The Assembly, Leamington Spa
Friday 7th June
Last friday night the iconic artist who is Gary Numan came to Leamington Spa’s The Assembly to play a rare live performance, the first in a build up to a new album due to drop in Autumn. Louder Than War were down the front as he proceded to put on typically brilliant gig.
Gary Numan is a man who’s been praised, maligned and misunderstood throughout his storied career. He’s gone from electro genius, to guilty pleasure, to industrial behemoth. He has also been also cited as an influence for an immeasurable amount of musicians ranging from Lady Gaga to Dave Grohl to Marilyn Manson.
In his late seventies, early eighties guise as electro pioneer he had chart success with a run of successful charting albums and monster singles in the form of ‘Cars’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric.’ As the end of the millennium approached, with a career that had gone slightly awry, Numan sought to reinvent himself taking on a more industrial sound akin to Nine Inch Nails. There was also a heavy collaboration with Fear Factory on a version of ‘Cars’ which dropped more than a subtle hint as to Numan’s new influences. More recently Gary Numan’s been brought back to the fore of our attention thanks to his collaboration with highly regarded American experimental noise rock band Battles.
With his first new album proper due since 2006’s Jagged, (not counting 2011’s splendid Dead Son Rising), Numan is embarking on the album / tour cycle once again. This kicked off with a solitary headline performance at Leamington’s ornate, art-deco venue ‘The Assembly.’
When attending a Gary Numan show, there is one thing you can be certain of; an extremely devout fan base – ‘Numanoids.’ The atmosphere around the venue was excellent. Opening act Jayce Lewis put in an energetic performance that warmed the crowd nicely but the crowd were only interested in one man.
As Numan took to the stage, the atmosphere was electric. The early drive of 2011 single, The Fall, was something to behold. Heavy guitars, sinister beats and Numan’s unmistakeable vocal make a crushing mix. ‘When the Sky Bleeds, He Will Come’ also shows the quality of Numan’s latter day work. The whole set took in a range of Numan’s finest moments from his early and later career. The drone and synth of ‘Down in the Park’ still sounds completely fresh for its 34 years of age. The latter day drawl of 2006’s ‘Haunted’ is punishing with its precise, churning riff. Another set highlight is the anthemic title track of his year 2000 release, Pure. Although Numan has successfully moved to a harder edged sound in recent years, the glory and euphoria that greets the huge hits, ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ and ‘Cars’ is completely unstoppable. ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric’ closed out the main set with Numan giving the crowd chance to catch their breath before encoring immediately with ‘Cars.’ An emphatic encore was crowned with the chimes of another classic; ‘I Die: You Die.’
In such scintillating form, it’s hard to see where Numan could stop. Blending the old and new songs from his catalogue must be a tricky job, but the old songs now have renewed vigour with their harder edge, and this helps them sit perfectly with the newer material. The new album, ‘Splinter,’ is due on 14th October and an extensive UK tour is scheduled for November. If you have the chance to catch Gary Numan live, do not hesitate.
All dates can be found by accessing Gary Numan’s official website HERE.
All words by Dom Walsh. You can read more from Dom at his author’s archive here.