It was a crisp November evening and there was a fierce nip in the air. A sea of leather cascaded along the walls of the O2 Academy in Newcastle as me and the hundreds of other waited patiently for our time to see Gary Numan. Standing there in my coral jumper, I felt slightly out of place. I know the music, I can sing along, rock along with the best of them but the new rock boots pass me by. The show started with some fine local produce – Losers. “Hi Newcastle, it’s good to be home. We are Losers. And we are losers.” I knew there and then that I would love these guys. With a guest appearance from an automatic drill, Losers offered a fantastic scene setter before Numan was welcomed to the stage.
After a short interval the crowd started to get wrestles. The hands of the clock were grazing nine o’clock and the Numanoids were ready to rock. Seconds later, smoke began to bellow out of the machines filling the venue with an air of mystery. Next the LED screens that encompassed the stage started to burst with light. Finally, shadows scattered across the stage and one man could be seen standing at the back, glaring at the audience, only recognisable by his stance and impressive hairdo. Showtime.
“Hello, is there anyone out there.” was as much patter as could be expected from Numan before the show got underway. The evening was a mix of deep rock tracks from his new album ‘Splinter – Songs from a broken mind’. Heavy guitar, bass and synth bruised the air in ‘We Are Dust’ where we saw Numan glaring and reaching out into the audience. The song is very reminiscent of eighties Numan with the punchy chorus and unforgettable hooks. ‘The Calling’ was a great chance to hear the rough, snarling vocals without any interference showing that Numan can handle vocals just as well as he can handle a guitar. The new single ‘Love, Hurt, Bleed’ from his latest album was a popular one with the crowd mainly because, dare I say, you could dance/rock out. It’s clear to see that Numan has not failed to disappoint with his latest album.
Old forgotten classics such as ‘Metal’ and ‘Films’ from the 1979 number one selling album ‘The Pleasure Principle’ with amazing visual effects and graphics to match. The old classics were brought to life in Numan’s fantastic staging and use of the LED screens. ‘Prayer for the unborn’ saw the screens being used to their full potential when they portrayed a dark red sonogram of an unborn baby, personifying Numan’s heartache and anger at God for allowing his wife to miscarry. Not everyone would describe Numan as a showman, but he is exactly that. Bringing his music and emotions to life before your very eyes is a show in itself. This was proven in his performance of ‘Pure’ where his anger and hat thronged throughout the venue. Originating from an album that was poorly received by critics, it is hard to believe that such an emotive song could dare to be pushed into the shadows.
For the encore the classic and most memorable tunes ‘Cars’ and ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ it’s nice to be able to say that this is not solely why people attended the gig. The atmosphere changed in the encore, everyone started to sing and dance and even crack a smile, the Numanoid’s came out of character and joined in with Gary as they reminisced back to the glory days. The final songs showed that even though the classics are the ones that have perhaps made the most memorable mark in music history, they were enjoyed on a different level, a level where the artist is appreciated for creating such works of art but is also allowed to move on and develop further. This was exemplified in Numan choosing to end the show with ‘My Last Day’ a song off his new album. He left everyone with a poignant message: ‘I’m not done yet.’
words by Rachel Williamson