|Gary Numan/Dirty Harry – Cardiff, Millennium Music Hall - 19th November 2009|
|Written by Johnny H|
|Friday, 27 November 2009 09:58|
I really shouldn't be here tonight, I should be in Birmingham watching Slayer, but thanks to Mr Araya's dodgy Cilla and a cancelled tour schedule, I'm left with a hole in my diary the size of the UK's debt and with man flu fast descending on me I needed something to fill that void and quickly to distract from the sneezing.
So as I made my way into Cardiff's newest live venue (a sort of cross between the Islington Academy and Highbury Garage), suitably rammed full with Numanoids, I was immediately greeted with the sight of The Rev (ex Towers of London, The Prodigy and Day 21) strapping on his knee height Les Paul ready to crank out some down and dirty rock n roll over a Clint Eastwood intro tape.... promising I thought.
But wait a minute, Dirty Harry are certainly not like his previous paymasters and the order of the day is more like a guitar driven take on the sound that made Garbage such household names around the turn of the century, albeit tonight it was seemingly delivered via a live mix that sounded like it was captured on two channels of the mixing desk. On this showing they were more shabby than dirty, but I'd certainly go and see them again, albeit headlining with their own sound.
As Numan hour fast approached it was pretty obvious that any fresh air that was actually left in the venue was going to be immediately eaten up by the arena style light show the band's crew had managed to somehow shoehorn into such a low ceiling venue. And credit indeed to them when the whole thing sprang into life for the opening tracks 'Random And Airlines', the sight and sound a few rows back was more akin to a Wembley Arena show than a large club in the Capital of Wales. As this tour is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the 'Pleasure Principle' album, the first fifty odd minutes of the gig featured the classic drums, bass and three keyboard sound of that era, as a faithful retelling of that seminal album was delivered in full and in sequence. It's no secret that my favourite type of music next to low down and dirty rock n roll is electro, and Numan and his band somehow managed to bridge that gap perfectly even when there were no guitars (except an ankle high bass) on stage, perhaps it was the sign of Chris McCormack (ex 3 Colours Red) playing cowbell and tambourine along with one finger synth that helped, but the first segment finished off by a throbbing 'Engineers' was quite possibly the most intense fifty minutes I'd spent at a gig in 2009.
Then as if by magic, and with a few subtle instrument changes on stage, the band were transformed into the more recent 'Jagged' version delivering chunks of white hot electro rock both old and new, like some twisted vision of Kraftwerk jamming with Led Zeppelin, and stood centre stage, mic stand above his head, dripping in sweat was the ringmaster himself, proudly grinning from ear to ear as he proudly surveyed all around him. This certainly wasn't the shy frontman I used to remember, as Numan and band stormed through a brooding 'Down In The Park' and a thrusting 'Pure' that put NIN's Knebworth swansong right in its place in the Blue Square League of Electro by comparison, before a reworked and re-energised 'Are Friends Electric?' brought the main set to a close.
Returning for another reworked classic in 'We Are So Fragile' I did hear some older fans start to comment about the more contemporary take on these classic tracks, but as Numan has always said, he has always been about moving on and not looking back, yet oddly on this tour he somehow manages to do both very effectively without missing a heartbeat or once compromising his impeccable integrity as a recording artist.
I cannot help but feel I witnessed something truly special here tonight, something truly special indeed. And for nearly two hours I forgot about my ills and the world outside and lost myself with a true musical genius.
Now where's that fucking Lemsip?