Live Review: Live_Transmission - Joy Division Reworked

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This is Joy Division – but not like you’ve ever heard (or seen) them before.

In Live_Transmission: Joy Division Reworked, the Heritage Orchestra and Scanner have created a stunning reinterpretation of the music of one of the best bands the post-punk era spawned.

The 80 minute show, which visited Royal & Derngate in Northampton this week, is an assault on the senses, taking some of the band’s best known songs and reworking them with an orchestra , electronics and some of the instruments more commonly associated with Joy Division.

The accompanying visual display was as much a part of Live_Transmission as the music.

A clear screen between performers and audience created a truly immersive 3D like effect.

There were points during the performance where Ian Curtis’ lyrics were literally written out mid air in front of you, while rear projections including pulsing red organisms and the familiar Unknown Pleasures album cover came to life behind the musicians.

To allay fears, Live_Transmission is not simply a collection of four minute Joy Division song with a few strings crudely thrown over the top. In fact, it couldn’t further from this. Nor does it overly rely on the band’s biggest hits.

There were the pulsing drum patters and bass riffs synonymous with Joy Division, but these were entwined amid strings, electronics and brass.

Much of the performance was instrumental, with Curtis’ vocals making only fleeting appearances.

As dismantled and rebuilt Joy Division songs came and went, the performance shared as much with post-rock as post-punk, with moments of gentle calm built to thunderous crescendos of noise.

The performance’s finale was a slow paced interpenetration of the classic Love Will Tear Us Apart complete with vocals which received a standing ovation before the musicians – led by conducter Jules Buckley – turned, bowed and left the stage.