Last Night: Peter Hook @ Detroit Bar

Last Night: Peter Hook DJing at Detroit Bar, July, 3 2008

There’s usually nothing like watching an aging icon get up in front of an audience at a venue to show us they still got it. You can’t help being drawn in by the powerful sense of tension. You might find your self echoing certain questions in your mind: “Will he suck? Won’t he suck? Will he sign my T-shirt? Did I just waste 15 bucks to get in here?”

So last night, when Peter Hook, former bass player for Joy Division and New Order, took the stage for a DJ set at Detroit Bar, the tension was ripe enough to draw me and many others to the front row. After all, this guy has been all over the world with this act and gigs pretty regularly. He’s got an extensive YouTube file to prove it.

Hook took the stage around midnight, after some heart-pounding, '80s- and '90s-inspired house sets by the cast of Detroit’s Busy Work Wednesdays, including Dan Sena, GMO and DJ Rob. With the crowd already jumping, Hook took over the reins in pretty smooth fashion.

But I’m afraid I’m gonna have to side with the bandwagon of doubters that plague almost every video of Hook at the helm of his untouched turntables. I get the fact that slapping on a pair of cans, twisting a few knobs and posing for the crowd makes him feel like a star in his old age, but not at the expense of $15 a head. I just kept waiting for him to do something besides occasionally swapping out a few pre-mixed CDs in between superficial tweaks of the same EQ knobs.

But despite this, he did manage to get the semi-packed crowd fired up with his stage presence and some gratuitous low-end thumps that left my ears ringing by the time I decided to bounce out of there. I guess what it comes down to is whether you left Detroit with the dose of sweaty club fun you came for. And at the end of the day, Hook will always get a break for his accomplishments in music; this just shouldn’t be one of them.

Critic’s Notebook

Random Detail: It was funny watching some obvious Joy Division fans walking around shaking their heads. What, not the show you expected?

Personal Bias: I kept waiting for Hook to bust out a bass from behind the DJ booth and start rocking out; it never happened.

By the Way: Freedom Fest should be better than this.

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