Gary Numan and Divine Shade at Leeds Academy 12/05/22

Facebook friends will have heard me bang on about this before. Always, always, always get to gigs in time for the supports. As music lovers why oh why sit in a pub until 5 minutes before the main act and miss some amazing bands. Tonight, in particular, emphasised this point.

Thankfully Numan has continuously sung the praises of French trio Divine Shade meaning there’s a decent number in to witness them deliver a set of some of the heaviest, darkest, smoothest industrial electronic sounds you’re likely to hear live anywhere at the moment. From the doomsday noise of Eternal to the heavy electro dance beat of songs such as Ashes and Black Birds Return, Divine Shade win the already sizeable crowd over within minutes.

Throw in the apocalyptic noise of a track such as From The Sky, hellish red lights and plenty of smoke this is a band that grabs you instantly, doesn’t let go and leaves you wishing their support slot wasn’t just 40 minutes long.

In the middle of a global pandemic Gary Numan released Intruder (2021) which together with 2017’s Savage (Songs From A Broken World) perfectly put to music the feelings of chaos, havoc and devastation engulfing the planet nowadays. That chaos knocked out any plans to tour so Numan fans have waited until now for him to bring his Intruder tour to the UK. One thing is guaranteed at any concert by Gary Numan – it’s going to be packed out with fans. Real fans, obsessive fans, fans who have followed him through career highs and lows right from those early days of Tubeway Army. What this means is that Numan doesn’t need to rely on golden oldies. He’s continuously moved on delivering albums relevant to the times we live in.

The dense, pounding noise of Intruder opens the set and as Numan walks on stage, three red stripes down his face, eyes staring out from a face that clearly means business, you know immediately that he’s still at the top of his game. Gripping his mic, moving around the stage, from the opening notes Numan becomes completely lost in his own world. His voice, possibly one of the most easily recognisable around, as good now as it’s ever been.
Tonight’s set relies on no particular album or era. It covers his entire career from 1979 to now. The huge soundscape of Intruder gives way to the punky electronics of Me, I Disconnect From You, released over 40 years ago yet fitting seamlessly into tonight’s proceedings with no thoughts of it being out of place. Halo drags us back into the 21st Century with it’s bodeful, sinister bass lines and slashing guitar.

Gary Numan never simply plays a concert. Watching Numan is a completely immersive experience. In front of a huge video screen projecting images of bombs, devastated landscapes, hellish red amorphous globules, futuristic cityscapes whilst all the while huge beams of light scan the auditorium like a scene from the darkest of war zones he moves around the stage. At times he’s menacing, taught, full of fury, arms swinging. Numan stares down, crouching then stretches upwards as if searching for something beyond his reach. A moment later he seems graceful, playful almost as he exchanges a knowing grin or touch with other members of the band. A band clearly enjoying themselves and giving as much to the show as Numan himself.

Songs from his years as electro-pop god, and albums The Pleasure Principle (Cars, Metal) and Tubeway Army’s Replicas (Down In The Park) are given a much harder, raw edge whilst still retaining the sounds that made him a mega star back then. These dips into the days when electronic music became commercially successful provide a reminder of how, at the time, Numan spearheaded a whole new musical movement following the onslaught of punk. But it’s 21st Century Gary Numan that provides the real highlights tonight. The crunching, pulverising, sensual assaults of My Name Is Ruin, Here In The Black, Love Hurt Bleed, Dead Sun Rising and Resurrection – thunderous drums, bass and guitars overlaid with synths that ebb and flow, weaving perfectly amongst the noise. All show just how far Numan has moved on from those chart-topping days.
A superb I Die You Die closes the main set after which Numan acknowledges the response and obvious adoration from his fan base with a simple hand on heart gesture, a wave and a mouthed “Thank You”. Throughout it all there’s been no need for words between songs. No need for anything to be explained or introduced such is the connectivity between performer and crowd. It has all been about the music, the songs, the visuals and the atmosphere generated.
Gary Numan and band return for an encore of just two songs.

The heart wrenching A Prayer For The Unborn and the euphoric, timeless Are Friends Electric – there’s always something special about the sound of 2000+ people joining in with a song – bring to an end a night that has shown Numan to still be a completely captivating showman. A superb performance from both him and his band.

Photos and Words by Steve White 


Philip Goddard

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