Gary Anthony James Webb (born 8 March 1958), better known by his stage name Gary Numan, is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music industry as the lead singer of the new waveband Tubeway Army. After releasing two albums with the band, Numan released his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in 1979. Most widely known for his chart-topping hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars“, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but maintains a loyal cult following.
In A Dark Place—-Numan, who is a bona fide obsession with me, has honed his trademark sound in recent years. You know a Numan recording almost the moment it begins to play….this is no exception. The sounds are layered and replicated seamlessly in a live setting. Numan always gives a stellar performance, and this live entity is as expected. The sound that Gary produces now are much different than those many of you grew up with….he has taken many cues fro Trent Reznor and the Industrial Revolution. This intro is a it drug out….but sets up the rest of the disc nicely. There is no other voice like this man.
Blind—The intro to this track receives a stellar response from the audience. Numan tells further tales of desperation, alienation and disappointment….standard fair, and one I never tire of. The voice is a bit faded on this track….too much moving away from the direct line of the microphone…..but that is a minor complaint. The music is so muscular and beefy….I’m nearly in heaven.
Cars—-Many readers will be familiar with this #1 smash from 1979 that heralded in the synth movement of the 80’s. But the newly invigorated Numan gives this classic a crash course in huge sound and aggressive crashes and synth. This re-worked version sets with me much better than poorly recorded live renditions of the past decade. This is the sound of a man who has no intention of slowing down as he closes in on 60!
Haunted—-Returning to his darker sound and tales of alienation, this track has such an aggressive onset….almost smacking you in the face. Numan resurrects his tales of God alienation and his lack of outer faith in anything. The synths and bass on this track are huge and muscular…I sit here with a grin on my face as that familiar voice warms me and bathes me in comfort.
Films—-One of my favorite tracks from the ‘older’ Numan catalog, this song has also been re-worked and updated…but never loses any of the original harmony/melody lines which I adore so much. The voice is still as young as it ever was…Numan never strains for a note or sounds out of tune…..wonderfully classic!
RIP—-One of the tracks that helped to begin the re-resurgence of his career, Numan delivers a fantastic rendition of this pumped up, aggressive track. The whispered vocals that encompass much of the song only adds to the industrialized sound. When Gary does let lose with his howl, you find yourself easily swept up in the moment….I guarantee you that you will keep asking yourself Gary who? This is freakin’ brilliant!
The Fall—-Taken from the under-rated Jagged CD, this plays even better live…..how extraordinary. The guitars literally buzz with aggression and muscularity. Numan again sounds like he is stepping away too far from the mike at times…but it still retains all of the energy and punch you would expect.
Pure—-The title track from the Numan ‘comeback’ CD [it actually all began with the Sacrifice CD], this is not your childhood Numan. When Numan literally screams the line ‘Hey Bitch……’all you can say is holy fuck!!! This is incredible in this live setting…even more energized than the recorded version.
My Jesus—-A nice beefy track, but the content does become tiresome after a spell…..Numan grandisizes his God disdain a bit to much at this point in his career. We are all atune to how he feels about the matter…..must we continue to hear it? But when he literally screams the line ‘I’m praying for my soul’……you truly believe it.
Jagged—-With huge bursts of electric guitar to introduce this ‘new’ track, the sound is beefy and powerful. The song quickly quiets and loses much of its momentum…but comes back in ebbs and flows. Not a favorite track of mine, it still plays well with this song listing. I just feel like it needs more punch in the middle….I tend to lose interest…lol.
Down In The Park—-Another classic track from the early days that has been masterfully re-worked to bring it up to date with the new Numan sound. This plays really well live and is received by the audience with great fan-fare and acclaim. If the song was a bit dark before…this updated sound is even more so. The track is incredible…even if a bit over-played. The saving grace is that remarkable voice!
Halo—- Returning to alienation and God complexes, I do wish there was a bit more variety in this set. The sound is so much better than the recorded version though…the magic of ever changing machine capabilities. Numan sounds great and the audience seems to love the selection.
Prayer For The Unborn—-A bit quiet and introspective, this seems to find Numan at his most vulnerable….I wonder how it feels to expose yourself in such a public way? The instrumentation is a beautiful melody that bings a bit of lull and sadness….but this live version seems even more touching to me.
We Are So Fragile—-Another classic track that for the most part has been left in it’s original incarnation. The guitars are a bit beefier, but the synth plays like classic 80’s New Wave….which actually is really nice….I love this…reminds me of why I fell in love with the man and his music to begin with.
Pressure—-This track….also from the Jagged has ebbs, flows and an almost identical Reznor signature…..it really is a remarkable track….I love the back and forth trades between the synths and the guitars…..all the while leaving the voice to stand on it’s own. Really incredible….if you have not heard the Jagged release…you must check it out.
Noise Noise—-I was quite surprised to see this song listed on the Que it is seldom layed live….EVER. Really this goes way, way back in the catalog…but of course Numan has brought it into the new century with a beefier sound. The amazing thing is the voice…you think for sure you stepped right back into 1985 or something….his voice has not aged a centimeter…perhaps it has only gotten better!
I Can’t Breathe—-This is perhaps one of my favorite Numan compositions in the entire huge catalog this man has produced. This track has so much emotion…so much industry…so many huge noises. The voice is full of whispers…shouts…angst and incredible emotion. I love this…a fantastic way to end this show!
**** out of 5