40 years ago today, on a Tuesday—back in October 16, 1979, Joy Division performed live at Plan K, Brussels, Belgium. This was the show folks, It was featured in the film Control, and this is the one with William Burroughs as the headliner, along with Cabaret Voltaire.
- Love Will Tear Us Apart
- Twenty-Four Hours
- New Dawn Fades
- She’s Lost Control
- Atrocity Exhibition
- Interzone (Encore)
This was the first gig outside of the UK Joy Division ever performed. A popular story goes—that a nervous Ian approached his hero Burroughs, asking for a free book. Burroughs told him to fuck off, which he apparently left him devastated. Despite this, Peter and Barney laughed and thought it was hilarious. However, there is a reason to question the oft-repeated tale:
“I very much doubt whether William told Ian Curtis to fuck off. I approached Mr Burroughs at the Plan K event, and mentioned I was a friend of Genesis P-Orridge from Throbbing Gristle, who of course was known to William — he didn’t know me or had heard of my band Cabaret Voltaire, but was very friendly and a very polite old gentleman. I even gave him a Cabaret Voltaire badge, which he pocketed. This was the first of several occasions that I met Mr Burroughs.”-Richard H. Kirk | Cabaret Voltaire
The gig was the live debut of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (For those of you saying “Love Will Tear Us Apart” was about Annik, she has stated there was nothing between them as of that night), and an earlier version of “24 Hours”.
Naturally, with Burroughs being the man of honor that night, Joy Division closed the set with “Interzone”
“When looking back, it all makes perfect sense, like a clockwork cosmic plan assembling its gears and springs with oiled perfection: the location (rue de Manchester [Manchester street]) by the canal, the venue (an old sugar refinery [factory]), the promoter (Annik Honoré)…
However when I first entered the building 35 years ago, I could not see the big picture. At the time, it was ‘just’ the excitement of discovering a new venue, for a double bill of two promising acts: Cabaret Voltaire and Joy Division. The gig took place on the ground floor of the 6 stories high building. Later I would learn to find my way in the maze of floors, stairs, scales, foot bridges, rooms, halls. I don’t recall many people being there, maybe 200 or 300. Hard to say. What is there to say about this gig that hasn’t been said before? Anyway, as always I was absorbed by the photography. But I still could enjoy both sets and perceive the particular intensity of Joy Division. However there was no way to guess that 35 years later it would still have such an impact and importance for people. That’s like back then finding something from 1944 important, modern, founding…
That evening, I also had no clue that I was just about to take the most famous photo of my entire career. One that would be a blessing (not many people purposely or accidentally take a photo that gains such worldwide notoriety) and a curse (the proverbial tree that hides the forest of all my other work).
Sometimes it was a bit weird when concerts took place at the same time as danse shows in the upper levels: on their way out, dressed up bourgeois would peek at this strange crowd of leather clad punks listening to noisy obscure bands. But the Plank was about all this: mixing genres, crowds, events, concepts. It was about experimenting as freely as possible with an open mind and a sense of curiosity.”-Philippe Carly