NEW WAVE LEGEND GARY NUMAN TOURS HIS NEW ALBUM WITH HEADLINE SHOW IN EDINBURGH
40 years on from his breakout in Tubeway Army, New Wave pioneer turned industrial rock giant Gary Numan hits the stage at Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms to showcase tracks from his latest album Savage (Songs From a Broken World).
Development and reinvention is crucial for any artist to stay viable in the modern age, which is why it’s impressive that Gary Numan still graces stages and album charts around the world. After introducing synthesizers into British pop music at the dawn of the 1980s, the pop world became saturated with electronic influence, some for better and some for worse. A new industrial influenced direction has suited Numan well and allowed him to keep exceeding expectations. This is clearly exemplified as many in the audience seem surprised when Numan arrives on stage to Savage opener ‘Ghost Nation’: the Mad Max-esque desert outfits, buzzsaw guitars and pounding synths removing any notion that Numan thrives on 80’s nostalgia. The influence here seems to come more from industrial metal acts such as Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Rammstein.
The set leaned heavily on tracks from the newer album: 6 in total. Most of the time was also filled from various tracks from the second half of Numan’s career (‘Pure, ‘Jagged’, ‘Dead Son Rising’). New Wave fans in the audience were not left disappointed though as this was interspersed with tracks from Tubeway Army’s classic ‘Replicas’ such as ‘Me! I Disconnect from You’ and ‘Down in the Park’. It was interesting to see Numan rework these classic tracks into his more contemporary style, adding a more hard rock twist to the electro-classics.
Numan’s own conversion into contemporary rock frontman from keyboard automaton is impressive, dominating the stage with finesse and energy, aided by arena sized screens and lights. Desert visuals accompanied new single ‘My Name is Ruin’ whilst near blinding strobes frequently attacked the audience in the first half of the set.
Despite his intriguing new direction, Numan could of course not get away without playing the classics. A gritty rendition of electro-pop holy grail ‘Cars’ fared well with the audience as well as a pre-encore sing-a-long rendition of ‘Are Friends Electric’. Numan’s final statement came in the form of Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind) track ‘My Last Day’, reminding the audience where he is at today.
Gary Numan’s development as an artist should be an inspiration for established acts. At the age of 60 it’s endearing to see him think as an artist and develop his craft as opposed to banking in on nostalgia and legend status. The shift in sound and aesthetic makes Numan seem more genuine and authentic without sacrificing his strong abilities as a live performer fit for arenas.