Joy Division concert

14th January 1980: King Kong, Antwerp, Belgium

This concert was badly advertised so very few people showed up for the event

Image courtesy of Bob Campenaerts, drummer in De Kommeniste
The Night Ian Curtis Came To Sleep ... this article about the concert was published in national newspaper in Belgium as part of a series on 50 years of rock. It was written by Marc Schoetens, who was a journalist for 'De Morgen' at the time ...
On January 14th 1980 Joy Division came to Antwerp...and nearly had to play for no one at all!

The promotor, my buddy Raf Bauwens, was confronted with some bad luck some days before. Whilst busy putting up local advertisements nearby the big market of Antwerp, he was caught by the Police for this (you need to pay tax stamps etc...) and had to remove everything and was forbidden further advertising. The cops took even his car and he only got it back the next day - accompanied by his dad.

Raf was a beginning promotor who accompanied bands like Throbbing gristle, Clock DVA, Lydia Lunch during their touring at the time. Raf's still in trouble when we meet in 'het Pannenhuis' a local punkrockpub."

I was also planning to advertise in Brussels and Ghent but the police took all 500 adverts and there's no time to make other-ones!

So nobody is aware of them coming...I even haven't found a proper place to stay for the band!! We have to find some cheap hotel."

The most logic solution was contacting the 'International Student Hostel de Boemerang' in the 'volkstraat', where they had -lucky enough-still 11 beds available for band and crew; we also contacted the local newspapers and the BRT (Belgian national television) and begged for some notification of the bands concert. That was all we could do.....

When finally the Joy Division company arrives the next day, we immediately bring them to the a very friendly and polite way the manager tells us the place is "too scruffy"and request another place to stay...hell!

In a hurry we manage to find some rooms in the 'Appelmans' hotel near the central station, and this time the
crew and band seem to be satisfied and get in.

All goes well until Annick Honoré, the young girlfriend of Ian Curtis pops her head in; she sees the red lights, the 'special ' furniture and erotic paintings on the wall and screams:"NO way! You're not going to put us in this whorehouse! Don't you know Joy Division is an important band?"Curtis lookes at her end laughs-he doesn't mind sleeping here with the others -but she bursts into tears.

In order to defuse the situation I suggest to "come over to my place, I've got room enough for two people."Ian agrees and Annick gets her way; so on we go to 'de pacificatiestraat ', where they meet my girlfriend Anne."Both the girls will take our normal room, whilst Ian and I will share the guest-room"and I show Ian the way. Fortunately enough Annik gets along really well with Anne and they spend some time looking at my record collection - she's happily surprised to find the 'Transmission '-single amongst them!
Meanwhile Ian was sitting on the bed (with pink sheats!) and opened his suitcase:he takes out a shoebrush and some polish,takes off his brown shoes and starts to polish without further saying a word! He doesn't do anything else for more then an hour and then lookes satisfied - I look at the clock:it's already 9 p.m.,"Ian, don't you think it's time to go?

At the 'King-Kong'in the 'Keizerstraat in Antwerp the openers' De Kommeniste' just finished their gig. Raf isn't to happy by the looks of it."I know 200 franks (5 euro nowadays) isn't cheap, but I've only sold eighty tickets and still there's a lot more people here, where do they all come from?"

At that time I've had enough and felt that disaster was imminent.I go and tell Annik about the problems and the meagre ticket-sell but she's now in such a good mood that she does't seem to mind.
Ian hasn't said a single word until then and seems to be stoned-as on another planet.Apparently this is due to "medication against epilepsy" someone tells me.

Half of the public storms ahead when the band enters the stage, while the rest remain seated.Ian's body shivers and shakes only to stop when he puts on a white guitar.I'm not a fan of Joy Division and the only song I know is Transmission;so when Curtis starts to sing "Dance,dance,dance to the radio!"we all start to dance in a ska-manner!Curtis sees this and giggles!

"That was smashing!"Raf yells after the gig and everyone is invited to the bar;the boys seem to have a good time drinking 'Duvel ' and eating loads of 'crocque-monsieurs' whilst somebody infinitly puts 'No more heroes' by the Stranglers on the jukebox.They eat so much that the waitress is a bit worried -"who's going to pay for all that?"

Past midnight Ian and Annik decide to go into town, but after 3 hours of walking through empty streets they re-enter the pub - almost frozen, and want to go to sleep. So after saying goodbye to the others we go to our own place.

The next morning we prepare a big breakfast for our two guests, including some soft-boiled eggs. Annik tries to explain:" Ian's a vegan, didn't you guys know that?" but Ian mumbles" That's allright"and eats the egg with appetite.

At 11a.m we join the group at the hotel, they're heading for Germany for a concert in Koln but before that Ian rushes into a local tobacco-shop on de 'Keizerlei'. Raf has brought some big pie for one of the crewmembers, as it was his birthday!

Curtis thanks us and invites us to be his guests for the next Thursday's show at the Plan-K in Brussels.

You can see a scan of this article here
Thanks to Patrick for translating it from the original Flemish

Another article, this time from P-Magazine ... includes quotes from people who were at the concert:

Frank Heirman (visitor): "There were about 200 people there, most of them fans of 'The Communiste' - at that time one of the most known Antwerp based cult bands. I only knew Joy Division’s 'Transmission' - a new sound at that time when compared with more monotonous punk sound. The concert itself was stone cold - icy, with Ian apparently making efforts to escape a not-so-pleasant place he supposedly lived in. The whole time he kept his hands in front of his face (protecting himself from the light). The concert itself took less then an hour and was incredibly intense! I stood in awe listening to this horrifying chant and the energy of the music. This is one of my top five gigs I've ever seen."

Mark Meulemans (singer of the communiste): "As a cult band we'd done gigs bands like Wire and The Cure. At that time Antwerp had a pretty large post-punk scene, but this specific concert was very low profile, and not the 'talk of the town'. Ian came over to me as a very weird and thin guy, totally under a sort of medication, he was helped on stage by two guys holding his elbows but once on the stage I admit never to have seen such a manic perfomance. It a shame we didn't speak, but we were all too busy with ourselves!

Philippe Carly (photographer): "In her book his widow spoke about his mistress in Brussels. I knew that girl - we went to all sorts of concerts together. She was a groupie totally into Joy Division, but I had no idea that it was so serious. Several months later in Plan K, with tears in her eyes, she told me that Ian had killed himself."

You can see a scan of this article here
See - contact address
Thanks to Patrick for translating it from the original Flemish


Joy Division stayed here:
Hotel Appelmans, Lange Herentalsestraat 14, Antwerp



Joy Division stayed in this hotel - these photographs were taken in 2008.
(C) Copyright
Joy Division - The Eternal web site (Michel Enkiri) and reproduced here with permission