Gary Numan + Officers @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – Thursday 31st May 2012


Review and Photos by Tony Gaskin

Longevity is a sign of success in the music biz and to have a career spanning 33 years Numan can justifiably lay claim to being an icon. Tonight sees him play hits and more from that career to a packed house of adoring Numanoids on his Machine Music Tour.

First up though is the young outfit known as Officers. Numan has a habit of taking bands on tour with him that he personally likes which in this day and age of booking agents demanding that support acts “pay to play”, is quite refreshing and kudos to him for doing that. Whether this tour will launch Officer onto bigger and greater things (Jayce Lewis has certainly benefited from Gazza’s patronage) remains to be seen.

They play a dark, synth/guitar driven rock, not quite EBM and not quite electro but somewhere inbetween. The obvious comparisons to Numan/NIN can be made but front man Matt Southall stamps his own moody enigmatic style on things, a suitably atmospheric start to the evening.

There’s not many artists about where I can say that I first saw them over 30 years ago and are still going strong. My first experience of Numan was when Tubeway Army were supporting The Lurkers back in ’78 (I may be a bit sketchy on that but it was a long time ago!!), and to hear him play a couple of songs from that era was a bit special.

A generation later and the material available to him is huge, so we get a real mix of punk (Bombers and That’s Too Bad) through to Industrial Metal(The Fall and Rip) via the synth hits of the 80’s (Cars, Are Friends Electric et al). Understandably the 80’s period takes centre stage as this was the most commercially successful period in his career. Most of his big hits from that time feature here plus a touching tribute to his former friend and band member Ced Sharpley who sadly passed away in March from a heart attack. A backdrop showing slideshows and movie clips to accompany the songs add a stunning visual element to the show. Many of these clips were produced by fans for Gary to use on this tour

The man still remains an enigma and is regarded as being one of the most influential artists of his generation, he continues to produce ground breaking music and gives his support to many young up and coming acts, it’s difficult to think where music would be now without pioneers like this. I left with the voices of a couple of thousand people chanting “Numan, Numan” and the last chords of “Are Friends Electric” reverberating around my head with a huge grin on my face, it don’t get much better than this.

More of Tony’s photos from the gig below


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