Gary Numan has come a long way from the synth pop of the 1980s. His modern songs are more industrial anti-religious rock anthems than the angst ridden introspection explored in his early work. But in 2006, to pacify the part of his audience that hankered after those old songs, Gary chose to do a mini tour which played tracks from a classic album - singles, b-sides, album tracks, the lot - and release it as a live CD and DVD.
He settled on his third number one album, Telekon, which was released in 1980. The songs are a mixture of science-fiction fantasy ("I Dream of Wires", "The Aircrash Bureau") and reflections on the stifling effect of rocketing from relative obscurity to international stardom within a year. Numan was struggling to cope, and that struggle is documented in songs like "Remind Me to Smile" and "The Joy Circuit". At that time, the pressure so immense, he was preparing to retire from the music business ("This Wreckage", "Please Push No More").
In the 2006 show, Gary and his band utilised the Virus synthesiser, a machine proficient in mimicking the old analogue sounds of 1980 but with a heavier digital edge. The result is a brilliant hybrid of old songs in a modern style, but not so far removed as to sound like new arrangements. All the main sounds are there, including that weepy synth, the piano, the strings, all augmented with drum loops, live drums, and some nifty bass lines.
The title track, "Telekon", sounded so tuneless and whiny on the original studio album. Yet, on this live rendition, it has a lot of menace and groove to it. I never thought I'd ever revise my feelings about that song, but I have.
Everything about this show shines. The lyrics, the musicianship, Gary's voice, the lights, the crowd. It's one of the best DVDs Gary Numan has ever released.
The Hope Bleeds and Fragment DVDs are great if you want a mixture of old and new songs. But if you just want to indulge in a modern expression of a classic album, Telekon Live is for you.
It is sublime.