Though he'll be forever best known for "Cars," his enduringly popular hit recorded all the way back in 1979, Gary Numan has always been a man drawn toward the future, not the past. When most of his early contemporaries are cashing in on the rock-nostalgia circuit -- assuming they're doing anything at all -- Numan is writing and recording some of the best music of his long and influential career. Fresh off the release of last year's acclaimed Splinter (Songs From a Broken Mind), the enigmatic Englishman is in the midst of a fresh creative peak, and his fans turned out to Fitzgerald's in force on Wednesday night to bask in the ethereal chill and industrial crunch of the innovator's electronic renaissance.
While Numan's early persona was deliberately cold, remote and mechanical, he proved far from robotic onstage at Fitz. As intense green lights flooded the audience, the singer took the mike dressed in a simple black T-shirt, sporting his traditional eyeliner and Bladerunner haircut. Rather than the emotionless automaton that many remember from his biggest hits, Numan instead played the part of a proper rock and roll front man on Wednesday. As his backing band disappeared into a sea of colored LEDs, Numan slithered and pouted his way through a set well-stocked with material from Splinter and his other 21st-century releases.