Gary Numan @ Chester Live Rooms

Musical pioneer and godfather of electro, Gary Numan, has become the latest big name to grace Chester’s up and coming independent music venue, The Live Rooms. For those unfamilar with the artist, he is an English musician who has enjoyed a cult following for over 35 years as well as receiving mainstream success in the 70s. His new wave band, Tubeway Army, are often considered synth innovators and were the first band at the time to achieve success with a synth-based hit.

On Monday 23rd June, Gary Numan kicked off his UK tour with one of his most intimate gigs in recent years. Straight off the success of his 20th studio album, Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), Numan hit the city with a taste of his much more industrial side. Achieving much of his popularity in the late 70s and early 80s, the artist is most well-known for his 1979 hits ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’  (with Tubeway Army) and the iconic electo hit, ‘Cars’. However, his most recent albums demonstrate a much darker theme which made for an incredibly interesting performance.


Kicking off with 2011’s Resurrection, Numan instantly set the mood for the night driving straight in with some dirty, industrial rock. Promptly followed with one of Splinter’s hits, ‘I Am Dust’, the show was then in full swing with plenty of folk getting into the atmosphere. His excellently reworked version of ‘Metal’ from 1979’s The Pleasure Principle was easily one of the early highlights and a real treat to hear live. The song is a favourite at live shows and the performance is now closer to Nine Inch Nails’ 2000 cover (appearing on Things Falling Apart) than it’s original form. In fact, much of the show itself was very reminiscent of the work of Nine Inch Nails, particular Year Zero, and it’s difficult to tell who inspired who. NIN’s guitarist, Robin Finck, actually played guitar on several tracks from Splinter and his presence is rather distinguishable. Trent Reznor has always cited Gary Numan as a huge musical influence and the pair are big fans of one another’s work, perhaps the master has now taken a lesson from the student. Now all I’m waiting for is a collaboration between the two and I can fangasm all over the place.

Much of Numan’s set focused on Splinter, playing almost the entire album in full through the course of the night. Favourite performances for me from Splinter on the night included ‘Everything Comes Down to This’, ‘Love Hurt Bleed’ and ‘Lost’, which was an incredibly emotional performance that started to wind things down before a beautifully unique performance of the iconic ‘Cars’. One of the most unusual and memorable performances of the night came from a truly bizarre reworking of another of Numan’s most successful tracks, ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ which reduced the verses to a low whisper. The performance was full of atmosphere, blasting out the famous chorus with a beautiful combination of the classic synth and some downright dirty distortion.


I was ecstatic when I learnt that Gary Numan would be performing an intimate gig only two minutes walk from where I live, but nothing could have prepared me for what to expect from the unsurprisingly sold out show. Numan’s performance was faultless and the setlist really was spectacular and rather special. The performance, coupled with Numan’s fantastic stage presence and constant posing made for an excellent night.

I did hang around for a while by Gary’s tour bus to try and catch the legend himself, along with a handful of other big fans armed with vinyl and posters ready to be signed. However, after about half an hour we were informed that Mr. Numan had dived straight on the bus after the show and wouldn’t be doing and meet and greets, although, we did catch sight of the missus. It would have been amazing to meet him, but probably for the best that I didn’t as the possibility of me being reduced to a puddle on the floor was high.

Come on, it’s Gary bloody Numan.


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