David Jackson reviews Gary Numan at the Roadmender in Northampton
Gary Numan provided a masterclass in electronic infused rock at the Roadmender on Sunday night.
Playing one of the smallest venues on his current UK tour, fans – some with more than 50 gigs under their belt who had queued for hours outside the Northampton venue – were treated to a stunning performance by a music pioneer, four decades into his career but still at the top of his game.
Numan, who released his latest album Savage: Songs From a Broken World last year, has been enjoying the most successful 18 months of his career and from Sunday’s night’s performance, it was clear why.
The Roadmender show was the first gig to sell out when the second leg of the Savage tour was announced last year and there was a genuine buzz around the venue as fans filed inside.
Sunday was also a special one for Numan’s bassist Tim Muddiman who was enjoying a hometown show.
Opening with his own band, Tim Muddiman and the Strange, Muddiman provided the perfect opening ahead of fellow support act, LA trio Nightmare Air.
Numan's set was predominantly made up with songs from his past three albums with a handful of classics thrown in.
It's a testament to how Numan has developed his sound since the late 70s that while the likes of Are Friends Electric? and Cars are obviously iconic tracks fans will always want to hear, sonically, they're a world away (OK, maybe not that far) from the industrial, menacing, snarling, music to a post-apocalyptic world he's writing today.
Numan arrived on stage, flanked by guitarist Steve Harris and bassist Muddiman, with huge LED screens at the rear illuminating the whole band who, after a short intro, launched straight into Savage opening track Ghost Nation followed by Halo and The Pleasure Principle classic Metal.
All dressed in clothing inspired by Savage, the chemistry between the band was electric.
Muddiman and Harris bounded around the stage all night while Numan – when not clinging with both hands to his mic stand or prowling around the stage – stood silhouetted with arms aloft or stretched out with strobes occasional lighting the band.
Down In The Park was among the early stand-outs tracks but it was the likes of My Name Is Ruin and When the World Comes Apart which shone out, cementing the strength of Numan's latest work and his ability to craft pop hooks nestled among industrial beats.
Ending his set bathed in purple and blue lights for Are Friends Electric, the band returned for an encore of A Prayer for the Unborn and the epic My Last Day.
Although both significantly slower paced than the rest of the set, they provided a perfect comedown to an intense set.
Gary Numan played:
Down in the Park
Bed of Thorns
Pray for the Pain You Serve
Here in the Black
Love Hurt Bleed
My Name Is Ruin
When the World Comes Apart
Are 'Friends' Electric?
A Prayer for the Unborn
My Last Day
* The show took place on March 25. Visit garynuman.com for future tour dates.