Concert Review: Control: A Tribute to Ian Curtis at Churchill's, May 18 | New Times Broward-Palm Beach


Concert Review: Control: A Tribute to Ian Curtis at Churchill's, May 18

Photo by Jon Nusz
Alfred von Blume of Daysleeper feels the Joy Division energy.
Control: A Tribute to Ian Curtis
With Armada!, Daysleeper, Ian Michael, Xela Zaid, DJ Dracula's Daughter, and DJ Nayra
Churchill's Pub
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Better than: Watching the movie Control on repeat.

The Review:

Last night, at the beginning of the evening at Churchill's, there were a few more people than usual wearing some semblance of a Union Jack. Was it a silent ode to Ian Curtis, frontman for Joy Division and the (late) man of the evening? We'd soon find out.

The tribute night, which was to feature a number of local acts playing Joy Division material, drew a mixture of hipsters, goth Robert Smith look-alikes, and Churchill's regulars. The cheap booze, DJ spinning everything Joy Division-infused, and thumping walls from next-door neighbor Sweat Records distracted many patrons from even realizing the show started over an hour late. Actually, live music at Sweat confused some into thinking that was where the Ian Curtis tribute was taking place, but we knew better.

Finally, the show commenced with Armada! taking the stage. Though the band's lead vocalist sounded nothing like Curtis, the bassist was dead-on with imitating Peter Hook's high-necked bass lines. The stage's bright, strobe-heavy lighting, though, made me wonder if the singer would break into a Curtis-style seizure, and the band's lack of a drummer left me wanting more. One thing that really bothered me about their set was that they admittedly threw a New Order cover into the mix. Wait, wasn't this an Ian Curtis tribute?

Daysleeper was up next, and the moment they started playing, their Joy Division influences were made extremely apparent. The vocals sounded akin to what Ian Curtis' offspring might sing like if he'd had a boy in the '80s, but the keyboard and synths almost overpowered the baritone lead vocalist. The group has modernized the Joy Division sound, and it was an interesting glimpse into what Curtis might have sounded like in 2010. The amps and sound system were a bit off, but that seemed to be more the fault of the sound engineer and less the band's. Either way, the crowd was entranced as they swayed and swooned within Churchill's vibrating walls, and their last song was definitely their most powerful.

Ian Michael then took to the stage, Wayfarers and turquoise guitar in tow, with two other guitarists and a drummer. The ad-hoc group named itself "Fuck Yeah!" for the night, and the crowd seemed to eat it up as the foursome slightly changed "Warsaw" lyrics from "3,5,0,1,2,5, Go!" to "3,0,5,1,2,5, Go." The biggest crowd response, though, came when one of Michael's guitarists -- looking a bit like Harvey Milk with silver brogue shoes on -- sat down to sing his take on "She's Lost Control." Hints of Jane's Addiction and R.E.M. influences entangled with that of the late Curtis, and I couldn't help but feel a little moved. The formerly mostly seated crowd got up instantly and started dancing.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias:
I grew up listening to Unknown Pleasures and Closer, and am particularly inclined towards baritone voices.

Random Detail: The swaying, spellbound goth Perez Hilton look-alike really knows how to dance -- and he doesn't care who knows it.

By the Way:
If you really like Ian Curtis, To Hell With Poverty (518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach) is hosting its own tribute to the man this Saturday, May 22.