Joy Division concert

8th April 1980: Derby Hall, Bury

Supported by Minny Pops and Section 25

The Victorian building, originally commissioned by the Earl of Derby, now houses a theatre and concert venue known as The Met.

No recordings of this concert have surfaced.
Thanks to Peter Godkin for the poster scan.
(C) Copyright Peter Godkin
01. Girls Don't Count Alan Hempsall on vocals
02. Love Will Tear Us Apart Alan Hempsall on vocals
03. Digital Alan Hempsall on vocals
04. Decades Ian Curtis on vocals
05. The Eternal Ian Curtis on vocals
06. Sister Ray Everyone apart from Ian Curtis
Decades was called Europop at the time
Sister Ray did not appear on the setlist but was performed

Image courtesy
Our attempts to find the copyright holder have been unsuccessful.
If it is you please
email us

The Bury Riot:

This chaotic gig has now become the stuff of legends with a number of similar but conflicting stories and memories surfacing over the years, many of which you can read below. From the outset the atmosphere was tense: the 400 capacity hall was overcrowded as someone close to the band had opened the fire doors and let an extra 200 people in, and rumours were circulating that Ian Curtis had been in hospital and the gig might be cancelled.

The rumours were true, Ian Curtis really wasn’t well enough to perform. This gig was on the Tuesday and Ian had been hospitalised after an overdose the previous Sunday. While in hospital on the Monday it had been agreed that Ian would go and live with Tony Wilson and his wife and that he wouldn’t be performing at Bury. Rob Gretton arranged for Alan Hempsall from Crispy Ambulance to stand in on vocals and he duly set about learning the lyrics.

On the day of the gig Alan was surprised to find that Rob had persuaded Ian to turn up and sing a couple of numbers. So Alan stepped into Ian Curtis’s shoes for the majority of the Joy Division set and Ian took over for the last few songs.

In a further departure from the planned concert Mini Pops peformed their set, then Section 25 did theirs – but ended with a version of Girls Don’t Count where they were joined on stage by the three members of Joy Division, without Ian, plus Alan Hempsall and Simon Topping from Section 25.

Nobody had explained any of this to the audience so many were unaware what was going on, leading to confusion especially when Ian eventually stepped out on stage towards the end of the Joy Division segment. The atmosphere in the packed venue was tense throughout and at the end of the set someone threw a pint glass at the stage and this sparked a football match style riot. Terry defended the stage and equipment with a microphone stand, Rob Gretton dived off the mixing desk into a bunch of skinheads and Petere Hook was physically restrained in the dressing room by Tony Wilson, his wife, and Paul from section 25.

With all the confusion and no tape of the concert ever surfacing it proved very difficult to work out which songs were performed that night, and you can read the gig goers recollections we received when we were trying to piece it together towards the bottom of the page.

Setlist surfaces in 2016:

Finally, in 2016 we got clarification when a setlist in Rob Gretton's writing appeared on Graham Duff's Facebook page. Graham had attended the concert and grabbed it form the stage at the end. Confirmed by Alan Hempsall, this finally gives us the correct running order for that evening by listing all the songs with who was on vocals. Having completed the set list the band played Sister Ray as an encore

Set list in Rob Gretton's handwriting                              All three black and white photos (C) Copyright Gabby Higgs - photo above is Section 25
Courtesy of Graham Duff


The story behind the photos:

I was at the gig too, I went with my sister, her boyfriend at the time Bill Halliwell (who wrote a zine review ['Photophobia 3' May 1980], and likely took some of the pictures), and my school friend Rex/Ronan Sargeant (who went on to work with New Order and also produced The Fall among others! Inc. 'The Infotainment Scan'.)
I was 15, Ronan was 14, and my sister would have been 17. Pete Hook got us all in ... as the gig had sold out. I remember Larry from Section 25 bought me a drink! (I'd interviewed Section 25 in February 1980 for my fanzine when they supported Joy Division at Preston Warehouse ... another great gig!) The Minny Pops - playing their first UK show - were great and super nice people.
During the 'riot' we ended up backstage with the bands and Tony Wilson among others. It was chaotic.
We used to occasionally watch Joy Division rehearse on Sunday afternoons at TJ Davidson's warehouse (you can see us in the background of Kevin Cummins' famous August 1979 photos shot there. I wrote a short text about this time for Kevin's book 'Juvenes'.) - Matthew Higgs

Joy Division Central's Mark Gale asked Alan Hempsall about the setlist:

Q. Can you confirm that this set list corresponds with your memories of that evening?

A "Absolutely. I always said I thought that Ian did Decades and Eternal but others who weren't there seemed to disagree. It was always difficult to prove because at the time they were new songs and unrecognisable. This set list proves I was right. One slight mistake, Simon T didn't join me on Digital."

The ticket:

Thanks to Ian Seivwright for the ticket scans. Ian Curtis autograph on the back.
Design (C) Copyright Peter Godkin

Our investigations before the setlist confimed the running order in 2016:
We spent a lot of time trying to work out the sequence of events at this gig before the setlist surfaced in 2016. Below are the recollections of various people who were at the concert as reported to us before 2016 and, while they may not all be entirely accurate now that we know the running order, they provide a unique insight into the atmnosphere that evening:
This is what Alan Hempsall, lead singer with Factory band Crispy Ambulance, had to say about this gig in a discussion with Robert Elfving in January 2002:
"My recollections of the Bury gig are still fairly clear and there has been a lot of crap talked about that night. I'm pretty sure Decades was one of the two slow new ones they played after I came off. The scrap afterwards was pretty funny too".

"The gig took place in early April 1980. The Minny Pops played a full set then Section 25 went on and played a short set which finished with "Girls Don't Count". When they started this song Bernard, Peter, Steve and myself came on to join Section 25 with Larry on vocals and me on backing vocals. When this song finished Section 25 left
the stage leaving me, Bernard, Peter and Steve to do "Love Will Tear Us Apart" and "Digital". Then I left the stage, Ian came on and did "Decades" and "The Eternal" (which was all he said he felt up for)".

(Robert mentions that some sources state that "passover" was one of the songs Ian sang)

"You're really sewing the seeds of doubt in my mind as regards the two songs that Ian did toward the end of the Bury gig. I have to be honest and say that whilst I'd always said it was "Decades" and "The Eternal", I wasn't very familiar with some of
the new stuff as "Closer" had yet to see the light of day. The only new stuff I'd heard in advance was from the last Peel session and stuff I'd heard in whilst in the studio shortly before Ian died".

"Then Ian left the stage and I came back on with Larry and Simon Topping from ACR and we did a version of "Sister Ray" with Larry on lead vocal and me and Simon on backing. That done we all left, leaving a very confused audience and that's when the trouble started".

"I have heard that there is a recording of the gig somewhere but I've yet to hear it."
Here's how 'Mike from rural Lincolnshire' reviewed the gig for City Fun fanzine:

"... everything got pretty confusing. I'll try and explain. A Certain Ratio's lead voice came on and sang a song with section 25, then somebody who I didn't recognize came on and did a song with section 25, next came Joy Division without Ian Curtis. Section 25 stayed on and we got a ten minute song with 2 bassists, 2 drummers, keyboards and a guitarist along with 4 alternating singers. Then everyone but Stephen Morris, Peter Hook and Bernard Dicken left the stage and we get 4 Joy Division songs with Dicken singing. The only one I recognized was 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'. Then Ian Curtis appeared to sing 3 songs, somebody told me that he was ill, but nobody bothered to tell us.

Finally the ten piece band came on and gave us another long song which was also very good.
Then some stupid bastard threw a glass over the stage as the bands were going off, it shattered a lamp and landed on a large roadie who went beserk and leapt into the crowd after the offender. Chaos broke out and I fucked off".

Thanks to Mark Gale for the flyer scan. Click to see the whole flyer

Here's how Mark Burgess (of The Chameleons) remembered the gig in an email to Nick Blakey in 2002:

"It's funny actually amongst the many other things I'm doing presently, I'm working on a book about my life
and experiences with the band and I've just got through drafting a part that relates to when Dave and I went to see Joy Division in 1980 and support that night was Sector 25 and A Certain Ratio; When JD came out Curtis was absent and his place was taken by the singer from Crispy Ambulance, who pretended to be Curtis for most of the set and seemed to have most of the kids there fooled, until finally he left the stage and Curtis came on to do two songs, the gig ended and there was absolute pandemonium.
Peter Godkin was on the organising committee. He designed the tickets and poster for the concert. Here's what he said when he contacted us in 2007:

"My name is Peter Godkin, and I was originally on the organising committee with Adrian Mealing, we started and ran Gigs, the weekly local venue for bands in Central Bury in the early 80's, I was responsible, for Publicity and Marketing at Gigs, while I was at college. My reason for getting in touch is that a friend of mine from that time who has been in touch again, sent me the url for your site and send me the jpegs of the ticket, I designed, after I had mentioned that during a clear out of my parents loft, I found this original poster I also designed of the JD gig at The Derby Hall back in 1980, and wondered if you would like a copy for your site.

It is interesting to read the accounts from people who attended that night, most of which I recall happened that way, but in some cases, a few details are missing.

I read Mark Burgess's account [see above] with interest, and I quote

"Here's how Mark Burgess (of The Chameleons) remembered the gig in an email to Nick Blakey in 2002:

"It's funny actually amongst the many other things I'm doing presently, I'm working on a book about my life and experiences with the band and I've just got through drafting a part that relates to when Dave and I went to see Joy Division in 1980 and support that night was Sector 25 and A Certain Ratio; When JD came out Curtis was absent and his place was taken by the singer from Crispy Ambulance, who pretended to be Curtis for most of the set and seemed to have most of the kids there fooled, until finally he left the stage and Curtis came on to do two songs, the gig ended and there was absolute pandemonium."

As I said it is interesting to hear these accounts, I corresponded with both Mark and Dave a lot, when at the time they were with an earlier band 'The Clichés', and in fact we often chatted, I was designing record covers and posters for them, as they attended a lot of the Gigs in the early days, before they went off to form 'The Chameleons' However there was one thing Mark left out, which was we were stood together at the time, just as JD with Ian finished the second song and left the stage, yes some idiot did throw a pint pot at the stage, and the next thing I knew a roadie was beating the shit out of some guy near the front of the stage. I thought oh shit!

I immediately went to the side stage curtain and back to the side of the stage mainly to find out what had happened, to find Tony Wilson hiding under a table there, next thing I know he was shouting at me "To get the F**K out there and sort things out!' I shouted back "You have got to be kidding!" I vividly remember looking at the stage to see a hail of bottles, glasses and broken glass from the theatre/hall lights raining down on the stage, and thought NO F*****G WAY MATIE.

I did hear Peter Hook shouting from the dressing room, and then Tony disappeared. I went back out beyond the curtain into the hall, to then come upon this surreal scene of Adrian, trying to calmly break up two blokes who were trying to tear each other apart, with everyone standing around looking on stunned.

For years I have always remembered that JD played just 2 numbers with Ian Curtis, and yes there was something strange going on with the line up before this. Right up to an hour before the gig, we were not sure if it would go ahead, as news had filtered through during the day, that Ian had been in hospital again, we thought it might get cancelled, but kept our fingers crossed. In addition we were only supposed to have 400 people in the hall, yet the final count put the number at nearly 600, as a lot of people somehow got in by the emergency exit, despite our best efforts.

Also Tony Wilson will never remember this but at the end of the night as we were still clearing up and people giving statements to the Police, I stopped one of our regulars Andy from decking him, after he came out with "They certainly don't know how to enjoy themselves up here in Bury" he thought he was being very funny.

As a result we were closed down for a month by the Derby Halls Trustees, and after that ended up with a number of restrictions, it never really was the same again after that night".
Johnboy contacted us in 2008 with his recollections: " I now live in Australia but I am originally from Manchester.

Everyone I knew at that gig knew that Curtis was ill and struggling to come out. Most people knew that the singer from Crispy Ambulance was singing instead of Curtis, and we were all getting would up because no-one explained what was happening - but then again, when did anyone talk to the audience at a Warsaw/Joy Dvision/ New Order gig?

Ian Curtis came on and they did The Eternal and Passover. That lasted about 10 minutes and the sound was shite - that's probably why no-one was sure what they played!

Then Ian went off, they started Sister Ray,someone threw a pint pot at the stage, and one of the bouncers went beserk.

Then it really kicked off. Like going to the match. It felt like everyone dived in.

The worst thing was all the coppers waiting for everyone at the bottom of the stairs as we all came out. I remember everyone was running out to get someone or some group of people but I can't remember why.

A crackin' night out but not long enough".