I’m pleased to announce I’ve made a video for Gary Numan’s ‘Machine Music’ tour. 2012
Gary Numan’s ‘Machine Music’ tour might be a journey through his key single releases from 1978’s ‘That’s Too Bad’ to 2011’s ‘The Fall’, but it leaves you in absolutely no doubt that, despite his well-deserved legacy as an pioneer of electronic music, Numan is a rock artist through and through. There are electronics on display tonight of course, lots of them, but generally they are used to add a melodic veneer to an impressive rock performance that has more in common with the likes of Nine Inch Nails than it has with any of his early career electro-peers.
On paper that might sound like a bad thing, but it really isn’t, because Gary Numan is a great rock star and he absolutely plays the role to the full. Opening number ‘Berserker’ is a case in point, it’s a full on rock performance, conveniently lacking in much in the way of lead vocals leaving Numan free to strike rock-star poses for the photographers at his feet, to prowl the stage like a caged animal, and to receive the adulation of his loyal and enthusiastic audience. ‘Berserker’ very much sets the pace of the first half an hour of the show which sees Numan rattle through half a dozen fine performances – with special mention for sterling versions of ‘Crazier’ and ‘Dominion Day’ – before a crowd-pleasing excursion into his earlier output with a powerful version of ‘This Wreckage’, perhaps the first track in the set to be universally recognised by tonight’s diverse audience.
‘Absolution’ slows the pace right down and for the first time this evening a hint of vulnerability creeps into Numan’s performance, something fragile and alien, though that is quickly forgotten as the band immediately and joyfully launch into the demented rock and roll of ‘That’s Too Bad’. ‘Down In The Park’ gets the biggest cheer of the night so far, an updated version which is more about the bass and the guitar than about the original electronics, which lay over the song adding extra sparkle to one of my favourite Numan tracks. ‘RIP’ bridges the rock and electronic facets of Numan’s output best, opening with the most overtly electronic sounds of the evening so far before turning into a dark, brooding, powerful rock number – accompanied by equally unnerving and disturbing images flickering on the video screen over the stage.
Numan’s first words to his audience come over an hour into the show when he dedicates ‘Love Needs No Disguise’ to Cedric Sharpley, his former drummer who passed away recently – and introduces former bandmates Rrussell Bell and Chris Payne to the stage to play on the track alongside his current band. The pulsing introduction and the funky bassline running through ‘Warriors’ keeps the audience mobile and upbeat until the magical moment when every hand in the venue is in the air to greet the opening notes of ‘I Die You Die’ this version fairly faithful to the original, and ‘We Are Glass’ which pushes the audience’s excitement up yet another notch.
True to the old adage of leaving the audience wanting more the band then promptly disappear, emerging again a few minutes later to launch back into the show’s earlier industrial style with ‘Healing’. With the stage bathed in white light and swirling with dry ice, a chugging, rocked-up version of ‘Cars’ comes next, throwing the crowd into a riot and updating the song effortlessly without losing any of the essence of the original track. A trick that is pulled off again, even more successfully, with an excellent updated ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ with each verse made eerie and intimate by the echoing sounds and whispered vocals before exploding into each chorus in a final frenzy of white light and dry ice.
Never overly keen on spending too much time dwelling on past glories, tonight Numan has pulled off the difficult task of presenting his past while reinventing it, reminding us of his legacy but with one eye firmly on the future. Great stuff.