Gig Review: Gary Numan + Gang of Four (@ Hammersmith Apollo – 28/11/2014)

Review by Mark Kelly

(Images sourced online as labelled for reuse)

220px-Splinter_SFABM_Cover A bill consisting of Gary Numan and Gang of Four could lead one to expect something of a nostalgia fest; happily this is not the case.
Andy Gill is now the only remaining original member of Gang of Four following vocalist Jon King’s departure in 2012. However, John Sterry does a more than reasonable Jon King impersonation, and the band sound pretty authentic. Gill stares out the crowd, and the band have a pleasingly unsettling aura.

Gill certainly comes across as a man with something to prove, and there is a feeling of restrained aggression throughout, particularly during Anthrax which features much Stratocaster abuse.

Gang of Four now sound oddly current, probably due to bands such as Savages wearing their influence so prominently on their sleeves. The set is fairly evenly split between Entertainment (1979) and Solid Gold (1981), with Parade from Shrinkwrapped (1995) being the newest song played. There is nothing from Content (2011). However Gang of Four appear to be in a healthy place as far as live performance is concerned, but maybe some new material wouldn’t go amiss. Andy_Gill_and_John_-Gaoler-_Sterry,_Gang_of_Four.jpeg


Gary Numan is very much preaching to the converted tonight, and unlike Andy Gill, appears like a man who doesn’t need to prove anything.

250px-Gary_Numan_2011 It sounds like, in his live gigs of the last few years, he’s instructed his band to play as Nine Inch Nails and, therefore, industrial metal; fine by me, but rather less so with some of his fans I spoke to beforehand. There seems also to be a school of thought that believes Numan found his optimum sound in the 1990s with Sacrifice and Exile, and that now he is not being true to his own sound. Tellingly nothing whatsoever from the 1990s is performed tonight.
220px-Splinter_SFABM_Cover The set is heavily weighted towards Numan’s most recent album Splinter, with eight songs being played. Dead Sun Rising from 2011 also features heavily. These songs rock like muthas and are well suited to the Nine Inch Nails styling. 225px-Numan_Replicas_Tour_2008
220px-Replicas Surprisingly – though having likewise received the NIN treatment – Tubeway Army’s Replicas album and debut solo album The Pleasure Principle (both from 1979) are also strongly represented. The only real departure from this approach is first encore Jo The Waiter from the first Tubeway Army album, enjoying its first outing since 2004 and being played pretty much as per the record. 220px-ThePleasurePrinciple1

Gary Numan’s performance tonight had very little to do with nostalgia. Indeed it is more of a statement of where he stands today as an artist – and it shows that he is as vibrant and ‘relevant’ as he has ever been.

Mark Kelly