12th October 2019
Gary Numan - “(R)evolution” Tour - Support: Kanga
I’ve seen GARY NUMAN countless times over the years, and it’s fair to say my music interest stems from me hearing ‘Are Friends Electric’ on the television at the tender age of eleven years old. In 2018 he embarked upon a short orchestral tour, accompanied by the Skaparis Orchestra at such prestigious venues as The Royal Albert Hall. This was a fantastic concert, for me second only to the ‘farewell’ gigs at Wembley - can this be followed?
I’ve listened to the initial album, self-titled, from KANGA with interest. Having read reviews promising a female version of NINE INCH NAILS - and being produced by Rhys Fulber - I had high expectations. It was released in 2016, and I’ve since found earlier EPs from 2015 - all are highly listenable, but not quite to NINE INCH NAILS sonic level. KANGA has also worked on movies such as ‘Nightmare’, ‘The Devils Carnival II’, ‘Insidious III’, and ‘The Conjuring II’. https://www.facebook.com/kangakullt
Music & Performance
This is the second time I’ve seen KANGA live, and I’m expecting the same kind of performance as last time. KANGA plays live completely by herself, and although I enjoy spinning her album from time to time, I always struggle a little with any live performance relying solely on backing tracks. Her voice cannot be faulted, neither her energy nor stage presence. She is a very active performer and entirely engrossed in her performance - she is a very flexible girl and throws some outstanding shapes. That is when you can see her, the stage lighting is minimalistic to say the least. The sound isn’t the best, and her album sound is lost entirely - a shame because there are some great melodies there. She voiced appreciation to the crowd, who seemed to enthusiastically accept her, quite a feat as Numan fans are notoriously difficult to impress - as many a support band has found (I remember SHEEP ON DRUGS taking very badly to this fact). A good, if slightly muted, start to the evening.
Total: 6.5 / 10
Since 1979, when GARY NUMAN erupted into the UK charts his influence has affected many genres, perhaps no more so than the Dark Wave and Industrial music scene. His career has musically meandered, sometimes in the middle years with little direction or originality, but for the last 25 years or so has produced some seriously good music - dark songs, with great atmosphere, but with a healthy sprinkling of infectious melody. Recently albums like ‘Splinter (Songs from a Broken Mind)’ have continued this creative vein. Last year’s ‘Savage (Songs from a Broken World)’ brought another themed album (think; TUBEWAY ARMY, ‘Replicas’ for example) with another take on the future - with an apocalyptic vision of climate change. “(R)evolution tour” is the fortieth year celebration of Numan’s chart success, and great promises were made beforehand - a full set list to cover almost every album released and full of rarely played tracks. https://garynuman.com / https://www.facebook.com/GaryNumanOfficial
Music & Performance
Numan arrives on stage to a deep throbbing intro piece, along with the huge rear video screen showing “(R)evolution” etched out in flames. The band arrives, Tim Muddiman replaced this time by session bassist Tim Slade, who also plays for the FIELDS OF NEPHILIM, but the rest familiar to regular Numan gig goers. Then finally Numan enters the room - to huge appreciative noise from the crowd. Numan looks pleased with his welcome from Leeds, then storms into the first of a varied set list - the popular ‘My name is Ruin’. I’ve seen this played live several times with his daughter appearing on stage - this time she is absent - apart from the supersized images on the video screens. Numan continues the night with his now trademark stage moves - a mix of head-banging, pouts, some bizarre shapes thrown and my perhaps unkind description of dad dancing. Long gone is the days of a wooden, none smiling awkward performer. GARY NUMAN is confident, and at 61 years old is incredibly fit and active on stage.
Gone is last year’s “Savage tour” garb (thankfully) of sack like sand coloured rags. Replaced with the band being dressed in black, rather smartly in trousers, shirts and even braces and Numan more casually in black top and jeans. Stage lighting relies heavily on red lights, which differs from an earlier attendance to this tour. The stage set comprises of a two tier step, each step comprising of huge video screens. Next comes ‘Remind me to smile’, a very popular song with the fans from the ‘Telekon’ album. From a song deep entrenched in electronic sounds, once the guitar is brought on stage for Numan, we all know what is coming - he’s played it on virtually every gig on the tour (if not them all) - That’s too bad. A single from the early days when Numan’s alter ego, Valerian, presumably forced his hand to write pseudo-punk songs to get a record label signing. A fast moving guitar driven song, with distinctive punk style riffs from start to finish, the sight of three guitarists dominating the stage brings the crowd to join in the frenzy finish. If you don’t like his early punk stuff, well that’s too bad.
I’d heard that a rarity song, one rarely aired in the UK, was getting unlocked out of the Numan vault for this tour - ‘Stories’ from the 1981 ‘Dance’ album. Before playing this track Numan explained that he had got into trouble on the previous night - he’d made the mistake of referring to his wife, Gemma, as his girlfriend. She apparently is a big fan of this song, and when explaining this to the crowd made the fatal error of incorrect referral. The crowd reacted with laughter and shouts of what may happen due to this - no sex! Numan beams and seems to enjoy the crowd interaction. When promises were made that rarities would be played, this is one I would have liked to hear. Fantastic choice, well done Gary.
‘Metal’ and ‘Films’ were also aired (both from ‘The Pleasure Principle’), these have regular appearances on Numan tours. The addition of ‘Absolution’ (from the ‘Exile’ album) is more in keeping with the rarity track promise. The video screens show a sequence of images, some quite disturbing of Middle Eastern religious unrest - including footage of hostages and blood smeared messages on sides of vans. A brave and moving touch to this rather grand epic song from Numan - good stuff. A brief mention of ‘Down in the Park’ - a regular on all tours (and never tired to hear it) - this mention goes entirely to Steve Harris, regular guitar player. He has gained a long term reputation for being an eccentric performer on stage with Gary, with some quite bizarre movements and stylised guitar playing, but for this tour, on ‘Down in the Park’, it goes up a gear. No guitar for the intro, Steve slips off his guitar and takes pretty much centre stage with some rather wicked dance moves - needs to be seen to believed! Add this to a gig long series of moody stares, glares and manic smiles and he almost steals the entire show! I’ve witnessed him several times amusing himself by pretending to throw his pick into the crowed and watching the resulting scuffle!
‘The Promise’ is from last year’s ‘Fallen’ EP and brings the ‘Savage’ album sound to Leeds - not guitar driven like his last few recent album releases. Followed by the (yawn) required song, ‘Cars’, and then into one of my favourites from the modern era, ‘Here in the black’. A powerhouse of a track, greatly appreciated by the crowd, and the band members obviously loving performing it. ‘I Die: you Die’ still moves me as much as the first time I heard it, it’s a fantastic track but played reasonably often - I wanted to hear more rarely played tracks. This was followed by an even deeper delve into the back catalogue with ‘My Shadow in Vain’ from the first TUBEWAY ARMY album. ‘A Prayer for the Unborn’ is a fantastic track, written when Numan was struggling with the loss of an unborn child. Then onto a crowd favourite, and one that couldn’t be missed ‘Are Friends Electric’ with the obligatory arm salutes from Numan and his loyal followers. The band then made their way off stage, to return with a four song encore. ‘Replicas’ is always a welcome addition to a Numan gig, upon their return they blast into this TUBEWAY ARMY track with great energy, and likewise this is followed by another welcome TUBEWAY ARMY song, this time from the first album, ‘Every Day I Die’. A firm favourite of mine, one I’ve heard many times played live by Gary over the years.
A new song, ‘Intruder’, a demo version (due for probable release in 2020) is initially discussed by Numan before the band play. There has been some negativity on Numan Facebook pages about the song, and Gary’s song writing ability. He verbally lashes out, with a barrage of f*ck and f*ckings to declare he is mightily peeved with those comments which have obviously filtered back to him. Once the song is aired, I loved it, great melodies and of obvious Numan style. Nothing to not like here. The night is finished with an old favourite, from the first TUBEWAY ARMY album, ‘Jo the Waiter’. The acoustic guitars are handed out, Numan leads and it’s another fine airing of this popular song. A missed opportunity, not an emphasis on rarities - a great gig but far from its promised objective.
01. My Name Is Ruin
02. Remind Me to Smile
03. That’s Too Bad
08. Down in the Park
09. The Promise
11. Here in the Black
12. I Die: You Die
13. My Shadow in Vain
14. A Prayer for the Unborn
15. Are Friends Electric?
17. Everyday I Die
19. Jo the Waiter
Total: 8 / 10
All Pictures by Kevin Stevens (Coast to Coast Image Works)