Unlike so many people who saw Gary live over the years, my first real opportunity to see the great electronic sound pioneer appeared only now, in 2016. When you live far from his more common venues, which I did until 2014, catching his performance is not easy. However, I knew I didn’t want to miss this fantastic opportunity to catch Gary on this tour, since I had really wondered if he would play Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon ever again. It doesn’t matter that I was just a toddler when Gary started playing. Having been born in 1976 in the family of musicians provided me with the ability to understand and appreciate his work even more. I believe there is no need to repeat here all the facts that everyone knows about his music career or about his influence on other artists; that has been said so many times… What really matters is this particular show. And the fact that I finally got to see him live. It’s never too late for Gary. And, just like his songs, the man looks ageless.
It took us an hour and a half to get to Oxford. Since I was familiar with the venue, I knew that arriving at 7:30 would be rather early, but it gave me the opportunity to check on the supporting act again. I have already seen I Speak Machine couple of weeks ago when I went to Tim Muddiman & The Strange show in London. I would describe I Speak Machine’s act as an experimental AV experience. Tara’s live act is accompanied by the film “Zombies 1985”, for which she made the score. The sound she creates is haunting and, while whether you’ll like this kind of experiment depends on your preferences, her vocal is truly fantastic.
And then it was 9 PM, the time for me to finally see what I had come for. I was already in the photo pit while the last preparations were taking place. A few minutes after 9 Gary and his band appeared on the stage. I thought the cheering of the crowd was even louder than the sound. The first three songs that the band performed were “Replicas”, “Metal” and “Remind Me To Smile”. They were the complete different versions of the tracks you can hear on the records. I really wanted to be out of the photo pit so that I could enjoy the rest of the show from the audience.
They continued with “Me! I Disconnect From You”; by that moment I had joined the crowd. The sound was heavily enriched and empowered by the drums and the guitars. There was a whole new dimension to the sound that I had been used to hearing. Gary went more rock, more powerful, noisier, louder and rawer, but still coherent, with the old core idea still very much present. I could hear that especially during the performance of “You Are In My Vision”: it sounded very up-to-date, there was no nostalgia whatsoever. The guitar riffs were more prominent in all songs, but the core of the originals was intact. Nevertheless, I greatly enjoyed the recognizable synth sound that was dominant in “This Wreckage”. His current sound on stage reminded me greatly of the “Cars” cover version that he did with Fear Factory. But if there is one distinguishing element that still persists in its full original glory, that would be Gary’s voice.
It was obvious that everyone knew his repertoire really well. The crowd sang along to each track. The songs were interchanging between the three albums, supported by voices of more than a thousand souls. I got to hear one of my favourites, “Down In The Park”, in the second half of the show. But, as expected, “Are “Friends” Electric?” and “Cars” got the greatest response.
Gary and the guys didn’t need any stage gimmicks, big screens, fire or theatrical make up. They offered us the pure sound experience and Gary proved himself, probably just to me, since this was my first time to see him live, to be an excellent showman. It was obvious that even after so many years he still enjoyed what he was doing. In his every gesture and facial expression there was an unmistakeable passion for creating and performing.
The band didn’t leave us without the encore, of course. After 18 songs, they played two more, “We Are So Fragile” and “My Shadow In Vain”. And thus it ended, and I was thinking how you could just rewind the whole evening and listen to it again exactly as it was, because you just can’t get tired on Gary’s show.
Despite the fact that the band has already been on tour for some days, the members showed no signs of tiredness. Their performance was excellent and memorable.
There are still several tour dates left and I hope to relive my Oxford experience in London on the 2nd October. The support act for the two London shows, on 1st and 2nd October, will be Tim Muddiman & The Strange, the solo project of Gary’s bass player. My sincere advice to you is to get tickets for the second date. The second because, as expected, the first one has already been sold out.
Set list: 1. Replicas, 2. Metal, 3. Remind Me to Smile, 4. Me! I Disconnect From You, 5. Films, 6. I Dream of Wires, 7. You Are in My Vision, 8. M.E., 9. This Wreckage, 10. The Machman, 11. Observer, 12. I’m an Agent, 13. Down in the Park, 14. Tracks, 15. We Are Glass, 16. Are “Friends” Electric?, 17. Cars, 18. I Die: You Die, Encore: 19. We Are So Fragile, 20. My Shadow In Vain
pics and text by Marija Buljeta