GARY NUMAN, The El Rey Theater, November 4, 2010
Gary Numan was in the Southland for two nights performing his classic 1979 release The Pleasure Principle in its entirety. The album that launched the massive hit single Cars was turning a grand 30 years. And although Numan is never one to look back at the antiquities of the past, there is no denying how wildly influential this album has been. A wide array of musicians cite Numan – and this album in particular – as being highly influential, ranging from Fear Factory, Nine Inch Nails and even hip hop artist Afrika Bambaataa. Fans of all ages showed up to witness this rare performance from one of the true greats of the electronic music arena.
As the crowd waited in near breathless anticipation, Numan and band took to the stage and opened the show with the dirge-like instrumentations of Random, a B-side from The Pleasure Principle era that filled the hallowed walls of the El Rey with its mournful reveries. Then the first track from The Pleasure Principle was unleashed, another instrumental entitled Airlane whose synthetic dance beats really had the crowd pumped up and ready for a whole lot more time traveling.
Numan finally took to the lead vocals on the crowd favorite Metal, and even though he was behind a vintage keyboard for nearly all of The Pleasure Principle material, there was no denying the classic machine man charisma that the artist is noted for.
An absolute highlight from this portion of the set was the icy Conversations, a lengthy piece were Numan sings, “You’re just the viewer, so cold and distant, I’ve no intentions, of saying I love you” with a remote yet fiendish glee. Complex was a slower piece, mournful and strangely moving.
When the familiar riff of Cars came into play, the El Rey audience went wild and sang along to what is surely a song that has both been a blessing and a curse for its creator. And then from the distant past to the unfinished business of the present, Gary Numan performed a song called The Fall from his upcoming album Dead Son Rising. And what a jolt this may have been for fans unfamiliar with the newer material, as Numan went from keyboards to electric guitar, presenting an even more sinister edge to the soundscapes at hand.
Pure was dead-on proof that you could headbang to his later material. Taken from his 2000 album of the same name, Numan snarled the heated lyrics, “Hey bitch, this is what you are, purified, sanctified, sacrificed,” with a fierce sense of almost heavy metal aggression.
Haunted from his latest album Jagged (2006) was outstanding, a highly impassioned work whose wicked lyrics, “And I can not be saved, Not by you, Not by God, I want to bleed” segue into one of the most moving and memorable choruses of Gary Numan’s distinguished career.
There were still older songs to be heard, as the classic tracks from Replicas were given a glorious modern day makeover. Down In The Park still retains its foreboding sinister edge while Are Friends Electric? darkly shimmered with its stripped down dynamics.
For the encore, Numan performed a heart stopping rendition of I Die You Die from 1980’s Telekon, and then launched into another brand new song entitled Zulu.
The night ending with a mesmerizing rendition of Prayer For The Unborn from Pure – a modern day Numan anthem that sent the throngs back into the warm darkness of the Los Angeles night with plenty of vivid musical memories.
Gary Numan’s latest work is The Pleasure Principle Live – available on both CD and DVD, serving as a fine document of the current tour at large. Here’s hoping Numan returns to bring his iridescent, yet superbly bleak observations back to the City Of Fallen Angels soon.
(Review and Photos by Kenneth Morton)
Gary Numan Official Home Page