Saturday, June 22, 2024

Gary Numan: The Pleasure Principle of Replicas Live

In the first of three intimate sold out shows, Gary Numan celebrates the 45th anniversary of Tubeway Army’s Replicas album as well as Gary’s solo album, The Pleasure Principle. These records are immensely important in the canon of electronic and industrial music so getting to experience them live in full is a rare treat. 

This show was a strange experience because there was no support, this was likely done to help out an audience largely made up of older people. Even at 30 years old, it’s really hard to queue, manoeuvre the crowd and stand for several hours but I suppose deciding whether the price of the ticket is worth just one headline slot is up to you. 

Gary Numan

Upon entering the room, you’re greeted with a gigantic lighting setup that needs to be seen to be believed. You can see the budget put into this setup that gives tracks like ‘Films and Observer’ a magnificent sense of scale as the light blooms all over the Ritz which is already a gorgeous venue. 

It feels strange to say that Gary Numan feels like a backing player in his own band. The guitarist and bassist garner most of the attention as they bounce around the stage and take up multiple roles as guitar players, synth operators and so on. Gary tends to roam around the stage and occasionally take over various machines that I’m nowhere near musically literate enough to know what they do. 

As a staunch Hawkwind supporter, it was amazing hearing all this spacey guitar work in tandem with the ethereal synths on ‘It Must Have Been Years’. This was probably my favourite song of the night as it opened with this deep pounding bass and phase-laden punky guitar work before drifting off into some unexplored realm in space. 

It’s impressive to see all this complex machinery in one space creating music that sounds way ahead of its time for albums that came out in 1979. There’s a sense of spectacle that you’d likely only appreciate as a massive music nerd but luckily the music nerds were all here making the disco floor bounce for tracks like ‘Engineers’

Gary stayed very quiet throughout the set which I suppose adds to the mysterious Sci-Fi aesthetic he’s developed over the years. This may disappoint some who like to develop a rapport with the artists they see, but his silence helps create a sense of brooding artistry that’s accentuated by his Blade Runner-inspired outfit. 

Some of the longer tracks like ‘We Have a Technical’ may put people off due to its long droning nature but the main draw of this type of music is getting lost in it which some people seem to have trouble doing lately. 

There’s no way of knowing when someone who has been performing for this long is going to hang it up so it’s definitely worth seeing someone like Gary Numan for the experience. The encore alone made the whole set worth it as Manchester was hit by ‘Cars,’ the hit that made Gary Numan a legend and gave him his only major US hit. This track is still an incredible piece of pop history, you can practically pinpoint it as the moment the 80s began. 

The show ended with ‘Are Friends Electric,’ another iconic piece of synth-pop history that featured the classic iconic synth riff that was so influential in beginning that classic iconic 80s pop sound. Gary Numan is obviously a legend and you can make the argument that he is one of the most important individuals in the development of pop music and perhaps even a key talking point in the history of “poptimism” if you want to be a real music nerd. 

It’s hard to say definitely who would get the most out of this show: older people on a nostalgia trip, music nerds, synth players, people who write articles to facilitate photographs or a combination of all of these things. The important thing to remember is that all these moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.

I still have no idea if friends are electric or not though. 

Lamestream Lydia
Lamestream Lydia
Self-proclaimed journalist, Progressive rock enthusiast and the most American sounding person you're ever likely to meet in the North of England

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