Gary Numan @ The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

Gary Numan

The synth-pop-electro-music deity Gary Numan recently performed at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, and he was phenomenal.

The music Gary Numan is currently crafting and performing clearly demonstrates a man with pure talent, excitement, and true passion for music. Unlike many other artists who try to cling onto their ‘sound’, Numan tosses that aside and makes music he wants to make, and it works. Very successfully. The blend of synth with rock creates music you cannot help but move to; simultaneously wanting to head-bang and also just flow in some unknown tranquil state of mind. For those who only associate Numan with being the ‘Cars’ singer, asking ‘Are Friends Electric?’, really need to listen to The Fallen EP, and more of Numan’s music, as this is a man at his peak.

Numan did not just stop with the band, he added the Skaparis Orchestra, and that also was not enough, so he added the Kantos Choir. It is easy to be sceptical as to if there are too many elements, but they were not discordant, but worked with such harmony that the audience moved in awe with the music, trying to embrace every element. This exploration of rock merged with an orchestra isn’t unheard of, just look at Apocalyptica, but it is hard to get right. Numan nails it. These elements working in tangent with each other just elevates the whole experience, adding a higher emotional impact to each song. Before any lyrics are added, they are instrumental masterpieces.

From past experiences with Numan, he is not just about showcasing his talent and music, but about experimenting and toying with the audience, which is seen through the choir and the orchestra, and presenting a whole concept; a visual experience as well as a sonic one. As the show begins in darkness, the all-seeing-eye raises behind, acting like the Eye of the Beholder, the audience is drawn to it, drawn to Numan. The light show made every member within the audience inclusive of the show, as laser beams shout out to the back of the hall, flashing lights causing chaos and disorder as his music builds; guitars roaring, Numan moving with incredible energy (I defy anyone to tell me they believe he really is sixty), the choir’s united voice reaching breaking point, and the orchestra’s strings played with such intensity that they too, might just snap. Again, this shows Numan to be at as his peak – he isn’t abandoning his Kraftwerk-inspired beginnings but evolving them into something more incredible now as when the kids in the 80s first heard a synth.

For a career spanning over 40 years, it is hard to narrow down what songs to play, but as you can see from the setlist below, Numan makes most of every minute, not allowing a single moment to be wasted as one song continually follows another, and Numan et al constantly deliver. Playing cohesively for over two hours, at no point did the show become less intense, enjoyable, or awe-inspiring at what music can achieve. More artists need to experiment, be original, and be like Numan. Well, not like, as you will never achieve his level of craftsmanship, but take a leaf out of his book; make the music you want to, experiment with sounds, and experiment with visuals. You may be surprised as to what the results are and what can be achieved.

The performance in Manchester was recorded for the tour DVD, so you will be able to see the spectacle in all its glory soon. More importantly, you can support the artist and can check for tour dates and tickets here, and listen to Savage here.

Setlist:

Ghost Nation

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Metal

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Bed of Thorns

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Films

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Everything Comes Down to This

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Pray for the Pain You Serve

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Down in the Park

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Broken

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Splinter

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Here in the Black

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My Name Is Ruin

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Jagged

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Mercy

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My Breathing

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Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

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Encore:

 This Wreckage

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The End of Things

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A Prayer for the Unborn

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It Will End Here

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