Gary Numan Electric Ballroom review

Gary Numan at Electric Ballroom review | The 1000th live show from the godfather of electro-pop

Gary Numan played his 1000th live show this weekend, at Camden’s Electric Ballroom. Emily Swingle paid a visit to watch this milestone achievement…


From sharp industrial rock to evocative synth-pop, Gary Numan’s career has seen him slowly carving a sonic language of his own. And, while he may not be an actual android, Numan’s musical tongue is undeniably electric; pulsing beats, dial-tone whirring and buzzing synthesisers serve as foundational components of Numan’s obscure form of communication.

This is ultimately what sets Numan apart from the rest, and his show to a sold-out Electric Ballroom serves as a milestone celebration of his years of fine-tuning this unique language.

And while the night is about celebrating Numan’s mammoth achievement of his 1000th ever show, the evening also serves as an equally important milestone for another Numan; the Electric Ballroom run of three shows also doubling as Raven Numan’s live debut. Numan’s daughter kicks off the night with her third ever live performance, taking to the stage like a pro.

Gary Numan

Photo: Man Alive!

Singing alongside her sister Persia, her voice stuns. Unsurprisingly reminiscent of her father’s sound, Raven also has a distinctly gothic edge, edging more into creeping dark-wave than new-wave. Raven’s woozy sound charms the crowd, perfectly preparing fans for an evening of rich, atmospheric tunes.

When Mr. Numan himself takes to the stage, the response from the crowd is immediate. Numanoids are hollering instantly, eager to shriek and show their appreciation in any way they can — everyone knows that the evening is a celebration of an extraordinary musical career, and everyone in attendance wants to ensure it’s a night to remember. 

As opener ‘Resurrection’ washes over the crowd, the Godfather Of Electro is well and truly in control, conducting the crowd into motion. By the time ‘Down In The Park’ hits, fans arms are aloft, hitting each pulse of synth, entirely drunk on the flow of the music.

Onstage, Numan is equally as lost in the noise. There’s no denying = the music runs through his veins, urging him to fluidly twist and whirl along with each track. It’s as if he’s a goth marionette, the black fabric wrapped around his arms connected to invisible strings, urging him to swing and sway theatrically from behind his microphone stand.

Gary Numan

Photo: Tim Whitby

From the iconic Tubeway Army track ‘Cars’ to the more recent ‘Is This World Not Enough’, there’s a familiarity in his form as each song hits, taking on the sound and becoming one with the track. Even the less synth-pop heavy tracks have a huge impact on his persona, transforming him into something deadly; ‘The Gift’ and ‘Here In The Black’ oozing darkness as they ring out.

Yet despite being consumed by his own music, there’s still more than a watchful eye on proceedings, a desire to make the night impeccable. At one point, Numan jokes “I did fuck up ‘Metal’, don’t think I didn’t notice!”, but he seems to be the only one conscious of this ‘fuck up’. Incredibly self-critical, yet the professionalism in which he performs is nothing to be critical of – even when supposedly making mistakes, he still has the crowd enraptured. 

By the time the set reaches its end, bursting into the iconic ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, fans young and old howl along, every lyric and shout of ‘Doo-doo! Doo-doo!’ giddy with joy. As volume levels become increasingly deafening, there’s a glorious sense of community in the air – and that’s what Numan inspires. 

There’s a reason why Gary Numan is often heralded as the Godfather of Electro, and the evening has been a perfect reminder of just why that is — there’s not many who could perform such a high quality set, fully committed to decades old tracks, 1000 shows down the line. Getting this reaction after such a span of shows is a remarkable achievement, and gives the impression Numan’s quirky sonic language will only continue to grow, adapt and unify people in the future.

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