Few bands divide opinion quite so completely as New Order. They are capable of some of the most sublime moments of electronica and rock on record, but their critics maintain there is a nagging doubt about their ability to transfer those sounds from studio to stage.
The naysayers will tell you the band have lacked punch since the acrimonious departure of co-founder and bassist Peter Hook a few years ago, and that the music is too programmed to successfully make that transition.
Those doubters would have been put firmly in their place, had they ventured anywhere near Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium on Friday night.
For their Middle East debut, New Order delivered a stunning set, surfing neatly between their stellar back catalogue and the highlights of Music Complete, the band's satisfying 2015 comeback album, as well as dipping into some of the best from the Joy Division days.
This was a joyous occasion for fans, a riot of retro and future sounds, a mash-up of stunning visuals and stellar stage presence – a remembrance of good times past and a hope for more to come from a Manchester band, whose musical legacy casts a shadow as long as the Burj Khalifa. After four decades, age and the absence of Hook have not quelled the band’s fire – they have stoked it.
It was a night of sharp contrasts and high-definition sound as the band opened with Singularity, a track from the acclaimed Music Complete, followed by Ceremony, their debut single from 36 years ago.
From there it was back to their most recent album for Academic, and then onto Crystal, New Order's 2001 comeback single, which remains a stunning peak in a career full of imposing summits. And so it went on. Fans who had come to enjoy the band's heritage were sated by crowd-pleasing renditions of Your Silent Face, Bizarre Love Triangle and Perfect Kiss. Those who wanted to hear more from Music Complete were rewarded with Tutti Frutti and People on the High Line.
As the night moved towards its finale, the band delivered a trinity of classics, finishing the set with True Faith, Blue Monday and Temptation.
The encore honoured the earlier Joy Division era. If Love Will Tear Us Apart was an expected inclusion, Decades, the closing track from Joy Division's final album, was an unpredicted treasure.
It was another moment to savour at the end of an evening of great gratification.