Legendary band’s humble beginnings

Reporter: Andrew Rudkin
Date published: 14 November 2011

FORMER Joy Division and New Order star Peter Hook returns to Oldham to perform with his band Peter Hook and the Light on Wednesday — part of The Castle’s 10th anniversary celebration.

Hook recalls about the time he played with an unknown band to an empty house at a gig in Oldham.

“It was at the old Oldham Tower Club, about late 1977 or early 1978 and nobody turned up,” he said.

“It was our second-ever gig and there was just a guy sweeping the floor and us playing on the stage. Not one soul came.”

But that band was Joy Division — which has inspired countless groups in the last 30 years, and went on to become New Order following the death of frontman Ian Curtis in 1980.

So Oldham doesn’t have great early memories for the bassist — but fast forward six months on from that show and they were selling out venues everywhere on the way to becoming one of the most memorable post-punk bands ever.

“I remember The Tower Club gig distinctively, because we said we would just use it as a practice.

“We were playing away and these two girls came in about halfway through and came to the front of the stage. When we finished the song, one of the girls shouted ‘Are you Frantic Elevators?’ — which was Mick Hucknall’s punk band.”

“We went ‘we’re Joy Division’ and she turned to her mate and said ‘I told you it was the wrong gig’.

“That was the start of a long, illustrious history,” he laughed.

Hooky (55), as he is affectionately known, is back in Oldham on Wednesday to close The Castle’s 10th anniversary celebrations with his band Peter Hook and the Light.

The night at the Union Street venue will showcase the raw Joy Division material that would have been performed all those years ago.

The owner of The Castle, Aaron Mellor, is co-owner with Hooky at Manchester club FAC251 and the pair have known each other for years.

Hooky is high in demand as a DJ. He says he learned the ropes on the decks from Mellor and Oldham music oracle, Clint Boon, of the newly-renewed Inspiral Carpets.

He said: “My second-ever DJ gig was at The Castle; my first was with Mani (Stone Roses) in Barcelona.

“I learnt to DJ for the first time at the Castle, being chucked in at the deep end by Aaron. It does hold a very important place in my memory. Clint taught me how to DJ properly.

“He is one of the loveliest geezers around and he asked me to be his best man and his godfather to his second son. I was over the moon. I rate the guy so high and he is so important to music. He is Manchester’s John Peel.”

The Castle gig is an intimate warm-up performance before two sell-out shows at The Lowry, Salford — Hooky’s home city.

Oldham will be the only place in 2011 to see his band in the UK before they embark on their European tour. Tickets are available at £16.50 (including booking fee) either from the venue or online via www.ticketline .co.uk/peter-hook-and-the-light.