In my never ending quest to educate you, my droogs, in all that was cool in the late 70s and early 80s, I give you this gem of a video of a live performance by Joy Division. The song is “Dead Souls“, which has since been covered by Nine Inch Nails and Bauhaus.
Now, the lead singer of Joy Division was a fellow named Ian Curtis, who was brilliant, pompous, manic depressive and epileptic. He hanged himself in 1980, on the verge of world fame, and the remnants of his band became the premiere UK electronica band of the 80s and 90s, New Order. Ian Curtis is considered one of the fathers of Goth music and a hero of the Manchester scene and of post-punk in general. His life story has been documented in three movies, I believe, but there’s still much about this young man to be fascinated by. (I’m looking forward to watching 24 Hour Party People later this week).
Do note that the stage is without spot lighting, so as not to aggravate Curtis’s epilepsy. And Curtis’s wild dancing style, which looks as if he has a malfunctioning vibrator up his arse, was actually based upon his seizures, which he would often have while on stage. They were so frequent, in fact, that sometimes the audience could not tell if he were having a seizure or just doing one of his stupid dance moves.
The lesson here, I guess, is that you don’t have to wear black leather and cheap clown make-up to be a genuine Goth. Ian Curtis, for my money, invented Goth; and the dude was usually dressed like a law student. Incidentally, it was Peter Murphy who gave the Goth movement its cliched vampirical appearance.
As a bit of trivia, the U2 song, “A Day Without Me“, is actually about Ian Curtis’s suicide, inspired after Bono had a tour of Manchester’s Factory Records. It’s been reported that Bono considered Curtis to have been the best rock front man, and pledged to take his place after Curtis died. (And he would have kept that pledge, too, if he didn’t spend his time spitting on his fans!)
Curtis’s wacky dance moves necessarily remind of me of Roland Orzabal‘s even worse dance moves in the classic Tears For Fears video for “Mad World”. Yes, my droogs, I have included that one for you, as well:
I know it’s all meaningless, but I get a kick out of all the little incestuous links between music movements, particularly in the UK. Ian Curtis was inspired by the Sex Pistols, for example, and went on to inspire U2, The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus and the rest. The ashes of Joy Division became New Order. And one forgettable New Order video for the song “Crystal” featured a fake band called “The Killers”. That’s in fact where The Killers got their name. Unsurprisingly, as a result, a couple of years ago Brandon Flowers of The Killers performed “Crystal” with New Order; the video is here.
Note how in that live video how old the members of New Order appear, especially front man Bernard Sumner (former guitarist for Joy Division and perhaps the godfather of rave culture). Now look at this studio footage of New Order back in the 80s, when they were still young and angry:
You can definitely see the discontent, working class punk roots at the heart of their music, with Sumner’s sneers and all, despite the poppy sounds of the actual music. All of this goes back to the Sex Pistols.
I do, and I do, and I do for you people. Don’t ever say that I don’t.
I’ll leave you with my favourite Joy Division song and video, “Atmosphere”. Try to look past the poor vocals and musicianship and focus on the brilliance of the content: