(The Crofoot, Pontiac, MI - March 28th, 2014)
English singer, composer, and musician Gary Numan (actually born Gary Anthony James Webb) is most widely known for his chart-topping 1979 hits 'Are 'Friends' Electric?' (which was backed by Tubeway Army) and the ever-popular 'Cars.'
Having realistically achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 70's and early 80's, he still managed to release ten (10) solo albums in the 80's alone.
With his choice to now musically couple to Trent Reznor (NIN) for his brand new album, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), it's now great surprise that touring live in the US was to follow. I mean, both men still maintain a loyal cult following here so why the hell not, am I right!
And so when the man with the self-diagnosed mild form of Asperser’s Syndrome finally takes to the stage at nearly 11.00pm, the darkness descends within the small homely venue - and (basically) "Gary Reznor" takes to the stage!
Clasping his hands to the mic stand in an appreciative manner to the baying fans, he takes a step back and humbly bows to them. It's then that Numan undertakes an industrial-cloaked musical journey; and all without saying one solitary word in-between songs! Indeed, the show is one long, barely broken up dark soundscape that forgoes most all of his pioneering electro music ie: Numan’s legacy.
The consistently musically strong evening begins with the short intro 'Resurrection,' before heading into the first single off the new album the anthemic statement of 'I Am Dust.' Then we are treated to a newly-industrialized cut from Numan's The Pleasure Principle album 'Metal,' the epilepsy inducing light show that is 'Everything Comes Down To This' and both 'Films' [another TPP cut] and with some crushing guitars, scratchy electronics and even the echo of stifled strings, 'Here In The Black' follows.
Dressed head to toe as you would expect in black, Numan doesn't seem to look any older than he once used to back some twenty years ago when I last saw him here in the States. The hair is as black, as softly-punked as always, his wrist wear the mixed leather norm, even his eye liner and lip snarl for certain growled notes hasn't seemingly diminished. Indeed, perhaps the only thing that has changed here, but this could just be a live small club issue, is that his vocal tones aren't as strong, as overpowering as they once were.
Moving on and we get both 'The Fall' and the primarily orchestral 'The Calling,' before we finally break the dense fog of a pseudo NIN show when Numan breaks down and gives the fans what they truly came here to listen to tonight: old school Numan. The first evidence of this was a brilliant rendition of 'Down In The Park,' a song that you had to be a true NuFan to appreciate live.
He then follows that with the vocal respite synth heavy 'Lost,' but is soon back to what he does best when a strained electronic intro finally gives way to the known opening sounds of his worldwide smash hit, 'Cars.' One of the true highlights of the night, it just felt like an invisible knife of light had cut through the heavy density of the musical darkness - and just in time. The audience loved it, the cell phones went up to record it, the lyrics were sung along with.
After that it was back to "Gary Reznor" basics re: 'Pure,' 'Splinter,' 'We're The Unforgiven,' and then both the electronic dance floor vibe of 'Love Hurt Bleed' and the extremely haunting 'A Prayer For The Unborn.' Standing center stage, his arms gently swaying and twirling above his head in the white light shadows, Numan dances for himself more than the audience. Occasionally he even takes to his own private keyboard, but he's obviously more of a guitar slinger these days.
However, the three song encore was most definitely the highlight (for old school NuFan's, of course) as he gave us a rousing 'I Die You Die' and then a piano-infused version of 'Are 'Friends' Electric?' that was just so beautiful to listen to live. With a devilish glint in his eye, and even a wry smile on his face, Numan's self belief in his new body of work is deeply evident. Worn proudly on his sweat-drenched sleeve for all to see he then brings the show to a genuine close with the powerful new album track 'My Last Day.' Numan then verbally thanks everyone for coming out, waves, bows and then steps into the darkness of stage left for the last time.
Review & Photos by: Russell A. Trunk