grey. He has the severe haircut of a Roman emperor.
   At the beginning, Ian Curtis is still, singing as if with infinite patience. Then, as the group hit the instrumental break. itís as though a switch has been flipped: the still- ness suddenly cracks into violent movement. The running joke is that he does the Ďdead flyí dance Ė the leg and arm spasms of a dying insect Ė but he is more controlled than that. As the limbs start flying in that semicircular, hypnotic curve you canít take your eyes off him for a moment.
   Then you realise: he's trying to get our of his skin. out of all this, forever, and heís trying harder than anyone youíve ever seen. This is extraordinary: most performers keep a reserve while theyíre onstage: only giving a part of themselves away. Ian Curtis is holding nothing back: with the musicians behind him every inch of the way, heís jumping off the cliff.
   ("Ah, the mud of Leigh", remembers Tony Wilson. "That was the night of the turd, wasnít it? A very big moment. Bernard told me years later that he and Ian had gone to the bogs and Ian had come out terribly excited, because there was a piece of shit as long as half an arm, and they all went down to have a look at it. It made their day").
   Near the end of the set comes a new song, Dead souls, which begins as a rollercoaster of soaring guitar and lurch- ing basslines. After a couple of minutes Curtis starts to sing: "Someone take these dreams away". Heís seeing visions, of figures from the past, of mocking voices Ė a terrible beauty. By the time that the song reaches its coda, he's shrieking "they keep
calling me, keep on calling me, they keep calling me", and the hairs on our necks stand up. This is it, no way round it: Ian Curtis is raising the dead. "I was into, I suppose nowadays you'd call it slacking, but in those days I called it being a lazy twat", says Bernard Sumner today. "I couldn't believe that I was now a professional musician: my whole ambition was to do some- thing that I enjoyed, but not actually work hard at it. Just let the ether flow through me Ė ha! Ė and I'd be this medium for this music from the spirits that came through me. Iíd just lie there and the music would come through my fingers, because I imagined thatís what art was.
   "Itís difficult to speak for everyone, but one of the funny things was that we never talked about the music: we had an understanding which we never felt the need to vocalise. I felt that there was an otherworldliness to the music, that we were plucking out of the air. We felt that talking about the music would stop that inspiration, In the same way, we never talked about Ianís lyrics or Ianís performance. I felt that if I thought about what he did, then it would stop. I thought, If something great is happening, donít look at the sun, donít look at the sun".

   Just over 14 years ago, in the early hours of May 18, 1980. Ian Curtis died by his own hand, It came as a total shock: the group were due to go to America a day later. With a single, 'Love will tear us apart', and the album 'Closer' ready for release, Joy Division were poised for a break-
through: as Chris Bohn wrote later, "The suicide didn't so much bring (their) journey to the heart of darkness, to an abrupt halt as ... freeze it for all eternity at the brink of discovery".
   Manchester is a closed city, Cancerian like Ian Curtis. The main participants didn't openly mourn, but carried on under a different name, New Order, into the group we have known and loved during the 1980s. The label that Joy Division had helped to build, Factory Records, became the model of non-metropolitan success. Everything culmi- nated in the summer of 1990, the last summer of love, when Happy Mondays broke through and New Order finally went to Number 1 with the World Cup theme, World in motion. Grey and black had turned into dayglo, darkness into light.
   Yet Joy Division have remained a powerful presence, or indeed, absence. They have been recently cited by writers as diverse as Kurt Cobain, Courtney Love, Donna Tartt and Dennis Cooper, who entitled his second novel Closer. They also inspired the comic artist James O'Barr, who saturated the three parts of his novel, The Crow, with Joy Division lyrics, character names and an open dedication to Ian Curtis, "who showed me the indescribable beauty in absolute ugliness". It was during the filming of this dark story that Bruce Lee's son, Brandon, was killed by an accidental shot.
   I began regularly visiting Manchester again after 1990, and experienced Curtis's absence as a powerful event that