8th October 1979: Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
On tour with the Buzzcocks
Jen C was there - and saved the setlist and autpgraphed ticket shown above:
I won't ever forget the gig and getting backstage afterwards - I gave the Buzzcocks a miss so I could catch
the lads before they left. Me and my boyfriend were obsessed with Joy Division ever since the ideal for living
ep came out so meeting them was a really big thing for us - huge. Of course being 16 I was completely inarticulate
and could barely manage 'hello I think you're great' so no deep discussions to report!
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Ken Peat was there:
October 1979, at art college. Big news, Joy Division are coming to town, supporting the Buzzcocks. Everybody
must have been excited, you exclaim…well, not really. A tidal wave of indifference is how I remember it.
The big night, October 8th, the venue, the Caird Hall, a cavernous Victorian concert hall, where the Beatles and
the Stones had played many years before. The audience is very young (I was a mature 18) and nearly everybody is
there for the Buzzcocks. The crowd is quite large if my memory serves me well but I spot some familiar faces from
art college and from gigs, people who are here for the right reason. I am with a small group of friends, fellow
believers. I don’t recollect individual tracks, just the enormity and the intensity of the sound. All bands that
I had seen live up to this point now faded into insignificance. Ian Curtis danced like he had on the TV. Then he
collapsed and had to be helped from the stage. Did the band play on without him? I think so, but it was a long
time ago. I remember the general lack of interest from the majority of the audience. My friends and I, along with
the isolated souls that I had earlier spotted, applauded wildly, quite a few people booed.
Then it was over. The Buzzcocks played and were ok (the just re-released Boredom was the highpoint) but they were
an anti climax. I later read Greil Marcus on the Gang of Four, how he had seen them as support to …the Buzzcocks,
and how they had blown him away to the extent that he didn’t stay for the main act. Wish I had thought of that.
Afterwards we drank far too much beer and didn’t really discuss the gig very much. We knew that we had seen
something extraordinary but didn’t really feel the need to talk about it. Perhaps it was our Scottishness, interiorizing
everything; perhaps it was due to the lack of an adequate vocabulary. Or perhaps it was the beer.
Around midnight we headed home, via the Chinese takeaway. When we opened the door there were 4 guys waiting at
the counter for their order. They were all wearing suits and had short, neat hair. One of my friends started mumbling
things about “fucking mods”. We were in the midst of a media-driven mod revival and my circle of friends generally
frowned upon nouveau mods. Then, as the 4 smart young men headed out the door, the penny dropped – they were Joy
Division. What should we do? Run after them and engage them in conversation? Offer them some prawn crackers? Ask
them if they had access to more beer? In the end we piled out of the takeaway, with no clear plan of how to proceed,
and saw them standing 100 yards away, eating their food opposite their hotel (the Queens Hotel, Perth Rd.). Someone,
possibly me, said “let’s go and speak to them”. They turned round at that point and, possibly misinterpreting our
intentions, briskly walked across the road and into the hotel. They were gone, and we headed home, not realizing
that this was the last opportunity we would have of conversing with Ian Curtis. I think that we all thought the
band was destined for greatness and we would see them again, in the near future.
We never got the opportunity to speak to Ian but did get to speak to the other members of the group when they played
at St. Andrews some time later, on their first national tour as New Order. Details are shrouded in the mists of
time and beer but I remember they didn’t want to talk about Joy Division. They were otherwise open and amiable,
not like their media image. I seem to remember Peter hook being the chattiest, funny and opinionated. They were
great live, just like Joy Division, but without the presence, without the weight, without the magic.