Live Review: Gary Numan; Tragic Jack, Brad Hoshaw tonight; Lodgings, Sun-Less Trio, Wagon Blasters Saturday; House Vacations, Tom Bartolomei Sunday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , — @ 11:57 am September 28, 2018

Gary Numan at The Slowdown, Sept. 27, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Recent Gary Numan recordings, specifically Savage (Songs from a Broken World) (2017, BMG), have been compared to recordings by Nine Inch Nails, a band who has cited Numan as an influence. While there’s no mistaking the similarity in the preponderance of deep beats, synths and power chords, recent NIN albums rarely have contained songs as tuneful as Numan’s recent stuff, and certainly Trent Reznor doesn’t hold a candle vocally to Numan, who, on these recordings (made when he was in his late 50s), sounds as good or better than he did in Tubeway Army.

I mention this because last night’s Gary Numan show at The Slowdown was heavy with the new stuff, which sounded like Middle Eastern-influenced NIN albeit with a greater reliance on Numan’s cold-steel synth sound.  Numan, looking more like a dude in his late 30s than a guy who just turned 60, performed really elegant modern dance throughout the set, interpreting every chord and drop beat like a ballet dancer in Desert Storm trooper boots, all a part of the band’s ragged matched costuming that made them resemble extras from Mad Max: Fury Road.

Right out of the gate Numan and his band sounded great, maybe a bit too great. When he started singing I immediately wondered if he was lip-syncing. The vocals simply sounded too rounded and perfect to be live, especially with the calisthenics Numan was performing. It didn’t even look like he was holding the microphone up to his mouth, though the vocals coming out of the stacks were spot-on perfect. And, strangely, he never spoke to the audience between songs (at least while I was listening).

I’m not a sound tech and I haven’t talked to the band so I have no idea what exactly was going on. I know all the band members wore in-ear monitors; and while everyone had microphones, it sure didn’t look like they were singing most of the time. In fact, the band sounded absolutely perfect throughout the set. I’m not sure this means they were performing with a backing track or what (though I’m sure the soundguy knows).

Regardless, the sound was pristine and magnificent and the crowd didn’t seem to care a whit whether the performance was being “sweetened” or not, they were too ensconced in the light, movement and sound.  The tale of the tape came 10 songs in when the band performed “Cars,” an arrangement that was mostly faithful to the original, and Numan here seemed to be singing, or at least he sounded different than earlier in the set. He also was a lot less animated, pacing between the microphone and the back of the stage.

He lit right back into the new stuff afterward (you can see the full setlist from last night here), and continued with his elegant balletic moves, amazing and inspiring from a guy his age. It was a fun show no matter what was going on.

* * *

Looks like it’s going to be cold, rainy weekend, which means there’s no excuse for not going to some shows.

Tonight, Tragic Jack plays a down at Slowdown Jr. The band has a new album, Glasshouse Town, coming out Oct. 12 on Silver Street Records. It’s not so much indie as straight-forward, traditional FM rock. Marty Amsler, the former member of The Millions who plays bass in Tragic Jack, gave me a copy of the record and said “this probably isn’t your thing.” It’s not, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t any good. Hey man, despite my indie music leanings, I grew up on FM rock and can tell quality when I hear it. Copies of the record will be available at tonight’s show, which also features openers Brad Hoshaw and Soul Ghost. $7, 9 p.m.

Also tonight, The Hottman Sisters are celebrating the release of a new EP, Louder, at The Waiting Room. Ruby Force and Kethro open at 9 p.m. $12.

Lodgings is a pretty awesome band consisting of Bryce Hotz, vocals; Jim Schroeder, guitars; David Ozinga, bass; Eric Ernst, drums. Their 2016 debut, which also features cellist Megan Siebe and Trumpeter Sean Lomax, is one of my recent faves. The band headlines at fabulous O’Leaver’s Saturday night. Joining them in this stacked line-up are The Sun-Less Trio and The Wagon Blasters. 10 p.m., $5.

Finally, O’Leaver’s Sunday early-show series continues with House Vacations, CatBeret, the return of Omaha singer/songwriter Tom Bartolomei, and Lincoln’s Threesome Egos.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend.

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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.

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