Numan / South Central
Up and coming local band South Central were here to try to win over the aging Numan fanbase. Despite their best efforts, the audience were having none of it, clearly disinterested in what they had to offer. Which is a great shame as South Central really impressed and showed themselves to be real live music specialists. They are not far from a modern day Gary Numan actually, in terms of their desire to push beyond the standard of what is expected by a band in the time of their arrival. They make euphoric intense electronically tinged rock music that really comes alive and has some force in the live arena. The singer makes lots (possibly too much) use of his voice effects pedals to distort his vocals which border on chanting at some points. Despite the band being heads down and clad largely in black hoodies they were very much in tune with the music they were making, and it felt like they were trying to create the best music they could. It's just a shame I seemed to be about the only person there enjoying it.
For this tour Gary Numan has been performing his album Replicas in its entirety. I like the idea of artists doing album-based gigs. It's a good chance to break free of a standard hits set, and to focus on a specific era of their career. Plus this may be an unrivalled period of their career, proved in this case by a friend I bumped into who remarked "Replicas was the last album of his that I actually liked".
I'm not much of an expert on the electro legends back catalogue (is he electro? see, I really don't know my stuff ), and I in fact failed to even listen to the album in question prior to this gig. Happily, it didn't seem to matter as his songs are so immediately enveloping and his stage presence mesmerising. Even as he nears 50, he's lost none of his charm, swagger or unique style. His voice and rendition of the songs were equally faultless, and despite me having not been around in his heyday I doubt he could have been much more on form than tonight. Upon his return to the stage for an encore he points out that "those were all the Replicas songs I ever wrote" and rather unsurprisingly launches into a top notch crowd pleasing rendition of Cars. He had the "Wow" factor, whatever that may be, and left me with the feeling I was lucky to have seen a proper rock star in the flesh, giving it his all and making the entire audience very very happy. And what more can we ask from our musicians than that?
By Alan Smith,
top four pix by Steve Bateman