In the room next door three teenagers are listening to the 40th anniversary ruby red vinyl edition of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures. The album belongs to one of the three. That such music continues to resonate with generation X, Y and Z astounds me, when I consider the timeline. Such music was never conceived with longevity in mind, but then again neither was the music of 66 or 58 for that matter, never the less its a thought that stops me in my tracks . That and that realisation that it was on this very date way down the time line that I first saw the band that would eventually be known as Joy Division.
This is how it all began… there was this gig .Monday June 6th 1977 to be precise, the day before the Queens Silver Jubilee celebrations and all those countless street parties. Less than two weeks previous, the Sex Pistols had released a follow up to their Anarchy In The UK with God Save The Queen. Against the backdrop of endless flag waving and reminiscence’s of friends and neighbours gathered around radios or black and white TV sets, there was an anti movement amongst the curious and disaffected youth emerging across the nation who were embracing “Punk” . In Newcastle Upon Tyne there was a gig, 75p a ticket with a line up headed by The Adverts followed by Penetration and Harry Hack and The Big G the fourth band, who were not mentioned on the posters or ticket stubs were from Manchester and were called Warsaw. a few months later they would change their name to Joy Division, the rest we know. I cant remember if they were the first or second band that evening . It would be a lie to say it there was a sudden moment of realisation that this particular band would become one of the primary pioneers of what would become known as post punk. They were what they were back then and like a lot of bands on first (or second) I remember very little about the set other than what might now be described as the vibe of the music , which surprise ,surprise was like a pre Joy Division, that and where I was standing, however what i do remember was Ian Curtis amid the audience during the Penetration set pogoing so energetically to the sounds of Don’t Dictate and that he created space around him. Of course he was just someone from another band on the floor engrossed in the music of another band . Something to remember next time your at some pokey pub gig.
That was Warsaw , Harry Hack and The Big G we may have seen before ( I am not going to google the sequence of events ) but we either, already knew the vocal refrain of “Fuck The System ” or caught onto it pretty quick . Penetration were fantastic and like wise we caught on to them pretty quick , hooks riffs and lyrics , Dont Dictate , Money Talks and an incredible version of Patti Smiths Free Money. The Adverts were the main act Bored Teenagers (we weren’t) No Time to Be 21 (we weren’t) One Chord Wonders (we weren’t even at that stage yet ) but they were fantastic too.
Weeks earlier we (me and my friend John ) had witnessed The Clash , The Slits and Vic Godard’s Subway Sect and everything was happening so fast and for all the newspapers coverage of Anarchy and Chaos, there was a real sense of kinship in the air . John and I got into to a conversation at the bar with someone we had seen at previous gigs, called Kevin Anderson . Taking an interest in photography I had my camera on me, so obviously felt safe enough to take some images during the evening , none of Warsaw to my regret.
However John Kevin and I do decide to create a Fanzine and call it Deviation Street after a Mick Farren and The Deviants track ( both John and I were impressed by Kevin’s knowledge of such things ) and that’s how Deviation Street first evolved on this day so many moons ago .