Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14

Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Photo by Steve Cohen

Gary Numan
Mill City Nights, Minneapolis
Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday was a complex night of vintage and brand-new songs from an esteemed pioneer of synthesized music, Gary Numan. Like Jesus on the crucifix, Numan gave himself to the audience and to the overwhelming sounds charging from his amplifiers.

Green lights bathed the crowd, who tossed several roses toward the stage. The band, appeared as hovering shadows and began to take their place. Igniting waves of synthesizers in pulsing tones, joined by strobe lights, Numan made his return to the Twin Cities to a full house at Mill City Nights.

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Slideshow: Gary Numan hits up Mill City Nights

After Jake Rudh set the tone of the evening, mixing in Cold Cave with Nine Inch Nails for an "'80s free" DJ set, Numan got straight into the music. The hard driving industrial vibe of "Resurrection" had him clenching his guitar, accompanied by crunching rhythms and heavy synthesizer sonics.

Jumping about his catalogue, the band settled in with "I Am Dust" from last year's Splinter and sprinkled in more classic Numan, like an earnestly metalized version of "Metal" from the 1979 hallmark, The Pleasure Principle.

Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Photos by Steve Cohen

Enraptured by Gary Numan's unmistakable robotic voice, the audience couldn't have been more attentive and in lock with every move and nuance of his performance. The technology induced crowd stayed glued toward Numan, with a field of smart phones contributing to the futuristic atmosphere as he tossed his body around during "Everything Comes Down to This."

Numan and his band, all decked in black T-shirts, jeans and well sculpted dark hair sweated through their eyeliner and continued with an aggressive style. They pushed it further with crunching guitars, throbbing synths and dramatic drum rhythms on an updated "Films."

The drama that the band would cultivate never failed to increase the starkness and serious nature of the music. You got the feeling the drive and devotion Numan projected really rattles through his music. Watching him practically pour himself toward the audience, he'd often have to retreat back to his keyboard to level off the spirit he'd bring with waves of synthesizer.

Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Photos by Steve Cohen

Giving equal aplomb to his newest music and to his most famous material, Numan dropped the infinite groove of "Cars" midway through to provide the inevitable sing-along to further connect the audience.

Twisting through a few more from Splinter, Numan took the audience into darker material presented in a dramatic, well-orchestrated suite of sorts. Eventually the cycling drum machines and swirling keyboard melodies brought the evening to a fever pitch with "A Prayer for the Unborn." Drenched in waves of synthesizers, Numan basked in the sound twirling among the energy from the crowd.
Greeted by more roses being tossed toward the stage, Numan and the band kept the dance vibe moving. With faithful versions of his signature songs, "I Die You Die" and "Are Friends Electric?" the dramatic "My Last Day" put a finishing climax to an overall energetic and powerful night.

Gary Numan at Mill City Nights, 3/30/14
Photo by Steve Cohen

Building on an extensive body of work, Numan presented a heavy, foreboding and dramatic ride through his now several decades of music. As he always continues to move his faithful followers, he also has grown to further challenge and satisfy with each performance.

Critic's Bias: Sort of prefer the era when Gary Numan acted more like a robot than when he acts like Trent Reznor, but I do dig the energy the man carries on with. Be he a Telekon or an over-exhuding ball of human flesh, I love him either way.

The Crowd: Dressed in black, often enraptured in a mystical noodle-like dance.

Overheard in the Crowd: Every lyric in every song could be heard, muttered in hush-quavering breath all about Mill City Nights, in each attendee's own version of Mr. Numan's monotone.

Random Notebook Dump:Wish I was at Perfect Pussy.

I Am Dust
Everything Comes Down to This
Here in the Black
The Fall
The Calling
Down in the Park
We're the Unforgiven
Love Hurt Bleed
Prayer for the Unborn

I Die You Die
Are Friends Electric
My Last Day

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