I wasn't expecting to be blown away by Gary Numan last night. I'd been invited to see him perform to a crowd of 100 journalists and other members of the press at producer/mixer Bob Clearmountain’s Apogee Studio in Santa Monica. After all, I hadn't heard anything from the electronic star since "Cars" and "Are 'Friends' Electric?," both of which he wrote in 1979. But I liked those songs, so my wife and I were interested in seeing him perform.
When he came on stage with his four bandmates, he looked impossibly young and energetic. He launched into four songs from his new album Splinter (out Tuesday, October 15) with a strong voice and sharp-edged, percussively-explosive music. Then he sat down for a mid-set interview with Jason Bentley, host of KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. Numan was delightfully approachable, humble, and funny. He said he doesn't like nostalgia about early electronic music, including his own songs, and is interested in pushing electronic music forward into new places. That said, he admitted he has become "reluctantly proud" of his late 70s hits. He played his old songs for the encore, but Carla and I agreed his new music is better. He played 12 songs in total and we were home in time for chamomile tea by 9:45 pm.
This morning I read up on Numan and found out he's a musician's musician, counting Dave Grohl and Trent Reznor among his ardent rockstar fans. I'm not surprised.
This was Numan's first show in LA this year and his first time performing many of his new songs live. You can watch or listen to the show I watched on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic on Tuesday, October 15 (his album release date).
[Photo credit: Jeremiah Garcia]