Joy Division

28th February 1979: Playhouse Theatre, Nottingham

Joy Division were the unbilled support for John Cooper Clarke. Some accounts have put Buzzcocks on the bill too, but that is incorrect.

Admission £2.50

Songs played (from collective memories below)

New Dawn Fades
She's Lost Control

Image courtesy Charlie Harvey

Nottingham Playhouse is a seated theatre catering for plays and the arts so it was an unusual venue for Joy Division and hardly ideal, particularly as there was no advance notice they would be playing. The "new wave" venue in Nottingham back then was the Sandpiper.

The van carrying Joy Division's PA was involved in a serious motorway accident and arrived late with damaged equipment inside so John Cooper Clarke did an impromptu opening set, followed by Joy Division, and then he headlined.

Paul can remember the gig:

I can confirm Joy Division played Nottingham Playhouse. I was there
(aged 15). I can't confirm the date, it was about the time you list
(winter); but they were supporting the Buzzcocks and John Cooper Clarke
which may help you work it out.

I think it was JCC as 'poet' who got the whole thing into an arts venue.

As is typical for support bands, the sound was pretty atrocious. Don't
remember anything else except that they appeared fairly 'military' on stage.

Diane Wragg remembers it like this:

I went to that gig with a friend but it was John Cooper Clark who was headlining – Joy Division was the support. Apparently they were ‘late’ arriving so JCC opened for them. Joy Division came on next followed by JCC again!

The theatre was the wrong venue for bands, I don’t remember much as I had a lousy cold and spent the entire evening with tissues stuffed up my nose – to stem the flow.

Diane doesn't remember the Buzzcocks playing.

Fletch remembers it like this:

Yes, I also went to it and still have my ticket and it's dated 28/02/1979. I remember it being all seated as it usually is at those type of venues. I agree with Diane' comments that it was suited to a bad type scenario. I would bet my pension that Buzzcocks didn't play, I would have remembered because I was a massive fan of theirs. Joy Division sounded very raw but as always there was something very compelling about watching them. I also remember being surpised that Joy Division were on. I'd bought 'An Ideal For Living' and was a bit disapponted that they didn't play anything off it! I didn't recognise any of the material that night, as I guess most of it was stuff they would be recording for Unknown Pleasures. I saw them again later that year, supporting the Buzzcocks at Derby Kings Hall and they were so much better!

Something else I remember about that gig, was that the sound was poor. I don't remember the announcing themselves as Joy Division and me and my mates were arguing about who it was throughout the gig. We all thought it sounded like them but I'd only heard Ideal For Living. Obviously, once you saw Ian Curtis 'dancing' then you didn't forget it and I seem to remember that our thoughts were confirmed when we later saw them with the Buzzcocks!

Jonathan gives us this account:

I was there with Fletch so I can confirm his recollection of the gig - there was no billing or prior notice of a support act for JCC, so a real surprise, and still to this day, one of the best gig memories I have - they played about six songs as I recall - New Dawn Fades and Transmission among them and played in the middle of 2 JCC halves.

Lilythepunk posted the following information on the Guardian web site in October 2006:

" ... I also remember seeing Joy Division at The Nottingham Playhouse with about 50 others, half of whom walked out."

A follow up message mentions they had found the ticket to the gig, dated 28/2/79 and the admission price was £2.50.

MC Stevie Gaye has this memory:

I was there too. My memory ........... Ian Curtis and his high-leg Manchester Docs. Were J.C.C ' s backing singers called The Weather Girls?

Dominic remembers it like this:

I was there - front row seats - Joy Division were the unbilled support for JCC - it was a JCC concert - no other bands - not sure of date - it was certainly very cold

They played a short set of probably 4 songs
The sound quality was appalling - really mushy in a big theatre

I was a schoolboy and we had never heard of them
We thought JCC called them 'Geordie Vision' - sadly can't remember
What they played - nothing came back to mind when I heard Unknown Pleasures - remember their look - all in black and white and totally stationary

Anyway after the gig finished early we went to the stage door and JCC signed all our records for us - great guy - anyway he said we should check out Joy Division (he corrected our amusing for a Manc mishearing) as they were much better than the set showed - they had left early very unhappy apparently

Saw them later that year at Leeds Futurama - awseome !

Dave Mounsey sent us this:

I went to see JCC - there was no support act announced in advance (and definitely no Buzzcocks).

They were, as Diane Wragg said, very late arriving so JCC came on first and did half his set. As was the custom for support acts, most of the audience went to the bar when Joy Division came on so they played to a nearly empty house.

This was one of the most memorable gigs I've been to. I had heard the John Peel session so I recognised the songs but didn't remember the name of the band. I'm pretty sure they played Transmission and they definitely played She's Lost Control. Ian Curtis was mesmerising during that song.

For some reason I seem to remember Peter Hook wearing short suede boots. I don't remember the bad sound quality others mention - it was such a great performance despite that.

Anthony Newton  remembers: Yes was there, no Buzzcocks wasn’t expecting to see them either I recall. JD rushed onto the stage the sound I recall was pretty poor but the abiding memory was of us being slightly right of Peter Hook near the front and he in particular seemed very pissed off. One of my companions laughed in a pause between songs and hook gave us a murderous look, gave the impression he was going to throw his bass at us in rage. Memorable gig for musical reasons, they were much better at later gigs.

If you have any more info, especially if you are Lilythepunk with your ticket, please email us