long is this football match/lunch, anyway?” minds fuzzily wonder through the cider haze and the impossible coziness before finally hauling it to the Skyline main stage. Had you not been corrupted by Welsh hospitality, it would be entirely reasonable to catch at least some of all the early Saturday gigs, as the three other stages did not get going until late evening. Deja Vega and Sulk hold down slots at Jaks, and we get to see some of each of their sets on different days, and each time they are very good.

The Main Event.

4:30 p.m. Northside takes the main stage to a full house, and people are really happy to see them back out: Saturday boasts the biggest crowds, and convergence is happening. There may be some nerves at play but the crowd responds well and the music is great. There’s a tambourine, and there’s a bit of a salute, is that what I see coming from the stage? Some of us have same day hangovers so hard to tell. This band is beloved by other musicians on site and fans. They are of The Mondays realm: great songs about illegal drugs that broke into the charts and landed in America, too.

5:45 p.m. Peter Hook and the Light (featuring a guest appearance by friend Rowetta) is on. Hooky has been out with the Light for a couple of years now, and having seen a very early gig of theirs as well as one in 2014, it can be stated with authority that they’ve hit their stride and get better and better every single time. All 6000 of us seem to agree that Hooky came, saw, conquered, and wiped the floor up using the weapon he’s perfected like no one else, his bass, and his music of a lifetime. Moving away from the cut-for-cut album formula which The Light had done on earlier tours (as much as fans love it it’s a format that can be very tough to play) Hooky tonight moves into both comfort and power within his vocal style that complements the Joy Division material that has come to reside in the very marrow of music fans and needs to be played. Hooky’s God-like status intact, we are the lucky ones at a very special gig. Here we get no less than an assault of Joy Division and New Order’s finest, and their finest can touch you in places in the heart you thought for sure had died along with your innocence.

It’s nothing short of perfect to see the godfather of Manchester’s music and club scene, whose very musical labour built the bricks and mortar that would house Factory records and fund the brilliant, mad, Hacienda (not to mention have a part in launching The Mondays) rise like a phoenix from that bad and tragic New Order baggage that we, the fans, refused to drop for so long. It’s also genius: unencumbered by the grind of breaking in new music and at last answerable only to himself, the fans get an intense and pitch perfect wave of nothing but gold. This alone would have been worth the trip, and the ridiculously reasonable ticket price.

Here’s the setlist: Digital, She’s Lost Control, Shadow Play, Transmission, Atmosphere (with lovely, lamenting vocals by Rowetta) Blue Monday, Love Vigilantes, The Perfect Kiss, Ceremony, True Faith, Temptation, Love Will Tear Us Apart.  We all went to pieces after. Need we say more?

7:15 p.m. Picking our brains up off the carpeted (!!!) arena floor, Stereo MCs are there as the Mondays warm up band, just as they were back in 90/91 for those of us who saw them on their U.K. or North American tours. This feels right. “Connected” is still a perfect appetizer for a Happy Mondays show. And people are warming up and into Saturday night with this soundtrack.

8:45 p.m. Close your eyes: remember Shaun Ryder in that 1990 haircut worn better than anyone else with less care, in proper workingman’s clothes, and we all have shiny unlined faces and hair free of silver, stomachs defiantly lean and bodies able to work all day at a shite job and dance all night spending all we made that week and call it happiness. Open your eyes: We’re all older (except Queen Rowetta who’s forever 29) but the truly cool are still cool. We’re all HERE for a start, and we don’t look so bad.

And we’re all still alive. And you can read on Shaun Ryder’s face, even with shades, even with that cool Steve McQueen reserve that can’t be faked, he is happy and he will remember it all this time. The Ryders, Day, Bez & Whelan seem relaxed and at ease. Gaz Whelan smiles and laughs though he’s badly cut his finger moments before hitting the stage and the drums. Our vibe, you see, Shiiine On’s dreamers and, importantly, doers, and all of ours, has spread everywhere. It has been helped and carried aloft in pieces by all the different acts from Thursday and Friday up to now, and all those cracking late night DJs, and the crew at Butlins who make it easy on us.

The Mondays, at the start of their 25th Anniversary Pills n’ Thrills and Bellyaches tour, deserve the packed arena before them and the nods to their lyrics that pepper the festival’s literature, the insider lingo that brought most of us here. The same words inspired this independent mag’s title and ethos. These lyrics have endless melon twisting wit, weirdness, rawness and grooviness. It’s a deeper code within an obscure language of Manchester music culture that separates the wheat from chaff in musical discussions, and can form new friendships just like that. And so here we all stand, through equal parts fortune, fortitude, and hustle.

Happy Mondays still have their edge. Even when a muppet appears hanging over the barrier and gets Shaun Ryder to crack up. Bez is working the full length of the stage, still well able to amuse his mates (job one) and hype the crowd (job two). His maracas say “Sorted” and “Big Medicine”. Rowetta comes out with her whips as all of us who wish we could be her for a day. But being the girl in this gang (not to mention Hooky’s) is only for the toughest and the coolest. After Mondays run through Pills n’ Thrills it’s a short set with essential tracks “Wrote For Luck” or “WFL” (an eternal club anthem and lately, commuter rage survival tool) and “Hallelujah” which is a Rowetta stunner much copied and rarely touched that also allows all of us to play act as someone who could “fill ya full of mace!” Or maybe we just might, but not this weekend. These songs get better, funnier, sharper with time. Like almost everything out of Manchester. No doubt some fans wanted more of Bummed and the back catalogue but there are some of us who want for nothing.

1:00 a.m. Guess what, starting from his hosting of the midday pool party, and last to bed again, Bez is not done. Reportedy he takes to the stage during 808 State’s STUNNING late night set until removed by friendly security (who will later tell us he put “The Happy Mondays” off the stage). Rules are minimal but this is one. No word on whether 808 invited him or he just wanted to Freaky Dance for us, but there is a lot going on up there with live drums, horns, electric guitar, and all the electronic gear. I don’t think it could take maracas too. 808’s is an immense performance, and like nothing we’ve ever seen or heard. It’s yet another must see/mega draw that does not disappoint. No one who’s still out on the road these years later is anything short of brilliant. The strongest survive. As for those festival goers who’ve not soldiered on to make the 1:00 a.m. start time for 808, tsk tsk tsk. Key there is a disco nap and a reset.  Avoiding corrupting influences of the delightful midday drinker just for awhile.

2:00 a.m. 808 is followed up by none other than House legend (yes that’s him in old pictures spinning at the Hacienda) Graeme Park who shut it down in style at 4:00 a.m. Oh yes: “900-Number”, “Deep Inside”, and we are in his hut now…all of this gives the crowd a new lease on this day of days: one day when the years have rolled back and we remember needing little sleep when fueled by all of this. So good is this late night Saturday that the house (Centre Stage) is still heaving with people who boo the Gods for having invented time/limits. Will never forget one guest hanging off the DJ booth, every inch the Cate Blanchett Oscar contender, bellowing “YOU’VE RUINED OUR NIGHT!” at the good natured security guy. He’s a bit of a drama queen. And it’s a joke of the weekend. The phrase now means “this was the greatest night ever”. Tell the kids. Call the cops.

Words by Jacqueline Howell, photos by Dave MacIntyre.

Friday’s write up and photo galleries here.

Thursday’s write up and photo galleries here.

More to come as we round out Sunday. No Days Off!

With very special thanks to Shiiine On Weekender & North Country Boys. *Quotes from the Shiiine On Weekender Official Souvenir Program, editorial. What, you didn’t buy one?

The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club – Revisited

Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014.  Photo: Dave MacIntyre
Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014. Photo: Dave MacIntyre

Peter Hook, the legendary bass player and co-founder of Joy Division and New Order turned 59 today so what better time to look back on one of Step On Magazine’s favourite publications written by Hooky himself.

The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club is a hilarious, often harrowing tale about one of the most important night clubs of the 80s and 90s.  Pretty much from the day its doors opened until its final closure in 1997, the Manchester super club hemorrhaged money at a staggering rate.  Hooky recounts that the management and owners (Factory Records, New Order and Tony Wilson) calculated at one point that every “punter” that walked through the door, actually cost the venue £10.00.  The hotspot was plagued with violence, drugs, gangs, door staff on the take and the only people making any money were the DJs and the criminals.  But what a glorious storied venue nonetheless.

Step On's signed copy of the book.
Step On’s signed copy of the book.

The Smiths played there as did Madonna in her first UK appearance.  So did James, The Fall, Echo and The Bunnymen, Inspiral Carpets, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and quite obviously, New Order.  The Haçienda was also the place to be during the Acid House and Madchester heyday and stories abound in the book about the madness that unfolded almost nightly.

It’s a great read written in the voice of a friend telling you a crazy no-holds-barred story while you sit in the pub surrounded by pint glasses. In fact we recommend you pick up a copy, cozy up to the bar in your favourite local establishment and dig in.

Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014.  Photo: Dave MacIntyre
Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014. Photo: Dave MacIntyre

The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club

Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014.  Photo: Dave MacIntyre
Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014. Photo: Dave MacIntyre

Peter Hook, the legendary bass player and co-founder of Joy Division and New Order turned 59 today so what better time to look back on one of Step On Magazine’s favourite publications written by Hooky himself.

The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club is a hilarious, often harrowing tale about one of the most important night clubs of the 80s and 90s.  Pretty much from the day its doors opened until its final closure in 1997, the Manchester super club hemorrhaged money at a staggering rate.  Hooky recounts that the management and owners (Factory Records, New Order and Tony Wilson) calculated at one point that every “punter” that walked through the door, actually cost the venue £10.00.  The hotspot was plagued with violence, drugs, gangs, door staff on the take and the only people making any money were the DJs and the criminals.  But what a glorious storied venue nonetheless.

Step On's signed copy of the book.
Disarm Editor Dave MacIntyre’s signed copy of the book.

The Smiths played there as did Madonna in her first UK appearance.  So did James, The Fall, Echo and The Bunnymen, Inspiral Carpets, The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays and quite obviously, New Order.  The Haçienda was also the place to be during the Acid House and Madchester heyday and stories abound in the book about the madness that unfolded almost nightly.

It’s a great read written in the voice of a friend telling you a crazy no-holds-barred story while you sit in the pub surrounded by pint glasses. In fact we recommend you pick up a copy, cozy up to the bar in your favourite local establishment and dig in.

Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014.  Photo: Dave MacIntyre
Peter Hook at the Danforth Music Hall, Toronto in 2014. Photo: Dave MacIntyre
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