Joy Division

27th August 1979: Leigh Open Air Festival, Plank Lane, Leigh
also known as "Zoo Meets Factory Half Way" Two different tapes of this concert exist  


Thanks to Pat Teasdale for the flyer scan
Flyers were 21cm x 10cm

 Click for larger image

Thanks to Kevin Cummins for the poster scan
300 of these posters were made

"Soundboard" recording:
01. Disorder
02. Leaders Of Men
03. Colony
04. Insight
05. Digital
06. Dead Souls
07. Shadowplay
08. She's Lost Control
09. The Sound Of Music (cut)
 "Audience" recording:
01. Disorder
02. Leaders Of Men
03. Colony
04. Insight
05. Digital
06. Dead Souls
07. Shadowplay
08. She's Lost Control
09. Transmission
10. Interzone (cut)
We used to think there were  two different audio recordings of this concert - one audience and one "soundboard". However, we now believe there may only be one audience recording, with the better-sounding version in circulation, formerly thought to be soundboard, missing Transmission and Interzone, but  including the first 23 seconds of The Sound Of Music. Appx. duration: 29 mins. Sound quality 8/9.

The longer, worse sounding, version includes She's Lost Control, but not the intro to TSOM. Interzone is missing the first few seconds. Appx. duration: 35 mins. Sound quality: 6/9

We are not absolutely certain that these two versions aren't in fact two separate audience recordings though, as there is some seemingly different audience chatter, for example at the start of Leaders Of Men, if you compare the two versions.

This concert appears on the following bootlegs:
Live At Leigh Rock Festival
The Grey Assembly (8 tracks)
Further Transmissions (8 tracks)
Leigh Rock Festival

One track appears on Another Ideal For Killing LP
Leigh Youth Club had the original idea for this festival - and Factory got involved and made it happen as FAC 15.

Chris Hewitt was heavily involved with the festival and its organisation - here's what he had to tell us about it:

The Leigh Youth Festival - August 25th 26th 27th 1979 [Sat Sun Mon Bank Holiday weekend]

Leigh Open Dooor Resource Centre youth worker (Joan Miller) and finance provided by Lewis Knight (of Lewis Knight Three Piece Suite and Furniture Stores, Leigh).
Stage, PA, Lights and festival electrics provided by Tractor Music/Festival Services.

3 day ticket Ł5 Daily ticket Ł2

The Site:
Behind the former pub The Last Shift, off Plank Lane, Leigh [a former miners pub owned by Lewis Knight] on Lewis Knight's back garden and fields - it is all ex coal board wasteland/grassland and only half a mile in a straight line across the fields from the site of the 1972 Bickershaw Festival which 40,000 people attended. This area of festival sites near Wigan/ Leigh is nicknamed the Vale of notAvalot.

Saturday: Hot Ice, Armageddon, Gog, Visual Arts, Steroid Kiddies, Exodus.

Sunday: Inertia,The Risk, Sister Ray, Cool Hand, Karma Sutra, Supercharge.

Monday: The Distractions, Echo and The Bunnymen, OMD, A Certain Ratio, Teardrop Explodes, Joy Division, Lori and The Chameleons, Eltifits, Beechwood

- plus bass solo/solo set by Whisper from the Drones (though can't work out which day).

This was Tony Wilson's supposed last weekend in the north west as he was going to take a new job at the BBC in London on the Tuesday, but at the last minute he stayed at Granada.

It was a three day pop festival organised by people in Leigh and I don't ever remember seeing any Peter Saville posters anywhere. The only publicity I remember is Lewis Knight had some small box trailers like you tow behind a car that he would leave parked around Leigh as free advertising. They normally said "Lewis Knight's Discount Three Piece Suite Centre" on the side so he changed the poster signs to big sheets of paper saying "Pop Festival". He also hired some goons with walkie-talkies to stop a Woodstock-type breach of the non-existent fence - obviously they just walked up and down the boundaries of the industrial waste grassland and challenged probably one person trying to get in over 72 hours!!!!

The Factory poster only lists the Monday as it wasn't really a Factory or Zoo Event. The Fac 15 thing to me is the typical Wilson scenario. Factory meets Zoo was one third of a three day event organised by local Leigh people, and myself providing stage pa lights wiring mixing tower etc. Look at the picture of OMD playing and there are just over two people in the crowd - I don't reckon there was ever more than about thirty or forty there and Mick Middles and Jon Savage had hyped it up in the press!!!! There was a joke amongst the bands that "its your turn to be the audience now whilst we play".

The information above copyright Chris Hewitt/Deeply Vale Festivals/Ozit Morpheus/Tractor and reproduced here with permission

Was it filmed?

There has been a persistent but unlikely rumour that this performance was filmed and in early 2007 someone who was heavily involved with the planning and running of the event stated he'd been handed the film by one of the festival crew. It supposedly included the entire Joy Division set along with backstage footage including Ian Curtis. Recorded on film not video, with sound, and described as "pretty good" quality it seemed too good to be true ...

Decades later no evidence has emerged to prove any film exists. Not even a screen shot. Click here for more info.

At the time Jon Savage wrote: "Zoo met Factory half way (between Liverpool and Manchester) and very few came. Blame it on the site - hastily prepared fields a mile outside Leigh ... Inaccessibility and uncertain weather,  plus inadequate promotion / media coverage, resulted in a turn-out (200) a tenth of the original estimate". He also describes poor sound due, in part, to a lack of preparation time. 
1 Lucky Oldman shared his memories of going to the festival with his mate Steve on our messageboard. Here's an extract:

Steve had a Ford Capri and when he offered to take me and our girlfriends to see OMD at an open-air concert in Leigh it sounded good for a trip out. It was a decent day in Leigh at the rather poorly attended Zoo Meets Factory event. Big hitters OMD didn’t headline as they had to be elsewhere that night but played a good set to an appreciative but rather relaxed Sunday afternoon crowd.


Bands played, OMD came and went and as the sun set we faced the prospect of a two hour drive and (I think) work the next day when Steve said ‘Should we stay to watch the last band?’ I’d seen the name Joy Division in NME and in my ignorance held a notion that they were student navel-gazers and not a band for electronic beats and synths that was our current fancy so we decided to give JD a quick five minutes then go.

The stage lights were just beginning to have some effect in the quickly darkening field as the band took the stage looking just as I had imagined – about our age, shoe-gazing librarians (one even had a beard!) with guitars and a singer who at least had the bottle to look out into the crowd. These unlikely lads launched into their opening number, no doubt many of you experts will know what that song was but I can’t remember! What I do remember was Steve and I looking at each other and without saying anything the telepathy was instantly clear – this was finally ‘it’ – whatever ‘it’ was!

JD’s brooding soundscape was dark and breathtaking somehow, soaring to unheard of highs and plummeting to unimaginable and unchartered depths – nobody had done this before. The jaded crowd were by now all on their collective feet and at the front of the stage for the first time that day. However, it appeared the singer wasn’t taking the moody magnificence and atmospheric forays very seriously; lapsing into a crazy dance routine for a bit of a laugh – or so it would seem. To the uninitiated like us, Curtis’ spasmodic, exaggerated whirling dervish routine seemed at first funny, then unsettling, then downright unnerving – but it all seemed to fit perfectly somehow.


Like everyone else we were blown away and stayed to the very last of the encores demanded from the now super-charged audience. In one of the subsequent JD films ‘Rob Gretton’ declares himself a Joy Division fan after one gig and that’s exactly how we felt – ‘allelujah! We talked about the performance all the way home; totally without irony or knowing anything about the band, Steve likened the way JD had galvanised and mesmerised the soporific crowd, to Hitler addressing the Nuremberg rallies! We laughed but there was some crazy kind of truth in the quip; we knew we had witnessed something quite extraordinary and unexplainable.

You can read the full post here