GARY NUMAN - Birmingham Institute 12.10.17



So you turn up to see a fading eighties synth-pop icon with a tinge of hope in your heart because 'Cars' was the first single you ever bought, but not a great deal of expectation. What transpired at Digbeth's Institute was not so much a complete reinvention, more a glorious reimagining of Numan's back catalogue (none more so than 'Down in the Park' which maintains its electro foundations with a new storey of ballsy guitar and bass) interwoven with feisty tracks from his new album 'Savage: Songs from a Broken World' played out in front of a packed assembly of Numanoids. Yes, the synths are still there but a rockier, even grungier edge has been added with the kind of grunting bass that makes the floor shake beneath your sticky Docs and howling guitars straight out of nineties Seattle, not eighties Hammersmith.

Opening track 'Ghost Nation' sees Numan hurl headlong into the new material and the man who once took an array of white suits on tour with him now goes for the sack cloth look of his current video and album.

For a man who fails to utter a single word between songs, Numan has the charisma to hold sway over the sell-out crowd and the chants of 'Numan, Numan!' fill the theatrical pauses anyway. It's pretty clear from an early stage, then, that we are in the presence of an artist who has honed his stage craft and presence over a number of years. It would be easy to take the view that this is a middle-aged man with a jet black wig wearing a coal sack banging out thirtysomething year old songs but the box office, line of touts and tonight's response from a loyal and sizeable following say otherwise.

Highlights include other new offerings 'The End of Things' and 'Pray for the Pain You Serve' and an encore of 'We Are Glass' and 'Are Friends Electric' to satiate the traditionalists, but it is solo number one 'Cars' that transports me back to that piggy bank raiding moment in a Derbyshire record shop and teaches me a valuable lesson about life and old dogs.

Gary Numan's UK tour continues into November and his new album, 'Savage: Songs From A Broken World' is currently available in a range of formats.





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