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gary numan byClaudiaBlack01The Roundhouse, London, UK
9th June 2024
Gary Numan - “Replicas / The Pleasure Principle 45th Anniversary Tour 2024”

It’s been 45 years since GARY NUMAN released ‘Replicas’ and ‘The Pleasure Principle’. They were released in 1979 six months apart. ‘Replicas’ - which was recorded at Gooseberry Studios in London - was released on the 4th of April of that year and ‘The Pleasure Principle’ on the 7th of September. Both were released on Beggars Banquet with ‘Replicas’ being the last album recorded as the TUBEWAY ARMY.

After ‘Replicas’ was released a load of new songs were demoed and fleshed out before ‘Are Friends Electric’ from that album was released as a single. ‘The Pleasure Principle’ album is a mixture of Synth Pop, New Wave and Electronica where a Minimoog synth was used along with a liberal use of a Polymoog and is a collection of thoughts about how tech was evolving and where it would take us. Notable tracks include ‘Airplane’ and ‘Metal’ which is sung from the perspective of an android, and ‘Films’ which influenced later US Hip Hop. The album cover and title, by the way, was inspired by a painting by surrealist Rene Magritte called ‘The Pleasure Principle’ in which a seated figure whose arms rest on a table whilst the head is obliterated by a ball of light. GARY NUMAN reinterprets that painting by sitting in the same manner at a table but updating the organic wood to more futuristic materials.

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‘Replicas’ as mentioned above was the 2nd and final album as TUBEWAY ARMY and was more of a conceptual album. As GARY NUMAN would say was the “machine” phase of his career. This album is a collection of common themes of dystopian science fiction and the transmutation of man / machine that has an androgynous image / synthetic sounds. It’s based on a novel Numan was writing about a dystopian future city where Machmen in human skin and other machines keep the public in order under the orders of “Grey Men”. It’s Inspired by Phillip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep’ although the album title is not inspired by Phillip K Dick. The use of ‘Replicas’ was never used by Dick in his novel. This was also recorded at Gooseberry Studios in London with dubs and remixes done at Marcus Music Studios. Inspiration for the album came from the John Foxx led version of ULTRAVOX, DAVID BOWIE’s ‘Breaking Glass’ and KRAFTWERK’s ‘The Man Machine’. This album would in turn go on to inspire MARILYN MANSON / NINE INCH NAILS / FOO FIGHTERS and god forbid, THE SUGARBABES. Notable tracks: ‘Down In The Park’, ’Replicas’. Anyway, that’s enough of the preamble, let’s get on with the review… /

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Music & Performance
I arrived at The Roundhouse at around 7:30pm, for some reason I had got it into my head that the stage time was 8pm when it was in fact 8:30pm. There was a small queue when I arrived so getting in was pretty straight forward after getting my pass and going through the airport security. The venue was sparsely populated with Numanoids so I had a wander around to reacquaint myself with the facilities and then I stood stage right to play around with my camera and watch the people. In no time at all the empty floor space filled and the many bums warmed the seats in the balcony. By 8:15pm the only space left was in front of the bars. So a good crowd came to see the final show in this triptych of shows at this iconic venue.

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So, here we go on a two hour journey through time. I was still at Primary School when these albums came out. I can remember ‘Are Friends electric’ being played on Top Of The Pops and my mother exclaiming “What the heck is this rubbish?” but with a glint in her eye. This isn’t rubbish I said. It wasn’t then and it’s not now. The sound was really good and so was the lighting. It’s 1970’s futuristic light, minimal and warmly cold. The crowd were aficionados and time travellers reliving their youthful selves where the future was a place full of infinite possibilities and the slide into decrepitude was so far off you couldn’t see it. I listened intently, I jerked my body and tapped out the beats on my thigh, sometimes looking off into the distance glassy eyed. Other people did the same.

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“We have a Technical” got the women in front of me stutter stepping whilst turning and whirling. Before that whilst I was in the photo pit the crowd tapped out the beat to “Me, I disconnect from you” on the pit barrier whilst Gary stomped and swirled on the stage with an energy that did not let up until the end. Not only him but the bassist and guitar players replete in their black man skirts stomped about too, changing places on the stage and back again. I loved the fact that tracks from each album were interwoven into each like a strand of DNA, the sound alternating from dark fretless groove although no fretless is played here, to chilly synthesis and on to robotic guitar riffs. ‘Engineers’ adds a level of humanity to the machinery with a marching “rat a tat tat” from the drums as does ‘Observer’ which is nice and flangy.

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The crowd and I are nice and loose now! We are getting into the workman-like play through sans inter song waffle. I like that, just 22 songs with minimal gaps in between, just enough time to gather yourself before going off again. The woman in front of me is off again on her twirling journey with ‘Praying For Aliens’ as her soundtrack. ‘Tracks’ is quite proggy I find, ‘Conversation’ stuttering along with a groove that’s flitty and cocky but extremely pleasing. I love the bass, love that bass!! Moving on through ‘It Must Have Been Years’ which is Bowie all over through the Punk Rock of ‘You Are My Vision’ and onto ‘Airlane’ with flanged / phased bass that sounds like tubes made of air pressure, this got me tapping and tapping and tapping, eyes closed lost in the moment. The woman in front of me is at it again, hopping and turning, blonde hair all over the place. She stops when ‘Complex’ starts but her head lolls from side to side, many other heads do too. Even the venue staff are joining in…

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Most of them must know the set list by heart now? What I did notice was that the staff transcended all ages, it wasn’t like that the last time  I was here or maybe I wasn’t noticing. Anyway, ‘Down In The Park’ enthused more hands to go into the air and a more noticeable sway started from the throngs in the density of the crowd’s nucleus. The set was drawing to a close now, next was the more traditional upbeat vibe ‘The MachMan’ which conjured up images of Mechanoid line dancing in my mind’s eye, followed by ‘Metal’. I tried a more complex gyration at this point, my back said “NOOOOOO” so I stood and tapped my foot and fingers instead, leaving the complex gyrations to memory. Next was the Japan feel of ‘Only A Downstat’ before the final song of the regular set, ‘We Are So Fragile,’ ‘Cars’ and ‘Are Friends Electric’ finish off the evening in the encore and that’s it, all done!

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That was good, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The two hours flew by and it was nice to experience the future from 45 years ago where it was kind of exciting and new and full of possibilities. Now I’m living in it. I think a lot of the future is shit! Not all of it but a lot. At least back then nothing was a “mindfuck”! Gary’s energy did not let up for the duration and the crowd’s appreciation through the chant of “NUMAN, NUMAN, NUUUUMAAAN” was humbly taken on board. Will there be a 60th anniversary?

garynumant byClaudiaBlack09

01. Replicas
02. Me
03. Me I Disconnect From You
04. Films
05. We Have A Technical
06. Do You Need The Service
07. Engineers
08. Observer
09. Praying To The Aliens
10. Tracks
11. Conversation
12. It Must Have Been Years
13. You Are my Vision
14. Airlane
15. Complex
16. Down In The Park
17. The Mach Man
18. Metal
19. Only A Downstat
20. We Are So Fragile
21. Cars
22. Are Friends Electric

Music: 9
Performance: 9
Light: 9
Sound: 9
Total: 9 / 10

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All Pictures by Claudia Black (Cimmerian Photography)

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