It’s 1980. I’m 8 years old. Think it would be fair to say that I was the average 8 year old that would hide behind the sofa when the theme music to Dr. Who came on or feared what lurked underneath my bed. But one day after turning on the TV, I was about to witness something that would terrify me to the bone.
Something so scary it was to create a template of fear in my little boy’s consciousness (that’s my own consciousness, I didn’t have a little boy at the age of 8). I’m talking of course about Gary Numan’s Cars video.
Thirty one years later I know there’s nothing to fear. Mr Numan isn’t the Nosferatu I perceived him to be when I was a child. In fact he’s a really nice, down to earth chap, well, that’s the way he certainly comes across in interviews.
In true rock ‘n’ roll fashion my friend and I arrived late at The Troxy – a beautiful 1930’s art deco Grade II listed building – so unfortunately we missed the first support who were the much hyped Mirrors. From what I hear they were superb and didn’t deserve the early billing before John Foxx and Motor.
We were seated upstairs amongst the other press and so called VIPs. This isn’t something I’ve experienced before, I’m used to be amongst the sweating crowd below, but as I’m not exactly a connoisseur when it comes to electronic music I guess I was happy with my surroundings. With not being a fan of the genre, at first I did feel a little out of place, like a cat at Crufts.
Looking around I could see that there was some diversity with the age groups, it wasn’t just full with aging goths, so that pays testament to the fact that Numan’s music is completely relevant today as it was 30 years ago. Whilst sitting through the last half of Foxx’s interesting set, in front of me I had two young women dressed in what looked like Spanish flamenco gear and to the side of me there were a few eighties throwback, new romantics whilst a woman was walking around selling hot paninis from a tray, something you’re not likely to expect at The Manchester Apollo I thought.
Motor finished their set which kinda passed me by, probably due to the distraction by the attractive woman selling hot paninis. Thinking about it, I think soup was also on offer. On to the stage next came a DJ who wouldn’t have looked out of place doing an 80’s set on Phoenix Nights but still good, nostalgic fun.
Then….. The main attraction. What the crowd had truly come for. You could feel the tension brewing. With a big flash on came the, what could only be described as amazing lights, lasers and video screens which gave you the feeling you were about to journey into the matrix. With a sinister sounding intro on walked a tall, dark solitary figure carrying a guitar, you could feel the emotion as a lot of people (including myself) thought it was the man himself. No, it was the guitarist who strapped on his instrument and started to play. Moments later, on he comes and the crowd just erupts with joy.
At that point I started to get it. You could see and feel the love the fans had for this guy, after all this is the godfather of electronica, The Numanoid, the guy who’s a huge influence to the likes of Marylin Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Basement Jaxx and of course The Mighty Boosh…
This is Gary Numan!
The sinister intro merged into his eighties classic, Down In The Park and he completely nailed it, the crowd reaction was explosive. I was transfixed and any thoughts of Italian savoury, stuffed breads had disappeared from my mind. Fair play to Mr. Numan, he’s not all about the past, he did play many new songs which sounded fantastic. With his new material he manages to keep his 80’s style synth, his vulnerable alien sounding bowie-esque vocals and fuses it with modern day thrusting guitar, drums and bass without losing any integrity.
But being somewhat a novice when it comes to being a fan (I only own a copy of The Pleasure Principle) I was hoping for the odd track I was familiar with and then on came Films – one of my favourites from TPP. Gary thrusts his arms in the air in good old Numanoid fashion and the crowd mimic him, fisting the air in total praise for Numan that you could only expect from his disciples.
Later on towards the end of his set, Numan delivered again with an outstanding version of Are Friends Electric. He aroused us with the all familiar opening bars from the piano and then started to softly delight us with the opening lyrics in an almost spoken word style. Then BOOM!!! The guitars kicked in and the whole of The Troxy were complete putty in Gary Numan’s hands.
Amongst the encore we were again blessed with the tune that used to scare the pants off me, and arguably his most famous hit, Cars. An electrifying version, I didn’t want to hide behind the sofa anymore, oh NO! So I barged my way to the front, the front of the balcony at least.
On the 2nd of April 2011 I entered The Troxy a Numan pessimist. I left the same evening a Numan fan. The Phuture is bright.
(Live pic courtesy of www.thenewcurrent.com)