It was only fitting that synth deity Gary Numan was headlining Irving Plaza in NYC on the first crisp autumn night where it was appropriate to don a black leather jacket. Numan, who first put his indelible mark on music in late ’70s/early ’80s with ubiquitous synth-driven masterpieces “Cars” and “Are Friend Electric?”, has been touring to support his flawless 2017 album Savage (Songs from a Broken World), which he realized with longtime collaborator Ade Fenton.
From the moment Numan took the stage with his backing quartet, he pulled no punches. They wielded the raw fury of his industrial-electronic din with aplomb.
Opening with the wrenching “Everything Comes Down to This” off 2013’s Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind), Numan vaulted into high-octane sci-fi gem “Metal” from 1979’s The Pleasure Principle and the riff-charged “Halo” off 2016’s Jagged.
After floating into the electro-pop euphoria of “Pray For The Pain You Serve” off Savage, Numan was joined by his daughter Persia for a picture-perfect version of the Middle Eastern flavored “My Name Is Ruin,” a gorgeous song from the concept album about dystopian gloom and doom. It’s arguably up there with some of the best songs of his career, and the joy of performing with his daughter was evident on his beaming face. The only bummer: Numan didn’t play the epic “The End Of Things” from Savage.
As expected, “Cars” went over big but it was by no means the highlight of the show and that’s telling. Gary Numan is the rare legacy artist who’s come to terms with his past, embraced it and is producing some of the best music of his storied career.
For an artist whose sound has been fixed on the future, the here and now seems to agree with Gary Numan.
Images by Darren Ressler