On Tuesday, May 16th, Gary Numan and A Place To Bury Strangers played a show at Revolution Hall that energized the room. To celebrate his thousandth show, the electronic rock pioneer played three shows at the Electric Ballroom in London on April 13th, 14th, and 15th. According to Numan, this was a huge milestone for him. He continued with a North American tour with many sold out concerts. Gary Numan is best known for his 1979 hit, Cars, off of his first solo album The Pleasure Principle. He has inspired so many of the electronic rock bands that have been formed throughout the years.
As I walked up to the second floor of the building and into the concert hall at about 7:30 PM, the stage lights were glowing blue and red, ready for the musicians to take over at 8:00 PM. People were slowly making their way in with beers in their hands. The majority of the crowd were older generations. My guess is that they were most likely original fans of Gary Numan from early on in his career, which took place in the late 70s.
The lights went down as an indication that the first band, A Place To Bury Strangers, was about to start. I had never heard this band before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Fog filled the stage through blue lights as the three piece walked out. They began to play and I was immediately enamored. I could feel the intense energy they were about to bring. The music was strong and driving. The vocals had heavy reverb and delay effects which added a dreamy psychedelic element. Within the first three songs, the guitarist smashed their guitar on the stage floor, then lifted it up in the air as something to be worshiped as the crowd roared. He continued to do this throughout most of the set. At one point, he crouched down at the edge of the stage and held out the guitar to the audience so they could touch it, like a gift was being given to them. Toward the middle of the set leading into the finale, strobe lights flooded the stage capturing snippets of the band’s movements. The guitarist lifted the floor strobe and swung it around by its wire. The drummer stood up and began to whale on only the floor toms with a thunderous tribal beat that I could feel in my chest. As they ended and the lights turned on, people left the room, most likely for a beer refill. I stood there feeling like I just experienced something heavy and spiritual. I knew this newly discovered band was definitely going on my playlist.
After about thirty minutes, the lights went down again and voices from the crowd became louder and louder as each band member playing with Gary Numan entered the stage one by one; five members total. Gary came out last with three slash marks of red paint on his face, emulating his look on the cover of his latest album Intruder. The whole band had a goth vibe which presented itself through their dark and intricate clothing. This was much different than Gary’s original look when he first started his career, where he was considered having a new wave “android persona.” The guitar and bass player moved their bodies around theatrically, to showcase a dramatic performance that matched the music. The room was filled with a heavy fuzz guitar, electronic sound effects and arpeggiators. Green, red, and blue lights flashed around the stage as white streaks of light oscillated through the fog filled concert hall. I was getting a strong Nine Inch Nails vibe from the entire performance. I could see people in the audience dancing and singing as they held up their index and pinky fingers in the air to salute the rock stars on the stage. The majority of their set were newer songs from the past decade or so with some of the old classics dispersed such as, Metal, and of course, Cars. As the show ended and they left the stage, the crowd hollered as they knew there would be an encore. Sure enough, the band returned to the stage and finished the night with three more songs.
As a long time fan, and first time seeing Gary Numan live, it was more than what I expected. The whole performance was moving. It was pure entertainment. At 65 years old, Gary Numan still moved around the stage effortlessly and gave an incredible performance that wasn’t just musical, but visual as well, leaving me with stars in my eyes.