Gary Numan | L.A. | Review | Pics

Words & Images by: L. Paul Mann

Gary Numan :: 11.03.10 :: El Rey Theatre :: Los Angeles, CA

Gary Numan :: 11.03.10 by L Paul Mann
Gary Numan, the godfather of English synth music, played a rare pair of live shows at the El Rey Theatre on November 3rd and 4th. The Los Angeles concerts had been rescheduled from the original April dates after the Icelandic Volcano shut down many of Europe's main airports. The show was, initially a tribute to the 30th Anniversary of the U.S. release of Numans' breakthrough album, The Pleasure Principle (the album was actually released in England in 1979). The album included the hit "Cars" and was the first major commercial release to feature heavy use of synthesizers. The innovative sound on the record, paved the way for bands like Depeche Mode and Yaz, creating a whole new genre of music. Numan had already been a successful guitarist in the punk band Tubeway Army before experimenting with electronic music - he actually played a song during the encore that he wrote for the band in the 70s. Combining the eerie new electronic sound with his love of dystopian science fiction, his unique persona generated a huge cult following in the early 80s. He even married a girl from his fan club, which only added to the mystique.

Numan has revealed in recent interviews that he has suffered from a mild form of Asperger syndrome since he was a teenager. A form of autism, it has always made personal interaction difficult for him, which helped fuel his aloof, mysterious persona. But at the El Rey on November 3rd, the veteran god of synth had no trouble connecting with the crowd of adulate fans packed in the tiny venue like sardines in a can.

The first set featured, as promised, The Pleasure Principle played in its entirety. The presentation was an eloquent rendition of the retro sound that Numan invented. His band of accomplished musicians featured Ade Fenton and David Brooks on backing keyboards, Richard Beasly on drums, Steve Harris on guitar and Tim Muddiman on bass. The group played the classic tracks competently, although not very passionately, providing rich textures to the music. The musical style that most remember as the classic 80s soundtrack, of course, sounded dated, but it was the perfect opening to the band's second set, which featured Numan's newest material. It was like a living history lesson allowing the audience to view the evolution of Numan's, music firsthand. The band, as well as the man himself, came alive when they began to play the new music with a much more ferocious and renewed sense of passion and intensity. To be sure, the music itself was much more intense, in the vain of industrial metal like Nine Inch Nails.

Gary Numan Band :: 11.03.10 by L Paul Mann
Numan's new sound is no accident. In a recent showcase concert in London, Trent Reznor invited Numan to be his guest performer. Reznor credited Numan with being one of his biggest influences when founding Nine Inch Nails. He even included a Numan song on the first NIN album. Now, completing the creative circle, Numan admits that Reznor has become one of his biggest musical influences. The result is an inspired new sound that brings Gary Numan straight into the 21st century. Although there is a clear connection to Reznor's NIN sound, Numan and his new band have put their own unique stamp on the industrial sound. Numan's vocals channel a variety of sounds from Reznor's primal screams to haunting singing reminiscent of Chris Isaak.

Numan has produced a huge volume of work over the last 30 years, much of it flying under the radar of pop radio. His experimentation included jazz-laced albums in the 80s, and he has been experimenting with the industrial metal sound as far back as 1994 with his album Sacrifice. The Los Angeles audience responded enthusiastically to the material in his second set, including songs from his yet-to-be-released new album Splinters.

Numanoids across the globe can rejoice in the rebirth of this masterful musician who may be poised to gain a whole new generation of fans. Los Angeles fans, many of who had waited years to see Numan perform live, may not have to wait so long for the next show. Mr. Numan is trying to relocate his family to the City of Angels permanently and will certainly have an avid audience panting for another performance soon.




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[Published on: 11/30/10]

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