Gary Numan + Dolls Head (supporting act) - Shepherds Bush Empire, London, England - 12.09.98

It was a twist of fate which led me to be at the Shepherds Bush Empire on a Saturday night sitting up "in the Gods" - the rightful owner of my concert ticket had a pressing engagement elsewhere i.e. he had to pick up a sofa. Even though I cannot honestly claim to be an avid Gary Numan fan and would not have been at his concert but for the twist of fate, what I witnessed that night was extraordinary indeed and had a profound effect on me - I soon came to realise that Numan was, and still is, a cult figure. Apparently this concert was his only UK date - with this in mind, I felt one of the privileged few. People had come as far away as from Weston-super-Mare to be there. Enough of the build up I hear you say so let's get down to business.

Dolls Head were a suitable aperitif for the evening. In fact, I would have been happy to have seen them alone as their songs worked really well for me. Two songs I can recall in particular were called "Perfect Day" and "Deep". Their style put me in mind of Throwing Muses. They did a very good rendition of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Arabian Nights". They got quite a good reception although the punters became a bit restless towards the end of their set, the band having to contend with chants of "Numan" in the pauses between songs.

Rating: ****

Numan (sporting an Italian priest's outfit and wearing boots that Frankenstein would have been proud of) and his men in black delivered the goods but it was not all done with pouting cheeks in a veil of mysticism - Gary had to break into a smile once or twice, especially when Martin Clunes (otherwise known as Gary from "Men Behaving Badly") appeared on stage to play bass guitar on "Cars".

Numan's new material relied less on cutting synthesizers - the synthesizers were still there but took a back seat. Songs I recall in particular were "Dominion Day" and "Absolution". The new stuff was quite appealing but the downside was that as the intros to many songs were similar, it became difficult to distinguish one song from another.

Veteran fans were kept happy with "Down in the Park" (or whatever it is called) and "Are Friends Electric". Numan, by popular demand, did two encores - "We are So Fragile" and "We are Glass" were unleashed during the encores. I get the impression that notwithstanding Numan's perceived God-like status, he remains modest. I think it impossible that he could ever be accused of getting "too big for his boots" (especially if you saw the size of his boots …)

Rating: ****

Date of Review: 13.09.98

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