Joy Division Reworked – Are You Sure Ian Done It This Way?

A little late on this update, but I went to see “Joy Division Reworked” at the Usher Hall a couple of weeks ago: a collaboration between electronic musician Scanner, the Heritage Orchestra and a visual artist whose name, shamefully, I forget. Here is their short teaser for the Royal Festival Hall show.

Joy Division Reworked

I wasn’t sure what I expected. Cover versions? Remixes? The bloke next to me, of a certain age and wearing an Unknown pleasures t-shirt of what looked like original vintage, walked out four tracks in, having been increasingly restless in his seat. He, I suspect, had anticipated a faithful tribute act. In fact, it would have taken an even more faithful fan of Joy Division than I to have identified all of the tracks which were explored and reinvented. These were sweet apples, but they had fallen a long way from the tree.

The publicity said that if Ian Curtis were to have lived, this is what he would be doing. I’m not sure about that: Joy Division were a long way from the rich soundscapes of a 21-piece orchestra, six-piece band and a rich, sequenced accompaniment. But then, New Order were the next evolution after he died, and they embraced denser production and the electronic medium. It is perhaps more what Keith Emerson, of Emerson lake and Palmer, should have been doing today.

Here is Scanner’s own version of the opening track: long, dreamy, gorgeously overblown and, when performed live, with the best visuals I have seen for a live show since seeing Maynard Keenan’s gorgeous show with Tool in Glasgow on the 10,000 Days tour a few years ago.

In any case it was variously progressive house, prog rock, ambient house and even, on one track, some dubstep wub-wubbing. Gotta love dem wubwubs. I wanted it to go on for ages more. If they tour it again, don’t miss it.