The following is a review written by my friend Peter who was lucky enough to attend the October 20th concert at Brixton Academy. Unfortunately there are no photos this time because they confiscated my friend Mike's camera before the show :( (P.S. Thanks for the ticket, the shirt and above card Mike)
For the second time in a row, a veil of tears greeted the Numanoids under the green neon welcome of the Brixton Academy. The walk from the Tube up the High Street tended to resemble a film set in a Waterworld kind of way. Again, not put off, the black swathe waited patiently until the Academy opened up for business. Inside, the venue itself was very good. A gentle slop down to the stage permitted all except the vertically challenged a great view of the set, which was simmering silently at the foot of the slope with the smoke machine set on low to set the ambience as the arena filled up consistently. Once again we were treated to Talk Talk re-mixes to want away the time. This allowed the mixing desk to have a play with the speakers and amps, until the expectant throng could leap into life and welcome on stage a genius fresh from the release of arguably the best material written and produced by the Electronica Icon since Telekon.
In my humble opinion a pretty tight set played by some good musicians. The drummer and lead guitarist in particular stood out, and the vocalist was good, resembling a cross between Lloyd Cole and a young Sting. They started well, but the tracks play list seemed to merge one song into each other. All being of similar tempo, crying out for a little imagination or change to the format, even begging for a background keyboard riff or two. The two final tracks were different, but, as a result of the preceding four tracks, the audience initial attention and enthusiasm was somewhat lost. A meaty 7/10 on the support scale, definitely a band with potential.
As soon as the house lights dimmed the audience went into Berserker mode. The noise, noise was deafening. Even the start of the usual dark humming synth intro drone was struggling to make an impression. The band arrived on stage from the back of the darkened stage, the smoke machine set on pea-soup fog, pumping out the smoke like a cigar factory had set ablaze, as we, the demanding Numanoids, all knew the first track of the set before it began..Pure struck out, a new anthem, a new sound, a new era. I was luckily positioned three rows from the front, and I could clearly see how much Gary was up for this night. His face seemed relaxed, wearing a smile so broad it stretched from on side of the ample stage to the other, he looked content and focussed. I had absolutely no idea about the problems they had encountered with the stage, as reported days after on the Nuworld website. It just outlines the sheer professionalism of the man and the band, or the complete stupidity of myself. The sound was OK from where I was stood, and Gary showed no signs of the grief he had been through whatsoever. The play list was well balanced between the new, the old and the not so old. It is encouraging as a fan, even though, in my opinion, the sound and image has progressed into a more darker, energetic, power chordy style, Gary has managed to maintain his unique strong synth backing, well managed on stage by Ade Orange. Even with Pure itself, when "Hey, Bitch" is belted out, the strong, sharp, spooky synth riff makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, and when digested with the deep lyrics, it is a recipe for brilliance. Most of the new album appeared on the set, tracks which stood out in particular were my favorite from the album, My Jesus, the incredibly sensitive Prayer For The Unborn, Rip, and Breath. They all seem build up the atmosphere of a song erupting like a volcano, the chorus enveloping all like an explosion of power, followed by a cascade of rhythm and mystery blowing away all in it's path, the new material is such a massive leap forward in the right direction. As with the new, the old these days just seems to sound better. The re-mixed Metal and Down in the Park were delivered with a cutting edge, Films, Me I Disconnect from You, Are Friends Electric ? and the ever present Cars all graced the set with renewed vigor. The remainder of the set was made up with tracks from Sacrifice and Exile albums. The bridge between the Telekon / Tubeway material and the Pure sound is suitably fulfilled by these tracks. It is as if they are the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that make the picture legible, but not complete. Magic, Dominion Day, Angel Wars, and alike swell Gary's live portfolio with such quality material. I guess one of the most difficult tasks setting up a gig for Gary now must be agreeing the play list. There is now just so much to select from. There were also the odd surprises thrown in for good measure. Observer in particular was ingenious, and the encore was stacked so full of nostalgia we all had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren't back in the 80's. This feast of intense electronica was filmed, allegedly for DVD purposes, and if you were not lucky enough to be there on the night, it's well worth getting hold of a copy. It clearly displays how Gary and his band have progressed into a new era, into an act that merits attention, airplay and even more success. So, in summary, a splendid night was had by all. The light show was great, the play list was extremely well balanced, and considering a potential cancellation was imminent, this is arguably one of Gary's greatest performances.
review c. peter williams 2000