Age Of Consent

When I first saw Joy Division in 1979, when I was 15, I was a little frightened of Peter Hook. Bernard Albrecht (as he then was) was exactly the sort of young man you’d expect to see in an indie band: he looked about 12 and was reserved. Peter Hook, by contrast, looked about twice his age (Hook’s actually younger, by one month). He tended to say exactly what he thought in interviews. He looked permanently pissed off (he famously DIDN’T LIKE the Martin Hannett production of Unknown Pleasures). And HE HAD A BEARD! (In the new wave world of 1979, NO-ONE had a beard…)

His name reminded me of Private Henry Hook, the recluctant soldier in Zulu who malingers – until the zulus come thru the ceiling at the hospital. Then he wins the VC! (He might actually be named after him: Hook is a pseudonym, a stand-in for Peter Woodhead.)

Come New Order, he was even more ‘rockist’. He grew a ponytail, married Caroline Ahearne (Mrs Merton), wore leather trousers…

But… he played the most glorious bass-lines…

His rivalry with Bernard Sumner only got worse. But his playing got better and better. He was undoubtedly the musical star of the band. I’d wait impatiently for the bass-line to erupt, often in addition to a synthesised bass-line.

Age Of Consent (1983) is my all-time favourite. It starts off as a ‘Transmission’-style two-note, two-chord thing (D followed by B). But he holds back, back, back until a flourish on the B at 1.46: he goes up to an F# and G (the 5th note and the 6th). It takes your breath away. It takes mine, anyway, even 35 years later. And having done it once, he does it again and again…

Since then, he’s also turned into quite a writer, of the ‘just say it like it is’ variety. On p425 of Substance: Inside New Order he recounts how the band actually met Michael Powell, who wanted to make a film accompanied by Age Of Consent. It doesn’t mention, however, that Powell had made a film called Age Of Consent too. (1969. It was filmed in Australia and stars James Mason and a young Helen Mirren… An old man’s film.)


Published by


I had a stroke on July 26th, 2013. I was a screenwriter. Don’t do that anymore. But have found another way to write.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s