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Thursday 3 May 1979 concert review

Magazine: New Musical Express (UK)

Publication date: Saturday 26 May 1979

Reviewer: Ian Wood


 

JOY DIVISION. LIVERPOOL

When Warsaw changed their name to Joy Division they must have had their tongues in their cheeks
Feeble and pretentious in their past incarnation, Joy Division now sketch withering grey abstractions of industrial malaise. Unfortunately, as anyone who has seen Peter Flannery's play Savage Amusement or lived in the low-rent squalor of a Northern industrial city would know, their vision is deadly accurate
Bernard Albrecht [=
Bernard Sumner] (guitar), Peter Hook (bass) and drummer Stephen Morris play a series of spatial constructions based on cyclical variations on simple, melancholy themes. The impact is stunning and oppressive: guitar used as aural vibrator, Hook's fluid bass and Morris' supremely functional drumming ebbing and flowing, building up the tension
Musically, Joy Division are much more punishing than any Heavy Metal band. What makes them unique is singer
Ian Curtis
A slight, thin figure, he moves deftly and delicately, his voice surprisingly strong, in his eyes and face a look of humility and fear
If this sounds like a mere stage play on paper, in reality
Curtis' transparent humanity that of a loser caught in a world only partially understood is totally credible
Song titles and lyrics are suitably brief and abstract:
Wilderness, Not afraid [= Insight], Digital, Glass and Atmosphere
When Joy Division left the stage I felt emotionally drained. They are, without any exaggeration, an Important Band