Posts Tagged ‘electronica’

Gary Numan Newcastle City Hall 11 May 2022

nu tixThis was a return to experiencing Gary Numan in a couple of ways. The last time I was at a Gary Numan concert was in 1981 at Wembley Empire pool (now Wembley Arena) for his farewell concert. This was a fantastic end to a short career which started with his massive initial breakthrough hit “Are Friends Electric?” Numan was something completely new and different set against the background of punk and new wave in the late 1970s. I was lucky enough to see his first tour at Newcastle City Hall, followed by the “cars” tour at the same venue. Then he decided to retire and I made the pilgrimage to Wembley for his final show. Happy happy memories.

numan 6The second return to experiencing Gary Numan was for my sister-in-law Elaine. My late wife and I took Elaine as a youngster, to see Numan on that wonderful first tour where a robotic Gary mesmerised us with his new blend of electronica, rock and pop music. Flanked by robot figures and a wonderful light show with music unlike anything we had heard before it was a great introduction to the world of Gary Numan. Elaine, then a teenage girl, just loved it. So this was her first outing to see Gary Numan since that experience of his initial tour.

numan 4Now I had seen that Gary had been touring again for some years now and kept meaning to go along and see him. His return to the City Hall, where we saw those early shows, was just too much to resist. And Elaine was looking forward to see what the new Gary would be like. I also was intrigued to experience Gary Numan again. So, lots of memories of great shows from a long time ago. Time, the lives of myself and Elaine, and Gary, have moved on. What would the show be like?

numan 7First up was support act French band Divine Shade. They were an electronic/heavy bass band clearly influenced by Gary Numan. Think a heavy Gary Numan/dark Depeche Mode/LOUD. They were really loud and we were down the front next to the speakers. We could feel the vibration running through us; just like old times and the first time I saw Black Sabbath when Geezer Butler’s bass hit me in my stomach. Excellent! A great start to the show. They clearly enjoyed it also. From their Facebook page: “Thank you Newcastle ! It was great ! Cool fact from the nice security gard, our little dressing room was the Beatles favorite one.” Now there is a fact I didn’t know!

numan 3I wasn’t sure what to expect from Gary Numan this time around. To say he didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. He was fantastic from the very start, keeping the pace up right until the end. The set was a mixture of old and new. I was delighted that the second song was my old favourite “Me! I Disconnect from You” the lyrics of which now take on a new meaning in light of the fact that Gary has publicly mentioned his shyness. It brought back memories of that Wembley show over 40 years ago when I remember it as a standout song. Gary is very much the front man now, revealing more of himself to us, much darker, dressed all in black with red stripes running down his face. His music is louder, rockier and darker. He is flanked by a bass player and a guitarist each with shaven heads, wearing black skirts and large black boots. Quite menacing, dark and Gothic.

numan 1I hadn’t realised just how much Gary Numan’s music had changed over the years. I was clearly out of touch. He has stripped things down to the basics and produced a much darker, heavier sound. In front of us was a new, louder, more intense front man than the young boy Elaine and I experienced all those years ago. The old songs were given a much heavier treatment and included some of my favourites such as “Down in the Park”, “Cars” and closer “I Die, You Die”. Throughout the show Gary stood on stage sometimes pulling back on the mic stand, going down on his knees and then throwing his arms up in the air. Very much the show man. The crowd loved it and gave him one of the warmest receptions I have seen for a long time. Fabulous.

He returned for two encores, the last of which was “Are Friends Electric?” Elaine, Jackie my carer and I really enjoyed it. Elaine said it was a better show than the first time and I didn’t disagree.

Setlist: Intruder; Me! I Disconnect From You; Halo; The Gift; Metal; Ghost Nation; Is This World Not Enough; Films; Pure; Resurrection; Down in the Park; And It Breaks Me Again; Dead Sun Rising; Cars; My Name Is Ruin; Love Hurt Bleed; The Chosen; I Die: You Die;

Encore: Remind Me to Smile; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

Yazoo Newcastle City Hall 19th November 1982

Yazoo Newcastle City Hall 19th November 1982
yazootixYazoo were the British synthpop duo formed by Depeche Mode member Vince Clarke (keyboards) and Alison Moyet (vocals). They came together in late 1981, and over the next 18 months they made two albums which blended Clarke’s synthesizers and pop tunes with Moyet’s bluesy vocals. They had big single hits with “Only You”, “Don’t Go” and “Nobody’s Diary”. From the official Yazoo site: “I put an ad in Melody Maker looking for a semi-professional band,” say Alison “Not someone who’d just had a massive hit album.” Vince: “I’d heard Alison perform under various guises and I knew she was an amazing singer,” Vince recalls. “I wanted songs to be sung with a lot of emotion. I didn’t know how it would work, but I wanted to try.” Schooled in the ideologies of the “splendidly low rent” punk scene, Alison was hardly looking for stardom: “Ambition was wanting to move up from being third on the bill at a pub to headlining at a pub,” she recalls. “Vince was an anomaly – he’d taken it to the next level with Depeche Mode and achieved success at a point when, for me, there was nothing cool about being on Top Of The Pops. But when he got in touch, there was a certain perverse appeal in trying something I’d never done before. It’s almost freak like, this idea of someone from Basildon moving out and actually doing something. I found it incredibly compelling.”yazooprogOn stage Yazoo incorporated a slide/film visual display, using seven slide projectors and film projectors. The films and slides were (back) projected onto five screens at the back of the stage. From a review of the time: “Three of the projectors produce most of the animated effects on the centre screen and there are approximately 350 different slides seen in each set. The screens are used to display various pieces of photography and graphics, which ‘sort of’ relate to the music.” A great concert by an excellent pop act. Yazoo split acrimoniously in May 1983; however they have reunited to play a series of concerts in recent years.
Setlist: Situation; Too Pieces; Goodbye Seventies; Winter Kills; Bad Connection; Tuesday; Bring Your Love Down (Didn’t I); Midnight; Chinese Detectives; In My Room; Don’t Go; The Other Side of Love; Ode to Boy; Only You; Situation.

Ultravox! 1977 & 1978

Ultravox! 1977 & 1978
ultravoxredcarEarly Ultravox! were quite different from the Midge Ure fronted band who produced Vienna. I saw the band on a few occasions:
16th April 1977 Middlesbrough Rock Garden
27th August 1977 Reading Festival (low down on the Saturday bill)
5th Feb 1978 Redcar Coatham Bowl
25th August Reading Festival (special guests on the Friday, appearing second on the bill to headliners The Jam)
I may also have seen them at Newcastle Mayfair, but can’t be sure.
The line-up of the band was John Foxx (lead vocals), Chris Cross (bass), Stevie Shears (guitar, replaced by Robin Simon in 1978), Billy Currie (keyboards, synthesisers, violin) and Warren Cann (drums). They recorded three albums: Ultravox!, Ha!-Ha!-Ha! And Systems of Romance. By their third album they had dropped the ! from their name. Ultravox! were an interesting band. Live they appeared a mix of Roxy, Bowie and Kraftwerk, combining glam and pop with punk and electronica. John Foxx was a charismatic and enigmatic front man, sometimes punky, sometimes robotic, always interesting. Foxx’s real name is Dennis Leigh, he chose the stage persona of John Foxx, saying: “Foxx is much more intelligent than I am, better looking, better lit. A kind of naively perfected entity. He’s just like a recording, where you can make several performances until you get it right – or make a composite of several successful sections, then discard the rest.” In 1979 Foxx left the band, who recruited Midge Ure and became a new entity.
Setlist Reading 1977: ROckwrok; Slip Away; The Frozen Ones; Distant Smile; Young Savage; My Sex; Wide Boys; Saturday Night in the City of the Dead; Artificial Life; The Wild, the Beautiful and the Damned; Fear in the Western World

Talk Talk Redcar Coatham Bowl 22 April 1984 & Newcastle City Hall 3 May 1986

Talk Talk Redcar Coatham Bowl 22 April 1984 & Newcastle City Hall 3 May 1986talktalk84Talk Talk are a massively under-rated, and sadly largely forgotten, band. I saw these guys twice; once at a gig at Redcar Coatham Bowl in 1984 and them again a couple of years later at Newcastle City Hall. Both gigs were excellent, but the Redcar gig particularly sticks in my mind. By the time I went to see them in 1984 with my mate Dave, Talk Talk had been in the lower regions of the charts a few times with some great singles: “Talk Talk”, “It’s My Life”, and the excellent “Dum Dum Girl”. Coming out of the new wave movement, at first they seemed a straight synth pop band. But there was much more to Talk Talk than pop music. They soon moved into more experimental areas. The gig at Redcar was very unlike what I expected. I thought I was going to see a regular new wave / pop act. What we actually witnessed was a much darker, moodier performance by a band pushing at the boundaries. There was something quite strange and almost unnerving about their performance. The singer Mark Hollis stood, hair covering his face, (Dave said he reminded him of Curly Watts from Corrie 🙂 ) hunched over the mike, almost ignoring the audience and sang moody songs, as dark textured synth sounds crept around the venue. Powerful stuff.talktalk86
I saw Talk Talk once more in 1986. This was in a (sadly) half full City Hall, and at the time of their classic “Life’s What You Make It” which is another great track. The importance of Talk Talk is beginning to be recognised with bands including Radiohead and Portishead declaring them an influence on their music. Talk Talk split in 1992 and Mark Hollis retired from the music business.
Setlist 1986: Talk Talk; Dum Dum Girl; Call in the Night Boy; Tomorrow Started; Life’s What You Make It; Mirror Man; Does Caroline Know?; Chameleon Day; Living in Another World; It’s You; Give It Up; It’s My Life; I Don’t Believe in You; Such A Shame.
Encore: Renée

Sparks Leeds University Refectory 22nd June 1974 & Newcastle City Hall 3rd November 1974

sparksSparks Leeds University Refectory 22nd June 1974.
California brothers Ron and Russel; Mael relocated to the UK In 1973, having already appeared on the Old Grey Whistle test (Bob Harris declared Sparks “a cross between Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and The Monkees”). They recruited Martin Gordon on bass (later of Jet and Radio Stars), Adrian Fisher (guitar) and Norman “Dinky” Diamond (drums). This line-up of Sparks recorded the breakthrough album “Kimono My House” which featured their No. 2 hit single “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”. Sparks’ appearances on Top of the Pops were sensational. Front man Russell was the cutesy glam singer with strange jerky hyperactive dancing, flanked by his older brother Ron, seated motionless at the keyboard, flashing evil stares at the camera, and sporting a weird Charlie Chaplin mustache. “This Town” propelled Sparks to almost immediate teen stardom, and in June Sparks went out on their first UK tour. My friend Gillie and I had been blown away by “This Town” and really wanted to see this crazy new band, although we hadn’t heard anything else by them. sparksprogThe nearest date of the tour for us was a concert at Leeds University Students Union, so we drove down to see the band at that gig. It was a Saturday student event, and we weren’t quite sure whether we would get into the show, not being students ourselves. We managed to get a couple of students to sign us in at the door, and we made our way into the vast union refectory. This was our first visit, and we were very excited at the prospect attending a gig in the famous hall where The Who had recorded “Live at Leeds” not that many years before. I think the support act was Old Tennis Shoes, who were a rock and blues band from Preston. Sparks were magnificent. I don’t recall what they played that night other than “This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us”, which I think they may have played twice, once during the main set and then again as a final encore. Ron looked just as mysterious and mean as he did on Top of the Pops and Russel was a little ball of energy; he wore a white smock top and danced himself silly the entire evening, climbing up the PA stacks during “This Town” and singing it from the top of a speaker column. Gillie and I drove back up the A1 in my little MG talking about just how great Sparks were. Well worth the trip to Leeds.
sparkstixSparks Newcastle City Hall 3rd November 1974
1974 was a busy year for Sparks. They recorded the follow up to “Kimono My House”, which was their fourth album “Propaganda”, Martin Gordon and Adrian Fisher were replaced by Trevor White and Ian Hampton, and they had two further UK hit singles “Amateur Hour” (which reached No 7) and “Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth” (which reached No 13). They toured the UK again, to promote “Propaganda” this time calling at Newcastle City Hall. Support came from Pilot, who had been in the charts with “Magic” and were to have a No 1 single with “January” the following year. Sparks delivered another great performance; by this point in their career they were big teen heroes and the City Hall was full of girls screaming at Russell.

Roundhouse Rising Festival 21st – 24th February 2014

Roundhouse Rising Festival 21st – 24th February 2014
roundhosueprog So the Shift-Static guys made it down to London for their big-city debut at Camden’s Chalk Farm Roundhouse, courtesy of Generator and the Roundhouse Rising festival. Second on the bill on the Saturday evening; Gordon, Laura, Charlie, Joe and Will took to the stage at 9pm in front of a packed Studio audience, including many friends and family who had ventured south especially for the occasion. After some technical glitches which were sorted during sound-check, their short 30 minute set went beautifully, without any further hitch. Their aural soundscapes filled the room much to the delight of the crowd, who gave the band a reception fit for heroes. Shift-Static music is a mix of pounding beats, soaring vocals and challenging musical dynamics. In it I hear elements of Joy Division, Julie Tippetts, Portishead and Eno with a smattering of the African rhythms of Osibisa; but they probably won’t thank me for any of those comparisons 🙂 .
roundhousetixRoundhouse Rising is the Roundhouse’s annual festival of new music. Taking place across 4 days, the festival sees live music from over 75 artists plus 3 days of special events dedicated to help new atcs break into the music industry. Each year the Roundhouse works with over 3,000 11-25 year olds enabling them to realise their creative potential in live music, circus, spoken word, theatre and new media. Around 45 of the artists performing this weekend have come through this route.

The Battleship Potemkin, Pet Shop Boys , Swan Hunter’s shipyard, Wallsend, 1st May 2006

The Battleship Potemkin, Pet Shop Boys , Swan Hunter’s shipyard, Wallsend, 1st May 2006
Le cuirassŽ Potemkine 1925 real : Sergei Eisenstein COLLECTION CHRISTOPHELIn 2003 The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, asked Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe (Pet Shop Boys) to write a new score for the film The Battleship Potemkin, and perform it as a free concert in Trafalgar Square. They did so, and have performed the piece several times since, including this performance in the North East, which David and I attended in May 2006. The Battleship Potemkin is a propaganda film that tells the story of the 1905 mutiny of the Russian ship. The film is recognised as a silent classic, and is often cited as one of the greatest films of the period. I attended a film studies course at college; The Battleship Potemkin was one of the films we were shown, and I had to write an essay about it. “Battleship Potemkin is a 1925 silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein and produced by Mosfilm. It presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers of the Tsarist regime. Battleship Potemkin has been called one of the most influential propaganda films of all time, and was named the greatest film of all time at the Brussels World’s Fair in 1958.” (Wikipedia). potemflyerOn May 1st, 2006, Pet Shop Boys with the Northern Sinfonia performed the music with the film at a special event held at Swan Hunter’s shipyard, Wallsend, and presented by the Newcastle Gateshead Initiative. Tickets were distributed free through a ballot, and 14,000 people attended the event. The music reflected the sombre mood of the film, and used a mixture of electronica and orchestration to provide an appropriate accompaniment to the grainy images shown on the screen. It was a cold evening, and there was quite a wait before Pet Shop Boys and the film started. Then local actor Tim Healy appeared on a raised platform to the left of the stage to introduce the performance. The film’s credits rolled and the music started. This was a very different type of performance for most of the crowd, including me, and fans of Pet Shop Boys who were hoping to hear some of their many hits will have gone home disappointed; indeed we could hardly see the band, as they spent most of the evening hidden behind a screen on the dimly lit stage. potemtixThe music was mostly instrumental, although Pet Shop Boys had composed a few new songs as part of their score. It was very loud in parts, and fitted well with the film and its battle sequences. It was, as it should have been, the film which was the star of the evening. I went with David and we both agreed it was quite a strange, but ultimately fulfilling, experience. The walk down to the shipyard was marked by stickers (showing Pet Shop Boys) on the pavement; I managed to pull one up on the way home, and have pictured it here 🙂 I have also included a picture from the film The Battleship Potemkin, which is now public domain and available thanks to the Wikimedia Commons licence.
potemway NewcastleGateshead Chief Executive Andrew Dixon said when the performance was announced: “This event promises to be an amazing and unforgettable audience experience set against the striking backdrop of one of the region’s most historic and iconic symbols of its industrial roots. To use Swan Hunters as a stage set for one of the most exciting and innovative musical events of 2006 is very fitting.” Sage Gateshead performance director Simon Clugston: “To hear Northern Sinfonia perform the soundtrack to the classic film Battleship Potemkin with the Pet Shop Boys in the apt industrial setting of Swan Hunter’s shipyard will be a night to remember.”

Gary Numan Newcastle City Hall 1983, Warriors Tour, and 1984, Berserker tour.

Gary Numan Newcastle City Hall 27th September 1983, Warriors Tour, and
4th December 1984, Berserker tour.garytix Gary Numan’s retirement from live performance didn’t last and in 1983 he was back on tour, playing again at the City Hall to promote the Warriors album. This saw a departure from his previous style, with the involvement of several other notable musicians, including Bill Nelson, and other influences, including jazz. The album was not as successful as his previous releases, and is recognised as the beginning of a decline, including by Numan himself: “I thought that by getting in some of the best players and singers around I could make the albums more ‘musical,’…..What I actually did was progressively bury the very style that my fans had enjoyed….. I swamped my own performances in huge layers of backing vocals. ….with Warriors I was lighting the fires of what came close to being my funeral…”. The show was still good, and included all ofmthe usual favourites (and a long set), but I must admit that I was beginning to lose faith a little. Support came from Tik and Tok.
garyprogsSetlist 1983: Sister Surprise; Warriors; Remind Me to Smile; Metal; This Prison Moon; Down in the Park; Films; She’s Got Claws; Love Needs No Disguise; I Die: You Die; Love Is Like Clock Law; The Iceman Comes; The Rhythm of the Evening; This Is My House; I Am Render; War Songs; My Centurion; The Tick Tock Man; We Take Mystery (To Bed);Cars; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?; Tracks; We Are Glass
I saw Gary Numan once more, when he returned to the City Hall in 1984 to promote the Berserker album. The Berserker Tour featured a “high-tech Roman temple” stage set to complement Numan’s white leather jacket/white make-up/blue-hair look. A double-album, White Noise, was recorded live at the Hammersmith Odeon show in December 1984.  Support was from Hohokam, who were on Numan’s own label.
Setlist 1984:Berserker; Metal; Me! I Disconnect From You; Remind Me to Smile; Sister Surprise; Music for Chameleons; The Iceman Comes; Cold Warning; Down in the Park; This Prison Moon; I Die: You Die; My Dying Machine; Cars; We Take Mystery (To Bed); We Are Glass; This Is New Love; My Shadow in Vain; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?

Gary Numan Farewell concert Wembley Arena 27th April 1981

Gary Numan Farewell concert. Wembley Arena 27th April 1981.
garytix81 It was 1981, and after a short two year career, and massive success, Gary Numan took us all by surprise by announcing his retirement from live performance. A massive farewell concert was scheduled to take place at Wembley Arena in April. I was due to speak at a conference in London around the same time; in fact Gary’s farewell concert was set to take place the night before the conference was due to begin. So I extended my stay, booked a room in a small B&B in Wembley, and bought a ticket for the show. The concert was initially scheduled for one night, but extended to three to satisfy the demand from fans to see Gary Numan one more time. The show was a big spectacular event, with the lavish sort of stage show that I had come to expect from Gary Numan. The stage set took two months to construct and cost Numan around £150,000. Wembley Arena was full of Numanoid lookalikes who gave him a great send-off. GaryNumanWembley1981Fans were crying and throwing red roses and teddy bears on stage for Gary. The concert featured all the hits and well known songs, and was an emotional event for everyone present. Support came from Nash the Slash and Shock, a music/mime/dance/pop group featuring Tim Dry, Barbie Wilde , Robert Pereno, LA Richards, Sean Crawford and Carole Caplin. Shock were very much part of the new romantic scene, performing at The Haçienda and The Blitz Club. When they broke up Tim and Sean became the double act Tik and Tok and Carole famously went on to become a lifestyle advisor to Cherie Blair.
Setlist: This Wreckage; Remind Me to Smile; Moral; Me! I Disconnect From You; Conversation; The Aircrash Bureau; Airlane; M.E.; Everyday I Die; Films; Remember I Was Vapour; Trois Gymnopédies (First Movement); She’s Got Claws; Cars; I Dream of Wires; I’m an Agent; The Joy Circuit; I Die: You Die; Cry the Clock Said; Tracks; Down in the Park; My Shadow in Vain; Please Push No More; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?; We Are Glass.
At the end of the show Numan said “this has been the greatest two years I’ve ever had, thank you”, and then he was gone. But, like all of the best retirements 🙂 it didn’t last for long, and a couple of years later he was touring again.

Gary Numan Newcastle City Hall 1979 and 1980

Gary Numan. Newcastle City Hall 21st September 1979, and 29th September 1980
gary79tix It was May 1979 and Gary Numan and his band Tubeway Army seemed to come out of nowhere. I remember seeing this strange, scary guy singing “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” on Top of the Pops, and being fascinated by both his image and his music. Numan had, actually, already released an album and a few 45s, before he hit No 1 in the UK singles chart with “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and No 1 in the lp chart with “Replicas”. “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”, was very different from anything else around at the time, and a million miles away from the fast punk music that most bands of the time were producing, and which had influenced Gary Numan to start out in the business. Gary1979progWriting for Smash Hits in 1979, Cliff White described the song as “a dark, threatening wall of synthesized sound” which “throbbed ominously behind a gloomy song of paranoia and loneliness”. Come September 1979, Gary Numan released his third album “The Pleasure Principle”, dropped the Tubeway Army moniker, and went out on his first national tour, calling at major concert venues up and down the country. The publicity prior to the tour promised a spectacle to match the scifi imagery we had all seen on TV. I bought tickets for Marie, me, Marie’s younger sister and niece to see the concert, which sold out very quickly. We had seats close to the front and were blown away by the concert. The show lived up to all our expectations with great use of stark white lighting, rising towers, and Gary our robotic hero centre-stage making quirky, jerky movements. My favourite songs were “Electric”, “Cars” and “Me! I Disconnect From You”. Gary had a cute little car (like a small dodgem car) which he drove around the stage as he sang “Cars”. Support came from OMD who had recently formed. This was before “Enola Gay”; I’d heard the single “Electricity” (which was played a lot at Middlesbrough Rock Garden at the time) and remember staying out of the bar and watching them just to hear that song. gary1980tixSetlist: Airlane; Me! I Disconnect From You; Cars; M.E.; You Are in My Vision; Something’s in the House; Random; Everyday I Die; Conversation; We Are So Fragile; Bombers; Remember I Was Vapour; On Broadway (The Drifters cover); The Dream Police; Films; Metal; Down in the Park. Encore: My Shadow in Vain; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?; Tracks.
Almost exactly a year later and Gary Numan was back on tour again. We saw him again at Newcastle City Hall, sitting about half way back in the hall. Gary had just released the “Telekon” album and the tour was thus called, of course, the “Teletour”. GaryTeletourprogThe hit singles “We Are Glass” (another great song) and “I Die: You Die” were released that year. The show was quite similar to the 1979 tour, with another lavish stage set, and Gary wearing his trademark black leather boilersuit with interlocking red belts. Support came from Nash the Slash 🙂 , a crazy punk violinist whose entire face was covered in surgical bandages, and wore sunglasses, a white suit and a white top hat! Setlist: This Wreckage; Remind Me to Smile; Complex; Telekon; Me! I Disconnect From You; Cars; Conversation; Airlane; M.E.; Everyday I Die; Remember I Was Vapour; Stories; Are ‘Friends’ Electric?; The Joy Circuit; I Die: You Die; I Dream of Wires; Down in the Park; Tracks; We Are Glass. The next time I saw Gary Numan was at his farewell (! 🙂 ) concert at Wembley Arena in 1981. I’ll write about that event tomorrow.