A case of beer today, gone tomorrow?

WHAT HAVE Paul Gadd and Gary Webb got in common? They both use sci-fi imagery, they both have fake hair, and they've both changed their names, to Gary Glitter and Gary Numan, respectively. And while I was watching Gary N at the London Astoria, I kept being reminded of Gary G.

It's probably because Numan seems only to be impersonating a rock star, and not quite convincing himself. His return to television and the Top 20 is down to the teetotaller's best-known song, "Cars", being used on a Carling Premier lager commercial. Even the new Best Of album - and I'm not sure which party paid which for this arrangement - is entitled The Premier Hits (Polygram), and has images from the advert on its sleeve. When you play it, it seems less Carling Premiership than GM Vauxhall Conference League. Why buy a compilation when the single of "Cars" has Numan's only other classic, "Are Friends Electric?", on the B-side? And, when none of his Premier Hits is more recent than 1983, why see him live in 1996?

Not entirely for nostalgia's sake, that's for sure. Numan used to be an android, all pale-faced and straight-faced. Now he's a snorting rock beast. In the same black suit as he wore on Top of the Pops and The White Room, he flared his nostrils, swung his microphone stand and shook his head to test the adhesion of his divot of new hair. A fat-lipped malevolent grin was wedged between Richard Nixon jowls. Really, it's not a bad rock- god impression, but his robot act was better.

Before a would-be stadium-set design, his band carved out boulders of heavy rock, with the vocals drastically low in the mix. Some of the material could be successful today - it's not far off the futurist industrial racket on Bowie's last album - but it's spoiled by widdly Eighties guitars. For a pioneer of synth music and cold mechanical pulses, Numan does enjoy a bit of ear-bleeding fretwork.

The concert had enough of neither past nor present. There were too few old faves for a nostalgia revue, and too few contemporary sounds to herald the come-back of a viable contender. The Numanoids in the audience saluted in time to the "Wo-ohs" in "Are Friends Electric?" with the zealous uniformity of a mob in a dictator's rally or a Queen video, but it's a show for fans and fans only. When Carling has a new ad, and the public has sobered up, Gary will return to cult obscurity: to Nu-Man's Land.

Marianne Faithfull was born to sing the songs of Brecht & Weill. Her great-great uncle, Baron von Sacher-Masoch, gave his name to masochism, and her mother danced in Thirties Berlin. But rather than rely on nepotism, she has earned the right to sing them, through hard work, hard drinking and hard drugs. "I walk along the street of sorrow / The Boulevard of Broken Dreams," she sang at the Jazz Cafe on Wednesday. Well, Faithfull built a house on that boulevard.

For "An Evening in the Weimar Republic" she was accompanied by a skeletal pianist playing rippling arpeggios and clumping staccato chords. With a Silk Cut and a black silk shirt, she swayed in the spotlight, a slow snowdrift of mirrorball lights around her. Her face, still beautiful, has a lived-in look - and lived in by vandals at that. Her voice is something else. It's a startling brew of acid and tar, bark and croak, crackle and rasp. Technically she is no great singer, but every syllable can convey weariness and disappointment, and, just as importantly, dignity and humour too. Because it's not a depressing show. There is a knowing, bold spirit to her renditions, and charming chat between them. To finish, she swapped Brecht & Weill for Jagger & Richards, and sang a forlorn "As Tears Go By". Pure class.

If Brecht & Weill are too day-glo and smiley for you, you may prefer Marion to Marianne. As young as Supergrass, Marion don't assure us that life is "Alright". No, it's all wrong, and the sooner it's over, the happier they'll be. So, the first remarkable thing about their show at the Cambridge Junction on Tuesday was that their singer, Jaime [sic] Harding, was a pleasant chap who thanked us for attending, "whether you bought the records, or whether you just came for a good night out". The second remarkable thing was that a good night out was what we had.

You have to be a young misery-guts to join Marion, but thankfully there's more guts than misery, more sweat and toil than blood and tears. Phil Cunningham assaults his guitar with Pete Townshend-style windmills of so many RPM that you expect his arm to fly out of its socket, and he appears to be much keener on leaping off speakers than jumping off cliffs. Harding, Britpop's most obvious boy-babe, with elfin good looks and a centre-parted fringe that hooks round his Pfeiffer cheekbones, does the corresponding Roger Daltrey moves. His favourite is to stumble backwards, arms above his head, as if he's about to catch a cricket ball. The other guitarist is less hyperactive, but he exudes black-clad cool. The bassist and drummer don't, which may be why they are obscured by smoke throughout the show.

Marion are the new members of an angst gang that includes Radiohead, Suede and the Smiths, and they've brought some of Iron Maiden's histrionics with them.

Every ferocious song hurtles along at the same breathless pace. The trouble is that they have the same breathless arrangement, too. And as Marion go for oblique phrasing, and titles that hardly ever crop up in the lyrics, it's easy to forget which song is which. Some gems shine through, though. "Sleep" has a clean harmonica break, tough lyrics and a chorus that you don't need a telescope to spot. More tracks like that, and the future will look bright. How depressing for them.

Gary Numan: Liverpool Empire, 0151 709 1555, tonight; Nottingham Rock City, 0115 941 2544, Mon; Southampton Guildhall, 01703 632601, Tues; Guildford Civic Hall, 01483 444555, Wed; and touring.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event
filmBut why were Back to the Future screenings cancelled?
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Lewis Hamilton walks back to the pit lane with his Mercedes burning in the background
Formula 1
Arts and Entertainment
The new characters were announced yesterday at San Diego Comic Con
comic-con 2014
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Arts and Entertainment
No Devotion's Geoff Rickly and Stuart Richardson
musicReview: No Devotion, O2 Academy Islington, London
News
i100
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    BI Developer - Sheffield - £35,000 ~ £40,000 DOE

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    Employment Solicitor

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - Senior Employment Solici...

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    Commercial Litigation Associate

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

    Day In a Page

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

    Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

    For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
    Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

    Jokes on Hollywood

    With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
    Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

    Edinburgh Fringe 2014

    The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride