Four decades into his career, Gary Numan still commands such ardent support he inspired a one-man band tribute act to set up outside the venue, busking his pioneering synth pop hits on a portable kit. It’s an affectionate cry from the days when Numan stood apart from his fashionable New Romantic peers, glowering on the sidelines, until his influence was manifested by acts as diverse as Marilyn Manson and Basement Jaxx.
The latter’s storming club hit Where’s Your Head At? sampled the groovy synthquake of Numan’s ME, a forceful rendition of which was one of the highlights of this set, comprising material from Numan’s first three albums, Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon – a crafty way of acknowledging that the partisan fans prefer the earlier, punkier stuff.
As a performer, Numan has long since left behind the freaky, introverted kid who followed Bowie’s alien lead on to Top Of The Pops. Now he embraces the stage, the picture of a pumped-up rock star, maybe not fully comfortable but still revelling in that Bowie-inspired industrial funk, the almost ecclesiastical analogue keyboard breakdown in Are ‘Friends’ Electric?, the mighty synthtopia of Cars and the frenetic robot malfunction of I Die: You Die.
There was a final treat in the encore, when Numan and band went right back to his earliest days to excavate the industrial glam punk of My Shadow In Vain from the first Tubeway Army album.