From their humble origins in Manchester to the tragic suicide of Ian Curtis on the eve of their first American tour in 1980, Joy Division’s career spanned merely four years and produced one EP (An Ideal for Living – as Warsaw) and two full-length albums (Unknown Pleasures, Closer). Yet, their music continues to exert an influence on myriad artists.
Having heard many disparate bands perform various songs from the admittedly-limited Joy Division catalogue, I was intrigued when told that the place to be on Friday night for an evening of Joy Division music was Dick’s Den on North High Street in Columbus.
Walking through the door of the long-time jazz institution, one is met with the coziness and décor that reminds you of a jazz club in Chicago or New York. Having arrived a bit early, I grabbed a drink before finding a seat at a table no more than fifteen feet from the stage. The place began to fill with patrons, all thoroughly enjoying the jazz and blues styling of Bob Sauls.
As the clock inched its way toward 11:30 p.m., Disorder took to the stage for the first of their two sets.
Comprised of Steve Perakis (bass), Linda Dachtyl (keyboards), Ben Bachert (guitar), Chris Mengerink (drums) and Jon Coleman (vocals), the band is a conglomeration of musicians from other bands, and across the musical spectrum.
They opened with the upbeat and raw Warsaw, much to the delight of the bodies crammed into the venue, causing many to sway to the beat. Coleman doesn’t sing with the deeper tenor that Ian Curtis displayed, owning the songs with his own emotion shining through.
The musicianship throughout the song (and the evening) was tight, saying to anyone listening that this band knew what they were doing, and are good at it.
Disorder followed, with the bass and keyboard work of Perakis and Dachtyl, respectively, spot-on in comparison to the original song. An aural delight that would last until the final note of the evening was the sound mix at Dick’s Den. Every note from each instrument was audible, while still allowing the listener to catch the nuanced playing of the musicians.
With Perakis coaxing booming emotion from his bass, the opening notes of New Dawn Fades washed over the crowd. Coleman had an almost dour look on his face, before letting loose with the emotion-filled chorus. It’s a great song, but the pace might have been a bit too slow for that early in the set.
Mengerink’s tattoo beat on the drums kicked-off the uptempo Interzone, with Coleman and Perakis trading off the lines of the song perfectly in-sync with each other. The band captures the visceral feel and emotion that Joy Division displayed some 27 years earlier.
They brought the energy back to safer levels with Insight, before ramping the tempo back up and capturing the ethereal feel of the evening. At the songs conclusion, Coleman introduced each band member to applause.
“I feel like we’re losing control,” said Coleman with a wry smile, as the band launched into She’s Lost Control. With Perakis’ fingers working their magic on his bass, there were a few in the crowd that began almost pogoing to the beat.
The understated, but powerful guitar work of Bachert was on full display for Digital, with the vocal harmonies serenading the audience. Coleman’s vocals were somewhat dirge-like for Passover, encapsulating a spoken word feel.
The band was feeling good and in the groove for Heart and Soul, although this was a number that many in the crowd kind of just stood around to, their attention waning.
They finished the first set with the uptempo Transmission, which brought the mood of the crowd back up as they began dancing again. The recurring takeaway of hearing the band plough through the set was the tightness on display, as if they had been playing together for decades.
After a thirty-minute break during which much of the crowd cleared out, the band returned to the stage, opening their second set with Ice Age. At this point, there was one solitary woman dancing her way around the almost empty room.
Undeterred, the bass and drum beat of Autosuggestion set the tone for the band to surge forth. Coleman, once again captured the emotional vibe of Joy Division, while Bachert’s nuanced playing complimented the vocals to perfection.
The faster pace of Leaders of Men followed, with Dachtyl’s keyboards more prevalent, carrying an almost church organ feel. The staccato tempo changes of Colony were juxtaposed nicely with the harmonies on the chorus of the tune.
The driving beat of Wilderness carried through the waning, but rapt audience. The emotion put forth by Coleman as he sang “Tears in their eyes…” brought forth enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
The slower pace of Twenty Four Hours carried a feeling of being on a late-night drive, coupled with an almost scary vibe. The way the band played this number captured the somewhat weird vibe of the late hour very nicely.
Dachtyl’s time to really shine with her keyboards occurred with the opening riffs of Isolation, as the remaining crowd began swaying to the beat again. Unfortunately, on the next tune, Atmosphere, her keyboards were a bit too loud in the mix. Coupled with Coleman’s vocals being a touch off, the song did not carry the powerful feel of the original.
For the penultimate number, they played Love Will tear Us Apart in a low-key manner. Alas, the volume of the keyboards was again too prominent.
The band closed out the night with Love Less, a song from New Order’s “Technique” album (1989). The mellowness of their version provided a nice way to end the evening.
All in all, it was a pleasurable night of twenty songs that I vividly remember from my youth. These five musicians did a wonderful job of conveying the tone and texture of Joy Division at their height.
If you are a fan of just one Joy Division song, I would urge you to make the time to see Disorder in a live setting. I doubt you will be disappointed.
- New Dawn Fades
- She’s Lost Control
- Heart and Soul
- Ice Age
- Auto Suggestion
- Leaders of Men
- Twenty Four Hours
- Love Will Tear Us Apart Again
- Love Less (New Order)