Gathan Beaga

"A loaded gun won't set you free..."

We passed through Auckland in the weekend; and Saturday night was also when Hooky & Son were performing Joy Divison’s Unknown Pleasures album at The Powerstation. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted to go; but even though I cannot deny Peter Hook’s right to make money off the songs he co-wrote 30 years ago the whole thing felt a bit wrong to me.

ControlSo I made a conscious decision not to go, and instead we watched (again) the better part of the Ian Curtis biopic, Control.

It’s a pretty good film, possibly one of the better music biopics you’ll ever see. You know how it ends, of course, and all through it you’re willing the people around Curtis to just wake up and see what’s going on, and get him some help.

It never came. Not in a form that would have helped, anyway.

I listened to the music again a couple days later. It’s incredible how personal some of the lyrics are. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to mist up a bit when next you hear Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Or worse, Atrocity Exhibition:

Asylums with doors open wide /
Where people had paid to see inside /
For entertainment they watch his body twist /
Behind his eyes he says, I still exist …

When I was at high school I naively thought there was some sort of cachet to liking a band whose lead singer had hung himself. You could automatically make parents fret with a revelation like that. And later, I had a poster of him that I would semi-ironically burn candles in front of. I was hardly the only one to do these things, but it seems now to have been terribly misguided.

The music remains, however: sparse and dark, full of a strange energy.

Ian Curtis (15 July 1956 – 18 May 1980)

“… so you say.”