First Avenue presents Gary Numan
Photo gallery and review by Sophiea Owen
After being twice rescheduled over the past year and a half, to say that the excitement in the air at First Avenue was palpable is an understatement. Gary Numan is undeniably iconic in the synth-pop scene, with a storied and consistent catalog that I feel anyone could find something they like in. Though most well-known for his 1979 hit “Cars,” which still remains his most-streamed song by a long shot, Gary has continued to make music for a solid 40 years. All I can really suggest is if you haven’t listened to him, you really should.
The evolution of his music astounds me, especially how he has changed and evolved over the years to a much more dystopian and industrial sound, with volatile and beautiful lyrics that continue to astound. Somehow, even with such amazing sounds in the past, he’s an artist that continues to improve and grow in his musicality.
So to be able to see such an iconic musician at such an iconic venue like First Avenue? Quite literally a dream come true for me.
And he did not disappoint in the slightest.
Setting the mood for the whole evening was Transmission’s Jake Rudh, playing a curated set of tunes set to accompanying videos. It was the perfect thing to walk into the venue to, and set the stage for the entire night.
The opener I Speak Machine delivered a powerful and vitriolic set that was the perfect mood-setter. Consisting of the singular Tara Busch on stage, she owned it entirely and engaged everyone with her intense energy and eclectic vocals. She was amazing and I’ll definitely be listening to more of her work. Their new album “War” is out now and I definitely recommend it.
The air was electric as we waited for Gary Numan to take the stage. The immediate reaction to the stage lights going on was immense. Starting off with the titular song “Intruder” off of his newest album, Gary and his band commanded the stage from the start and never left. The energy was immense, genuine, and an absolute joy to watch. Gary is hypnotic to watch on stage; he is truly ethereal. The first three songs spanned three different decades but flowed into each other seamlessly. As hard as I feel it would be to make a setlist out of over 15 albums worth of music, it felt like an excellent mix of new and old. The reaction to “Cars” was of course tremendous, but he immediately followed it with “My Name Is Ruin” (my personal favorite) and the reaction was almost the same. I see all too often fans complain here and there about an artists’ “old stuff being better than the new stuff,” but the entire audience seemed so pleased with every song. It was refreshing. It didn’t really matter what he was playing, the energy and performance from him and his band was all that mattered. It was clean, it was tight, they sounded amazing and they looked like they were having the time of their lives performing, and that’s all you want to see in a show.
Ending the night with “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” was perfect and wholesome, with most people singing along, and Gary ending things with a heartfelt little speech thanking everyone. It was above all, just such a fun show, and one I hope people will remember for a long time. From start to finish it was a night of synths and smiles, and I’ll never forget it.