GARY NUMAN + KANGA – DE LA WARR PAVILION, BEXHILL-ON-SEA 23.09.19
Hammersmith born, 61 year old, synth legend Gary Numan had thankfully decided to open up his UK tour here in East Sussex. He was tonight appearing at the wonderful De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, before he scoots across the county to Worthing, where he will be performing tomorrow night. This time around there was no Brighton concert on this tour and so the Brighton & Hove New Music Team ventured out of the city in order to get things covered.
This was the very first time in Numan’s 40 year music history that he was playing two concerts in Sussex on the same tour. We just had to get these both covered and so here is tonight’s report and tomorrow’s Worthing review will follow in due course.
There was quite a bit of excitement with our posse tonight, as several of the team had amazingly not yet witnessed the pure joys of seeing Numan perform live before and so anticipation was high, and thankfully by the end of the night it’s fair to say right now that Gary Anthony James Webb (aka Gary Numan) has now obtained a few new converts.
The wonderful venue was full of punters/Numanoids of a mixed age, many of who queuing at the bars in order to whet their whistles prior to this evenings performances. Other than a date last night in Dublin, this was the first proper mainland concert of the 23-date ‘(R)evolution Tour’ UK tour, which is a celebration of Numan’s 40 years of releasing albums and in Gary’s own words “I should probably point out that I hope to play at least one song from almost every album I’ve made. Almost”.
As with every Numan tour, the fans travel from far and wide and tonight was very almost a sell out judging by how packed it was. Having been a constant Numan fan ever since hearing ‘Down In The Park’ in the Spring of 1979, I know exactly how loyal his ‘Numanoid’ fans are and I knew it was going to be a great experience! It was!
Numan has never picked a tune from each album on tour before and I had expected him to do so as indicated, but this was not the case this evening. In his defence, I hear that him and his band have been practising 40 or 41 tunes and clearly there wasn’t time to play them all tonight, and I understand that there are going to be 4 basic setlists which they will be working from. Tonight’s was setlist 1A and we were served 19 compositions, with 4 of those being in the encore.
Clearly Numan’s music has changed over the course of his career and there are certain albums that he no longer tends to associate with, and so it’s likely that these will (sadly) be omitted from his live set, but tonight we had material spanning from 1978 right up to 2018, thus the 40 years were covered.
The lights went down and the back of the stage was beginning to be filled with a flame style unveiling of the tour name. This was rather dramatic and set the tone nicely. The 4 band members took to the stage, finally followed by Numan, who strolled on with his boyish grin. They were all clad in black in order to add to the mood. There was a fair amount of grinning tonight, which surprised the members of the team who hadn’t seen him live before, as they perceived that he was still ‘that robot like character’ seen on ‘Top Of The Tops’ in 1979. In fact, they simply got on with the music and Gary only eventually addressed the crowd on the penultimate track. But I guess the locals were used to this, as Pixies had done the exact same at the De La Warr a short time back.
The lighting is always a big feature of Numan’s shows, with him losing money on his trio of ‘retirement’ shows at Wembley Arena back in 1981. He invests in the lighting and sound and it does pay off, you know you are going to get a spectacle and tonight was no exception. Numan was having fun and at times played his Virus keyboard as well as his guitar. He throws the moves and his eyes still have that otherworldly stare, which often melt girls hearts. Not that Gary’s interested in that anymore as he is a family man who has been married to Gemma for a number of years and they have three daughters and are a close knit group, just like his family was when he started out. He had his dad (Tony) as manager, him mum Beryl (RIP) who ran the fan club, his uncle (Jess Lidyard) was in the early Tubeway Army, and his younger brother John, even had a stint in the band on keyboards and sax. Numan has always kept it close in order to protect himself, but these days he is more relaxed. He now lives in LA, but funnily enough used to live just up the road to Bexhill in a tiny place called Waldron, where his family had a quaint cottage at the foot of Ragged Dog Lane.
Now, if you are a Numan fan you may have noticed that I haven’t yet mentioned a single song performed! If you are going to Worthing or any of the other gigs and don’t want to know what his choices for tonight were, then you may wish to leave this article right now and revisit it after you have seen your gig(s).
Right then, for everyone else, the setlist is listed below along with where the songs were taken from. We had 19 cuts and he didn’t forget the words to final number ‘Jo The Waiter’ like he did last night in Dublin. During the quieter sections of ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’, Gary’s voice was a tad croaky, and I hope he has some honey as I’m off to Worthing tomorrow! On the opener ‘My Name Is Ruin’, it appeared that the keyboard sounds briefly dropped out, but this was quickly rectified. We had a ‘rough demo version’ as Gary put it, of the unreleased song called ‘Intruder’ which is the current working title of his 2020 album. It’s typical Numan and shows no sign of a drop in form – happy days!
It WAS a great gig in a fab venue and I’m pretty sure that Gary will return next year with his new album. His merch stall was very busy at the end, which is always an indicator of an enjoyable gig. There were so many decent options available, but I had to grab myself the new Corgi model of his car that he used on stage in 1980 and 1981 as I was there. Fab souvenir of a fab night! Doing it all again tomorrow – yippee!
Gary Numan setlist 1A:
‘My Name Is Ruin’ (found on 2017 ‘Savage (Songs From A Broken World)’ album)
‘That’s Too Bad’ (found on 1978 ‘That’s Too Bad’ single)
‘Dark’ (found on 1997 ‘Exile’ album)
‘M.E.’ (found on 1979 ‘The Pleasure Principle’ album)
‘Metal’ (found on 1979 ‘The Pleasure Principle’ album)
‘Absolution’ (found on 1997 ‘Exile’ album)
‘Dead Son Rising’ (found on 2011 ‘Dead Son Rising’ album)
‘Down In The Park’ (found on 1979 ‘Replicas’ album)
‘The Promise’ (found on 2018 ‘The Fallen’ EP)
‘Cars’ (found on 1979 ‘The Pleasure Principle’ album)
‘Here In The Black’ (found on 2013 ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind’ album)
‘I Die You Die’ (found on CD of 1980 ‘Telekon’ album)
‘Call Out The Dogs’ (found on 1985 ‘The Fury’ album)
‘A Prayer For The Unborn’ (found on 2000 ‘Pure’ album)
‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’ (found on 1979 ‘Replicas’ album)
‘This Wreckage’ (found on 1980 ‘Telekon’ album)
‘Halo’ (found on 2006 ‘Jagged’ album)
‘Intruder’ (unreleased and will appear on 2020 ‘Intruder’ album)
‘Jo The Waiter’ (found on 1978 ‘Tubeway Army’ album)
So what did some of the others attending think? Here you go:
“For me it was his sheer presence. The uniqueness of his voice and his energy, all wrapped up in a blanket of colours spilling from the stage adding up to a completely immersive experience”. – Sara-Louise Bowrey
“Some 40 years ago I recall a good friend of mine raving about a certain Gary Numan but at the time I knew what genres of music I liked and as with the the then incumbent of number 10 ‘I was not for turning!’
Tonight I was transformed from a mere human to Numanoid for 100 minutes as Gary embraced me with his music and charm. I was expecting the dour demeanour from 1979 but instead was greeted with smiles and somebody who clearly enjoys what he is doing. A very good set and lighting show made it a gig to remember. Highlights for me were ‘Metal’, `Here in the Black’ and the crowd favourite ‘Are ‘Friends’ Electric?’
Not a bad night out considering I had nothing planned as of 6pm!” – Andy Murphy
“As a gift we were given tickets to see the Gary Numan concert, not having listened to any of the work since the late 70s we were not sure what to expect, however we were absolutely blown away, not only with the sound but the great cult following he has maintained. All in all it was a great evening of professional quality entertainment and I have just updated my mobile set list to include some NuuuuuuuMaaaaaaan tracks!” – Alan Poole
“Always a pleasure to see Numan live, he gets better every time. Some surprising older material mixed seamlessly with exciting new tunes. Great night” – Rae Lovejoy McQuillan
“What an awesome gig at the De La Warr tonight … Gary Numan still has ‘IT’, in spade-fulls. If you get the chance, go see him. The opening track ‘My Name Is Ruin’ is our wedding track … means a huge amount to us; it couldn’t have started better” – Nick Tutt
“Even after 40 years at the forefront of the music industry, Gary Numan showed exactly why he is still as relevant today as when he started out. Showcasing an array of hits from his glittering career to an enthusiastic audience (some of whom were witnessing one of his performances for the first time), he looked fitter and more energised than ever at the age of 61. My favourite track of the night was a classic from the start of his career, ‘Down in the Park, although it was closely followed by a stunning performance of ‘This Wreckage’. A great start the week!” – Martin J. Fuller
Support came from Los Angeles based composer, artist, and music programmer KANGA who has worked on films that include Nightmare, The Devils Carnival II, Insidious III, and The Conjuring II. Tonight the lighting was set so that we could witness this solitary figure throwing moves across the stage like a seductive industrial/EBM version of Lara Croft but without actually making out the person’s facial features.
The music was in keeping with the current state of play in the Numan camp and thus was well received and the merch stall was busy as a result of this after the gig. If you are a fan of dark fetishistic keyboard sounds with often heavy body blowing notes with sweetly sounding Grimes style lyrical contact atop, then KANGA is for you!
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