I hadn’t seen electro / industrial legend Gary Numan live for many years. His new album, Savage, is getting rave reviews and debuted as high as #2 in the U.K. His live shows are loud, dazzling, and impressive affairs, and his November 29th show at Chicago’s Thalia Hall was no exception.
Opening for him were the Brooklyn quartet Me Not You, who put on a nice set of shoegaze and synth-rock. I’d like to hear more of their material. Unfortunately, I missed part of their set due to getting a phone call from work that I had to take.
Numan and his four-man band came out and immediately kicked down the back wall with a blast of industrial rock on “Ghost Nation” – the lead track from the new record. Upon hearing it, I immediately thought, “Yeah, I need to get this record.”
Although he’s not much for nostalgia, Numan delivered a great version of “Metal” right afterwards. He had the crowd in his hand by this point, and it was only the second song. Other solid cuts from the new record were “Bed of Thorns,” “Mercy,” “Pray for the Pain You Serve,” “My Name Is Ruin,” and “When the World Comes Apart.”
“Down in the Park,” of course, remains one of the best electro-goth songs ever, and Numan’s path down more industrial roads puts a new spin on a lot of his classic material. He has the bass brought up on “Cars” to make it almost a metal track, for example. “Love Hurt Bleed,” from his Splinter album, is a new highlight to his show. It’s everything Trent Reznor owes Numan in one song.
He performed “M.E.” and “Are Friends Electric?” for an encore. Both were stunning, especially “Are Friend Electric?” – which is the greatest song Phillip K. Dick never wrote.
This was easily one of the best performances I’ve seen all year. The crowd was a fun mix of aging hipsters like yours truly, young industrial fans, old punks, metal heads, and goths. I know this makes me sound old, but it was great to see people younger than I having a great time at the show. It ensures me that Numan’s music will continue through new generations of fans. Don’t miss this tour if it gets close to you.
Keep your mind open.
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