It’s not too often you get to spend the evening with a true music icon, yet Nottingham’s Rock City was treated to a performance of the highest order from electronic legend Gary Numan.
The tight venue was packed to the rafters and the anticipation was incendiary, as an aged audience eagerly awaited its hero. You were met with what could only be described as whale noises accompanied by pulsating electronic beats. With a single female vocalist on stage, a synth desk and a screen displaying a short film, a story played out. It was a unique approach on the support act, but not exactly successful among a disinterested crowd
However, that was not to impact on the main man; as Numan arrived to much acclaim, after a protracted opening, which built and built the tension to the extent where it could be cut with a ‘Bake-Off’ kitchen knife. He and his band entered the stage to heroes welcomes, before whizzing straight into ‘Replicas’.
It was clear to see that he was bang in form, with his vocals still holding up impressively well considering the 1970’s origins. The rest of the band, too, were equally as tight, providing a solid foundation for the star to fall back on. In particular, the rhythm sections were intriguing, as the industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, a band whose frontman Trent Reznor pointedly notes Numan as an inspiration, was seeping through pounding guitar riffs and buzzing electronic beats.
But the main star was Numan himself. Acknowledging the baying crowd frequently throughout the show, who were often chanting ‘Numan, Numan, Numan!’ in between tracks, he seemed like he was where he was most comfortable, on a stage performing to fans. With a live album and a film documentary already released this year, this ten-date UK tour will be the icing on the cake for many, with the focus firmly on his three biggest albums; ’Replicas’, ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Telekon’, alongside work from his band the Tubeway Army.
The material showcased was as ‘Best Of’ a show as it gets, which the crowd loved, never failing to get involved whether it be with chanting, dance moves or simply saluting their man. With his fresh arrangement of ‘Are Friends Electric’, there was innovation too, amongst the familiarity, allowing newcomers, to get into the mix, without too much trouble.
Considering the artists and bands that have incorporated Numan’s sound and his influence over the years, it’s clear to see why this guy is the real deal. It’s also brilliant to see such a tastemaker still touring to this day. And sure, it may be pure fan service, but there’s undoubtedly something about Gary Numan, even if you can’t quite place a finger on it.