Gary Numan’s Machine Music Tour 2012 ~ A Review

My friend and sometimes-guest author Mark Ryan was lucky enough to attend two performances of Gary Numan’s latest Machine Music tour. Mark wanted to share his impressions with other Numanoids via Rave and Roll. I am honored to present his review here. (Photography by Karren Bailey and Vikki Churchill).


Photo by Karren Bailey

On May 22nd of this year, Gary Numan started another UK Tour. Those fortunate to see him live will never regret it. Those who have not seen him live are missing something special. In this short piece I am going to try and give you a small review of Gary Numan’s Machine Music tour. I saw him in 2 places (Sheffield & Birmingham) and will try to give an unbiased opinion of the live show, along with all of the plusses and minuses.

The Machine Music tour was billed as a singles tour with songs Numan had either never done live, or had only performed onstage once before.

The opening song was Berserker (Berserker, 1984) – I was really looking forward to this having heard it last in 1984. For the 2 shows I attended, the vocals were better if you stood in row 4 or 5; however, the guitar and female vocals were great.

This was followed by Metal (Pleasure Principle, 1979), a brilliant song that’s even better live. This made it seem as though the live show had finally started.

The Fall (Dead Song Rising, 2012) – This is a great song and Gary did the song proud. There are rumours that it’s written for an ex-band member. This was one of the crowd’s favourites with people jumping up and down during the chorus.

Bombers (1978) – This is an old Tubeway Army song that included a video of old airplanes as a backdrop. For this piece, Gary played 2nd guitar and made it seem as though he rejoiced at playing one of his old punk numbers. Also, there was great bass guitar.

Crazier (Hybrid, 2003) – This is one of my favourite Numan songs, and Gary really did the song justice. This song reached the Top 15 in 2003 and the crowd lapped the song up. Gary was truly great on this number.

Photo by Vikki Churchill

Call out the Dogs (The Fury, 1985) – First of all, I have no idea what this song is about, and I have not previously witnessed him sing this live. However, it was brilliant. The drums more or less took over this song especially at the bridge where it seems keyboards/ guitars are fighting for the drums in equal billing. This was the best song/performance so far, in my opinion.

Dominion Day (Sacrifice, 1994) – This was the turnaround song for Gary professionally and once again this was brilliant. I can actually remember hearing this song originally and thinking “wow”. Now, all I can think of is “brilliant”.

This Wreckage (Telekon, 1980) – I was surprised that Gary included this particular song as Telekon had some other awesome songs (Aircrash Bureau). That said, “This Wreckage” came across brilliant live, even the Japanese vocal (which Gary forgot to sing in the 1st part; however, he did seem lost in the moment).

Absolution (Exile, 1997) – This is from my favourite Numan album and written about people’s faith (although it has also been called a love song). This was excellent, although the background video put me off fully enjoying the song.

That’s Too Bad (1977) – This was Numan’s first release. To my knowledge he’s never done this live and it makes you wonder, why not? This was truly amazing with great guitars. I actually remember the words and there people around me who were also familiar with it. If you see any footage of this live, make sure you pay close attention. This was legendary

In a Dark Place (Jagged, 2006) – This was a brilliant song that featured some great keyboards, along with and the keyboard player on backing vocals. This can be included as one of his best songs in the show.

Photo by Vikki Churchill

Down in the Park (Replicas, 1979) – This started of the whole Gary Numan craze for me. Once I heard this back in the day, I was hooked and still am. No matter how many times he performs this, I will never tire of it.

RIP (Pure, 2000) This was a perfect song. The band were on form at this time. Especially when the chorus approaches.

Love Needs No Disguise (1981) This has never EVER been done live by Gary before. So obviously I was looking forward to it, knowing it could possibly be the highlight to the show. Before the song he dedicated it to the Memory of Cedric Sharpley who was Gary’s previous drummer and who passed away 6 weeks ago from a heart attack. He then introduced Rrussell Bell (guitar) & Chris Payne (violin) who were in Gary’s backing band at the start of his career and are still loved by longtime, faithful fans. This seemed almost surreal. It absolutely delivered live as Gary sung it with so emotion. This was indeed the highlight of the show so far.

Warriors (Warriors, 1983) Although I love this song, it did not work for me. Good song and lovely guitar work; however, the original featured some electric slap bass and live it did not work or connect with me.

I Die You Die (1980) This is probably my favourite Numan song. Every time he does this live it makes the hairs stand up on my arms and this was no exception. Gary seemed to really enjoy this.

Photo by Vikki Churchill

We are Glass (1980) This was released as a single and reached the Top 5. However, this song doesn’t sound right live, almost as though there is something missing. It’s almost anticlimactic. This actually left me disappointed.

This was the end of the live set but high chants of NUMANNNNNNNNNN echoed throughout the venue as we waited for an encore……………..and they did not disappoint.

Healing (2007) This is an Ade Fenton Song where Gary sung vocals and it got considerable airplay on some music stations. However, this did not fit in with the rest of the show and I wonder why this was included. There are so many other songs he could have played in this spot.

Cars (Pleasure Principle, 1979) This was the usual Cars performance but I wish he would not do it live. It’s a great song, but when you have heard it for the 100th time (?) live………nothing wrong with the performance, though.

Photo by Karren Bailey

Are Friends Electric (Replicas, 1979) was the final song of the show. This is /was all things great. As a special treat he again invited Rrussell Bell (guitar) & Chris Payne (violin) onto the stage which surprised the audience. This was, without doubt, the highlight of the show. “Are ‘Friends’ Electric” was sung with effort and emotion, along with a backing band that raised their Game. This was a perfect ending to a great night’s entertainment.


David Bowie vs. Gary Numan: A Fan’s Critical Review Part II

My friend Mark Ryan has come back to do another comparison review featuring his two favorite artists, Gary Numan and David Bowie. It’s an honor to have Mark share his thoughts with us on Rave and Roll.


My name is Mark Ryan and I am a longtime friend of Miss Parker’s. It was my suggestion that I do the following review. I grew up listening to David Bowie, and later on Gary Numan. Music was always in my house, and to this day, I have continued this legacy with my own children.

David Bowie – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) 

Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) was David Bowie’s last Album for RCA. Recorded in New York and London, it was released in September 1980.

Side One starts with “It’s No Game (No. 1),” and includes the sounds of a flushing toilet and a Japanese girl’s vocal. Bowie wrote the lyrics about class society while doing his latest tour. In it, he seems very angry.

“Up the Hill Backwards” is a lovely harmonic song, with lush guitar, soothing percussion (not drums), and the bass, which is set perfectly. This was written about Bowie’s recent divorce and how he struggled with it; hard to imagine, but true.

The track “Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)” is a 5-minute masterpiece. This song is brilliant; Bowie’s vocals are great with superb guitar work by Robert Fripp. It seems the guitar takes on a life of its own. The song is written about someone who withdraws from people’s attention; perhaps Angie Bowie or even David himself, upon closer inspection.

“Ashes to Ashes” is a follow-up to “Space Oddity.” It’s Bowie doing funk before funk was cool. The song features George Murray performing slap bass on a fretless bass guitar throughout. I love the guitar and synthesizer here, as well. The song’s lyrics describe how Bowie is finished with the 1970s and starting out in the 1980s.

Side One ends with “Fashion.” It seemed that every girl in my school who was a Bowie fan loved this song. Again, it features Robert Fripp’s guitar work (just how good is he?) and shows the New York influence on Bowie with elements of funk and bits of reggae. This track also features a description of his own political stance at the time.

Side Two starts with “Teenage Wildlife.” Before I review this, I should mention that this one of my Top 10 Bowie songs of all time. This track is just amazing and is a 7-minute masterpiece. “Teenage Wildlife” should have been released as a single. It was written about all the New Wave bands that were coming through at the time, and in it, he appears to feel threatened. It even sounds like a personal attack on some of the competition (Numan in particular). Aside from that, the track featues great guitar work by Robert Fripp and Chuck Hammer who accomplishes his guitar through a synthesizer. The lyrics are brilliant on this song: “As ugly as a teenage millionaire, Pretending it’s a whiz-kid world.” Just listen to this and you will be hooked.

“Scream Like a Baby” sees Bowie writing once again about 1984. However, this time he talks about “Sam.” Its very theme underscores the album and is a great follow-up to “Teenage Wildlife.”

“Kingdom Come” is next. Up to this time, Bowie never did a bad cover version, and this is no exception. With lovely backing vocals, this song was written the year before by Tom Verlaine.

“Because You’re Young” follows with The Who’s Pete Townshend on guitar. This is a great, but underrated, song. It features a lovely synth against the backdrop of David’s vocals.

“It’s No Game (No. 2)” finishes the Album. This is the same as Track 1, without the heavy lead guitar, but featuring the slap bass once again. Even though he still appears quite angry, you can tell he copes with his anger much better this time.

Scary Monsters is quite possibly Bowie’s best album. There is not a weak song on the album and the production is consisitent throughout. Some interesting facts: this was orginally going to be an instrumental album and it was only later on that he decided to add lyrics to it. Both George Murray & Denis Davies should be appreciated for their input; Denis plays percussion brilliantly and even in the slower number, you can hear his influence. This is a must-buy album. Shame there was no tour to support it.

Gary Numan – Strange Charm

Strange Charm was recorded in May & June of 1986 and released in November 1986. The album starts off with “My Breathing.” This is a brilliant song with soaring synths and superb violas. This is one of my most favourite Numan songs because it is so powerful with beautiful arrangements. There’s even an Arabian feel to the song.

“Unknown and Hostile” picks up where “My Breathing” finishes; however I am not convinced of the success of drum sound here. It seems lost somehow; but, the song is a story and it has been loved.

“The Sleeproom” is a beautiful song, and in my opinion, the perfect follow-up song to “Down in the Park.” There are great synths with a lovely bass synth thrown in; even the backing vocals are set in stone. Definitely an underrated Numan song.

Side One finishes with “New Thing From London Town.” This was written with Bill Sharpe of Shakatak fame. It’s a brilliant track with good drum synths from Roger Odelle. However, the down side is that the song doesn’t fit in with any other part of the album making it obviously out of place. This recording would have fit better on the album Sharpe & Numan.

Side Two starts with “I Can’t Stop.” This actually got Gary back onto the charts and is a personal song: “I’m back and I’m proven (Yeah).” The song features awful female backing vocals; however, they are soon forgotten thanks to a great lead guitar. Gary is also on form with his vocal range.

“Strange Charm” is up next. This track contains more girl backing vocals that drone over Gary’s voice, which along with drum/keyboards, are actually in harmony.

“The Need” is, quite simply, awful. “Get The Need” is the first thing you hear on this one. I’ll leave you to your own imgination; but, in my opinion, it’s best to avoid this song altogether.

Strange Charm finishes with “This Is Love” written for Gary’s girlfriend at the time. It’s a lovely song with drum effects, and a beautiful, soothing piano played by Ade Orange.

Strange Charm is indeed a strange album. Depsite the great opening, it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. Too many female shouting/backing vocals and not enough of Gary’s. I can understand where Gary was coming from; he needed a new sound and he liked to experiment with different noises and textures. However, there is no theme. The album starts off strong, and then it ends flat. I have played this album over and over again, recently, and I find it can result in two very different reactions: it’s either great, or it’s crap.

~ Mark Ryan ~

David Bowie – “Ashes to Ashes” via YouTube user emimusic

Gary Numan – “My Breathing” via YouTube user Gazz1617

David Bowie vs. Gary Numan: A Fan’s Critical Review

I am very happy to present Bowie vs. Numan: A Fan’s Critical Review written by dear friend and 80s music devotee Mark Ryan. You may remember Mark for his part in my “The Secret Life of Numanoids” series. It’s always a good thing to showcase other “voices” so that a blog doesn’t become stale and boring. I thank Mark so much for bringing his unique point of view to Rave and Roll.


My name is Mark Ryan and I am a longtime friend of Miss Parker’s. It was my suggestion that I do the following review. I grew up listening to David Bowie, and later on Gary Numan. Music was always in my house, and to this day, I have continued this legacy with my own children.

David Bowie – Tonight 

In the 1970s, David Bowie was the lynchpin of the music industry. Described as “influential” and “ahead of his time,” Bowie produced classic album after classic album. He was always one step ahead in the fashion stakes and surprisingly, the press liked him! Even when he was receiving bad press Bowie, to his credit, found a way to use it to his advantage.

Bowie started the 1980s clean and off drugs, releasing 2 albums in 3 years along with one world tour in 1983. After the world tour was finished, in 1984 he announced a new album called Tonight that was going to be co-produced by Hugh Padgham & Derek Bramble along with himself.

Tonight was released on 1 September 1984 and reached Number 1 in the UK and Number 11 in the USA charts, respectively.

Tonight starts out with “Loving the Alien” and is in my opinion, and without doubt, the best song of the album. However, listening closer, it should have been acoustic without the marimba and string arrangement, which makes it sluggish at times. We carry on with “Don’t Look Down'” which is an old Iggy Pop number (a familiar theme on the album). Bowie does a poor imitation of reggae (which I strongly dislike). This, in my opinion, was a big mistake.

Next up is The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows” with a full string arrangement. This is “Bowie doing a Bowie impressionist doing Bowie.” It’s a decent cover version, but far too lush and very under-produced. It’s a great selection for a Karaoke Night, and not much else.
Side One finishes with “Tonight” which is a duet with Tina Turner and without doubt is the worst song I have ever heard. It’s best to ignore this one.

Side Two starts out with “Neighborhood Threat” and again is an old Iggy Pop song. The track is great with roaring guitars and very good production. To me. this is the Bowie of old (almost).

“Blue Jean” is next, released as a single that reached number 6. “Jazzin for Blue Jean” is an awful recording, but inspired by his early years and was accompanied by a cool video. It’s basically Bowie doing his worst crooner act. This is followed by “Tumble & Twist” which again was an old Iggy Pop song, reggae-like, and spoiled by over-production of marimbas. However, Bowie’s vocals are very good here.

“I Keep Forgettin” is backed by a great drum & horn section, lasting two and a half minutes. I really enjoy this song. The album finishes with “Dancing With the Big Boys” that’s listed as a duet and yes, you guessed it, is an old Iggy Pop number. Despite that, it really rocks and has a decent production value; however, the synthesizer actually spoils the song.

Tonight promised a lot and failed on all accounts. It’s Bowie’s worst album and the listener can sense he was losing his touch (but not motivation). I question why he chose that particular production team. Derek Bramble was a disco head, and known for his bass lines; one can feel his influence in the reggae numbers. Hugh Padgham was well known as a “Drum Guy,” so again it’s plain to see where his influence came from. Hugh was famous for producing Genesis and Kate Bush, who both made great albums; unfortunately, this was not one of them.

Tonight was basically a David Bowie & Iggy Pop album with only 2 new songs written by Bowie. I listened to this album in 1984, and again recently and in-depth, and my view is the same. Only buy/download if you are obsessed by Bowie. It’s not for the casual fan, as it lacks the depth, flexibility and courage found in other Bowie albums. Another thing that I find irritating/disappointing is that Bowie only sings on this album and plays no instruments. It leaves me wondering, “Why?”

Gary Numan – Telekon  

Gary Numan burst onto the music scene in 1979. There was something about him that got people hooked back then, and who are still hooked to this very day. I first heard him in late 1978 when I was given a demo to listen to. How that person had the demo escapes me; but, at the time, I played in a band as the drummer and always loved music, especially drum/percussion sound. As I listened to the demo, there something that was special, augmented by guitar and bass, which did not overpower his voice; instead, it went with his voice. So, imagine my surprise when I heard Numan had dropped the heavy guitars in favour of the world famous Moog synthesizer.

After two Number One albums in 1979, one in a band and one solo, and a sold-out world tour, Gary started to write his next album. How do you follow up after being so successful and not having the greatest of relationships with the press? Not an easy task; however, Gary just did that with Telekon, which was released on 5 September 1980 and reached Number 1 in the UK.

The album starts off with “This Wreckage.” This song seems to be written about his own personal choices in life, along with an atheist theme. I feel it was a poor choice for a single, because the only good part in the song is the Japanese vocal half way through. When I played it in my house, my dad disliked this song immensely (“He talks bad about God?” “Youngsters, eh?”).

Next is “The Aircrash Bureau,” and wow what a song! It consists of a beautiful arrangement, super bass solo at the start, and roaring synths; even the vocal gets you hooked. This song had “single” material written all over it, a vastly underrated song.

“Telekon,” the theme song, is next. In 1980 I disliked this song so much I would never play it because it has a piano solo on it which I feel gets lost in the mix. However, after all these years, it has grown on me.

“Remind Me to Smile” is the next track, written about his relationship with the press (horrible bunch of people), and his ever-adoring fans. It was an obvious single with such scathing lyrics as “Fame/I need new reasons/This is detention/It’s not fun at all.”

As Telekon progresses, you can see how Numan was evolving into a great songwriter. The last song on Side One is a ballad called “Sleep by Windows,” which is augmented by roaring and dark keyboards and 2 bass guitars side-by-side. However, the song’s highlight is the drumming–just masterful work.

Side Two starts with “I Am an Agent,” in which the synths and guitars combine masterfully with each other. This is a truly great song, and when I hear it live, it really gets me going.

“I Dream of Wires” is a futuristic song. Again, I love the drumming on this song that coincides with great guitar work and even the use of a whistle, but it all works so well.

“Remember I Was Vapour” is next. It’s obvious Numan uses a drum machine, as well as a drummer; however, it’s very “tinny,” under-produced, and is a disappointment. On the plus side, Numan has a great keyboard solo on it.

“Please Push No More” is a slush ballad–a very personal song with lovely piano work by Denis Haines. This song is the album’s highlight for me.

The final song on Telekon is “The Joy Circuit” in which Gary uses the violin as an extra musician’s weapon. This really works very well; it’s a great song, and a nice way to finish the album.

Telekon is a superb album, for both Numanoids and the casual fan, with terrific production and superb arrangements. Gary Numan makes full use of what he has and he really develops his style throughout this album. In my opinion, it’s better than “The Pleasure Principle,” an album that was ground-breaking in itself.

Numan was so awesome at this time, he also wrote two Top 5 hits. Telekon is the “must-have” album for a collection. It’s a shame he didn’t reach the same heights with another album until the release of Pure in 2000.

~ Mark Ryan ~

David Bowie – “Tonight” via YouTube user heno1x

Gary Numan – “Telekon” via YouTube user GaryNumanAlbums

The Secret Life Of Numanoids ~ Part Two

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Mark Ryan

Part of a unique and vital core of longtime fans, Mark has been a Numanoid since Numan started performing – late 1978, to be exact.

When asked what drew him to Gary Numan in the first place, Mark replies, “He was just totally different to anything I had heard or have heard since.” He continues, “I have listened to him through various stages of my life, good and bad, high and low; every song that he has written, I can relate to.”

A difficult task for any Numanoid is to pin down what their favorite album is. This is what Mark had to say about when asked: “Far too many, but The Pleasure Principle (as it was different and unique), Dance (which is totally underrated and the songwriting is just great on here), and Pure (just far too good to describe in simple words).”

When asked for his favorite Numan songs, Mark explains, “I’ve recently been asked to pick my top 25 favourite Numan songs, but how can you start? However, I do love “Stories” (which I first heard on Numan’s 1980 tour), “Films” (which is like drum and bass before it got popular), and “Please Push No More,” a great song done live at Wembley in 1981 – it was awesome and emotional.”

In describing what excites him most about Numan, Mark declares, “When I hear that a new artist is influenced by Gary, his legacy lives on.” Mark goes on to say that he expresses his love for Gary Numan by “playing his music, and talking and discussing Gary’s music and what it has meant to myself.”

In closing, Mark is happy to report, “Recently, I played Jagged for a couple of work people who are into rock. They now tell me that they are Numan fans.”


“Stories” via YouTube user GaryNumanAlbums: