Of the several hundred shows we cover each year, a few stand out as special for a variety of reasons. Gary Numan at First Avenue last night was one of those shows for me. I have been a fan since his Tubeway Army days and his music was there for several firsts (First Kiss, first show at First Ave, the first concert I ever photographed, and “Metal” is the first song I play in each new car). But beyond that, few musicians have left their mark over such a long period as Gary Numan has. The artists that mention him as one of their influences are legion.
Noisy just published an interview with him where is explains his drive and how he feels the best best work he has been doing is his most recent with “Savage, Songs from a Broken World”. This is someone who does not rest on his laurels (or piles of synthesizers) but continues to innovate. So my expectations were quite high, and I promised myself I would not squeal like a little girl.
Of course DJ Jake Rudh was on hand to get fans into the right mindset and he certainly let his darker side come out to play. I think I even heard some Ministry as I walked in the door. His final number was Bowie’s “Afraid of Americans”.
Said Americans took to the stage next in the form of openers Me Not You from NYC. Their 40 minute set blended darkwave, dream pop, and some industrial influences into one very interesting package. Their first time in Minneapolis, Me Not You were clearly excited to play First Avenue, and judging by the line of people at the merch booth after their set, they gained a bunch of new fans last night.
For Gary Numan’s set the stage was plunged into deep smoke and strobing lights set a sinister mood for “Ghost Nation” that only became heavier with “Metal”, which’s live version has a much heavier, guitar driven feel. When I think back to the day I saw Numan performing in Germany, it’s night and day. He commands the stage and the best way I can think of describing his hand gestures is “expressive” for lack of a superlative. His set of course did include the songs that brought him to everyone’s attention, but his new material certainly stands up to his classics. “Savage”, his latest album has is a concept and a post apocalyptic remake for Numan in a way. He and his band are in off-white (shocking, I know) and even some of his merch has the armor like look that really worked well. “Here in the Black” from 2013’s “Splinter” was a re-discovery for me as I had not listened to it for a while.
“My Name is Ruin” was another standout, a drum heavy, synth driven almost operatic song that features his daughter Persia on backing vocals in the studio version. The heavy smoke and strobes may be a photographer’s bane but worked really well for the audience. Talking to several “notable” members of the Twin Cities music scene, we all were in awe of Gary Numan’s performance. The feeling must have been mutual as Numan returned for a 2nd unplanned encore with “I Die, You Die”
So to sum it up? SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!
- Ghost Nation
- The Fall
- Everything Comes Down To This
- Bed of Thorns
- Down In The Park
- Pray for the Pain You Serve
- Here In The Black
- Love Hurt Bleed
- My Name Is Ruin
- When the World Comes Apart
- A Prayer For The Unborn
- Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
- I Die You Die