Gary Numan – In Concert at The Ritz, New York – October 26, 1982 – Flip Martian’s Live and Loud.com –
Gary Numan in concert for a Thursday night/Friday morning – recorded in concert at The Ritz in New York and lovingly turbo-charged, remixed, refurbished and re-christened by Flip Martian at his Live and Loud website.
Something of a rarity, since Gary Numan only did one tour in 1982 of only the U.S. and since very few of his performances have passed muster as listenable (not his fault, but whoever did the recordings left much to be desired), howoever, the fellow who goes by the name Flip Martian and who has a really excellent live concert site, does pretty astonishing surgery on some of these shows, including this one – so it’s a rare concert, rescued and preserved. And that’s good news.
Gary Numan came to prominence in the 1970s as lead singer, songwriter, and record producer for Tubeway Army. After recording an album’s worth of punk-influenced demo tapes (released in 1984 as The Plan), they were signed by Beggars Banquet Records in 1978 and quickly released two singles, “That’s Too Bad” and “Bombers”, neither of which charted.
A self-titled, new wave-oriented debut album later that same year sold out its limited run and introduced Numan’s fascination with dystopian science fiction and synthesisers. Though Tubeway Army’s third single, the dark-themed and slow-paced “Down in the Park” (1979), never appeared on the charts, it became one of Numan’s most enduring and oft-covered songs. It was featured with other contemporary hits on the soundtrack for the 1980 film Times Square, and a live version of the song can be seen in the 1982 film Urgh! A Music War. Following exposure in a television advertisement for Lee Cooper jeans with the jingle “Don’t Be a Dummy”, Tubeway Army released the single “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” in May 1979. The single and its parent album both reached No. 1 in the UK charts at the end of June.
At this point Numan was already busy recording his next album with a new backing band. At the peak of success, Numan opted to premiere four new songs in a John Peel session in June 1979 rather than promoting the current album and the Tubeway Army group name was dropped.
In September “Cars” also reached No. 1 in the UK. The single also found success in North American charts, “Cars” spent 2 weeks at No. 1 on the Canadian RPM charts, and reached No. 9 in the U.S. in 1980. “Cars” and the 1979 album The Pleasure Principle were both released under Numan’s own stage name. The album reached number-one in the UK, and a sell-out tour (The Touring Principle) followed; the concert video it spawned is often cited as the first full-length commercial music video release. The Pleasure Principle was a rock album with no guitars; instead, Numan used synthesisers fed through guitar effects pedals to achieve a distorted, phased, metallic tone. A second single from the album, “Complex”, made it to No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart.
Numan has been credited as a key influence by fellow British musician Kim Wilde as she was working on her debut single “Kids in America” with her brother Ricky. Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal of Tears for Fears, another new wave act of the 1980s, cited Numan’s style as one that inspired them while recording their debut album The Hurting. Since the 1990s Numan has been cited as a major influence by a variety of bands and artists from hip hop to industrial rock, including Africa Bambaataa, Fear Factory and Nine Inch Nails.
For a reminder of the headier days of 1982, here is that concert as it was recorded at The Ritz in New York on October 26, 1982.