Review: Gary Numan - Middlesbrough Empire

It's hard to believe that it's almost 40 years since Gary Numan shot to fame singing about an uncertain, dystopian future.
Gary Numan at Middlesbrough Empire.Gary Numan at Middlesbrough Empire.
Gary Numan at Middlesbrough Empire.

And there may be no little sense of irony that the electro pioneer has enjoyed a career that has now lasted four decades.

Who would have thought back in 1979 that the otherwordly Numan on Top of the Pops asking “Are Friends Electric” - a song strangely prescient about sex robots - would still be here approaching the sci-fi sounding year of 2020?

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Some may argue that the now 60-year-old has managed to carve a career out of Bowie’s Berlin years.

But, where the likes of the Human League took electro music to the top of the pop charts and Depeche Mode have filled the enormo-domes of America with stadium electro, Numan has broad-mindedly ploughed his own furrow of increasingly dark, industrial noise.

That has proved increasingly popular with his audience too, hence the packed-to-the-rafters Empire for this date in support of his acclaimed latest album, Savage: Songs From A Broken World.

And very good it is too, as Numan and his band of guitar, bass, drums and, of course, synths make an impressive noise on the likes of opener Ghost Nation, My Name Is Ruin and the excellent When The World Comes Apart.

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Old favourites Me, I Disconnect From You and Down In The Park are performed quite early in the set, perhaps leaving one-too-many heavy songs in the middle, but a couple of classics - the aforementioned Are Friends Electric? and Cars - close the main set to thunderous applause.

In keeping with his robotic stage persona, Numan says nothing to the audience all night, but leaves after encores of the throbbing A Prayer For The Unborn and My Last Day.

All in all a memorable show from a uniquely British talent.