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Gary Numan, The Ritz. 24th May 2024

There’s quite a buzz for tonight’s gig. The queue outside before the doors open is insane. Honestly I don’t recall the last time I saw a line that long. We’re here for Gary Numan who’s playing not one album in full(ish), but two (this is becoming a thing, I see you IST IST and Pixies). The albums tonight are The Pleasure Principle and Replicas. Old school. I’m fine with this of course, excited even, but won’t lie, I’m much more excited by Numan’s later albums, the last two in particular have been amazing. What I’m hoping for though, is a little of that latter day energy injected into these synth classics. Numan never one to conform is not going in order, so its ’Replicas’ that tears out of the speakers after I’ve fought my way into the building and grabbed a spot upstairs. The sound is great, a bit thick, which doesn’t do the clean synths much justice, but it packs enough wallop to drown out the obnoxious twats that have come to stand behind me. “Oh my god. There he is. Can you see him. It’s Gary”. For fucks sake. There’s no jumpsuits, Numan looks comfortable in his industrial goth clobber, it’s what he wears on or off the stage from what I can gather. Maybe with less make up, but he’s throwing rock poses to ‘M.E.’ like it really is 50 years ago. Honestly he seems a bit constrained by these songs now. ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’ does have more crunch with the guitars, but he looks pent up ready to destroy the stage. ‘Films’ fairs a bit better. Numan throwing back his arms in Christ poses as he’s bathed in neon lights from the fluorescent style tube staging that’s very reminiscent of a Top of the Pops set. The crowd aren’t that animated to be honest and it often looks like a bloody TikTok convention with the amount of phones out, despite the average age easily hitting 60+. The live drums really help ‘Do You Need a Service’ and the juggernaut chug of  ‘Engineers’ though. The bloke next to me says to his his mate “It sounds a bit rockier than poppier’. That’s a fair point, but it’s still quite faithful and whisper it, a bit samey. That could get me lynched in here, although I don’t think this lot are up for much of a fight. ‘Tracks’ switches things a little, that piano line unleashing another banger. This is what Numan excels in, absolute stompers underpinned with drums that are reassuringly solid, but don’t go nuts on the BPM. I’m not going to lie though, it’s an odd live experience. Maybe I just don’t love this era as much as perhaps many in this sold out crowd, but when I’ve seen him before, with a more varied set, it’s been much more fun. ‘It Must Have Been Years’ wakes me up. That kick drum and those garage punk guitars, it sounds bloody marvellous. The band look like they’re into it and more heads are bobbing. At nearly 2 hours there’s clear dips in the set, but there’s enough peaks to keep things ticking, like ‘Down in the Park’ which threatens the foundations. I suspect this why he’s mixed the albums up, to try and craft the set. And to be fair, although it doesn’t all raise my pulse, I can’t find much fault, they sound magnificent throughout. At the business end things do get punchier. ‘Metal’ sends the place wild. Rightly so, this is what you come to a Numan gig for, to have your internal organs rearranged. The coloured spotlights probe the ceiling and Numan works the mic like Reznor in the 90s. After closing with a raucous rendition of ‘We Are So Fragile’ sounding and looking like the goth kids have taken over the disco. We get the pantomime farce of waiting for the encore. It’s worth it though. With the twin assault of ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric’, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better finale. It’s a cracking set, but these two are bonafide classics and the crowd respond as you’d expect. Arms are up, every word perfect, even the spoken word bits in ‘Electric’. By the end the place is a heaving sweat pit. Just as it should be. Mercifully though it’s quicker to get out than it was to get in.


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