Gary Numan, Severed Heads
I adore The Forum. Before you even add to the recipe the brilliant bands that play there, you have something truly unique in the world. Its intricate façade, with its Moorish influence, contrasting with the Greco-roman interior and the faux twilight ceiling bedecked with stars, ensures that there's always something beguiling to look at. Mix with this the sounds that have graced this grand dame over the years and you'll get some idea of how special the whole experience is. But why wax lyrical? I'm hoping to do some justice to what we recently witnessed there.
Severed Heads have had about thirty-two (ish) years to perfect their music, but rather than sit on their laurels, Tom Ellard and Co., continue to evolve as artists. They were ahead of their time in '79, with their dissonant beats and industrial, mechanised tracks. Their sound was still industrial, but gained more acceptance with songs such as Dead Eyes Opened. If you read Ellard's blog today, you'll be confounded by his knowledge of, and confidence in using, cutting edge technology.
Thus, Severed Heads were an apt choice to support Gary Numan if only because they perform heavily synthesised music and, like Numan, influenced Trent Reznor. The band impressed the younger punters, and the old timers were smug in the knowledge that they knew what good music was all about before many in the audience were born.
I am a Gary Numan 'Numanoid' from way back when Replicas by Tubeway Army came into being. He was my pin-up boy, which was an odd phenomenon back when my Bay City Roller-loving friends used to ask 'Gary who?' I was busily humming Down In The Park and Me, I Disconnect From You while earning greasies from the cool kids. I have no clue whether it was hearing these 'faves' again or if it was because Numan still has 'it' that blew me away, but either way, we witnessed something memorable.
Numan has mild aspergers syndrome… not particularly significant in the grand scheme of things unless you consider that the need for order and repetition can create its own kind of brilliance and Numan's difficulty with social interaction engenders the machine-like persona that makes him seem enigmatic. He has the perfect voice to complement the industrial genre. At times the vocals sound droid-like and tinny, which provides an uncanny metaphor for a contraption churning and clunking away.
On this tour Gary Numan performed The Pleasure Principle in its entirety. This highly acclaimed album has rightly influenced the likes of OMD, Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. It was fantastic to hear the old material again. The light show was toned down, but still provided enough visual stimuli to be entertaining in itself.
The backdrop was a retrospective in pictures of Numan at the height of his popularity, along with shots of the present Numan persona, however I couldn't keep my eyes and ears off 'the man' on stage. He bewitched with Metal and M.E. The punters were having a fine time dancing and making their own memories while many were in their own little retro paradise. Go and see Gary Numan if you're serious about music, and reassess your definition of 'rock god'.
Loved: Being at The Forum to see one of my heroes.
Hated: Friends asking me all week "Who's Gary Numan?"
Drank: Canadian Club and dry
Article By Sharon Brookes
Photo By Mary Boukouvalas