Gary Numan // The Art Rats // Live Review // The Ulster Hall // Belfast

OK, this reviewer has a bit of confession. Having only heard a few
Numan songs over the many decades I’ve been on this earth, I crammed
in a bit of last-minute listening and off I popped to the Ulster Hall.
First up was a local band called The Art Rats consisting of one
solitary drummer and a guitar/vocalist…Belfast’s own ‘Royal Blood’
would be the obvious comparison. What they lacked in a direct
comparison in their sound, they more than made up for in their
enthusiasm on stage, with the drummer frantically beating those skins
as if his life depended on it. They had a hard, punky edge. The vocals
did get a bit lost for me, but overall they were a decent support act
and it was good to see the crowd giving them a really great reception.
It was a decent small set consisting of ‘Graphite’, ‘Daydreamer’,
‘Nightcrawler, ‘Heaven’, ‘Naturals Not In It’ (which I later learnt
was a Gang of 4 cover) and ‘Vaccine Mirror’.

Next up was the main man himself. The set looked like it could be
interesting for a great visual experience and as the first few bars of
The intruder kicked in, the visuals and lights dazzled the crowd and
instantly drew us into Gary Numan’s Dystopian world.

This world consisted of a ‘post-apocalyptic’ style reminiscent of a
scene from the Mad Max Trilogy. Numan’s makeup and clothes mirrored
the ‘Intruder’ album cover with the red claw marks down his face, and
at nearly pension age (64) he has not lost any stage presence,
controlling the floor left to right with the crowd reacting positively
to his strutting and posing during ‘Remind Me to Smile’ and ‘Halo’.

Next up was the song ‘The Gift’ from the new ‘Intruder’ album,

a slow-building song that climaxed with stunning backdrop effects combined
with the ‘middle eastern’ feel really blew me away. To recover from
that we were transported back to 1979 to ‘Metal’ from his debut album
‘The Pleasure Principle’, reminds us of how Numan started his career
with synth sounds that inspired many acts over the years. Next up was
‘Bed of Thorns’ from the Album Savage’ is a dark journey lyrically with
Numan tells us, ‘you’re welcome to sleep in my bed of thorns.’ Back
to the new album with, ‘Is This World Not Enough’ followed by ‘Films’,
another older offering from his first album. For me, this was one of
the highlights of the show visually, with the band members dressed in
grey and wearing long kilt-type skirts. They looked very much part of
the dystopian appearance Numan has long been famous for. Ironically,
he sang ‘I Don’t Like The Set’ – sorry Gary, but we love your set!

The song ‘Pure’, probably the hardest sounding song of the set,
battered our senses, followed by ‘Resurrection/Down In The Park”. For
me, these two songs were the weakest of the whole show but still
managed to deliver a good reaction from the crowd.

The ‘Intruder’ album featured prominently. Another powerful song ‘And
It Breaks Me Again’ was followed by ‘Every Day I Die’, which for me
was a weak choice given the rest of the set?

Thankfully ‘Cars’ was up next and despite it being played to death by
us all over the years, the live version was a lot edgier and really
brought it up to date and back to life.

‘My Name Is Ruin’ followed by ‘Love Hurt Bleed’ really hit the spot
again visually and musically. Numan closed out the show with ‘The
Chosen’ and ‘We Are Glass’ which was one of his top hits back in 1980.
After forty years, it hasn’t lost any of its crowd appeals.

The said crowd obviously wanted more and Numan obliged with two more
encore songs: ‘A Prayer For The Unborn’, a slower melodic number which
complemented the final song that sends us off…‘Are “Friends”
Electric?’. Considering the kilowatts used on that stage, I’m guessing
Northern Ireland Electricity is Numan’s friend with the electric
bill that he’ll get for that stage show.

If Putin manages to bomb us all into a post-apocalyptic world, I want
Numan to be there singing to the survivors. It won’t cheer us up, but
at least we will all be dressed the same.

 

Since coming to prominence with era-defining hits such as ‘Cars’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ (with Tubeway Army), Gary Numan has remained consistently creative and released a huge catalogue of work. His impact on electronic and alternative music has been hailed by pioneers such as PrinceDavid Bowie and Nine Inch Nails and remains impactful today, with Kanye West and Lady Gaga both crediting him as an influence. He was rewarded with the prestigious Inspiration Award at the Ivor Novellos in 2017 and shared his remarkable story with 2020’s candid autobiography ‘(R)evolution’

 

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Review: Alan Steenson 

Photography: @flashartmark // #flashartmark  

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