Gary Numan will always manage to split opinions. There will always be those that focus on his less acclaimed work, ignoring his contribution of at least two of popular music's most often referenced and blatantly copied albums, namely "Replicas" (with Tubeway Army) and "The Pleasure Principle".
On the other hand, there is the retinue of loyal fans, such as those present at the last UK date of 2012’s Dead Moon Falling Tour, dressed almost uniformly in black Numan-esque attire. Arguably a subculture in their own right, Numan's fans are not quite punk, gothic or metal, and not wholly electro. It is simultaneously simpler, and yet more complex than that.
The set opens with skilfully manipulated black noise introducing "Films” one of the less obvious, but most recognisable tracks from “The Pleasure Principle", before Numan moves to more recent output, the crowd hanging on his every gesture - a perfect showman in the mechanised sludge metal style that he has become associated with.
Numan then Returns to “The Pleasure Principle” era for "Metal" another less obvious but time-proof track, traces of which can he detected throughout electronic music to this day. This is followed by a surprising experience, for the uninitiated viewer, as Numan completely commands the audience in a messianic fashion with "A Prayer for the Unborn", a lesser known song, with its trance-like one up three down motif of euphoric synth, synchronising the fans' hands in the air as effectively as a Balearic DJ might, albeit a different crowd. Gary Numan is king here - there is nothing he needs to prove.
Another surprise is the ‘NUUU-MAANNN’ chant – which almost seems borrowed from the football terraces, or the ‘Rude-Boy’ call – but further proof that this is a sort of splinter micro-subculture (with roots at the end of the 1970s and early 1980s) – needing neither affirmation nor criticism from those that do not wish to be members.
The later third of the set is packed with electro treats as Numan welcomes support band, Officers to the stage to perform "Petals" alongside him, stating that it is the best collaboration he has ever worked on, followed by new track “We’re The Unforgiven”.
"Dead Sun Rising", the track many refer to as Numan’s return to form, is given a slightly more urgent treatment to suit the live setting, with a piano heavy version of "Are Friends Electric" drawing the set to a close. An encore follows, consisting of "Down In The Park", "Cars" and "I Die: You Die", all given deft touches of reinvention, without losing the idea of the original. These iconic tracks bring balance to a set of new and old material.
After 19 songs the audience are more than happy with the performance from their idol - and the only question left is over ownership of the songs. Do they belong to Gary or the fans?
For more Gary Numan info and news of his upcoming remix project, "Dead Moon Falling" (released 14th December), which includes a much anticipated re-work from Tim Burgess go to www.numan.co.uk