New Order : London Finsbury Park

They stopped the rain, but it didn't matter. Everyone is walking on air anyway...

The omens are not good. The Cooper Temple Clause, a Chris Martin-assisted Echo And The Bunnymen, Super Furries and Air have struggled manfully to cope with a day of swirling wind and driving rain, rendering the atmosphere before New Order take the stage for their biggest gig in years disappointingly flat.

Then suddenly the sun comes out, Bernard Sumner belts out 'Crystal''s pounding central riff and it's like the last five hours never happened. They then go on to effortlessly knock out a set which, while including a couple of tracks off last year's so-so comeback effort 'Get Ready', is wisely dominated by a raft of electro classics ('True Faith', 'Blue Monday', a gorgeous 'Bizarre Love Triangle').

But, perversely, the biggest audience cheers (save for a predictable encore run through footie rabble rouser 'World In Motion') are for the clutch of Joy Division songs smattered throughout the set. It's particularly peculiar to see grown men singing along to every word of 'She's Lost Control', Ian Curtis' still-harrowing depiction of an epileptic. And 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' has been elevated from its tear-jerking monochrome introspection into a communal sing-along understanding of the vagaries of romance.

Mournful, hedonistic, poignant and life affirming, New Order are everything a great pop group should be. Tonight's performance is justification enough for their continued presence after 25 years of death, illness, drugs and fighting. They stopped the rain, but it didn't matter. Everyone is walking on air anyway.

Alan Woodhouse

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