Gary Numan Goes Acoustic For New Tour As Nation Gasps For Its Breath

gary numan acoustic
LittleFuzzyYeeks, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Last weekend I got a message from Echorich that whacked my skull like a 2″ x 4″ chunk of lumber from my blind spot! Gary Numan, who has seen fit to almost mutate into a Metal act† in the last 25 years, has succumbed to the acoustic disease that had also struck old faves like Midge Ure and Simple Minds. And to that end I am equally appalled by this turn of events.

I should hasten to mention that 40+ years ago when we first heard these artists, they were loved by me because they flew in the opposite direction of the mainstream of music, which had plenty of room for singer songwriters who strapped on an acoustic guitar and sang tender ballads. Well, I was having none of that. I embraced artists like Numan, Ultravox, and Simple Minds as they stood in stark contrast to mainstream musical values.

I’m a reasonable man. I won’t begrudge an artist who slips an acoustic version into a set for a little something different. Heaven 17 can get away with this just fine by my reckoning. Because 95% of their set is electric synth music. It’s just when these acts see fit to milk the notion until its dry with a full tour and quite possibly an album as well, that I have to turn away.

As for Numan, he’s pictured above with an acoustic taken from a 2019 show in Wales where he was performing the only appropriate song in his canon to feature such acoustic guitar prominence; “Jo The Waiter,” of course! The notion sprouted in Numan’s mind when during lockdown, he wanted to put some videos of his band playing acoustic versions to tide his audience over during the period. Sure, sure. Everyone and his pet ferret were doing that. He went on to actually admit “that idea didn’t really work out,” but the seed was planted and he thought that an actual tour would be better to pursue once normality had been restored. Actually, I’m not sure anything’s normal in 2023!

Maybe the reason why that idea didn’t work out was because Numan’s songs were conceived [apart from “Jo The Waiter,”] to have a massive foundation of sound; whether it was him running his guitar or his synths through effects pedals to achieve that impact. If Numan really wanted to do something transformative, then I would suggest that he put together a Jazz band and give us a “Dance” tour instead. The long tracks on side one were light on synths but are still not crying out for acoustic guitar. Double bass and piano, however, and I might want to be going! But if you’ve got an interest, I won’t stop you. Here’s where it happens.

Gary Numan | Acoustic Tour UK | 2023

Oct 8 | Newcastle | Wylam Brewery
Oct 9 | Glasgow | St Luke’s
Oct 10 | Birmingham | Town Hall
Ост 11 | Bristol | St George’s
Oct 13 | Brighton | St George’s Church
Oct 14 | Manchester | Cathedral
Oct 16 | London | Hackney Church
Oct 17 | London | Hackney Church

And I can only note with an ironic eye that atheist Numan is playing primarily in houses of worship for this tour! Just more proof that sometimes things can’t get so wrong that they rotate 359 degrees and touch the “right” side of things again. At the very least, I’m fairly confident that my old core collection faves, OMD would never pull this sort of hijinx as they have a much clearer vision of their strengths and weaknesses.


† – One that has completely lost me, I’m afraid

About postpunkmonk

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25 Responses to Gary Numan Goes Acoustic For New Tour As Nation Gasps For Its Breath

  1. jsd says:

    thanks, i hate it. this and the trend of doing orchestral rearrangements/albums (see: wang chung, flock of seagulls, trevor horn, others) is driving me crazy. it’s like they’re embarrassed of their past.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      jsd – I much prefer the orchestral approach because, well, it’s not busking is it? It takes money and commitment. I always thought that Midge Ure played acoustically for so many years because he had no other choice. And even he did the orchestral thing! I’m happy to see and hear him playing Rock music of late, since he does it so well.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. JT says:

    “OMD would never pull this sort of hijinx”

    Don’t JINX it by even evoking this notion!

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – Har har. No, Andy McCluskey has been focused like a laser on avoiding all taint of “sellout era” OMD tropes, and I have the fullest confidence that he would never do this. Nor would Kraftwerk!

      Liked by 1 person

      • JT says:

        Actually Kraftwerk acoustic might be fascinating (and I am by no means endorsing Senior Coconut’s MIDI-Mambo attempt), but based on the mediocre gig I saw from them last year, they are, sadly, past being able to do much at all anymore. Best they can do now is ride their bikes into a gentle sunset.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. JT says:

    I’m sure the set list will include “Praying to the Aliens”, “Miracles”, “A Question of Faith”, “Absolution”, and “Saints and Liars”. “You Walk in My Soul”, “Pray For the Pain You Serve”, and “Dead Heaven”.

    …all kidding aside, most of these are (relatively) newer songs, so I wonder if Mr. Webb has discovered the lord even as his sound has become more needlessly aggressive? There could be more to this church tour than meets the eye. They’ll let him in unplugged, but not with the Marshall stacks…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I understand your dismay at this break from your chosen faiths methods of worship.
    It’s been a plague on my altogether more lumpen and darker of throned tastes since the 90’s. To hear the speedpunk of my personal faves The Wildhearts (not of this parish) turned to polkas, sea shanties and low mournful blues in the recent download only “Acoustic Albums Are Shit’ series currently being toured around the U.K. has been terrific fun precisely because it pokes fun at this stuff

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I … am intrigued by the prospect of Mr. Numan performing an acoustic set.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      postpostmoderndad – Well, at the very least, it’s not aggro metal from where I’m standing. I suppose I should be grateful for less Nine Inch Numan in the world. If you catch an earful, report back with your findings!


  6. Jordan says:

    Killing Joke was and is the real deal no doubt. Been a fan since 1980. Incredible live performances.

    As Monk said, Gary never struck me as being totally authentic with his pseudo metal re takes. Acoustic versions, no thanks. Yes. Many musicians compose songs on the acoustic first as demos. Martin Gore did this. Midge did this. But Gary, leave the acoustic at home. Since he was my first live concert in 1979, I go way back with him. After Warriors I left however I would be very interested in hearing a song played live from Dance, one of my favourite albums by him and underrated IMO.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Jordan – I left before “Warriors.” The orange spray tan was a deal-breaker for me. And in all honesty, I felt that Gary, after 1982, would do anything he thought he had to to sell records. Prince covers? Janet Jackson albums??! I think that it was almost random that by the time he was selling arenas, that Reznor talked up Numan and after that it was maybe a foregone conclusion that he would move in that direction. I actually liked his “Sacrifice” album, but it was followed by the also-ran “Exile” and even lesser things since.


      • Mr G says:

        Numan was my first ever gig on the Telekon tour in 1980. Saw him a few times in the 2000’s, the last being the Machine Music tour. I like some of his new stuff – ‘When the World Comes Apart’ on Savage is a belter, for example. But he only has 1 keyboard player on stage now and you can hear the difference.


  7. I’ve seen Numan through various periods of his career, but if I recall correctly he did a pretty minimal/semi-acoustic set at the intimate Sapphire Supper Club a really long time ago (I seem to think spring of 1998, as I was starting to wind down my radio show). It was literally just him, and I can clearly recall that he complained about the PA a *lot*.

    This was a place that could hold 70 people at a pinch, mind you. I remember he did “Absolution,” which I thought was really good, and a mix of old and new stuff that included a surprising amount from Replicas, which certainly made me happy.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      chasinvictoria – Time to give up what you’re doing too much of! I was at the 1998 Sapphire Suffer Club show and it was supposed to be held at the Club at Firestone, but as I walked to the Firestone, there was a paper on the door saying that the Numan show had been moved to the SSC. I was disappointed as I’d been looking forward to seeing a rare show at that nice club…instead of the Suffer Club!

      But if I was disappointed, that didn’t have a patch on how Gary felt about being “downsized!” It was a Figurehead show, which meant that Jim Faherty booked it, and I guess when the advance tickets sales [I had mine FWIW] didn’t pan out, he chickened out at the last minute and moved the show to his club [how convenient] where he could also skim bar tabs to beef up his bottom line.

      As I said, Gary was angry, but not at the PA. For the record, he was with band, did an electric show that was, yes, heavily drawn from “Replicas,” so it was as good as it could be with such anger floating around! I had no idea you were there. In fact, how was it that we didn’t go to this togather?! But that was also the case with the Bowie O-Rena show.


      • You’re right — I didn’t mean the PA, I meant he was snarky and complained a lot about not being able to hear himself (aka “the monitors”), an indication of how quickly the Firestone Club gig had fallen apart. I didn’t remember him having a band up there but of course he must have had a least of couple up there with him (it was a small stage but not that small).


  8. Mr G says:

    I remember U2 did 2 or 3 accoustic songs in the middle of their Zooropa set in the 90’s and that was more than enough. “Poxy ‘back to basics’ accoustic set” is how one of the music papers described it. I can’t stand them and blame MTV Unplugged for starting the spread. There’s an air of smugness about them because it’s ‘got that warmth, man’. They’re f*****g horrible and boring.

    ‘Nuff said.

    Liked by 1 person

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Mr G – Welcome to the comments! Yeah, coming a decade after Live Aid, the whole “Unplugged” trend was another unwelcome injection of “hippie values” back into the aging corpus of Rock music. I suspect that musicians who have made their name on Modernist, electronic sounds are nagged by self-doubt that comes from swallowing the Boomer line that a song’s invalid… unless it can be played on an acoustic guitar. I say busking is what you do when you have no alternatives…or the budget for anything else. The one acoustic album that I enjoyed from formerly synthpoppers, was the first China Crisis live album, “Acoustically Yours.”

      They actually added more musicians to expand the songs, not strip them down.


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