Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Peter Hook & the Light concert review: Pomona, Calif.

photo by Mark McNulty, from a previous show
Hardcore New Order enthusiasts have bemoaned the loss of bassist Peter Hook since his bitter exit in 2007.

Yet they can take solace in the fact he’s been keeping the legacy alive in recent years by performing the band’s early deep cuts in concert – something that can’t be heard much nowadays from Bernard Sumner and company.

Hook possesses a naturally lower vocal register and punctuates the end of many song verses with a mighty roar. During a concert appearance in Pomona, Calif. on Monday night, that added ferociousness worked best on material from Movement, New Order’s 1981 debut LP.

Hook is a co-founder of the seminal Manchester, UK alt-rock band and its equally influential late 1970s predecessor, Joy Division. He is currently on a North American tour with his own group, The Light.

A majority of the shows have seen them perform the ‘80s efforts Low Life and Brotherhood. The Glass House gig revolved around Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies – two titles the guys did on the road last year and hadn’t done live in five months (the Roxy, sandwiched between Southern California dates, was another exception and focused on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures and Closer).

The rare Inland Empire performance at the Glass House, located in the Pomona Arts Colony, ran just over two hours long and concluded a few minutes past midnight. Hook basically let the music do the talking throughout. He only spoke during a randy dedication to a friend before “Age of Consent” and to quip about the sequencer “working when you don’t need it” after “586.”

Among the members of The Light are Hook’s son Jack Bates (bass), plus three ex-members of his late ‘90s/early 2000s group Monaco: David Potts (guitar), Andy Poole (keyboards) and Paul Kehoe (drums). All proved to be exceptional live. 

Movement and Power, Corruption & Lies were mostly performed in their original order, but non-album singles and B-sides were also included. Hook and the Light drew a large crowd of diehard fans to the venue.

A few drunk ones obviously didn’t exactly understand the concert concept though. One guy kept yelling for songs from later albums in the New Order catalog.

Clad in a white Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Pride t-shirt, Hook and his band opened the 25-song set in ominous fashion with “In a Lonely Place.” As Kehoe played slow tribal drums, Hook glanced at his lyrics notebook on a stand and did the first of several melodica bits.

The driving pace of “Ceremony” (a minor U.S. dance hit) was a pure adrenaline rush that had the crowd dancing right along. Glacial synthesizer swaths enveloped the upbeat “Procession” and kept many people’s feet moving.

Some pop-minded bliss came in the form on “Dreams Never End.” The first of two tracks which Hook sang on the original Movement album, it was an early standout.  The bass-driven “ICB” gave father and son a chance to prominently display their bass talents side by side (the young musician did a commendable job on his dad’s iconic bass lines). A fierce take on “Denial” closed Set 1.

After a few minutes, they returned to begin Set 2 with “Cries and Whispers,” where Hook and Bates played with a light touch. The skittering synth and chunky guitar work on “Everything’s Gone Green” was dynamic as ever.

Longtime fan favorite “Age of Consent” found The Light at the peak of its powers and it drove the crowd into another frenzy. Hook had no trouble with the high vocal parts. The same held true on a peppy “The Village,” propelled by percolating sounds.  Hook played so intensely on Set 2 closer “Leave Me Alone” that he broke a string.

“The Beach,” an alternate instrumental version of New Order’s big hit “Blue Monday” played until the band came back to encore with the regal and romantic “Thieves Like Us” and a fun, pogo-inducing  “Temptation” (kudos go to Hook again for admirably nailing the high vocal parts on both with assists from Potts).

Finally, Hook was alone for the start of “Monday” as two of his bandmates eventually joined in again. Well done, Hooky.

Remaining U.S. tour dates:

11/26 House Of Blues, San Diego, CA (Low Life and Brotherhood)
11/28 The Republik, Honolulu, HA
(Low Life and Brotherhood)

For more information on the Live at Manchester Cathedral album and more, go to:

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