05 October 2016

To the movies, again

I was so glad when we finally had a cinema, but then after the first time shortly after its opening I never went again. I just always had other things to do! But when I saw a documentary about Gary Numan announced I bought a ticket. I am too young to have actively witness his initial rise to fame, but of course I knew his big hits like "Cars" and "Are 'friends' electric?" And when his album "Dead Son Rising" was released in 2011 I heard about it, liked the sound of it, and bought it. I wasn't disappointed. And there is something about a bloke who comes out of nowhere to fame, seems to vanish again, and then re-emerges thirty years later.

The cinema was less than half full. Not many Numan fans in Bangor! But the film started. The first scenes dealt with the whole Webb/Numan family (Numan is a nom de plume) getting ready to emigrate to the USA. And then the whole story comes out of how a shy and difficult kid found a Moog somewhere, decided he could do something cool with it, and then hit international fame. Suddenly he was a star, and his parents, who were his managers, had to step up their game. Fame and critical derision took their toll, and things went downhill. Luckily he had come across his future wife along the way; it was clear she was very important in his life. She seemed to have pulled him through. And then "Dead Son Rising"came out and I tuned in.

Fast-forward a bit and you have a whole family with three daughters, going to America, where the new Numan residence has a good sound-proof studio. In recent years, a newish generation of musicians (Dave Grohl, Trent Reznor, Tricky) acknowledged Numan as their inspiration. More new songs start to see the light of day in the new studio, and the world is paying attention. The past very hard years inspire a harder sound. And then contact is made with Trent Reznor, and Gary Numan does a guest appearance during a Nine Inch Nails concert. Things take off! A new album (this is "Splinter") takes shape. And when it comes out, it is to critical acclaim. Touring is fun again. Money problems fly out of the window. Personal problems are tackled. We see a rebirth of Gary Numan the man and the artist.

It is interesting to see such a long career in a documentary. It is also interesting to see an unusual family life. I had heard he had married a woman from his fan club; this sounded decidedly iffy, like he was one of those men who want a sycophant, not a person for a spouse. Seeing them after pretty much their entire adult lives together, and still clearly a great match, shows this is not the case. Most showbiz cliches don't seem to apply to this man. He is still a self-depracating shy bloke who needs his wife around to manage to socially interact with others, and who only discovered alcohol in his forties when someone had spiked his drink, and he found out it made him a bit more relaxed. More sheep than pool parties in the shots of his British home! I think I'll go and listen to Splinter right now...

Gary Numan; pic by Man Alive!

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