Music icon

The electronic music icon returns to Bimbo’s in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO — One of the pioneering figures of synthesized rock in the late ’70s, British musician Gary Numan wielded a huge influence on new wave, electro-pop and industrial music with his icy, futuristic-driven sound by a keyboard. While his original band Tubeway Army offered an avant-garde mix of distorted guitars and pulsing synthesizers indebted to punk precursors the Sex Pistols and the Damned when they debuted in 1978, Numan would embrace electronics on the band’s groundbreaking album, Replicas.


GARY NUMAN. / TUBEWAY ARMY. ARE ELECTRIC FRIENDS. (TOP POP TV) by
TheTelekon on Youtube

Exploring a loose concept revolving around androids (called “machmen” in Numan’s dystopian vision) on the songs “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Down in the Park”, the 1979 album echoed the important novel by science fiction author Phillip K. Dick Do androids dream of electric sheep? and predated Ridley Scott’s historical film version of the story blade runner by three years. Numan later solo effort The Pleasure Principle released just six months later, took the artist further away from his earlier sound, abandoning guitar altogether for synths and delivering the huge international hit “Cars.”


Gary Numan – Cars by
The Archive on Youtube

While huge sales and lavish performances kept Numan’s stardom in the UK well into the 1980s, later forays into electro-funk and dance didn’t enjoy the same international success. After years adrift, Numan reinvented themselves in the 90s by delving into the grating guitars and heavier rhythms of industrial music while lyrically focusing on more personal themes from the 1994s onwards. Sacrifice.


Nine Inch Nails ft. Gary Numan (Metal & Cars) by
Mr. Kelley GM Rice on Youtube

Since then, Numan has enjoyed a career renaissance. His influence has been celebrated by followers like the Foo Fighters, Prince, and Trent Reznor, and his classic songs have been sampled by artists like J. Dilla, GZA, Basement Jaxx, and Armand Van Helden. Although some tours look back on its rich history and celebrate its past efforts, Numan has continued to create new material. On his current tour, Numan mixes his early hits with songs from his latest industrial rock concept album. Intruder.


Gary Numan – Betrayed (Official Audio) by
Official Gary Numan on Youtube

Continuing to explore the post-apocalyptic themes of the 2017 climate change-focused effort Savage (Songs of a Broken Man World), Intruder looks at an earth in the near future where humans struggle to survive on a desert world from the perspective of the planet itself. Like its predecessor, the album sonically explores the blending of Eastern and Western cultures to great effect. For this return stop at Bimbo’s 365 Club on his ongoing Intruder tour, Numan and his band will be joined by sinister AV project I Speak Machines led by vocalist/synthetist Tara Busch.

Gary Numan
Thursday, Sept. 1, 7 p.m. $40
Bimbo’s 365 Club