Live: Gary Numan
By Paul Norris
Upon entering the gig, one can’t help but notice two distinct sections of the crowd, those there for the old hits and those who are industrial/Gothic fans. Therefore, it would be a difficult task to strive to please all of the audience. But Numan doesn’t just conform to what we’d expect. The name of his new album Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind) emerges onto an impressive set of screens amidst dark and heavy synths breaking into ‘I Am Dust’, the first single from the new album and it’s in the same vein as his more recent past releases with perhaps a slightly heavier feel.
The new material is intriguing with vast textures and thick guitars leading the band. However, it’s not until the oldie ‘Films’ is performed that the crowd becomes awakened. This is reflective of the whole performance; it’s firmly of his industrial era styling, with the odd 70s/80s classic. However it’s a formula that works, one may even say that it feels somewhat odd when an old song is performed, not because of the quality but because Numan has moved on. He’s is a pioneer of electronic music, one cannot expect him to stand still with a dated sound, although, I often found myself longing for the analogue vulnerability of a late 70s Moog synthesiser. Nonetheless, the core elements of Gary Numan remain in his music: foreboding synthesis with quavering staccato vocals. ‘The Calling’ has an immaculate string section which rounds off its industrial nature. “Lost” and “Love Hurt Bleed” are also stand-out tracks from the new album.
The crowd has to wait until the encore for ‘Cars’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, which despite being encompassing sing-alongs, looked to be a matter of process for Numan, they’re by a different artistic personality. Numan has now found his true musical identity and it shines through in his performance.