Concert Review: Gary Numan, Big Black Delta, + Roman Remains @ The Phoenix

Gary Numan
It’s really rare to go to a concert, where the concert goers are almost more entertaining than the bands themselves.. but here we are, after a very interesting night out at the Phoenix covering Gary Numan…

When you unknowingly take yourself out of your comfort zone and put yourself right into the middle of a strange and foreign situation, it gives you the chance to learn something new. When I agreed to review Gary Numan, it was because I hadn’t listened to him in ages, and to me he was just another admired pioneer of electronic in the late 70’s, a post-punk new wave artist that’s revived his career. I hadn’t been paying attention to how his career had evolved over the last almost 40 years. He went full goth. Full. Goth. And his fans? Well, they range from very old goth, to young goth, to one very bouncy, happy girl jumping up and down like she was at a boy band concert. Before I review the bands, I’d like to point out the various interesting things I saw over the course of the night.

1. A very aged drunk woman, who didn’t even make it to Gary Numan. At least in her 60’s, this Goth Goddess, gothdess? whose style I have to give props to, was rocking crosses on her black collared shirt, and deep red vampy lipstick. She gracefully fell straight back into the arms of the crowd, was escorted out by security, and managed to stumble her way back 10 minutes later, only to fall again, and be kicked out for good.

2. A man with a skullet and sunglasses on his head who yelled SO loud during Roman Remains (the first band up) that you could hear him over the singer. This guy seemed to be a huge fan of them. Or was so wasted he had no idea what was going on. He seemed to be jamming out to them and.. maybe singing along? Either way, he was positively heckling them so bad security had to drag him out kicking and screaming.

Gary Numan

3. Two middle-aged goth men in their 9-5 work attire and earrings almost fight. The one who was being called out did absolutely nothing to warrant the man screaming in his face and pushing him. They were right beside me, I saw the whole thing. Nevertheless, the one man was so agitated, for whatever reason, he tried to get this other poor guy in glasses to fight in between the two openers. Doesn’t he know it’s cruel to punch a guy in glasses?

4. Eavesdropping on a conversation where I learned how vibrant the Peterborough goth scene used to be.. Just an FYI.

This is just the stuff that was going around in our immediate vicinity, I can’t even imagine the other glorious magic that happened in the packed venue.

Roman Remains
On to the bands – Roman Remains kicked the night off, and the crowd was pretty into them. Liela Moss and Toby Butler’s side project from The Duke Spirit has an ethereal and heavy atmospheric sound that could be compared to Björk and  Portishead. Liela sometimes looked like a spider prowling around on the stage in time with the possessing heavy bass, giving it almost a cinematic feel.

Big Black Delta
Big Black Delta was a bit of an odd duck. The solo project of Jonathan Bates from Mellowdrone, it featured him on synth, loop, laptop and vocals, and fantastic drummer Chris Hornbrook, who’s better known to most as the drummer from Poison the Well. His voice sounded somewhat like Brandon Flowers from the Killers and their music was another hybrid between hard rock and NiN style dredgy electronic.

Gary Numan
By the time Gary Numan came out the crowd was restless. I must say, though not my usual preferred concert, this man is a natural born performer, a consummate professional contortionist, who knew just how to give the photographers the great shots they needed and he just commanded the hell out of the stage. His presence almost had he me in awe and at age 56 he was crushing the hell out of his performance. He didn’t miss a note and his backing band, played loud, hard, and perfect. Varying between new material from 2013 album Splinter: Songs From a Broken Mind, and the old favorites like Metal & Cars, that have since evolved to fit his industrial nu-metal sound. Now having seen him, I can see the natural evolution of his tastes over the decades, and have to wonder if the passed on vocalists like Ian Curtis, would’ve ended up swaying towards the harder darker style of electronic like Numan.

For more photos of Gary Numan in Toronto, click here.

Review by Lauren Morocco (@LaurenMorocc) | Photos by Benjamin Telford (@bentelfordphoto)

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