I never liked Joy Division's sparse music but I remember some lads at school and college were nuts about it. Their unofficial spokesman is their guitarist Peter Hook and recently I heard him interviewed. He said the band was conceived on the steps of the Free Trade Hall in central Manchester. Here I am on the those steps.
In 1976 he and childhood chum Bernard Sumner attended a Sex Pistols concert here. Both were 20 years old and had mainly preferred heavy metal music. They'd paid 50p each to get in and wore stacked heels and flared pants. Though The Sex Pistols performance was abysmal Peter and Bernard were aching to find an outlet for the pent-up angst they'd just witnessed. As the doors opened at the end of the concert Peter says he "came out and both Bernard and I declared we'd form a band there and then on the Free Trade Hall as we left." The next day Bernard borrowed £35 from his mum and bought a bass guitar from a music shop on Piccadilly in Manchester. Later he said it was the best £35 he'd ever spent.
The band formed Warsaw and the next year - after meeting Tony Wilson from Factory Records - they did their first gig at the Electric Circus supporting The Buzzcocks,Penetrationandpoet John Cooper Clarke. It was the next year 1978 when they played their first gig as Joy Division at Pip's Disco in Manchester. However as the band gained popularity lead singer Ian Curtis - who was suffering from depression and epilepsy - hanged himself just before their first American tour. Eventually the remaining members regrouped under the nameNew Order which are still going today.
Being a nerd I went to look at those steps Peter mentioned. The Free Trade Hall is now a posh 5-star Radisson hotel. There's a plaque bolted to the outside wall but it doesn't relate to Joy Division. The public hall was built on fields where thePeterloo Massacre happened: in 1819 about 60,000 people assembled to demand a change to parliamentary reform. The cavalry charged in and about eighteen people were killed. The plaques relates to the massacre (I wouldn't call 18 deaths a massacre - perhaps 18,000.)
Some famous folk have performed here : novelist Charles Dickens, prime ministers Benjamin Disraeliand Winston Churchill. It was the home of the Hallé Orchestra until it was bombed in the Manchester Blitz. Bob Dylanplayed here in 1966 using an electric guitar and someone famously shouted "Judas!". There've been lots of others, too - The Moody Blues, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Pink Floyd and Genesis.
I stood on the steps of the hotel sheltering from a downpour. I peeped inside the main entrance of the Radisson at a broad reception area. Far too posh for me in my 15-year-old pants and heavily-stained shirt. If you fancy staying there the website is here: https://www.radissonhotels.com/en-us/hotels/radisson-collection-edwardian-manchester. The rain stopped. I did a salute and as I left a man wearing baggy MC Hammer pants was emptying his bladder into a grid (last photo.)
The Sex Pistols concert...
It's now a posh 5-star hotel...