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Thursday, December 4, 2014

PJ Proby pisses all over Gary Numan

Death disco
I was partying with myself in the new vinyl room last night when the news broke that Bobby Keys was dead, and then it was Ian Maclagan. Both men were around 70, and may not have been in the best of health. Keys was the 5th or 6th Rolling Stone, playing rock sax, but with feeling, on their most memorable albums including ‘Exile on Main Street’ and 'Sticky Fingers’. Maclagan, a  keyboardist, was one of the Small Faces before joining the Faces with Rod Stewart. Songs were played in his honour on BBC 6 Music. The Small Faces never sounded better, in part because the DJ avoided the kitsch singles in favour of maturer album tracks.

Pensioner rock
At the Congress Theatre, Eastbourne last month I had a great seat among the wrinklies to witness the spectacle of a ‘60s Gold Night’. We had got tickets primarily because Gerry and the Pacemakers were headlining. Gerry can do no wrong in my book for his take on ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ and for writing and singing ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’. Gerry was ill. Fortunately his Pacemakers actually did live up to their name and were a comparatively spritely house band for much of the evening. Spencer Davis was there. He was without Stevie or Muff (a-huh) Winwood, but, backed by the Pacemakers, the old guy almost sounded urgent at times. The Searchers were in great form. Altogether now… “Needles and Pinzzahh…”  Yeah.
PJ Proby stole the show though. 76 and looking and sounding every bit like a performer in a club scene from a John Walters or David Lynch film. His hit version of ‘Somewhere’ became alt-cabaret as he strained to stay in tune but was no less moving for it. What a star.

Gazza’s glitter fades
I attended an alternative disco for overgrown school kids at Hammersmith Odeon last Friday. It was billed as a Gary Numan gig. Gaza was ill. After a few numbers I wished he had cancelled. Middle-aged women tousled their hair, Gazza fashion, and routinely pointed at the bewildering object of their desires. One particularly bovine fan shunted me aside in her desperate urge to shake her ass in time to the flu-stunted posturing of her diminutive idol. His routine, if I can call it that, was a one-trick affair of one hand on mic stand, incline head and shake vigorously. 

Gazza has been recording with Nine Inch Nails apparently. They have if anything compounded the cabaret feel. A succession of indistinguishable alt-dance numbers were pumped out by his bland band. At times he didn’t need to be on the stage. From the seat that I eventually retired to he was barely visible anyway. I only came for the hits. ‘Cars’ was OK, but, like everything else, was somehow made soulless on the night. Perhaps my experience would have been improved if his male fans weren’t essentially balding overweight morons with more interest in beer and bogs that Gary’s collected oeuvre. Thank God I left before the ‘Are Friends Electric?’ encore and the nauseating spectacle of Gary parading his kids like a winner of Sports ‘Personality’ of the Year.

The support was Gang of Four. Now they were good. Roy Jenkins was always more interesting than Tubeway Army anyway. They looked and sounded great; and by playing first they could be enjoyed before the army of beer spillers and would-be groupies moved in. 


Nature Strikes Back said...

How could you forget about chip hawkes and the tremeloes? Poor old gazza.. you're so mean.... and to his fans too? I think I might post a lonk to this plus your address on the Gary Numam fan page and let the revenge take its course...

Anonymous said...

Guess Numan is like marmite you either love him or you don't and if you do you've probably been a loyal fan, - like me since the age of 13 and, in our eyes, Gary can do no wrong. He was suffering from flu, and a sore bum from the shot the doctor gave him and his beloved cat had died a few days before. While others would have cancelled he decided to go on with the show as, knowing him, he hates to let down his fans and they'd been an exciting build up to the Hammy homecoming gig. What an absolute trooper.

That said, it wasn't his best gig by a long shot. Much better when touring his last album at the Forum two years ago and the Roundhouse gig last year I hear was very good too. The groundbreaking electronica of his 70's and 80's hits have given way to a more alt-rock, metal and lately industrial sound with the newiest album Splinter being even darker than the last. Mainly down to producer Ade Fenton who has helped to revive his career and pick up a new following especially in the US (touring with NIN helped) but much as I like it they do sound less Numan. They've parted ways now so hopefully another producer will lead to something different and Numan good producer himself (check out Pure).

Loved the set design, Gary clearly uncomfortable with dressing up shed the Splinter look within minutes of being on stage so down to his usual jeans, Tshirt and New Rocks. He was never good with having an on stage persona - criticised for being too cold when he first started and the ackwardness remains. Maybe something to do with the autism that was for year's undiagnosed.

Thought the set design was good and given how ill he was the show was as good too. The Splinter songs sounded better than the old hits. Think he needs to find better synth players for his band. Still "Me, I Disconnect From You" as the second song got all the old fans cheering. Joe the Waiter was lovely even though difficult to sing with a sore throat - really enjoyed that. Also had "Down in the Park", the much covered "Metal", "I Die You Die", "Cars", "Are Friends Electric" and you missed the standing ovation at the end.

As for the Gary fans - yeah had to contend with tall pot-bellied blokes standing in front of me before which is why was glad I was seated (not just because of bad knees). I don't particularly like big venues. The constant trips to bar and toilet throughout a gig I've encountered everywhere. Why not just drink your drink, hold it in until the interval and see what you've come to see. And all the watching the gig through your camera phone or ipad and blocking my view. I think the older people behave worse than the young (who really can't afford to go out anyway). Ok, portly middle-aged ladies squeezing themselves into corsets and getting over-excited about their idol perhaps a bit sad but then again why not? Born on the border of the Boomer and Gen Xers I guess I'll always remain an over-grown teenager. The sheer childish silliness and the cameradierie makes being a Numanoid all the better. Rage, rage against the dying of the light (said not in Welsh accent but Michael Caine voice in Intersellar!).

Weirdly didn't really enjoy Gang of Four - liked the destruction of the microvave oven on stage on Black Friday though.

PJ Proby sounds fab. Would have enjoyed that.

Parting thought: If PJ Proby had actually pissed on Gary Numan you probably wouldn't be able to show a video of it online under the new porn regulations.

PS Won't throw you the Numanoids :-)

Nature Strikes Back said...

You should set up a rival music review blog minxthink!

Neil Partrick said...

Fantastic rebuttal minxthinx! And funny. At least one of us can write. I did think some of the later material was more cod industrial and trying to keep up with a shifting market, but fair comment.

I want to hear Dylan Thomas as recited by Michael Caine. Interstella Street?

I did enjoy Down in the Park. I missed Joe the Waiter though...perhaps I was in the loo. Appropriate?

Anonymous said...

Aww thanks for the positive comments about my writing. Keep starting up blogs, posting a couple of times them adandoning it. Really should try to make more of an effort. Only gigs coming up now are The Real Tuesday Weld next week (electroswing and dark cabaret - really are worth checking out) and Public Service Broadcasting next year. Might book Matt Berry too (Psych-folk and acid jazz). Alas am seriously skint now.

At least you haven't contract Numanitis - lots of fans reporting they've come down with the lurgy after the gig. As one fan quipped: "Gary's gone viral". Gonna have some Lempsip and crawl under the duvet now...

Look forward to reading your next post.

ronntenn said...

P.J.Proby was mentioned positively in the comments about the "60's Gold" 2014 show in Eastbourne. The Texan Trooper is absolutely wonderful. In the 60's he was the best performer of all. For the next few decades he did slide down the ladder a bit & almost popped his clogs, LOL! 22 years ago he gave up the booze & "slowly but surely" (one of his brilliant demos for Elvis which The King copied)P.J. has got better & better.So many singers these days classed as legends.One in five actually deserve that title!. PROBY SHOULD BE A LIVING LEGEND!

Ness said...

Ha ha ha ha! Your Gazza review really made me Laugh Out Loud as they say in cyber speak xx

Neil Partrick said...

Many thanks Ness and Ms Strikes Back for this comments and support. Thanks to for the fascinating and I think largely correct contribution by Mr Ronntenn....As one of my 60s and 70s faves sang..."Who Are You...ooh ooh ooh ooh?"

Neil Partrick said...

I also should have mentioned the sterling openers at the "60s Gold Night", The Fortunes.They were tight and fronted by a good (and I think the original) vocalist. Chip Hawkes, as Ms StrikesBack referred to, was on great form. Silence is Golden (see the You Tube link)was, well, golden. Who needed Brian Poole (another illness victim and only an occasional Tremeloe anyway)

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