The sounds of Joy Division
It is February 28 1980.
Joy Division have just played a show in Preston at a tiny, smoke-filled club called the Warehouse not long after recording Atmosphere, the masterpiece that will take on uncanny weight weeks later, when the body of 23-year-old singer Ian Curtis is found hanged in his kitchen.
The Joy Division story often appears misleadingly neat in the telling: two near-perfect albums of unusual grace and gravity, a handful of other songs, some memorable, occasionally violent gigs, then a human catastrophe which forced the surviving members into a fresh life as New Order.
Imitating the sonic power of raw-edged tracks like She’s Lost Control and Interzone and the originality of the band, Transmission, The Sound of Joy Division, stretch their musical tentacles as far back as Warsaw, the punk band that gave birth to Joy Division.
“We all grew up with Joy Division, and their music still resonates today as much as it did then,” said guitarist Chris Haughton, who shares vocal duties in Birmingham band Transmission.
“It was all over very quickly, but Joy Division arguably made as big a contribution to that era as The Sex Pistols with Unknown Pleasures.
“Of course you can’t mimic Ian Curtis on stage, that would be preposterous.
“What we do is to try and keep that incredible sound alive and pay tribute to a unique band.
“There was a brutality in Joy Division’s sound, but such rich beauty too.
“Love Will Tear Us Apart is a beautiful record and has stood the test of time.”
Haughton’s 19-year-old nephew plays keyboards in Transmission, while the rest of the band are all 50-somethings who grew up on a diet of post-punk and ska in the Black Country.
“We’ve played everywhere, but the people in the north are the ones who really get us and there’s always a good vibe at the shows, with a lot of the younger generation discovering Joy Division again.
“We don’t make any money – we are lucky if we break even – it is a labour of love but one we enjoy.”
Transmission, the sound of Joy Division, Crystal Mindset and Roller, October 19, Clitheroe Grand Theatre. 01200 421599.