Nostalgia tours roll into town with rapid regularity.  Missed one Seventies or Eighties hit-maker?  There will be another along before you know it.  Nostalgia sells.  It’s less common though for someone who had their first number one in 1979 and their last top ten single in 1982 to come storming along with a set that draws heavily on their new album and yet delivers a credible, and relevant, performance.

Exactly a week before tonight’s gig, Numan celebrated his sixtieth birthday but if anyone has come along this evening expecting a stately, measured amble through the Numan back catalogue then they are in for something of a surprise.  They also almost certainly haven’t heard last year’s album, Savage (Songs From A Broken World).

Numan takes to the stage dressed like a character from Frank Herbert’s monolithic Dune series of sci-fi novels.  The garb of a futuristic desert dweller suits Savage’s vaguely middle eastern tones. Opening number Ghost Nation paints a picture of a desiccated dystopia warning of the dual threats of global warming and religious fervour; maybe not so much science fiction after all.

Me! I Disconnect From You and Down In The Park take us briefly back to the days of Tubeway Army but the bulk of the songs played tonight were born in the 21st century.

To some extent the songs from  Savage share a sonic palette with 2013’s album Splintered (Songs From A Broken Mind).  That album’s songs focussed on an internal, mental conflict as opposed to Savage’s global meltdown but brought together, the combined onslaught of industrial oppression makes for a devastatingly heavy experience.

Bed Of Thorns provides a relentless, crunchy undertone leading into My Name Is Ruin, perhaps the signature song of the evening.  This is extraordinarily contemporary stuff from a Seventies synth icon; but then, from the cold war and seemingly impending nuclear winter of the late Seventies to the current Soviet face off and ISIS- led Jihad, have we really come very far?

The big hitters are, of course, Cars and Are ‘Friends’ Electric, both sounding completely at home with Numan’s new material.  I’d have put good money on these having been saved for the encore but A Prayer for The Unborn from Pure and My Last Day from Splinter take the honours.

On the evidence of tonight’s performance, Numan is as far from the nostalgia circuit as you can imagine.  I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Setlist 

Ghost Nation

Halo

Me! I Disconnect From You

The Fall

Down in the Park

Bed of Thorns

Pray for the Pain You Serve

Here in the Black

Haunted

Mercy

Love Hurt Bleed

My Name Is Ruin

Cars

When the World Comes Apart

Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

A Prayer for the Unborn

My Last Day

John Scott. Photos Alan McIntosh

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