Have you ever bought something intended for consumption, but have held back on, you know, consuming it? I’ve been doing that lately with a movie. Control to be exact. When the movie came through town for a handful of days I missed it. Awhile ago I snagged a good copy of it, but have been hesitant to watch it. Crazy, no? I mean, the movie is about the life (and death) of Ian Curtis, lead singer of Joy Division. If its not clear by now, Joy Division is probably one of my all time favorite bands. Both their music, and the music of their musical descendants New Order, have kept me going for roughly 25 years now.
I wasn’t ready to be disappointed though. Although the reviews that mattered to me were generally favorable, I wasn’t ready to watch a “bad movie” about something so important. I think I feel that way about a lot of things in my life, but thats a matter for another blog post.
Last week, however, I sat down and watched it. Early evening, no later plans, no distractions – just me and the movie. And it broke my heart – in a good way. Maybe it was the timing of my viewing, the fundamental story being told, or my personal relationship to the events being told, but it hit me hard. And while I was thankful that I finally watched it, it didn’t feel right to end it that way.
So, I turned it into a double feature with my well worn copy of 24 Hour Party People. In many ways the same story, at least partially, but told from the semi-autobiographical, semi-fictional viewpoint of Tony Wilson. Plus, this had the added benefit of being a cheerful tale – if you ignore the failed clubs and relationships, drug overdoses, and scene collapse.
One thing that struck me more than anything after watching the two back to back was the fairly complementary (not necessarily complimentary) portrayals of Tony in each flick. Sure, in one he is a supporting character and not as prone to flights of fancy, but both roles definitely felt like the same guy. And they both ring true of what I remember of him.
So of course, I had to cap the night off with this clip from Coachella 2007 (below), when he came out on stage to introduce the Happy Mondays. It was the last time I saw him. He passed away in August, just a few months later. But his message, his enthusiasm, his pure love of the Manchester music was still immediately evident, and hopefully still living on.
(ps. here is a great 2 hour mix of music presented by Pete Tong and Mike Pickering on BBC Radio 1′s Essential Mix – truly gives a sense of the breadth and depth of the music to come out of that time)
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