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After 30 years in hibernation,
classic new wave collection revs to life

Gary Numan
Chicago, IL
October 26, 2010
Gary Numan Gary Numan

Story and Photos By Andy Argyrakis

The idea of veteran artists dusting off an old album gem and presenting it from front to back is escalating everyday, popping up in places as diverse as the arena circuit (Roger Waters, Bruce Springsteen) to festivals like Pitchfork (The Flaming Lips) and clubs for those artists with more of underground (though still indelible) appeal. Such is the case of Gary Numan, who may not be a household name to most on this side of the sea, but is nonetheless backed by such an innovative reputation in the late 1970s and early '80s that he could very well be the godfather of new wave.

Despite being vehemently against nostalgia (and reinventing himself through a gothic/industrial/hard rock lens in recent years), Numan is currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Pleasure Principle, his first official solo album after a pair with Tubeway Army. Under normal circumstances, it could appear like a cash-in, but because the singer's strayed away from the monumental piece on recent tours, it read more like a long overdue treat early appreciators.

And throughout the ten main tunes enclosed, he certainly showcased the project's merit, which basically built a bridge between the experimental electronica of Kraftwerk with the more glossy era of Duran Duran. For instance, "Airlane" sputtered with icy synths and stoic guitars, conjuring up images of vintage robotic rock crossed with danceable sensibilities. "Metal" turned more towards the electric side of the dial and introduced Numan's futuristic howls, "Engineers" also enchanted with its exploratory programming and David Bowie-leaning space oddities, while "Films" sent listeners on a cinematic journey through eerie keys and thundering percussion.

Of course "Cars" was the album's epicenter and proved the most satisfactory as the sole major hit for American audiences, and even at 52, he had no trouble nailing the signature notes that defined the early days of MTV. Following the main portion, Numan caught the crowd up to speed on his more current whereabouts, and though his diversity is undeniable, his most meaningful period remains the decade of decadence. Even so, the songs never came across as dated or cheesy, instead sounding like something that could stand right next to The Killers or Bloc Party, in turn, fulfilling the tour's purpose of suggesting *The Pleasure Principle* has thus far stood the test of time.

Related articles:

Gary Numan - Concert review - Chicago, IL - August 2006

Gary Numan Gary Numan

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