A surface look at Gary Numan’s career could lead to the conclusion that Numan is a chameleon the likes of Madonna or Will Smith, changing image and sound every few years and morphing, ultimately, into a different performer. However, I’ve always gotten the feeling that Madge and the former Fresh Prince have evolved in accordance with the tastes of the market — wearing a mask for the given time. Numan, however, seems to be ever-changing toward the direction of more truth, more raw honesty. They’re pretending, but he is distilling.

Sunday night at the Fillmore, Numan brought his strange truth to the stage for a packed house. Dressed in a tunic that draped past his knees, Numan strutted out onto the stage and thrashed dramatically as strobe lights highlighted his manic silhouette. His band mates were dressed similarly, with otherworldly makeup applied to their faces: stark white lines bisecting their features. It was striking, bordering on performance art. Unlike other bands that employ this same type of strong visual aspect, like Empire of the Sun, Numan and company felt very authentic. There were no coordinated dance movements, no circus element. It was just people, people being very strange. I loved it.

Numan sounds as strong as he ever did. His music, like his movement, was an erratic orchestra. There were bombastic, thrashing moments that coupled up with more needling points. “Metal” reminded me of “Closer” by Nine Inch Nails, minus the intense vocal distortion that is so tightly linked with the feel of that song. Whereas “Closer” sounded absolutely alien when it came out, “Metal” encapsulates that same intriguing discomfort, but here on Earth.

Discomfort seemed to be an underlying theme to Numan’s new works (as it is much of his back catalog as well). The come-hither suffering of “Mercy” had that same alluring tragedy as Björk’s “Human Behavior,” without the sprightliness of Iceland’s First Lady of Fairy Fantasy Vocals. If Björk is a wood nymph, Numan is woodsman — existing in the same universe, but grounded in realness, not enchantment.

Maybe that’s what separates Numan from fellow weirdos like Reznor and Björk — he never lets you forget that there’s a man behind the music. His vocals an earthly connection to the galactic chaos he casts on stage. “Here in the Black” was positively theatrical, but it was also bizarrely human. Numan taps into the strange that we’re all sitting in and sets it to a psychotropic symphony. “My Name is Ruin,” possibly the highlight of the night, was also a perfect example of this. High drama, for sure, but it was the suffering of a relatable soul. Also, one hell of a catchy hook.

Numan followed “Ruin” with his 1979 hit “Cars,” bringing the already enthusiastic crowd to a fever pitch. I thought, honestly, that I didn’t want to hear him play this greatest hits song. It seemed wrong to bring this sing-along piece of brilliant pop onto the same stage as his new work. I was wrong. Numan punched through this song, and it didn't seem sad or tired like my cynical self thought it would. It sounded fresh and amazing. It sounded like Gary Numan being Gary Numan.

Numan can be confusing, as at times concerning, but his music performance on the Fillmore stage was nothing but beautiful.

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