Review by Chop and photos by John Bentley
While Anaal Nathrakh were headlining an evening of extreme metal mayhem at the Flapper in Brum a dozen or so miles away, an entirely different demographic had assembled to pay homage at an evening of electronica and darkwave from a true pioneer and living legend.
First up though were Officers. Quite why they didn’t appear until 8pm considering the doors had opened at 7pm is anyone’s guess. Still, I guess the bar did a reasonable trade. With the stage resembling a building site with scaffolding liberally spread around, it took a while to focus on the band rather than ponder just how many roadies would be scurrying around before the main act to rebuild the components. Musically they were solid enough without ever being either exceptional or original. Fusing sections from sources as wide ranging as Beck, Joy Division, U2, and Isis to name but a few, they were one those bands who constantly reminded you of someone else without having their own identity, but then imitation is the highest form of flattery eh? Jury’s out time – just over half an hour, with a largely indifferent crowd, probably wasn’t sufficient enough to truly form an opinion.
The predicted stage rebuild, surprisingly – and somewhat disappointingly – didn’t materialise, so when Gary Numan and band appeared at just gone 9pm the main focal point was a large projector hoisted above the large riser. Clearly I’ve been to way too many metal gigs… Gary was flanked by a guitarist and bassist, the drummer was tantamount to invisible seemingly buried under scaffolding, whilst the two keyboard players on a large, high level gantry, were largely obliterated from view by the intense lighting and/or huge amounts of stage smoke. Visual scene set, to the music. Those expecting a set based on his early electronica were sure to have left disappointed as a quick glance at the setlist will show. Fans of his more recent work however were treated to an evening of darkwave/industrial songs that were accompanied by increasingly disturbing imagery on the overhead screen. Think of Electric Wizard’s level of darkness, but remove the occult theme, and you’d be close.
Gary’s voice has held up well over the years; yes there’s a lot of effects being used on his mic, but is that any different to a guitarist utilising a pedal board? The band were as slick as you’d expect, albeit that the guitarist’s efforts became increasingly peripheral in the mix as technical issues took their toll. Highlights? The reworking of ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ was as stunning as ever, as was the three song encore. Anyone wanting to see an eight piece band got their wish too, as Officers were invited on stage to perform their collaboration ‘Petals’, which worked well. This was an assured performance, stylishly delivered, and creatively lit, that enhanced Gary Numan’s reputation. Keep your eyes peeled for details of future performances; you won’t be disappointed.
Set list: Hide (intro), Films, Pure, When The Sky Bleeds, He Will Come, Haunted, For You, Metal, Everything Comes Down To This, A Prayer For The Unborn, I Am Dust, The Fall, Petals, Jagged, Were The Unforgiven, Dead Sun Rising, Halo, Are Friends Electric?.
Encore: Down In The Park, Cars, I Die: You Die.
And you can see more shots below or by clicking here