Gary Numan

Concert Review by Mark Bayross

The Kentish Town Forum – 23 February 2001

Gary Numan’s return to form with his new album PURE has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only did the record succeed in giving the electro-goth genre (for which Numan is often credited with starting) a run for its money, but the quality of the songwriting and production pushed it way ahead of the pack.

Given that Gary Numan has over 300 recorded songs in his repertoire, tonight could have proved to be a very long evening, but fortunately he did the sensible thing and plumped for playing most of PURE, interspersed with the old favourites.

Backed by a suitably-attired cyber-goth gang of musicians, Gary and Co. had no problem translating the power and intricacy of the album onto the stage. PURE, RIP, LISTEN TO MY VOICE, TORN, MY JESUS and I CAN’T BREATHE are all delivered with smart-bomb precision, the walls of beat-driven guitar noise almost tearing off the roof of the venue, while Gary belts out the choruses like a man possessed.

All this industrial strength techno-rock also does wonders to the old material. DOWN IN THE PARK, REPLICAS, ARE FRIENDS’ ELECTRIC? and CARS all seem fantastic beefed up to Nine Inch Nails standards and sound as vital today as they ever did. There isn’t a lot of crowd interaction from Gary (instead choosing to flail around the stage, head-banging to the beats or waving his guitar threateningly at the front rows), but that doesn’t really matter – the delivery is almost too faultless to be tainted with human contact. Besides which, the audience tonight span at least two generations, and, judging by the muted reaction to some of the “Pure” songs, many of them have still yet to get with the program.

A polished, focused, powerful performance, and one deserving of a legend like Gary Numan. It’s great to have him back.

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