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Joyce D’Vision ‘She’s Lost Control’ - what would Ian Curtis think?

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You may remember a few months ago I posted about Joyce D’Vision, the world’s first drag queen tribute band to Joy Division (of which I am a member) and our adventures on UK primetime TV with the comedian Harry Hill.

Well, we have finally managed to wrangle Joyce herself into the studio to record some vocals, and the first fruits of this labor are cover versions of “She’s Lost Control” and “Isolation.” Both are iconic, classic tracks, that have been covered before (by Siobhán Fahey, Grace Jones and Wino & Conny Ochs, as featured in yesterday’s Roadburn post) but I like to think we have put our own unique spin on them.

While some people find the idea of Joyce D’Vision highly offensive, to me it’s as Northern English as Eccles cakes and Boddington’s bitter. People in Manchester have a sly, sometimes wicked sense of humor, and they are not above taking the complete mickey out of themselves and the stultifying, retro-based “Madchester” culture industry that seems to have a stranglehold on this town (check the blog Fuc251 for proof.) Unfortunately Joy Division are very much a part of this frozen-in-amber, Manchester music-heritage industry, which goes against the iconoclasm inherent in the band, and is ironic as they were sorely under-appreciated in this town when they did exist. 

And that’s where we come in. It’s all in the best possible taste, darling, with hints of Vic & Bob, The League of Gentlemen, Kenny Everett and Frank Sidebottom (a legendary Manc comic who famously covered “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on a Casio). We’re not doing this because we hate Joy Division, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Joy Division have helped us get through as much teen angst as the next wrist cutter, but the band’s hallowed status doesn’t mean they are above a bit of fun poking. Every religion needs its satirists. Because let’s face it, if what we’re doing is somehow ruining your teen dreams or memories of a JD goth paradise, then those dreams and memories were not very solid in the first place.

I am well aware of Ian Curtis’ mental health problems (duh!) and I’m 100% convinced he had that same sly, piss-taking, Manc sense of humor as everyone else who grew up within the city’s grey-and-redbrick confines. I think he would have had a giggle or two at a bearded drag queen singing his songs.
 
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Joyce D’Vision with Harry Hill on the set of TV Burp
 
But more to the actual point, I wonder what Peter Hook thinks?

If you’re not aware, original JD/New Order bassist Hook has formed a new band with jobbing Manchester musicians called The Light, whose purpose is to cover the work of Joy Division. He’s the only original member, and now the band are embarking on a tour playing “Unknown Pleasures” in full.

Originally Hooky himself was on vocal duties, but after he shamefully forgot the words at an infamous Manchester show a couple of years ago, he has brought in Rowetta (ex-Happy Mondays and Britain’s Got Talent) to sing instead. Not to mention some of his celebrity-fan pals when they have the chance - The Light have performed JD tracks with Billy Corgan, Moby and Perry Farrell on vocals, among others. They sing from a lyrics book open at the front of the stage.

So is what we are doing with Joyce D’Vision really any worse than what Peter Hook is doing with The Light? In a sense, both are karaoke, but only one has an actual on-stage lyrics sheet. And it’s not the band with the drag queens. Which of the two acts, Joyce D’Vision or The Light, are going to do more to shatter your teen-goth memories of Joy Division?

I don’t doubt that The Light has got something to do with New Order reforming recently without Hook and his iconic bass sound, a massive “fuck you” statement in his general direction. A lot of people in Manchester are happy they did this, but there’s also many people wondering if New Order can properly function without Hook on bass. I’m not sure, but either way, I do wonder now what Barney and Steve (original JD members, remember) and Gillian (a HUGE drag inspiration for our band) make of Joyce D’Vision?

Time will tell. For now, here are our first two tracks:
 
Joyce D’Vision “She’s Lost Control”

 

Joyce D’Vision “Isolation”

   

You can make friends with Joyce D’Vision on Facebook.

 

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Joyce D’Vision: the world’s first drag queen Joy Division tribute act

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So, dear readers, this is one of the things I do when I am not busy scribbling and posting here on DM - I am part of a Joy Division tribute act called Joyce D’Vision. As the name would suggest, it’s not just any run-of-the-mill tribute act - it’s a drag queen tribute, fusing those two quintessentially Northern English traits of woe-is-me miserableism and end-of-the-pier transvestitism.

Before you ask, no, I am not Joyce D’Vision herself, but rather Noel Order, keyboard whizz extraordinaire and Bontempi aficionado. Joyce is played by the very talented Joe Spencer, and we are often joined on stage by other queens such as Sheela Blige, Kurt Dirt and Sahara Dolce. Joyce has been lucky enough to share the stage with British queer performance legends like David Hoyle (The Divine David) and Scottee Scottee (Eat Your Heart Out), but those were just warm-ups for what happened last week…

A few months ago Joe took part in a reality competition show May The Best House Win, where Joyce and friends had a cameo near the end. The program was finally broadcast last Tuesday, and seen by the comedian Harry Hill, himself a fan of Joy Division. Harry hosts a show called TV Burp, which looks over the best bits of the last week’s telly, and he invited Joyce and her friends to London to sing live on the show. Joyce performed as the final segment on the final show of the series, which was broadcast right before X Factor. Meaning that this went out on a Saturday evening, just after dinner time when everyone’s getting ready to watch the biggest show of the week. Seriously - that’s prime fucking time.

The reaction since (mostly gauged through Twitter) has been interesting - some people really get it, while others have stated that Ian Curtis would be rolling in his grave. I like to think Curtis would have seen the funny side, as would Tony Wilson I’m sure, and we have heard through the grapevine that there are even Joyce fans in the New Order camp.

Joyce D’Vision is not done out of hatred of the band or the man, but rather from love - and a simple desire to deflate the pomposity that surrounds JD and their legend, as perpetuated by magazines like NME and high street stores like Primark (currently selling an Ian Curtis t-shirt). So while the idea (and sight) of a fat, bearded man in a wig singing a boss nova version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart” is definitely going to rub some people up the wrong way, I’m pretty sure our readers here at DM can handle it:
 

 
For more info on Joyce, visit her Facebook page.

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment