Gary Numan’s 1981 ‘farewell’ concerts (including entire gig on Youtube)

numan1071714Good article on these epic Gary Numan productions – doing stadium gigs with this level of technical production in 1981 was unheard of.  No wonder he lost £25k per gig.

This was probably a pretty bad idea: In 1981, at the absolute height of his U.K. superstardom, Gary Numan announced his retirement from live performance. His intended last hurrah, at Wembley Arena, sold out so quickly that two more shows had to be added to accommodate the fans who wished to see him one last time.

Despite/because of his success, Numan had been the subject of massive derision by the U.K. music press, and retiring from live shows at the ripe old age of 23 only fueled further accusations of pretension. While the British music press have historically been legendarily dickish, they kind of had a point this time. Numan would in fact return to live performance in less than two years. The whole big retirement to-do ultimately did the man no favors.  But all that context aside, the shows were reportedly incredible.

Numan sang the hits, of course—he drew material from Replicas, The Pleasure Principle and Telekon, stone classics, all—but his choice of deep cuts was superb as well see the setlist here, and the result was a marvelous two hours of elaborately staged, visionary synth-pop, with live support from violinist Nash the Slash RIP May 2014 and the mime/dance troupe Shock.

Fortunately one or more? of the performances was filmed. The scale of the productions was impressive: rotating pyramids, huge banks of lighting panels, the famous “Down in the Park” car you’ll remember if you saw Urgh! A Music War, it seems like no expense was spared.After these shows, Numan continued to record, release, and tour.

Though subsequent albums like Dance and I, Assassin were quite good, his popularity never returned to its pre-“retirement” level. In the ‘90s, however, he embraced a darker, harsher direction, finding a renewed energy in the goth/industrial scene, and he released the excellent Exile in 1997. I saw him perform on that tour, and the audience was half 35/40ish guys, half really young goth chicks. It was amusing. Impressively, his 2013 LP, Splinter Songs From A Broken Mind, is easily one of his best, which is quite a testament to the man’s enduring talent.

I caught a show on that tour, as well, and HOLY SHIT, I’d swear the energy in performance of the now 56-year old singer actually rivals that of his youth. I was a bit too young for concerts and an ocean away when he played Wembley, so thankfully, this video exists.


  • Intro (Replicas)
  • This Wreckage
  • Remind Me To Smile
  • Metal
  • Me I Disconnect From You
  • Complex
  • The Aircrash Bureau
  • Airlane
  • M.E.
  • Everyday I Die
  • Films
  • Remember I Was Vapour
  • Trois Gymnopedies No.1
  • 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
  • Outro (Replicas)

via Gary Numan’s 1981 ‘farewell’ concerts | Dangerous Minds.

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