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Concert Review: Gary Numan/Big Black Delta

Concert Review: Gary Numan/Big Black Delta

numan1By 10 p.m., when the minimal industrial pulse of “Resurrection” guided Gary Numan and co. to the stage, Cleveland’s Beachland Ballroom had officially sold out; the remaining stragglers left sulking in the adjoining tavern. Those last remaining ticket holders might have made it in time to watch the incendiary performance of a living legend, but they unknowingly missed the show-stealing performance of Big Black Delta.

The side-project of Mellowdrone frontman/bassist Jonathan Bates, not even the most leather-clad of the Numan audience could resist grooving to the collective’s bleak electro-bounce. Creating a live aesthetic that melds the most desolate of Trentemøller with the infectious retro-glitz of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., the set’s extended instrumentals slowly provoked the dense crowd into a communal sway. With only one solo album to his name, the set’s 10-tracks were all pulled from 2013’s self-titled release. However, even after listening to the album a few dozen times over the last few months, “Put the Gun on the Floor” and “Side of the Road” still charged through the room like a tortured beast — digging its horns into the viscera of those arriving early enough. Closing with the gospel-leaning “IFUCKINGLOVEYOU”, Bates welcomed the audience into a schizophrenic tent revival before leaving the stage just after 9:30 pm.

It’s not that the ageless Numan didn’t deliver; he just seemed to be stealing some of the theatrics of fellow industrial-provocateur Trent Reznor. The vocals remain on point, and Numan still splits his time between guitar and synth, but his actions are now far more frantic when compared to the performances of a 28-year-old Numan. Like Reznor, post-2009 Numan is an all-out assault on the senses. Now set against a backdrop of Crystal Castles-esque piercing white lights, at moments it was impossible to look up at the stage as Numan worked through new Splinter cuts like “I am Dust”, “Here in the Black”. “Splinter” and “We’re The Unforgiven”. For all the old-school Numan fans in attendance, 1979’s “Films” and “Metal” made early appearances and “Cars” found a home during the latter third of the 19-song set.

To cool down from all his physical reeling onstage, the encore included seminal electro-rock tracks “I Die: You Die” and “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?”, which can also be found back-to-back in 1981’s Premiere Hits. Wrapping the night with Splinter closer “My Last Day”, Numan exited the stage just as softly as he had approached it 75-minutes prior — sharing every last bit of energy he could muster with his Cleveland fan base. With the audience still surging from the set, the adjoining tavern turned into an intimate dance party until the early hours of Thursday morning. That part of the evening is better left unreported for all involved parties.

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