GARY NUMAN – MANCHESTER ALBERT HALL

Opening proceedings this evening is KANGA who apparently “wields the power of objectification in a hyper surreal world of techno-industrial landscapes and manipulative pop hooks”. Is this post-modernist hyperbole or simply arty bollocks?

Hers is a solo performance that delves into the ultra-arty and whilst I am enjoying the more upbeat moments, she only manages to garner polite applause from the audience who are somewhat ostracised by an over reliance on loops and pre-programmed sounds, along with being in darkness a lot results in a lack of connection. Her voice wavering during quieter moments, sadly, didn’t help and neither did Cocaine, the song not the drug, although it is needed at times during this bass synth and droning set, music for a seedy Russian strip club perhaps.

KANGA lost her purpose towards the end and the audience knew it, the insincerity is palpable as she wistfully exclaims “I am so excited to be here, it is a dream come true”.

It’s been an interesting year for catching up with bands from the distant past and I last saw Gary Numan on his Pleasure Principle tour exactly 40 years ago. This tour from Gazzer, the “(R)evolution 40th Anniversary Tour”, has the potentially be a quite tasty affair but will it deliver?

After KANGA the cynic in me has come to the fore and I need to be convinced otherwise but in the Albert Hall the expectation is high as the crowd chants NU-MAN NU-MAN NU-MAN…

It didn’t take long, the cynic in me was easily pleased… an animated Numan dances around the stage to My Name Is Ruin, clearly enjoying himself as he is joined by Persia on vocals. This is exactly what the audience wants and they are getting it.

I Die: You Die delves into a more industrial sound, you can clearly hear how Trent Reznor is influenced by Numan, Metal is mental and teleports me straight back to ‘79.

The video screen at the back plays its part during Absolution with its recurring images of war, terrorism conflict, religion and genocide – particularly telling with today’s news of conflict with the Turkish assault on the Kurds in Northern Syria, troubling times.

With the smoke blowing from behind him and being side lit Numan looks like he is a lone psychotic killer during Down In The Park. Surprisingly Cars is heavier than I’d expect, drawing the loudest cheer and sees the band totally engrossed in the performance.

A deep dive back into his industrial sound with Here In The Black is interesting, the man himself giving 100%, We Are Glass taking us back to ‘79 once more. A Prayer For The Unborn features a video of an ultra sound scan, along with sympathetic movement from Numan and a great use of lights it is stirring stuff. The set closer, the Tubeway Army classic – Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, tops off a great performance.

NU-MAN NU-MAN NU-MAN… the more than well deserved encore includes a new song called Intruder which as he explains is still in it’s demo phase although it sounds fairly finished to me.

This has been a true career retrospective featuring songs from 10 releases (according to my notes), there is many a happy punter leaving here this evening to more chants of NU-MAN NU-MAN NU-MAN!

 

Words by Anthony Firmin

Pics by Philip Goddard