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Wednesday 27 December 1978 concert review

Magazine: Sounds (UK)

Publication date: Saturday 13 January 1979

Reviewer: Nick Tester


 

HOPE AND ANCHOR

JOY DIVISION try to be a grim group, but I just grinned
They stutter on-stage wearing sulky, long looks. The vocalist,
Ian Curtis, seems intensely irritated but he doesn't say anything between songs other than to remark the band are going to tune up
The music is matt coloured, fast HM, often flat and usually undistinguished. Guitarist Bernard Albrecht [=
Bernard Sumner] plays some looping minor chords but the monotonous rhythm charge of Peter Hook (bass) and Steve Morris (drums) invariably overrides such frills with sledgehammer grit. The perfect vehicle, it would appear, for the doom-laden slant of the lyrics
This retracted grimness is alienating, but not for intended provocative or creative reasons. I found Joy Division's 'tedium' a blunt, hollow medium, comical in its superfluous angst
Hardly harrowing glow, but facile parody of such, illustrated by the police response from the festive few here tonight. Whereas say Gang Of Four poke genuine and disturbing bitterness through a subtle and refreshing approach, Joy Division communicate little of this tenseness or expansion via depression, since their angle is awkward, contrived and mundane to the point of being ridiculous
They may have gathered a tight following in home town Manchester but they failed to ignite a similar impression in front of a new (though not necessarily more objective) audience. An off-night maybe, but Joy Division's lack of an enlivening approach could be improved by an all-round sharper articulate stance and musical method
Joy Division could be a good band if they place more emphasis on poise than pose