Classical review: Joy Division Reworked, Edinburgh

Joy Division Reworked. Picture: Facebook
Joy Division Reworked. Picture: Facebook
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Here’s hoping that everyone in the near-capacity audience paid close attention to the show’s title, for this was no reverential homage via the medium of classical music, attempting to soften some of the most viscerally distraught popular music ever recorded.

Joy Division Reworked - Usher Hall, Edinburgh

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In every sense this was Joy Division reworked – stripping the flesh from the Mancunians’ classic tracks until only the soul remained.

Commissioned for the Brighton Festival 2012, this touring version of Live_Transmission took in elements of avant garde electronica, post-rock and contemporary classical music. It was all scored by electronic composer Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud) and performed by the Heritage Orchestra with Jules Buckley conducting, and an analogue live band including members of Three Trapped Tigers and Ghostpoet’s live setup.

The effect was to stun the senses, in no small part due to the efforts Matt Wilkins’ visuals – a dramatic, three-dimensional effect achieved by projecting images on to the back of the stage and gauze hanging in front of the performers. Some might have grumbled that many tracks, including Dead Souls and Atmosphere, were difficult to recognise, even though the closing Love Will Tear Us Apart hauntingly appropriated the late Ian Curtis’ full lyric. To grumble, though, would have been to ignore a rich and urgent new suite utterly in tune with Curtis’ vivid sense of urban isolation, but updated for the 21st century.