Gary Numan – 3rd October Concert Coverage
Written by Karl Freitag on October 9, 2018
London born synth/electronic pioneer Gary Numan performed on October 3rd at the Roseland Theater. As a KPSU DJ, I was able to snag a ticket to see this Synth-pop/New Wave legend live!
The opening act was the powerful female-fronted three-piece: Nightmare Air who’s smokey back-lit performance featured heavy drums (Jimmy Lucido), atmospheric guitar riffs, and the danceable bass lines with the airy voice of the front Swaan and harmonies from guitarist Dave Dupuis. This solid LA “Alt Art Rock” group was a very suitable opener to the show, bringing to the ears of the audience sounds that clearly had roots in electronic and synth genres, whilst playing in the classic bass, drums, guitar lineup. In anticipation of main acts, I rarely appreciate openers, but this mysterious, glamorous, heavy yet fun group was an absolute pleasure to hear! Had I not been stuck on the balcony with a drink, I would have descended to dance!
Gary Numan’s arrival on the dark stage was greeted with extremely enthusiastic applause, cut short by the immediate break into dark sound and bright light. His first song seemed political with begging lyrics like “how could you have let it come this far?” For the rest of the performance, his entire presence continued to dramatize his words and the music by reaching up towards the sky or gripping the air in iconic poses. Numan never lost energy and was moving until the end even though he is 60! The very dramatized performance, the dark sound and the particular almost goth look led me to consider Numan the “Alice Cooper of Synth-pop.”
The group, dressed in fancy rags, as if they had risen from a tomb, played music that I didn’t quite reckon with! Whilst Gary Numan’s cult songs go back to the late 70s, his music has kept up with the contemporary scene and I was blown away by extremely heavy and dark sounds, and fast electronic elements, that were up to par with modern bands, whilst still maintaining the iconic synth-heavy sensibilities of an earlier time with a bright but droning presence. The dominating synth lines from his iconic song Cars seemed to run, in variation, as a motif through the entire show, rounding out the entire performance. Nevertheless, this song, when it came around, was not put on a pedestal and did not arouse as much of a response in the audience as I had expected. This to me highlighted the groups newer music and indicated, once again, that this group has kept itself on the cutting edge of music rather than relying on the cult classics to attract an audience. For the final song, Numan brought out a guitar but ironically spent more time posing with it while singing than playing it! Afterward, heavy applause brought on a final energetic encore but then the show was over…
Altogether my hunger for music was satiated by this concert and I was really impressed with Gary Numan, whose music I had only dabbled with! I was truly blown away by the entire performance and the light show and was kept on my feet, dancing, the entire time! Curious about the Christian cross on his tour merch, I did some research and was enticed to find that Numan is an outspoken atheist who merely borrows the iconography. This is evident in songs like Ghost Nation featured on his newest album.
With a career spanning nearly four decades, Gary Numan is now bringing out his 22nd studio album: Savage (Songs From a Broken World) which contains the song Ghost Nation. This album is set in a post-climactic-disaster, apocalyptic world which is ever encroaching. He has come a long way from his original puck outfit Beggars Banquet from which he was released for being too obsessed with playing the Minimoog synth (which led him to his quite immediate success once on his own), and I was glad to have the opportunity to cross paths with him live!
-DJ Friday (Strange Sounds)
Tagged as #CollegeRadio #KPSU #PSU # #PDX #Portland electronic Gary Numan Industrial Rock live performance new wave roseland theater synth pop