Gary Numan never went away. Ever since the demise of his career as a hit maker and alternative pin up back when The Pleasure Principle came out he’s been plugging away, self releasing album after album that you’ve never heard.

Gary Numan never went away. Ever since the demise of his career as a hit maker and alternative pin up back when The Pleasure Principle came out he’s been plugging away, self releasing album after album that you’ve never heard.

But lets be fair to him, what else was he going to do? Even if he looks like an estate agent, the chance for an alternative career has probably passed him by. So, given the opportunity to play in front of more than a few people, re-pedalling an album that spawned a hit both sides of the Atlantic 30 years ago and hopefully make some coin while he’s at it, he’s not going to turn that down. In our mad rush to recreate the recession, dole queues and dereliction of the 1980’s we’re hardly going to turn down the opportunity to see it in action, are we?

 

So onto the stage he comes, and in a flash of dystopian imagery and flashing lights, we’re led into the past, again, as he and the band launch into Airlane. After which Gary talks to the crowd, dedicating Metal to his friend and collaborator Paul Gardiner, the chunky, phasing bassist from the Tubeway Army days, who killed himself in 1984. The rest is, of course, inevitable. Complex, Films, M.E. They start M.E. at Basement Jaxx speed by mistake, it seems, and spend the first few bars slowing it down. It’s only when we get to Cars that it all seems to have been a bit staid, slightly robotic, as the sudden burst of energy from crowd and band puts the rest of the show into perspective. Perhaps they were weighed down by a sense of duty to the record, or more likely, it’s bulk is just not the meat of their current set. Because of course, Gary is still touring, and this is his band, and they play his music, which we are about to find as the last vestiges of Engineers fades away into some semi-ambient technical difficulties.

Under cover of near darkness keyboards are led away, guitars are plugged in and suddenly the new shit gets an airing. Suddenly Gary is posturing, snarling, his comrades throwing shapes and heads back. He sounds like he’s influenced by bands that are influenced by him. Mimicking himself, twice or three times removed. As if he’s been spending too much time hanging out in dark rooms with his buddy Trent and Marilyn.

That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just not going to be doing the rounds in 30 years time, and to be fair to Gary, he’s giving the crowd their monies worth, playing the entire album, augmenting it with some What-Gary-Did-Next numbers (which a surprising number of the audience seems to already know) and the garnish of a few classics, leading up to, inevitably, a rendition of Are Friends Electric, the song that makes you wonder, Did Gary Numan Invent Music? Everyone sings along, as much as you can, and in the face of this slice of refined genius, one is prepared to indulge Gary his industrial, guitar heavy, new self. In fact if you can distill this gig down to that song, and of course Cars, you’ve had a pretty good night, and even if it was the distillation of the man’s entire career, well than, that’s better than most. I may yet check out some of Gary’s new stuff, but I’ll certainly be sticking on The Pleasure Principle.

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