Gary Numan has progressed from his previous fixation with the Pleasure Principle to harboring a full-on industrial complex. On a short West Coast tour in advance of the release of his new album, Splintered, the new man who laid stakes in Vancouver was not your older siblings’ Numan, nor the one you thought you remembered.
Far from the clinical, glass-like fragility he emanated in his heyday, the Gary Numan of 2013 was jagged and came to participate, not merely observe. Kicking off with the title track from 2000’s Pure, Numan and his army took no time to shred the sold out Fortune Sound Club with a kinetic and visceral performance that resonated for days with the locals. Refusing to be a drag, these stormtroopers took no prisoners and launched right into “Pure’s” follow-up, “The Fall”.
Despite being north of 55, the original android showed no signs of slowing down at any point during his hour and a half on stage. His delivery is more impassioned than ever. The band’s output crackled with industrial strength force, and Numan himself was on a mission, refusing to stand still while he delivered, a whirling dervish with a broken off switch.
While the set favored his last four albums, including four tracks from the unreleased Splintered (out October 14), which were unfamiliar to the majority in attendance, this post-millennial material and the effort put into playing it was overwhelming and treasured.
Not one to ignore the songs that built up his following, Numan performed sizzling, reconstructed versions of “Films,” “Metal,” and “Down in the Park,” all of which were reinvigorated and enhanced without sacrificing or butchering the essence of the originals. In many ways, these remade/remodeled versions – mildly flavored by the covers NIN, Foo Fighters, Marilyn Manson, and various remixers did of them – are more relevant and vital 35 years later.
Comparatively, “Cars” felt somewhat obligatory, which isn’t a slight. The version played was good and well-received, and not playing it would have left too big a hole in the set; it was simply overshadowed by the sheer intensity of the post-2000 output performed live. “Dead Son Rising,” “Haunted,” the new single “I Am Dust,” and the mesmerizing closer “Halo” were all captivating and brought forth deafening appreciation from the crowd.
While the set itself was raucous and enrapturing, the encore verged on the improbable as it outshined its blinding predecessor.
Its opener, “A Prayer for the Unborn,” from Pure is an instant and ageless classic, transcending genre much like the unmistakeable closer, the sublime and eternal “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” which elicited goose bumps and a furious sing-a-long.
Gary Numan might not have ever gone away, but to most, his whereabouts seemed unknown. I’m sure many looked for him in “where are they now” articles. In this context, the gig was akin to witnessing a live metamorphosis where the presumed dead were now in our vision, more alive than ever before. The electric tin man not only found his heart, but his blood, sweat, and tears, and he didn’t short circuit in the process. We did.Powered by Sidelines