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Gary Numan

De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill - 26th September, 2016

Written By Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by Andy Gunton

  • Photograph by Andy Gunton

1979 seems a very long time ago now, but that’s when the world first experienced the music of Gary Numan, via Tubeway Army.

I can remember seeing him perform ‘Are Friends Electric’, a number one single no less, on Top Of The Pops and ‘Down In The Park’ on the Old Grey Whistle Test during that year (Those performances can be found online by the way).

The fact that I do recall this maybe shows how different his music was to most of what was being offered by other bands back then. It wasn’t exactly revolutionary, but it certainly stood out from the crowd.

Fast forward to 2016 and here is Gary Numan performing the very same songs, from those early albums, to a packed and adoring crowd at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill.

Opening with the title track from ‘Replicas’, this was an evening of performing past musical glories, something Gary Numan isn’t really known for doing.

So the fans were out in force to relive, sing and clap along to tracks from three of those early albums, ‘Replicas’, ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Telekon’.

One thing to say straight away is how good the songs sounded, heavier than the albums and all the better for it.

Keyboards were naturally to the fore, but the drums, guitars and especially the bass really helped to fill the sound and drive the songs along.

Hearing those songs in a live setting made me realise just how influential the music and sound of Gary Numan has been to many acts who have followed in his wake.

He has been called the ‘Godfather of Electronic Music’, and I can think of a few acts that probably owe at least part of their career to his influence.

The pace of the 90 minute set was relentless with barely a draw of breath between songs before it was onto the next. There was no time either for the seemingly constant tuning, or changing of guitars, that many bands seem to suffer from these days, no bad thing in my opinion.

With the band appearing to be enjoying themselves, a very effective light show, and with Gary Numan himself smiling and being far more mobile on stage than I ever imagined he would be, this was a impressive performance, and if I’m totally honest, one that was far better than I expected.

The set built to a fitting climax of ‘Cars’, ‘Are Friends Electric’ and ‘I Die: You Die’, before Gary Numan uttered his first words of the evening, thanking the audience.

Having let the songs do the talking for the main set, and prior to the two song encore, Gary Numan told us “I’ve really f*cking enjoyed it tonight”, something an audience always likes to hear.

And referencing the fact that he doesn’t play his older songs very often he then said “I wrote some pretty good songs as a young man didn’t I?”.

I don’t think there was anyone present who would have argued with that, especially on the evidence presented tonight.

Those heady days of the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s may well be long gone now, but thankfully the music from those times is still with us, and sounding as relevant and vibrant as it did back then too.

In fact I heard ‘Cars’ being played in a local hostelry I just happened to be in prior to the gig.

As long as that music from the past is played as well as it was tonight, it will be continue to be with us for quite some time to come yet.

I’ll drink to that.

Gary Numan: garynuman.co.uk

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