Music: Live: Electronica veterans move with the times

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WHEN NEW Order were put on hold some six years ago they were showing all of classic signs of rock'n'roll battle fatigue. Reading their interviews at the time you could be forgiven for thinking that, had the foursome spent any more time together in the same room, they were liable to turn the backstabbing into full frontal murder. Tension ran high and the end was, it seemed, inevitable. Yet the Mancunians have once again come together for two dance events named after one of the band's best know singles "Temptation". But why regroup at all? Well there is the obvious financial incentive - a chance to recoup some of that cash lost on such infamous follies as The Hacienda and that sleeve for "Blue Monday" which cost more to produce than they were actually making.

Sitting in a hotel bar before the gig, however, their singer Bernard Sumner suggests that this reunion is "simply for the fun of it". However with his constantly ringing mobile phone - old mates after wads of tickets - and the management imposed 1am curfew it's hard to understand how any of this can be considered fun.

Two hours later though and Sumner is hopping round the huge stage like a lager boy on a Spanish holiday having a laugh in the face of the bands own tragic history, the suicide of singer Ian Curtis back in their Joy Division days having dogged the band ever since. A fact made even more poignant by the reworkings of old Joy Division numbers. "Heart and Soul" is turned inside out with a series of jittering junglist rhythms while "Love Will Tear Us Apart" is utterly transformed into an anthemic celebration, Sumner following each verse with a huge whoop and fist punching the air. Both songs suggesting what this reunion is really about; the exorcism of old ghosts. In reinterpreting the past into the sound of their present, New Order are finally able to move forward.

From "Ceremony" to "True Faith", and from "Blue Monday" to "Bizarre Love Triangle", each track is decon- structed to its electronic bones and then rebuilt around a new model. One which owes as much to alternative rock as it does acid house, but with an ear for the boombastic needs of the stadium-sized event.

The comeback gig is often like a TV soap. Each time an old character returns to the Square we cheer a little. Secretly however we'd all hoped for a final, tragic departure. With this gig New Order could have finally done a Tiffany and departed in blaze of glory. However with such a wealth of new ideas on display it seems New Order are more likely to get back on the bus than end up under its wheels.

Martin James