Joy Division
Les Bains Douches 18 December 1979
(NMC/Fractured Achive CD 2.61)

This is how I like my Joy Division. Roughshod, raw, intense, and a bit ridiculous, performing their moody new-wave Doors thing in front of a club full of drunken Parisians. You almost feel the sweat, smell the beer, inhale the smoke. As live albums go, I'm not sure I've ever heard one that so strongly evokes the depth of a night out to see a rock show.

Joy Division are one of those love-'em-or-hate-'em propositions, and I formerly counted myself in the latter group purely because I couldn't get past Ian Curtis's voice. Truly, he couldn't sing. This gig makes that even more clear, as he keeps trying to hit these low notes and just keeps bottoming out into a washed-out croon. But what I was missing before was the passion of it all. These guys knew they were a fucking great band. And here they are, proving it.

Insistent drums, clang-clash guitars, clattering glasses, dingy applause, monotone stage requests for more vocals in the monitor. It's a show. It's a night. It's real. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is torn apart, "Shadowplay" dives deep, "Transmission" catches fire, "These Days" very nearly perks things up to power pop. After sixteen songs you're a Joy Division fan whether you were one before or not. This is how it was.

Given a time machine, would I go back and save the world from Hitler's menace? Nope, I'd set the thing straight for 1979 Great Britain and catch a bunch of shows.

Review by Arturo Autografía