For a particular breed of rabid, morbid fan of Joy Division (and as one myself, I don't think there are any other types of fans of the band), there have been a lot of macabre little anniversaries to celebrate in recent months. Last year, of course, marked the 30-year anniversary of the band's watershed 1979 album, Unknown Pleasures.
This year, though, are some darker dates: the 30th anniversary of the band's only follow-up, 1980's Closer, which was quickly followed by the suicide, at age 23, of frontman Ian Curtis. That sad and way-too-early death came exactly 30 years ago today.
The late, great, Winter-Haven-based Joy Division tribute band 3 One G would have been the best act to commemorate the date, but alas, they are no more. (Erstwhile 3 One G frontman/Curtis-channeler Aaron Branch went on to form a, gasp, sunny-sounding dance-pop act called Pop Glow).
and promise to play mostly Joy Division songs in celebration of Curtis'
life. Considering the band's relatively small output, though, it seems
like the performers might have to reach far into the deep cuts and
B-sides, or consider wandering into the New Order continuum.
If you'd prefer to stay in and contemplate Curtis' brief but monumental tenure in British rock, though, might we suggest viewing the first half of the excellent 24 Hour Party People, or all of Anton Corbijn's lovely Control. Or, check out these videos, a few rare instances in which Curtis agreed to appear on film.
Joy Division plays "She's Lost Control" on TV
Recordings of the band's live performances are where you can tell they really shredded with a punk energy that went beyond the often-minimal sounds of their recorded output. The best comment on this video on YouTube: "Tell Justin Bieber to suck on this!"
This video features the performance of "Transmission" and the interview that preceded "She's Lost Control" on this broadcast, which dates from 1979.
Joy Division plays on Tony Wilson's TV program
R.I.P. both Ian Curtis and the great Tony Wilson, the host of this program who then went on to found the legendary Factory Records and Hacienda club. (Seriously, watch 24-Hour Party People for a crash course if you need one.) Here's the band playing "Shadowplay," behind some crazy public-access-style lo-fi visual effects.
Joy Division plays a suburban Manchester-area pub
This is one of those quasi-explicable YouTube clips whose details get lost in the sands of time, but here a young-sounding Curtis sings "She's Lost Control," "Shadowplay," and "Leaders of Men."
Of course, here is the band playing "Love Will Tear Us Apart."
Truly an immortal song. Most musicians should be so lucky as to write something that lasts as long.