Gary Numan: Manchester – live review

Gary Numan
Manchester, The Academy
14th November 2013

With a back catalogue boasting some of the most pioneering electro music, Gary Numan’s legacy is already cemented. If you go to see Gary Numan on this jaunt do not expect a trip down memory lane.

Gary Numan‘s latest album, Splinter, is one of the finest of the year. It’s also one of his most consistent and strong records. Half the set list in Manchester was heavy with new songs, with the other half being made up of several classics, and cuts from his more industrial new millennium output.

Of the tracks from Splinter, they are all highlights and stand up in their own right.  Opener I Am Dust is a grinding, anthemic statement whilst Here In The Black created a real sinister edge with its crushing guitars, glitchy electronics and haunting strings. The Calling is a more orchestral work that helps break up the industrial onslaught. Another moment of respite came during the superb Lost. Again, another orchestrally led, synth heavy piece, the track sounded fantastic whilst being backed, like the rest of the night by stunning visuals which helped notch up the atmosphere that little bit more. The bass and guitar on Everything Comes Down To This is something to behold when your lungs are shaking and your eyes are being assaulted by the epilepsy inducing lights.

Whilst showcasing his excellent new album, Numan opted for two early slices from The Pleasure Principle in the form of Films and Metal. Both were obviously well received in their new, more grinding form. 2011’s The Fall and an absolutely bombastic version of 2000’s Pure are helped along by another classic, Down In The Park. One of Splinter’s lead tracks which was aired earlier this year at his Leamington show; Love Hurt Bleed, displays Numan’s knack for a dance floor groove which many electronic music aficionado would happily salivate and shake their behind too.


Numan closed out the main set with the extremely haunting and harrowing A Prayer For The Unborn. This is a track which by Numan’s own admission is a heartbreaking song to play live due to the bleak lyric and undertones portrayed.

Whilst the end of the set is still punishing and crushing, with a suitably dark tone, the encore is a vivacious affair with the straight up classics of Cars and Are ‘Friends’ Electric. To me, Cars seemed a little flat, possibly owing to the mind blowing journey of the previous 80 minutes. This feeling was completely destroyed with a monumental version of Are ‘Friends’ Electric. The track was extended and Numan looked like he’d hit the home run in the World Series. Still sticking to his guns in promoting Splinter, it’s the albums closing track, My Last Day that closes the set.

For a man that has been there, back, and here again, Gary Numan is a unique force. His power visually, lyrically and musically is second to none. Numan could easily tour classic albums, play hits shows and rake in whatever riches he wanted. His belief in his new work makes for a superb show, and I feel you always have to admire musicians who don’t rest on their laurels and take the easy way out. The complete and utter assault on the senses in Manchester was both satisfying and suitably cathartic.


Gary Numan’s website is here and he’s on Facebook and Twitter.

All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom at his author’s archive here. Dom also tweets as @bwfcdom83.

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