On January 25th, 1978, Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook, and Stephen Morris made their live debut as Joy Division at Pips Disco in Manchester, initially being billed as Warsaw for the performance.

The band’s previous name Warsaw was inspired by the track “Warszawa” off of David Bowie’s Low—an album that was treasured by frontman Ian Curtis.

Watch Bowie perform the song live in 1978:

However, this name was too similar to another band being booked at the time called Warsaw Pakt, so the 4 Mancunian lads chose another name suggested by Curtis.

The new name, Joy Division, was named after a brothel containing Jewish prostitutes in a Nazi concentration camp featured in the book House of Dolls, by Ka-Tsetnik 135633 (yes, that’s the real pen name of Holocaust survivor and author Yehiel De-Nur).

Note that House Of Dolls is also referenced on the Warsaw track “No Love Lost”, which was later released on Joy Division’s debut Ideal For A Living EP.

As noted by Joy Division Central, Ian had trouble getting past the doorman before the show but was eventually able to get onto the stage on time. Shortly after the set began,  a fight broke out, and Bassist Peter Hook jumped off the stage and into the skirmish, resulting in the club’s manager trying to throw them off stage.

Set List from Joy Division’s debut gig January 25th, 1978:

  1. Exercise One
  2. Leaders of Men
  3. Warsaw
  4. Failures
  5. Reaction
  6. Inside the Line
  7. Ice Age
  8. Day of the Lords
  9. Novelty

Featured Photo by Kevin Cummins

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