Joy Division, A Certain Ratio, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, John Dowie: Factory Night, Acklam Hall, London

FOUR DIVERSE samples of current Mancunian Factory products: dopey comedian John Dowie; a cute pop duo called Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark; A Certain Ratio of young men desperately portraying themselves as artists; and finally Joy Division, whose unequivocal energetic approach was doubly welcome after the engaging but ultimately tedious naivety of the preceding players.

Making a rare appearance in the capital, Joy Division certainly deserved the affection of the few who heard their insistent, well-defined pop. Fronted by a jerky, disciplined singer in Ian Curtis, they were as exciting to look at as they were to listen to.

The singer’s twitching robotic outbursts between vocal contributions provided the visual equivalent of relief through movement from the confined claustrophobic rhythms of drummer Stephen Morris and bassist Peter Hook, constantly clawed at from the inside by Bernard Dickins’ nagging guitar playing.

Also interesting to a lesser extent, were A Certain Ratio (‘Looking for a certain ratio’ — from Eno’s ‘A True Wheel’), who were last Thursday very conscious of their roles as artists, what with their uniformly severe haircuts and baggy trousers.

In contrast Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, a keyboardsman and bassist/vocalist, played airy electronic pop, like Kraftwerk during their lighter moments. Cute at the moment. Hope they don’t get coy with it.

Out of the four samples Factory had on display, Dowie’s daft humour was the least attractive. Still, his presence proves the eclectic, adventurous nature of the label — which in Joy Division, definitely has the basis for a solid future. 

© Chris BohnMelody Maker, 26 May 1979

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