Published Sep 01, 2006Its been about five years since electro pop icon Gary Numan last toured North America. That outing found the man best known as "the guy that sings Cars in the midst of an image makeover from faded idol to brooding goth-father. In 2006, the chameleon-like Numan completed the transformation with the release of Jagged, an album that re-established him as an artist as influential on modern music as he is influenced by it. The album has not exactly lit up the charts though and the accompanying tour that allowed him to spend the summer in Canada and U.S. has consequently convened in moderate sized venues. This Toronto stop came early in the tour at one of the citys most intimate and best-equipped live music venues. The setting couldnt have been more ideal, with the audience made up largely of the adoring faithful who sang along heartily to the new material as vigorously as they did when he broke out early career highlights "Are Friends Electric?, "Down in the Park, "Metal and, yes, "Cars (which he refused to play live for many years for obvious reasons). Not surprisingly, he completely glossed over the bulk of his 1982 to 1999 output. It was, by his own admission, a particularly uninteresting period in his career. But the very old songs, which were born when a snotty London punk tried learning how to play synthesisers, sounded right at home next to the industrial goth grind of the music from Jagged with only minor revisions in arrangement and presentation. Performance-wise, Numan was on fire. Channelling his inner Trent Reznor, the 40-something Numan prowled the stage in dark fatigues as he sneered and taunted the audience. But playing cool and aloof only works when the audience doesnt adore you. This one clearly did and by the end of the show, Numan was smiling and appeared more human than he was probably trying to. The mutual respect and admiration fuelled the show and made the whole experience that much more rewarding for everyone, both on stage and in front of it.