Live-Transmission: clean, loud and blew both the roof and my head off!
Paul Morley, at a debate the evening before, was on good form, decrying punk nostalgia, as it holds up things for new work and artists. Joy Division, for him, were one of the few bands from that era that created work that didn’t sink back into the ever-flowing river of forgotten pop. Out of Kraftwerk, Roxy Music and Bowie (not the New York Dolls, Stooges etc.) they created a sonic sculpture that was enduring.
This was put to the test in the Dome and passed with soaring, sonic colours. Right from the start, Live_Transmission promised to be something fantastic and unique. The Dome had a Kabba-like, black cube right in the middle, made of gauze, with the musicians crammed inside. Onall four sides images were projected. Light images that didn’t detract from the music. The concert hall was dark and boomed away with that low base sound that throbs through your whole body.
Then it started. Brilliantly simple drums and base (the heart of Joy Division’s original sound) and keyboards, formed a motif for the new work that layered strings, brass and electronic sounds on top. At one point it was pure industrial Kraftwerk. It was clean, loud and blew the roof off.
Good to see that they avoided projecting nostalgic images of Curtis and the others. This was not nostalgia, it was exciting new work. Once again, I walked home with ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ hooked into my head. How come these four lads from Manchester (well not really – outside Manchester) imagined this stuff. The answer, in part, is that they didn’t. It needed the genius of Martin Hannett, the Producer. However, it also took the genius of Curtis and the talent and ambition of the others to bring their depression and working-class sensibility to create, what is undoubtedly great art. Easily the best thing in the festival so far.