Like a colossus astride from stage to stage, Gary Numan, indeed a giant in electronic music for many, walked out onto that stage at Motorco Music Hall on the first night of Moogfest 2016.
Visiting Durham, NC, for three nights of Moogfest, the first of Gary’s shows for the festival focused on his album Replicas, most famous for the UK #1 hit “Are Friends Electric?” — a song that awoke the world to the potential of a new generation of synthesizers in pop music.
Interestingly, Gary stuck largely to the guitar on this first night on Thursday while others in his band very capably provided the synths (this was Moogfest, after all). But Gary came to the stage more than ready to play, and he absolutely burnt the hall down in a fiery rock ‘n’ roll rendition of Replicas that would have convinced you he was the biggest, best, and brightest rock star on the planet.
Not only did Gary give all of himself to the performance, but his audience overwhelmed Motorco Music Hall. Unfortunately, the venue filled quickly to capacity by the time Gary came to the stage, and many many others who came to see the titan of new wave and industrial music were turned away.
The concert did not follow the album in tracklist order; rather, it effectively reorganized the songs to maximize anticipation. Gary began with the hallowed title track “Replicas,” his voice as fresh and vibrant yet pained as it were upon the album’s release roughly 37 years ago! That time allows us to reflect on Gary’s legacy as a man of two worlds — the accessible dance tunes which catapulted him into the public consciousness and the gritty grinders that empowered him to forge a connection with the goth and industrial crowd. His early albums provide enough sparseness and darkness to point the way to his later industrial material.
But after the lyrically sparse “Replicas,” Gary hits another highlight with the memorable and energetic “Me! I Disconnect from You” as he continues to move through the album. Throughout it all, Gary remains in motion, banging on his guitar with passion and thrilling his audience through the familiar pitch of “Praying to the Aliens” and soon to crowd-favorite “Down in the Park.”
The room is stomping along with Gary as he wraps up the album to close its tracks with “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” It’s a positively fantastic performance of the chilling synth anthem, and Gary continues to infuse a healthy dose of rock swagger into it tonight.
After wrapping the album, Gary treats his audience to two additional tracks — “Metal” and “Cars” — both well-known numbers from his next album, The Pleasure Principle, which he would play in its entirety in his second show of Moogfest 2016. Gary was gracious, genuinely pleased with the admiration of the crowd for the performance, and left the stage with his band in high spirits.
Stay tuned to this space for a recap of his second Moogfest show, as well as his third show, dedicated entirely to Telekon, on the third night of Moogfest. Gary, a Brit, actually relocated to Los Angeles several years ago, affording him the opportunity to tour the three albums around several cities in North America recently, with Moogfest being one of the last stops before he and his band departed for Europe.
But he certainly made sure we would remain electric until his return.
Here are more pictures of Gary Numan at Motorco Music Hall on Thursday, May 19, 2016.