New Order’s Dubai debut at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium was a whirlwind two-hour masterclass, proving the '80s electro-pop icons have no intentions of slowing down.
The gig was part of the band’s Music Complete tour, and the set-list ran with the metaphoric double meaning of the latest album’s title. This was complete music. The set was a comprehensive cross-section of everything that is New Order; big-hitting tunes from the latest album, slightly more niche tunes from the band’s back catalogue, iconic anthems the band built its global name upon, and even some Joy Division. For those who understand the pertinence of seeing New Order playing Joy Division live, the meaning was not lost.
Music Complete heralds a return to New Order’s roots, it's an electro-centric album, after two records exploring guitar-heavy avenues. The performance in Dubai celebrated the electronic origins of the band. Opening with Singularity, Music Complete’s dark and moody second track co-written and produced by The Chemical Brothers’ Tom Rowlands, the band whizzed through a gritty, punchy first half.
You could sense the band easing into the show, which just got better and better as the night went on, with the second half of the performance bringing with it the classic New Order. Grand stand renditions of True Faith, Bizarre Love Triangle and Blue Monday were as expertly delivered as they were expected, with the latter preceding digi-synth feel-good belter Temptation to draw a close to the main part of the show.
It kind of felt like the band had nothing more to give at the end of a nigh-on two-hour performance, and you’d have been forgiven for thinking this would be one of those gigs where the band doesn’t come back for an encore.
But, boy, did they come back. “Are there any Joy Division fans here?” asked front man Bernard Sumner, to resounding positivity. “We were gonna play something else, but I think we’ll play a couple of Joy Division tracks instead.”
Queue a haunting rendition of creeping tune Decades, accompanied by pictures of Joy Division singer Ian Curtis. To round off the night, New Order jumped into Love Will Tear Us Apart, which was both poignant and celebratory.
In all, a bombastic electro masterclass from one of the music industry’s absolute stalwarts.