Gary Numan – Albert Hall, Manchester – 18th May 2022
Gary Numan live in Manchester in the intimate and atmospheric confines of the Albert Hall was one of, if not the gig of our 2019. Patience is the virtue that’s rewarded with a return visit to the Albert Hall, sold out, packed out and very hot. It only adds to the anticipation and intensity of what we’re about to witness.
The Intruder album has only whetted the appetite even further, as the library of work continues to build a legacy where the reinvention of Gary Numan from the ice cold Tubeway persona of his breakthrough into a riveting live performer who is genuinely relevant, is complete. The new music fits the bill of dark and twisted, sinister and bombastic; the industrial playbook of the studio becomes the industrial playground of the stage.
Numan and the band walk on stage decked out in those carefully crafted grey rags, dystopian refugees, faces adorned with streaks of red that’s both menacing and seductive. Flanked by Steve Harris and Tim Slade, a duo who aren’t content to take on the role of bit part players as they prove just as charged and commited as our main man. Shape throwing, coaxing and goading their master while intimidating anyone who dares make eye contact. Within a couple of songs they’re in a huddle of camaraderie and there’s a sense that things are good onstage. It’s going to be a good night.
Amongst the newer songs and music that highlight the incredible resurgence of Gary Numan are the oldies but goldies of which Metal once again towers over the set as an early highlight, like the daddy of the legacy. The missing link between then and now. Almost unrecognisable from its original, the tension is palpable even though you know what’s coming, as the band kicks in on the devastating riff. One that threatens the very structure of the building…Worth a two-year plus wait? You bet.
Those twisting Eastern Byzantine themes that weave in and out of the most notable of his recent work still play a key role in the set. Juggling the two album and set openers My Name Is Ruin and Intruder, sees the latter get the nod as a brooding curtain raiser. However, it’s the domineering density of the synths that rattle and threaten the ribcage that proves genuinely fearsome. And loud. By contrast and with some attempt maybe to redress any balance, they steer the juddering ambience into the relative lullaby mellowness of A Black Sun.
The hits are there of course; the songs that earned the early reputation but within the context of the current work, they seem minor indeed. The Chosen also bridges the gap; a song that could have been from his earlier days in a starker arrangement, but given the contemporary Numan slab of raw industrial sheen, the synth freakout and overpowering electronic beats, a mighty presence that commands attention. The latter statement being pretty much what you can apply to Gary Numan. Reputation enhanced, godlike status confirmed.