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Peter Hook - Unknown Pleasures (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
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As a music enthusiast himself, Peter Hook is determined to give his audience a good time. Prior to the commencement of the show we get to peruse memorabilia from Hook’s personal collection that he has painstakingly arranged onstage. Amongst the inevitable guitars and posters there are some real gems.

The accounts and sales figures for the two bands in which Hook has played are displayed. I got a real kick from seeing the ticket from the seminal Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall along with souvenirs from other gigs I’d actually attended. It also lends something theatrical to the show, as opposed to simply performing songs from yesteryear.

Hook is promoting his book on the Hacienda (subtitled "How Not to Run a Club"). He does not follow the established pattern for such promotions and read the opening chapter and then take questions. Instead, he gives us the highpoint of the night unexpectedly performing tracks from Joy Division and New Order. Considering that his stage persona was very much the rock star he comes across as a humble figure and gives us a memory to cherish.

The show then moves along more traditional lines as Hook responds to questions from the audience read out by Howard Marks (who explains that the show is ‘ A Hook and a Crook’). The tone is gentle and amused. Ian Curtis is recalled with affection and admiration rather than in a sense of loss. The obvious bitterness that Hook feels about the money lost in poor decisions and by the mis-management of the Hacienda is concealed inside witty remarks.

Recalling how his website failed to download a track for which the customers had paid Hook asks "How does that feel?"  He accepts that the Hacienda amounted to ‘giving something back’ but feels shocked that it amounted to giving everything.

Hook is rightly proud of his achievements. It seems strange, however, that someone who was attracted to Punk Rock by its aggression should mellow to the extent that he is able to say he is proud also of developments in Manchester and Salford.

Some subjects – notably his relationship with former band mates – are not addressed. However, when he is willing to tackle a subject Hook is gloriously indiscrete. He doesn’t let the presence of Mick Hucknall’s sister in the audience deter him from revealing that her brother was an object of derision at the club.

Darker topics such as drug use are handled with a jokey nudge nudge attitude or dealt with fleetingly. The final days of the Hacienda are referred to as like looking down the barrel of a gun and we are told that the roof leaked because of bullet holes. But we are not given an idea of just how frightening the situation must have been.

The evening concludes with Peter Hook in full guitar 'God pose' backing Howard Marks as he barks out the sort of borderline pretentious lyrics that can be taken seriously only when performed by Patti Smith. Lyrics apart, it does show Hook’s willingness to send his audience home happy.

-Dave Cunningham


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