The bickering between Peter Hook and the members of the recently reformed (sans Hooky) New Order hasn't cast any of them in a particularly favourable light.
Their most recent public spat – during the promotion of a Joy Division retrospective this summer – led to Hook calling Bernard Sumner a "twat" and Sumner suggesting that what Hook has been doing with Joy Division's back catalogue is unforgivable.
What Hook has been doing for the last year or so is re-creating Unknown Pleasures in its entirety with his band The Light. Tonight, it's Unknown Pleasures and the band's other LP, Closer, back to back. And even if Sumner and others view this as sacrilege, it's more a respectful tribute.
The Light are tight and these are generally spot-on takes, though "Twenty Four Hours" is played out of sequence. As for the vocals, Hook does his best to mimic Curtis's bass-baritone and, while not uncanny, it's a decent stab.
The problem – even during songs as famous as "She's Lost Control" and the encore's "Transmission" – is that this is less a tribute to Hook's old band as a tribute band in itself. A key oddness being that – as Hook sings all but four songs (guest singer Rowetta does the honours for "Atmosphere", "Colony" and others) – he's forced to hand bass duties over to his son. His son Jack's a more than decent bassist, but Hooky Snr's bass-playing is the only original feature on show here tonight – that it's only used a couple of times is strange.
In parts though, it's oddly moving – and it's nothing to do with Ian Curtis. Hook begins by dedicating the night to his auntie Jean who died a few days earlier and dedicates the finale, "Love with Tear Us Apart" to his ill father-in-law. You can see the sadness of Hook's face. There's also a tender moment during "Atrocity Exhibition" when the strap on Jack's bass snaps and Hook walks over to fix it while his son gamely plays on one knee – "He'll never get that job in New Order, will he?" asks Hook afterwards in reference to the Hooky-shaped hole in the NO lineup.
It's a strange crowd in the small second theatre of the Lowry; friends and curious fans mix with a handful of Joy Division maniacs who chant every word and jerk – Curtis style – in the aisles. Whether he would have approved is one for the great unknown, but Hooky's doing his best. Thankfully, this is less atrocity exhibition, more a means to an end.