An interview written for NE Volume in late 2019 which was shortened for publication. Here’s the original, longer, version for your enjoyment.
Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson, Noel Fielding and pretty much anything Trent Reznor has ever committed to tape. These are just a handful of artists who owe their existence to Gary Numan. Numan allegedly took his name from a plumber in the Yellow Pages, and almost forty years to the week began touring as a solo artist, having parted from this band Tubeway Army only a few months prior. Achieving commercial success with ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’ soon followed, making even his idol David Bowie jealous enough to write a song about him, Numan physically and mentally exhausted; citing a possible farewell from touring in 1981.
Thankfully, Numan warmed to live performance, and I’m
personally extremely grateful that he did. The sound of his performance is
incredible, his band are well timed and well-rehearsed, and his vocals sound
amazing. As he stepped onto the stage he is the picture of health and nowhere
near the reality of his sixty one years. His image, as with his voice, are
timeless and the sounds made sound as relevant today as they ever have.
Interspersed with sound we’re treated to a fantastic multimedia display,
reminiscent of Bowie on his ‘Reality Tour’ where image and graphics shroud the
band in a digital illumination.
New material is mixed with old, and you’d be forgiven for thinking you were at a Nine Inch Nails concert, the Metal sound his latest work feeling relevant and fresh. Some may criticize the choice of venue, feeling the 02 Academy was too “hip and happening” for an artist of Numan’s caliber, perhaps the Sage a more appropriate venue. But a combination of his insistence on staying relevant and keeping ticket prices affordable lend itself to believing the venue choice is a conscious decision on the artist’s behalf to make his music as accessible as possible. And it works.
It’s almost ironic that whilst his biggest musical fans have almost faded into commercial obscurity, Numan himself is starting to be even more relevant, answering the call that nothing sounds better than the original. Engaging and interactive, his performance is truly electric, and as we’re all friends I guess we’ve answered that question!