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Gary Numan At Amoeba, Wednesday October 16th 2013

Gary Numan

Gary Numan at Amoeba? Another long line outside the store hours before the show, and I got quite lucky to find a parking place while arriving only half-an-hour before his set! Gary Numan is a legend, a sort of icon of electronic-industrial music so I was expecting chaos in the store, but it wasn’t so bad. I heard the Englishman lives in Los Angeles now, and it was about time he had his Amoeba appearance, just in time for the release of his new and 20th studio album ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)’.

20th? That’s so impressive, and how do you write about a guy who has had such a long career, such a body of work, and whom you haven’t really followed over the years? Of course I know ‘Cars’ – and when he played it at Amoeba, I thought the 80s were suddenly jumping at my face – and his sound is really familiar, mostly because it was championed by so many, but I was far from being a hardcore fan like the middle-age guys in front of me.

Gary Numan played only six songs at Amoeba, so it was short but dense, especially when you are trying to take pictures over the head of some ponytailed tall guy dancing on the industrial beats. Four of the songs were from his new album, the other ones from his 1979 famous ‘The Pleasure Principle’ but there wasn’t really any discontinuity between the songs, as they were all coming from the same heavy-synth dark world and were performed with the same intensity; however the new songs didn’t seem to recycle old tricks, they sounded bold and innovative. But first of all, Numan looked super elegant with his white shirt and sleeveless suit vest, he had his usual black raven hair and a passion in his delivery. Surrounded by four musicians and no less than two synths, the beats were violent, the tempo aggressive and the delivery both sensual and cold.

The new songs reminded me of Nine Inch Nails when Nine Inch Nails sounded like they used too, with thunderous noise, electronic glitches and a sound matching an inner and painful violence. It was tough music, with Numan going full-time drama while holding the mic with velvety vocals. I was actually really enjoying it, and was disappointed it was already over! I read he had a sort of mid-life crisis, sinking in depression after becoming a parent, discovering he had a mild case of Asperger syndrome (the broken mind?), so all this had to reflect somewhere on the album – that I should listen in its entirety… But there also was a grandiose and cinematic dimension in this hard-dance music, and since we were in the middle of Hollywood, I wouldn’t be surprised if any of this ends up on a soundtrack.

Setlist

I Am Dust
Everything Comes Down to This
Metal (The Pleasure Principle)
The Calling
Love Hurt Bleed
Cars (The Pleasure Principle) 

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