If you ask me, I would guess that tonight, when Gary Numan was presenting his new songs for the very first time, he was just as eager to perform them as the fans were wanting to hear them. The first time is always special, isn’t it?
The pledge campaign which has accompanied the making of the new album had already raised the veil a little bit, just like the post-apocalyptic video for the new single from the forthcoming twenty-first studio album ‘Savage (Songs of a broken world)’. The video, named ‘My name is ruin’, was directed by IAMX main man Chris Corner and released just one day before the Liverpool concert. The video takes us to the desert area around 29 Palms and Joshua Tree where Gary and his 11 year old daughter Persia wander. Watching from a distance, one can see how proud Gary was: he brought Persia on stage as “a small guest” to perform this song with him. A bit shy, she waved at the audience of 3000, but she controlled her nerves and shyness and really did a tremendous job.
The acoustics in the Exhibition Centre were very good and this surely had it’s effect on the whole band. It felt as a release of power and enthusiasm to get on that stage again after 4 years. In the meantime, fans followed how the album was created through the pledge campaign and were already familiar with rough demo-versions of some of the songs. Tonight was the first time the audience would hear the live versions of ‘Bed of Thorns’, ‘Ghost Nation’, ‘Mercy’, My Name is Ruin’ and ‘When the World Comes Apart’: all of them sounded amazing and fitted seamlessly into the set list with the well-known songs.
With a quite basic light show, the band was caged by a half- circle of vertical light poles.
And yes, there was the layout issue – it has been already discussed a lot on social media and Gary Numan personally apologised – the layout of the Exhibition Centre was a complete disaster. There were some thirty rows of seats in front of the stage and others were standing behind them, but Gary kindly requested the seated ones to get up and move to the stage as far as possible to have better views.
Throughout the latest albums Numan’s sound got heavier and heavier. It is not surprising that Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor cited Numan as a very important influence. It is also not surprising that Jerome Dillon and Robin Finck, both musicians for NIN, collaborated on Numan’s albums Jagged and Splinter and that with them , Gary Numan slided into a whole new musical era with a whole new audience besides his true-loyal fanbase. Tonight this heavier sound was really perfect, it was not just loud but also felt overwhelming in every layered detail. And at the end of the show, after the venue-lights lit up and the last sounds faded from the speakers, Gary choose to let the sound-engineer play NIN’s ‘a copy of a copy’, how much can one joke on one’s expense?
Undoubtedly there are lots of Numanoids, Gary’s huge cult fan base, who want to repeatedly hear those beautiful songs that gave Gary Numan the status he still has, like Are friends Electric?, Cars, Down in The Park. However, how cool would it be if he could build a whole performance around his newest album. His forthcoming album is called ‘Savage (Songs of a broken world) ’ and there is no need to explain that the theme is based on our world becoming an apocalyptic disaster going downhill. Personally, I would love to see Gary somehow freed from his past, not by disrespecting his former successes and his very loyal fan-base through all these years, but to somehow be free to evolve without those constraints in the years to come.
Gary Numan is, of course, truly considered as one of the pioneers of British electronic music who has taken his career another step further. I guess nowadays Gary Numan is extremely proud how his career further evolves and while he is surely a proud dad of all his daughters, tonight he was especially proud of Persia…
Everything comes down to this
Bed of thorns
We’re the unforgiven
A prayer for the unborn
Here in the black
My name is ruin
When the world comes apart
Love hurt bleed
Down in the park
Are friends electric?
text by Bas Mercx
pics by Roger Op Den Camp