Homer Numan

Homer Numan

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Numan In Belfast

Last year Gary Numan embarked on a small 'Telekon Tour', playing all the songs from the album plus associated B-Sides. Unfortunately this tour didn't include Belfast or Dublin.
This time round though, with 'Replicas' getting the same treatment, we were in luck, and Numan sold out the 'Spring and Airbrake' in Belfast's Ormeau Avenue.

I had previously seen the great man live for the first time in 2001 on the 'Pure' tour, when he played the Limelight, next door to last night's venue. That had been a superb show, if a little heavier than many had expected.
But this tour promised more of a return to his electro roots and has subsequently generated quite a buzz, with many shows selling out quickly.

I went with a couple of friends, one who had been a Numan fan for nearly 30 years, but had never seen him play live. We queued outside for about 15 minutes despite arriving slightly late. The crowd were, as you might expect, a diverse mixture of young goths, middle-aged blokes and curious students.
The venue could best be described as 'cosy', with an alarmingly small stage area.

The support band came on almost immediately. Fronted by a girl who looked rather like a young Saffron from Republica, they were a three piece who ran through a compotent if unremarkable set to polite applause. The hall was barely half full at this stage, but it was soon evident that everyone had been hanging around in the foyer and by the time the man himself took the stage at 9.40, there was something approaching a crush.

Numan's early 80s light shows are legendary and despite the 'compact and bijou' stage area, the light show was really quite impressive.
Numan strode on stage with the band and launched straight into 'Replicas'. The crowd were well up for it, chanting 'Numan! Numan!' between songs, as one classic after another filled the room.

The original 'Replicas' songs were interspersed with the 'out-take' tracks on the 20th anniversary remastered CD, and mighty fine many of them were. My personal favourite is 'We Have A Technical', a track featuring the intro of what later became 'I Die You Die' and was even covered by Blur's Damon Albarn for the tribute album.
Also present were the superb B-Sides 'We Are So Fragile' and 'Do You Need The Service'. The biggest roar of the night seemed to be for 'Down In The Park', still an intensely dark, claustrophobic track all these years later.

Numan has never been one to deliver speeches between tracks, and tonight was no exception. Apart from the odd 'thank you', his only spoken contribution was when he retook the stage, declaring that; 'we've done all the Replicas songs -- do you want something else?'
Yes we did, so we were treated to 'Cars', 'Everyday I Die' and a particularly intense rendering of 'A Prayer For The Unborn', possibly the best performance of the night in my opinion.

The others I was with had recently been to see Queens Of The Stone Age and Smashing Pumpkins, both in the Kings Hall, and complained about the terrible sound quality, something which plagued the venue back in the 80s.
Thankfully there was no such problem with Numan, the smaller venue being a major advantage.

The show was absolutely fantastic, possibly the best I've ever been to, and we're definitely up for the next tour.


Anonymous said...

Good review, dude.

That was a great gig - far better than thought it would be. I'm 41 years old and Replicas was the first record I ever bought. I'm glad he gave the old tracks the modern treatment. Pity the stage was so small though: it looked like he kept disappearing off stage when he gave synth solos cos his keyboard was tucked away behind a lighting rig.

He's looking well for someone nearly 50 years old.

Caio said...

Finally I found someone whose Numan's fave song is We Have A Technical! That's a stellar tune, in fact one of the best tracks from the Replicas album. I never found out the reason why it was kept out of the original tracklist, because the song is an integral part of the replicas' concept. Not to mention the epic status of the song, its nearly eight-minute length, a closure to die for, and terribly beautiful lyrics. Passages like "advertising posters on the wall/ and the young ones singing softly/ do they ever comeback/ or is it always at the wrong time" or "It's so surprising just how quickly things can end/Like a hero on a plataform of friends" seems to me the ultimate expression of today's general feeling of class apathy and detached hopelessness for ideals and justice, the feeling that express the "system's cold embrace" or the utter foreclosure of collective power, as if our awareness was shutted by some mesmerizing power — the despair of knowing that all human experiences are futile and trivial in post-modern societies.
I think maybe Numan reworked the song into "Metal" and forgot about this first incarnation... a pity, really. Wish I was your age, man... never saw him live, when I was born (1984) his career was already in decline - apart from the fact that I'm brazilian!!!