Gary Numan is a rare alumnus of the 80’s new wave era. Not only did he inadvertently invent it, he showed everyone how to not do it approximately 6 years later.
Famously stating once that upon arriving at a studio to record a punk record, he glanced at a Moog monophonic synthesizer and decidedly thought: “why not put it through a guitar effects pedal?” From this the icon went on to record two groundbreaking records with The Pleasure Principle and Telekon. Riding on the success of the sound he essentially invented, the man was quickly labeled an innovator, a label I’d never want to wish upon myself as an artist. As the 80’s evolved into a veritable smorgasbord of synth-pop and jagged edges Numan quickly lost ground to superstar acts he influenced such as the Human League, Tears for Fears, and Wang Chung.
Cue the 90’s, Numan quickly had to decide whether he’d continue rehashing his synth-pop formula by adding increasingly superfluous instruments or do something utterly non sequitur. Thus ensued 20 years of industrial music in the mold of Laibach and Rammstein, quite possibly one of the only genres I cannot stand at all. So how did I react to a set that was composed of 60% industrial melodrama and 40% beautiful dreamy synth-pop? Not very well for about the first hour until the first inkling of 80’s bliss crept in with a stunning rendition of ‘Cars’ that went on for about seven minutes. How did the leather-clad, boots bigger than my wardrobe, 40-60 year old crowd react? Ecstatically would be an understatement. Thus ensued a classic case of ‘I can see how if you were into this kind of thing you’d be excited’ and ‘I guess I’ll dig it for an hour’, and so I did.
The lighting and stage presence of the whole ordeal was indeed fantastic though I left the venue with my persistent gripe with regards to the Guildhall’s atrocious inability to mix loud gigs. Once the six 80’s crowd-pleasing hits rolled in the atmosphere of the venue shifted dramatically, and so did the people inhabiting the front row. I’d be lying if I didn’t say the last 40 minutes of this gig wasn’t quite possibly a 13 year old, new wave obsessed, me witnessing his dreams come true. This feeling is indeed one that perpetuated the night; a large group of fans having their Numanoid dreams come true, whether it be witnessing his Nine Inch Nails-esque 20 year phase of industrial experimentation, or dancing along to ‘Are Friends Electric’ for the first time in a live setting, ever.