Revisiting one of Joy Division’s first tiny London shows through a candid series of rare photographs
Today is sadly 40 years since the passing of Ian Curtis after the Joy Division frontman tragically took his own life. The mark that Curtis left behind can still be felt today as the two albums that his band would release would go on to inspire generations to come.
Legend has it that the seminal act would form following Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook attending the same Sex Pistols gig at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall, a moment which inspired them both greatly and gave Sumner the realisation that they could, if the wanted, make it as a musician without needing to be a squeaky clean, whiter-than-white pop-star. The following day Hook would borrow £35 from his mother to buy a bass and Sumner would also buy himself a guitar — Joy Division had begun.
Terry Mason, who had also attended the gi,g would go out and buy a drum kit. Initially, they invited their schoolfriend Martin Gresty on board but he declined their invitation to join as a vocalist after getting a job at a local factory. The band then placed an advertisement for a vocalist in the Manchester Virgin Records shop to which Ian Curtis, who knew the band already, applied and was hired without audition.
By 1978, the band would have recruited Stephen Morris into their ranks and be forced to change their name from Warsaw to avoid confusion from London punk outfit Warsaw Pakt to Joy Division taking the name from the sexual slavery wing of a Nazi concentration camp mentioned in the 1955 novel House of Dolls.
The year would be a significant one in the band’s career. Following their first show under the name of Joy Division on January 25th, 1978, and by the end of the year, they will have made their debut on television performing ‘Shadowplay’ on So It Goes as well as signing with Tony Wilson’s Factory Records.
On December 27th, the band would take to Islington’s Hope and Anchor for the very first time which would be a night in their career which would be remembered for two hugely different reasons. The show was a rousing success which would see the band play a blistering set for a tiny room just before they exploded but on the drive home from the show, Ian Curtis would suffer his first severe epileptic seizure and would be hospitalised.
Facebook user Jonathan Crabb photographed this memorable event in Joy Division history which would take place just a fortnight before Ian Curtis would be the cover star of NME and the band would perform their first Peel session which would ascend the band to stardom. Crabb shared the incredible images on his Facebook recently and saw them receive thousands of likes from Joy Division fans who were taken aback by the raw beauty of the images of the band at such an integral part of their career.
The photos are about as up-close and personal you can get, it’s truly remarkable to see the band photographed on a stage this small just a matter of weeks before they would become the talk of the nation’s alternative scene and beyond.