Joy Division

31st August 1979: The Electric Ballroom, London

With A Certain Ratio, Scritti Politti, Monochrome Set
Joy Division headlined their own show and played in front of 1200 people, their largest audience.

Click for larger image and review

Songs performed:
01. The Sound Of Music
02. Wilderness
03. Colony
04. Day Of The Lords
05. Shadowplay
06. Transmission
07. Interzone
08. Disorder
09. She's Lost Control
10. Insight.
Appx. duration: 40 mins. Sound qualtiy: 7+/9

Song 01 appeared on the following bootleg:
Death Trip LP

The full concert appeared on the following bootleg:s
The Day of The Lords CD
Electric Music LP

Steven Pares was there:

Although I don't recall much in detail, for me that gig remains one of the most significant that I ever went to (and I've been to plenty over the
years). I'd travelled down alone from my home town of Derby (2.5+ hours by train in those days). Standing out on Camden High Street queueing to go in, there was a real buzz of expectation in the air from everyone around me - one of those rare moments when you just knew you were at the coolest place on the planet for a few hours.

Scritti Politti were a new band to me that night - and almost everyone else there as well I think - but they were interesting enough that I later bought all their early records as a result. I've still got them too I'm pleased to say. They were fashionably skanky - I remember that their drummer was a white guy with dreadlocks, which was a real novelty at the time!

After them came the Monochrome Set they were the least interesting band in that night's line-up; after more than 20 years, my memories of the evening are rather hazy, but I remember nothing about them at all - I dare say I went to the bar pretty soon after they came on!

I was almost as keen to see A Certain Ratio as Joy Division (if ACR hadn't been playing that night, I doubt I would have travelled down) but I don't reckon many others in the crowd that night shared my enthusiasm for them. I seem to remember they were all wearing baggy military-style shorts, which was really at odds with the post-punk style at the time, but was at least appropriate attire for the heat inside the venue. ACR were ahead of their time with that dour whiteboy funk sound (but they appealed to me as I'd been a soulboy before I got into punk) and I thought it was really refreshing to see and hear a band using instruments such as trumpets like they did, which no-one else was doing at the time. As I said, not many other people seemed to appreciate them, but I thought they were great.

I'd bought 'Unknown Pleasures' on the day it was released and had played it to death, along with the 'Transmission/Novelty' single (one of the gretest singles ever made if you ask me). As I'd never seen them live before, I think I'd built up such a level of expectation about JD that they couldn't possibly live up to it. Sure, I knew plenty about them in advance, but I think I was almost expecting to see four Nietzschean Ubermensch rather than four working class young men from Manchester. Not surprisingly, this did not turn out to be the awesome quasi-religious experience I might have been expecting, and I remember feeling rather disappointed by the quality of their performance musically - I struggled to recognise some of those awesome moments I loved so much on record.

But it made me appreciate even more what a huge achievement 'Unknown Pleasures' was (Martin Hannet was definitely as
important as any of the 'real' members of the band), and it simply invited failure to try to recapture its brilliance live. At the same time it was a great feeling to be watching the group at last, like it was a privilege, and you knew you were witnessing something special. Despite the fact that I can't remember anything outstanding that they did that night, they were a captivating force nontheless. Curtis on stage was electric and mesmerising.

Although a little disappointed, I actually came away admiring them even more for even trying to live up to their own standards. Inevitably they fell short, but the 'warts n all' experience of Joy Division on this night endeared them to me all the more.

Electric ballroom photographed in 2002
(C) Copyright
Joy Division - The Eternal web site
(Michel Enkiri) and reproduced here with permission

NME advert thanks to Steve Benham

Ticket image thanks to DMXI

Ticket image thanks to Mark Gale