Trackback Thursday: Are ‘Friends’ Electric? by Tubeway Army

This is the first in what I hope will be a weekly post in which I look back at a track or moment that has been influential either in my musical life, or in the development of the music I dig. It only intended to be short, which is going to be something of a push with this initial one because it set all sorts of hares running for me…

It was May 1979, the week of my 15th birthday. I was round at a mate’s house to watch Top of the Pops, a weekly ritual in those days and basically the only regular chance to see the bands I loved on TV.

On this particular occasion I was looking forward to seeing Tubeway Army, a band my mate had got into with their previous single ‘Down in the Park’. I thought I was in for the normal thing of enjoying seeing something I liked but… BANG!… what came out of the screen was something different all together.

There was Gary Numan.

Actually not coming out of the screen, but very much confined with it… alienated… expressionless… hardly moving. I was absolutely mesmerised from start to finish with this otherworldly person… someone who I now realise was someone as a teenage introvert myself I could really relate to.

This set me off on a long musical journey with Gary Numan… one that I have taken a lot of shit for over the years but one that seems to have come back round since he is now lauded as one of the pioneers of electric music, and one that to this day can be found in all sorts of music that I listen to every day.

Most of all though, something changed in me when I saw that performance, I found a musical home that would stay with me for many years; and while there were other musicians and bands Gary Numan always spoke to me in a very different way.

Note: This video of not of the first performance on Top of the Pops, but a later one when Are ‘Friends’ Electric? got to number 1… I’ve shared this one because the track is shown in full.



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