THE story of musicians who were inspired by seeing the Sex Pistols’ legendary Free Trade Hall show in 1977 and went on to be one of the most influential Manchester bands of all time is to be brought to life in a play heading to Bury Met next week.

New Dawn Fades tells the story of Joy Division, four lads from Salford who in a remarkably short period of time left an indelible mark on the music scene. Although they performed and recorded together under the Joy Division name for less than two years, their impact is still felt today.

Originally intended to be a graphic novel from comic book artist Brian Gorman, when the publishing deal fell through, he was encouraged to turn the story into a play and New Dawn Fades was born.

Lancashire Telegraph: New Dawn Fades - Official Poster

“It was first performed in a pub in Manchester to around 30 people in 2013 and since then it’s sort of taken on a life of its own,” said Nigel Carr who alongside Tony Davidson is producing this new version of the show.

The play has been performed at venues for the past eight years but for 2023, Nigel and Tony have come on board as producers and director Mark Jones has become involved.

“Brian was looking to take the production to the next level,” said Nigel, “and that’s where Tony and I come in. Everyone involved in it until now has done a superb job but we’re hoping that the shows we’re doing now - in Sheffield, Bury and Manchester - will be the springboard. We’re hoping to take it to London and to theatres around the country next year.”

Tony and Nigel are ideally suited to handling the legacy of this iconic band.

Nigel is a partner in the online magazine and radio station Louder Than War and Tony’s connection to Joy Division goes back to the band’s formative years.Lancashire Telegraph: Joshua Glenister as Ian Curtis in New Dawn Fades (Picture: Shay Rowan)

“I was there at the inception of the band,” he said. “I ran the TJM record label and owned a large old mill on Little Peter Street where every band in Manchester used to rehearse.

“I first got to know the band when they were known as Stiff Kitten and then Warsaw before they changed their name to Joy Division. They were with me for two years and I formed a friendship with them all.

“They even asked me to manage them but I turned them down in favour of another band, Slaughter and the Dogs.”

Tony documented his part in the Manchester music scene in his highly-entertaining 2021 book The TJM Record Story, including how he funded the 12-inch version of Joy Division’s debut EP An Ideal for Living.

“New Dawn Fades is very much a celebration of the band,” said Nigel. “It is not a musical, it is a play which will feature three Joy Division songs - Shadowplay, She’s Lost Control and Transmission - all sung by Josh Glenister who plays Ian Curtis.

“When Josh came to the audition he was dressed like Ian Curtis,” said Nigel. “Even though he didn’t know the band he’d listened to their music and even at that first audition I was transfixed by his performance. We had to have him in the show.”

New Dawn Fades features Brian Gorman who wrote the play, as impresario, TV presenter and arguably the face of Manchester in the early 1980s Tony Wilson.

Lancashire Telegraph: Brian Gorman as Tony Wilson (Picture: Shay Rowan)

“Tony’s at the heart of the story and the other characters and the events weave around him,” said Tony. “Although we’re dealing with real people who so many music fans will know the play is not a deification of Tony Wilson or of Ian Curtis.

“It’s a very honest interpretation of the story of four lads who go to a gig which sparked them into doing something quite remarkable. It’s also a story about Manchester at that time.”

Nigel added: “The whole feel of the play is very authentic. It’s not a tribute, we didn’t want anyone to become a caricature, but it’s a celebration of what Joy Division were and what they achieved.

“It’s also very funny in parts. There’s a lot of swearing as these were just four lads from Manchester after all. And, of course there’s a poignancy to it all.”

Ian Curtis tragically took his own life in 1980 and the band would later become New Order featuring bassist Peter Hook, guitarist Bernard Sumner and drummer Stephen Morris.

Running alongside the performance there will be an exhibition featuring equipment and memorabilia, some of it loaned by renowned collector Chris Hewitt and some from Nigel’s own collection, including rare posters, original fliers, instruments and the band’s flight cases.

“It is a very accessible, punchy production,” said Nigel. “It’s not Joy Division the musical and I don’t think you need to be a fan of the band to really enjoy it.

“I think it really captures the spirit of the band and also the time. There are so many strands that it brings together.”

New Dawn Fades, Bury Met, Wednesday, October 11 and Thursday, October 12 ( and RNCM, Manchester, Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14 (