After Numan’s forty years in the music industry, I have to admit that my preconceptions of the show were not at all that high. Despite this, I assumed that as a very successful musician, Gary Numan would still be an act worth seeing. As is sometimes the case with aging musicians, there is the tendency for the music to sound tired and lacking in substance. However, this could not have been further from the truth for Gary Numan. The queues for entry snaked almost five blocks around the back of the venue, the O2 Institute; a testament to the commitment of Numan’s fans, and, clearly, a demonstration that Numan’s performance was going to be something to shout about. The choice of songs for the show were particularly captivating, opening with “I Am Ruin” a thematic song from Numan’s most recent 2017 album, “Savage (Songs from a Broken World)”.
The name proved apt for its conceptual content, which explores a variety of social and political themes present in today’s society, such as climate change. The use of stage pyrotechnics was impressive, creating an almost ethereal backdrop to Numan’s futuristic sound. Numan’s legendary song “Cars” also made it into the performance, still delivered flawlessly almost forty years after its release. His delivery of the song “Are Friends Electric?” was particularly impressive, commanding audience participation without even trying.
Particularly noteworthy were Gary’s vocal pyrotechnics. His distinctive voice still managed to captivate an audience so flawlessly, whilst his adaptability and musical diversity never cease to amaze me. His unique voice was the perfect backdrop for a range of sounds throughout the show. His new material still contained the heavy synthesizer hooks that he is famed for, whilst also delving into a heavier, more hard rock or metal sound in places. Numan showed panache in his delivery of the set list. He appears to possess an innate ability to command the stage and encourage audience participation, without saying a word during the entire show. It is clear that he still demonstrates excellent musicianship and a sound flair for performance.
What’s more is that it is important to mention the skill of his band. They showed great skill with their instruments, commanding a respect from the audience which is seldom seen with a backing band for a solo artist.
The truth is, there is nothing I could fault about Gary Numan’s performance. It was perhaps at the start a surprise to see such a big turnout at this intimate venue, all to get a glimpse of Gary Numan. However, after proving that his sound is still fresh and his stage presence still flawless, it is easy to understand why fans keep coming back to witness this exquisite spectacle.
By Emma Gardner