Gary Numan ‘80/81’ Box Set – Discs 3, 4 and 5: ‘Living Ornaments 81′

In the first part of this look at the ‘80/81’ box set, the focus was on discs one and two, which spread the ‘Telekon’ studio album across a couple of individually packaged LPs. The remainder of the box finds the 1981 Wembley ‘farwewell concerts’ documented by way of the ‘Living Ornaments 81’ album – its only appearance on vinyl to date.


Those 1981 farewell shows are a well established part of the Numan folklore of course. I was still too young to have attended any concerts back in 1981. Instead, it was all lived vicariously through the pages of the music press and the likes of the Numan-sympathetic one-off SynRock fanzine, as well as the immediately preceding ‘Living Ornaments 79 and 80’ box set, which I lavished no small amount of several weeks pocket money on. A few months later came the airing on BBC1 TV (Sunday 6th September 1981) of some highlights from the video recording of the show. Despite being condensed down to only 40 minutes in length, this was A Very Big Deal Indeed for me, in an era of only three television channels airing in the UK. Having to compete with the rest of the family and their viewing pleasures – and with no video recorder yet – was no mean feat. The complete show would be released in full form in 1982 on the oddly named ‘Micromusic’ home video cassette and from which this live recording is derived.

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve front cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve front cover

And what a well-oiled machine the Numan touring band had become by this time. Paul Gardiner, Chris Payne, Cedric Sharpley, Rrussell Bell and the returning Dennis Haines, augmented by special guest Nash The Slash. Disc one is focussed on some heavyweight album classics from ‘Telekon’ and ‘The Pleasure Principle’ in particular (with the wonderful ‘Me! I Disconnect From You’ in there to represent ‘Replicas’ too). ‘Complex’ makes it in there as well, quite a treat since it was only played on the final night – its quite possibly my favourite live version of what was the first Numan record I bought on its release.

‘Metal’ is to be found here too, though mixed into a unique alloy – lyrically it is the ‘Moral’ re-telling, which would be released some time later in September on the ‘Dance’ album, but musically still has the synth-driven propulsion more familiar from ‘The Pleasure Principle’ take.

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve rear cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve rear cover

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve front

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve front

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve rear

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve rear

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 1

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 1

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 3 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 2

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 3 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 2


Disc 4: ‘Living Ornaments 81’ Disc 2

Disc two of the set also sticks to the album classics for the main part, starting off with the amazing rearrangement of ‘Everyday I Die’ first heard in this form on 1980’s ‘Teletour’. When I first heard that version as part of the ‘Living Ornaments 80’ LP it was just amazing and it is every bit as good here, though I think the ‘Living Ornaments 80’ is a bit more focussed and nails it. With the exception of ‘Cars’, the only other single to be found on this second disc is ‘She’s Got Claws’ – but of course, if you had been there at the time that wasn’t a single yet and this was an exciting preview of new material a few months ahead of time. ‘Remember I Was Vapour’ sees Numan go off on a more free form vocal style here and instrumentally there are changes too, not least the ‘falling’ synth notes towards the end that were mined a good bit more on some of ‘I, Assassin’, such as the start of ‘This Is My House’. This disc also sees a live outing for ‘Trois Gymnopedies’, memorable on video for the slow-mo dance moves of support troupe, Shock.

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve front cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve front cover

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve rear cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve rear cover

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve front

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve front

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve rear

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve rear

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 1

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 1

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 4 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 2

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 4 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 2


Disc 5: ‘Living Ornaments 81’ Disc 3

The final disc inevitably is where a number of the hit singles are to be found with the climax of the show and encores. Along the way though there is still time for another preview of the yet to be released ‘Dance’ album by way of ‘Cry The Clock Said’, with the wonderful, dearly departed Nash The Slash to be found on haunted violin. Sadly, since this recording hails from the last night of the three night Wembley residency, it was Paul Gardiner’s final live outing with Numan too.

‘Living Ornaments 81’ first appeared on CD – and it wasn’t until January 1998 at that. There’s one track missing from this vinyl edition compared to the CD – the very rough sounding ‘mono monitor mix’ recording of ‘Conversation’, which was from a different night, is not included here. The song had been played on the first two nights of the Wembley residency instead of ‘Complex’. It’s not a great loss, given how basic the sound quality is of that recording.

And that was that… farewell, Gary Numan! Except, of course, it was no such thing and he was back touring small scale clubs/theatres in America just over a year later. Now, ‘Living Ornaments 82’… has a ring to it, doesn’t it?… but no matching source of suitable quality to mine for a release so far, it seems.

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve front cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve front cover

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' sleeve rear cover

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ sleeve rear cover

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve front

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve front

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' inner sleeve rear

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ inner sleeve rear

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 1

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 1

Gary Numan '80/81' Box Set - Disc 5 - 'Living Ornaments 81' label side 2

^ Gary Numan ’80/81′ Box Set – Disc 5 – ‘Living Ornaments 81’ label side 2

One Response to “Gary Numan ‘80/81’ Box Set – Discs 3, 4 and 5: ‘Living Ornaments 81′”

  1. lieutenant 030 says:

    i remember very well having to go up to my parent’s bedroom, where a very small second tv was, to watch the BBC broadcast of the concert and being totally mesmerised by the show. Just seeing it on tv was a big event for me. At least this box set doesn’t have the awful picture that graces the rear of the cd set, i am sure that there are plenty more that they could have used instead.
    I have come across 2 bootlegs titled Living Ornaments 82, the first is of the concert at Perkins Palace, Pasadena 08/10/1982, the second hailing from The Ritz, New York 26/10/1982. There is also a Living Ornaments 83 which contains the BBC broadcast from one of his Hammersmith Odeon nights on the Warriors tour, the 15th of October

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