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Melody Maker 16/2/80

Melody Maker 16/2/80 Live review by Chris Bohn Northern gloom: 2 Southern stomp: 1 JOY DIVISION University of London Union Ah, the horror, the horror... where's Colonel Kurtz? Somehow the demented Brando figure is there, spiritually leading the new dance. Like him, today's purveyors have witnessed the failure of wanton destruction, as epitomized by punk, and in turn have retreated inwardly. But whereas he translated his thoughts into some nightmare paradise of his own creation, recent bands' introspections manifest themselves in tight, uneasy rhythms, simultaneously despondent and obsessively exhilarating. Coming too late to lose themselves in furiously simple thrashes, they've composed out of that same frustration something more complex, but equally immediate. Joy division are masters of this gothic gloom, and they're getting even better at it. Since they played London last November with the Buzzcocks, they've added new songs, more vigorous than their predecessors. Less colourful now, they're getting closer to the despair that's been the core of their work thus far, and they're honing in on it by twisting purplish plots round slower rhythms, bringing the bass even further to the fore and allowing Ian Curtis's knotted-brow singing greater expression. In other hands their songs would collapse disastrously, but Curtis's controlled balladeering makes lines like "I remember/When we were young" (from "Insight") one of the saddest statements in pop, which is after all, the province of the young, and that sung to the sweetest, most melancholic tune, too. Perversely, they didn't play the great last single, "Transmission", but the next, "Love Will Tear Us Apart", was tantalizingly aired; featuring synthesizer more heavily to lightening effect, it breaks away from the claustrophobia into clearer surrounds. Optimism on the way? Whatever, I'm prepared to wait. CHRIS BOHN

Last updated on 2005-03-07 10:19:00 PM - 10:19:00 PM
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