When Machines Rock

On April 28th I boarded a coach from Oldham town centre down to London on a coach full of like minded fans to see the final performance of a singer who had been a huge musical influence over the previous two years.

Gary Numan had announced his retirement from live shows the previous year on Radio One. The DJ was that stunned they went into one of Numan’s tracks, I guess well they talked off air about what Gary had just said. No one could understand why after two successful years and worldwide success, he would suddenly stop.

The final shows at Wembley Arena where superb. The stage production was a mix of the two previous shows with a few added extras. Things wouldn’t be the same again. Or so we thought. 1982 saw Gary return to the live scene. Unfortunately UK fans would have to wait until ’83 to see him perform again. However this was a blessing in disguise as Gary has toured consistently ever since.

So on to tonight’s gig. It’s at the Olympia theatre just outside of the town centre. And what a venue it is. Originally an old ballroom called the Locarno it’s been a main stay venue in the city for over 70 years. I arrive a bit early so decide to take a beverage across the road in The Olympia pub. I’m glad I did. As I walk through the door I’m greeted by I Die:You Die on the jukebox and Numanoids representing all of Gary’s era’s talking excitedly about the gig.

Sorry I’m on a nostalgia trip here and rightly so. Tonight’s gig is a mixture of three albums. A classics tour, in my mind, as these are the three I grew up with.

Back across at the venue things have got busy as the queue stretches down the side of the theatre. By the time I collect my pass the venue is already quite full.

‘…heavy drum beat and great guitar work’

As the lights dim the synths kick in with atmospheric electronic sounds that sound like a mothership is about to land, the opening notes of ‘Replicas’ slowly cover the black clad audience with emotion and memories. As Numan takes the stage, arms in the air, he slips from his seriousness and lets that smile take over…yep it’s going to be a good night.

‘Replicas’ has always been a great song, but reworked with that heavy drum beat and great guitar work, its changed into a powerhouse of a tune.

‘Metal’ follows, and yet again the power behind this is stunning. To be honest I nearly had to stop taking photos and just watch and listen.

Throughout tonight’s performance we are treated to the best of the best from those albums. Classic tracks such as ‘Remind me to Smile’, ‘The joy Circuit’, ‘This Wreckage’, ‘I’m an Agent’, ‘We are Glass’ and ‘I Die You Die’ from the ‘Telekon’ album, ‘Replicas’, ‘Me! I disconnect From You’, ‘You Are In My Vision’, ‘Are Friends Electric’, and ’ Down in the Park’ from the ‘Replicas’ album, together with ‘Films’,’ M.E.’, ‘Tracks’, and ‘Cars’ from the ‘Pleasure Principle’ album. It’s a fans dream set.

Throughout the whole show Numan if more animated than I have ever seen him. Gone are the days of standing still striking the pose. He seldom stands still, always at one with his music. It’s great to see.

So may bands get on stage and just go through the motions of a 90 min set. Numan gave his all tonight and his fans definitely appreciated it.

The encores consisted of two early tracks, ‘Everyday I Die’ and what must be a vocal torture of a song, ‘My Shadow in Vain’. I couldn’t have asked for more. I’ve followed Gary’s live performances since 1979 and to be honest tonight was up there with the best. Do yourself a favour and catch Numan whilst he’s still touring, you won’t regret it.