Gary Numan at the Electric Ballroom
The electronic music pioneer has sold out this three-night run of shows in Camden, showing his “Numanoids” are still as devoted to him as ever. When Gary Numan came on the scene in 1979 with two number-one singles and albums the same year, David Bowie was sufficiently rattled to write a diss track about him – high praise, indeed. He sounded like nothing else and still doesn’t. The artist has been cited as an influence by everyone from Detroit techno producers to Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson; he’s been covered by Grace Jones and sampled by Basement Jaxx and Sugababes on early 00s bangers Where’s Your Head At and Freak Like Me, respectively. If anything, he remains underrated as an artist, years after the world hadn’t caught up to the sound he created by feeding analogue synths through guitar effects pedals, the big hits sounding somehow both menacing and upbeat.
This show is a family affair, with daughter Raven providing support. Numan still sounds as fresh as ever, his distinctive androgynous, haunted robot voice in fine form. He plays a comprehensive range of hits from across his dystopian oeuvre, studiously avoiding the years of jazz wilderness.
Metal is a brooding highlight, as is the arguably most famous and still inscrutably hooky Cars. Later stuff sounds harder and thrashier, like Love Hurt Bleed from 2013’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind). The bleakly beautiful My Name Is Ruin, featuring vocals from his daughter, Persia, from 2017’s Savage (Songs from a Broken World), is another highlight.
The encore ends with a rendition of Are “Friends” Electric – probably the most representative track of the idiosyncratic creative world Numan has built around himself. He shows no signs of stopping any time soon and his fans must be grateful they chose such an innovative and restless artist to back. His career is testament to the rewards of staying true to a singular vision. Maybe it’s Numan’s world and we all just happen to be in it.
Photos: Virginie Viche
For further information and future events visit Gary Numan’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Are “Friends” Electric here: