The story goes all the way back to the beginning, really -- band members Peter Hook and Bernard Sumner have always had some issues. But their disagreement really came to a head in 2007, when Hook officially left New Order. Since then, there have been a few verbal skirmishes between the two camps, with drummer Stephen Morris once hinting at an event put on by NME that "New Order could play a gig together again." At the time this was all left rather vague, but it turns out that he wasn't just hinting.
On September 5, it was announced that the current New Order lineup -- sans Hook -- will play a pair of shows in Belgium and Paris in October, with the proceeds going to help out film producer Michael Shamberg. Shamberg is a longtime friend of the band, having worked on a number of their classic videos, including "True Faith." So it's not a huge surprise that the band would want to help him out. The fact that the remaining members of New Order didn't inform Hook of their plans before announcing the benefit shows, however, is causing a bit of a mess -- because, unsurprisingly, Hook was not pleased.
"I first I heard about this on Monday and it has taken me completely by surprise!" Hook said after the announcement. "Everyone knows that NEW ORDER without PETER HOOK is like QUEEN without FREDDIE MERCURY, U2 without THE EDGE, SOOTY without SWEEP!"
He has a point: It really is hard to imagine New Order without Hook, and announcing benefit shows under the name New Order without clueing in former members is perhaps not the most polite way to go about things. Despite his displeasure, however, it looks like the benefit shows are going ahead, with Sumner's Bad Lieutenant colleague Tom Chapman as the replacement.
Hook, meanwhile, is currently touring with his band The Light in the U.S. and Mexico, and plays Mezzanine here in San Francisco on Saturday (Sept. 17). Hook's current project isn't focused on New Order, though -- instead he'll be doing a run-through of Joy Division's final album, Closer.
Last year's tour, built around the Unknown Pleasures album, proved that the concept is sound -- the show at Mezzanine was packed to the gills with mostly old time Joy Division fans, and watching the faces of the crowd during the beginning of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" was worth the price of admission all by itself.
Mezzanine is a great venue for this kind of thing -- small, intimate, pleasingly underground looking. And Closer is a hell of an album, a nearly perfect encapsulation of everything that made Joy Division such an amazing band.
For fans it can be a bit painful watching a much-loved band turn on each other -- it's hard to know which side to take. But maybe taking sides isn't really necessary. Like it or not, the New Order shows are going ahead, and they are, after all, in support of a good cause. Hook, meanwhile, seems to be making The Light into a long-term project -- they released an EP in 2010 on the Hacienda label, featuring former Happy Mondays backup vocalist Rowetta.
Peter Hook and the Light's Closer tour opened in New York on Tuesday, and hits Mezzanine this Saturday, Sept. 17.