Let me just get this out there right at the start, I’m not a Gary Numan fan. I don’t hate Gary Numan, I am just indifferent through ignorance. To me Gary Numan’s career started and ended with his 1979 hit, Cars…like I said, ignorant. My dad however is huge Numanite (that’s what Numan fans are called right?!), so when I heard he was coming to Cardiff, my sister and I had to take our father to the gig he’s been waiting to see for at least 37 years. Was it worth the wait? I guess you’ll have to ask him to find out the answer to that one but here’s my take:
Gary Numan is a god to the fans that adore him, an inspiration to the musicians that came after him and a footnote to the uneducated masses.
Gary and his band came on stage looking like rejects from The Matrix, not all black leather and latex but the bits in the real world, where the the inhabitants of Zion have nothing to all day but hang about in bandaged off-white threads and go to mass raves. It’s the kind of post-apocalyptic-chic that gives the whole band a very theatrical feel, not something most performers would be willing to do these days but they pulled it off for the most part. They opened with Ghost Nation from the new album, Savage: Songs From A Broken World, considering the album had only been released 2 weeks previous it was met with joyous rapture by the Numanite massive, most of whom already seem to know the words in the inevitable call-repeat chorus.
Considering that Numan has released 20 studio albums, he has a huge back catalogue to pull from, and pull he did. Lots from the last two dark and moody electro-infused rock albums but these were effortlessly blended into his 80’s full-on electro pop tracks, even if there was definitely some updating in the arrangements. Throughout it all Gary was always Gary, throwing up new-romantic shapes with classic rock n roll salutes in a way that only he could, all the while being mimicked by the faithful, who by this point seemed to be under his spell with an almost cult-like grip.
Yes, he did play Cars and Are Friends Electric?, which I thought would make me happy but surprisingly I was actually happier listening to his new stuff. I especially liked the tracks he did from the album before the latest one, Splinter (Songs from a broken mind), including the title track and Everything Comes Down to This. The new albums feel thematically of the the same family, part one and two of a movie trilogy that Numan is producing in his head and I for one am looking forward to the third and final part of that trilogy that is sure to come(?).
I entered the Tramshed a Numan neophyte with a sprinkling of experience here and there, I didn’t leave a Numanite, I won’t be trading in my hi-tops and hoodies for sand boots and a face mask but I did leave changed, more open to the dark, dramatic, electro world in which Gary Numan now lives. Oh, and we couldn’t get the smile off my dad’s face for a good few hours after the gig…no matter how hard we tried!