AFENet Review - Reviews of Numan gigs by Numan Fans
Mon. 7th May, Anaheim, House Of Blues
The Greatest Show On Earth

The whole room was dark, save for the bluish purple of the patchwork quilt used for the monstrous stage curtain; people were slowly filtering into the venue, many without faces I could recognize many dressed in black, fishnet, vinyl, facial piercings. Industrial dance music played over the p.a. system as I swayed to the tune of the samples & drum beats tearing the aging calm of the air from the rafters. I looked about my surroundings with the rapt admiration that I was one of the chosen few privileged enough to be there that night. The sound dimmed, the lights fell, a cry rose from the crowd, the curtain draws open to reveal him, Gary Numan, standing before us in a black cassock and eyeliner.

Drums begin crashing to life, the growl of the bass synth jars my heart loose from the depths of my chest. He glides from the front of the programmers rig to the microphone, spreading his arms, embracing the darkness, calling whatever tormented spirits may be hounding him that evening into the twisted gnarls of his being . Ade soothes the keyboard through the angelic opening strains of “Magic”, Steve dances about, does a humbled groove with his guitar before getting down to business with the chords, searing the audience with chilling gain of blessed almighty distortion. Screams all around me bring my eyes back to Numan, he watches us from above, returning a glare not half inspired from the dead itself, but we know how he feels…we understand… Gary stalks around before stopping dead center of the stage, He sways, passionately holding himself, head tilted and eyes closed contentedly. screams bringing him into conscienceness, his hand clutches the Microphone; “When… I… Sleep…” …

And then I woke up.

I had never been so possessed as before when I bought the tickets to see the final show of Gary Numan’s North American show at The House of Blues in Anaheim, California. I had to see the man who’s music inspired such beautiful dreams of mine; When I was in school and the teacher wouldn’t let up for being so hard on me, he was there; When I was working after such a difficult night, he was there; When I was experiencing the only love I’ve ever felt in my whole life, he was there with me, easing me through the difficult times, soothing my cries at night with words I could never hear from anybody ive ever known. He sung songs that filled a void in me a way nothing else ever has: He gave me a chart to follow and study, a path to walk, a new life blooming full of things I could never have imagined for the life of me. so, with every ounce of confidence I could muster, aided with a handful of inlay slips, a camera and a hand-held CD player equipt with dynamic bass output loaded with all my favorite Numan CD’s, I boarded a greyhound for California.

I arrived at the site of the venue two days later early in the afternoon, bemused with the mass of buildings that lay before me enclosing the House of Blues: I was expecting a huge wooden building set in a dusty parking lot, broken neon lights, broken palm trees with, say, Elwood Blues standing around in his skinny tie & suit smoking a cigarette, but, Was I dreaming? Is this a joke or something? Numan’s playing DISNEYLAND? “This must be a gag, where’s my ticket? Oh, wow, it ISN’T, yeesh… okay, so what? Im sure theres more freaks & weirdoes walking around here then in my whole hometown, lets give this a shot.” I walked past an ESPN building with very triumphant sounding rock music playing outside of it, past a tropical restaurant, a talking parrot giving it’s trainer some hard time, and a few novelty shops with Hollywood memorabilia and such stuff in it before getting to the House of Blues, a very new looking building with a dining patio and fresh looking, well taken-care of trees outside of it. not at all a bad looking place, actually. I looked around the building for a moment or two, seeing where the doors are, if any other fans were there, which was surprising because there weren’t.

I thought of checking the inside of the building so I footed it to the entrance but made it no further then the front door when out from the darkness of the building Gary walked right past me in such a way as I almost jumped in a nearby tree! Out in reflective shades, dressed in a black muscle shirt, more threatening and scary then any picture I’ve ever seen of him, there he was. Sure, it’s one thing to be a celebrity and have a giddy enthusiasm of being out in public, trying to look like a bad ass to rack up the stares, screams and adoration, like, just about all famous musicians are, but not Numan. The Godfather of Electronica didn’t look like he was in the happiest place on earth. He sure mustn’t have been feeling it either cause the light was a tad bit too bright today. Perhaps the bus ride wasn’t at all the best in the world either. Neither was mine; I was stopped twice by boarder patrol on the way to the gig. What sort of situation would have sprung up if Numan’s bus was stopped by boarder patrol somewhere in California on the way to a show? I can envision a group of Boarder Patrol officers in their cowboy hats & badges rap on the door of the bus and step inside ready to make their presence known with some bust-up declaration in Spanish to find this hoard of Englishmen in giant boots and eye make-up glaring at them with all the pissed off intensity of a Rotweiler kennel on a hot day, and it WAS hot, and I wasn’t about to get plowed down so I moved out of the way FAST because right behind him was the very lovely Gemma and the rest of the band; Steve, the guitarist with his mohawk and wife beater; Ade the programmer dressed in a fancy shirt of the gothic ilk; Richard the skinhead who played live percussion and Dave the keys player and part time live bassist, who was, well…just being Dave. Just as I had imagined them. Now I knew where the nickname “Scary Numan” came from, this tight pack of Brits was the antithesis of any of Numan’s cutsy mid eighties synth pop images, white hats, neon lights, blue lip stick and goofy Mad Max costume that made fans disappear so long ago. This was an extension of the Replicas & Tubeway punk image. This was a gang of true to life English Rivetheads!

All I really could do was stare, I wasn’t going to throw myself at his feet because, aside from the fact they were walking away from where I was, it was daylight and too many normal people around. So my mouth just hung open. I was glad I also had some reflective shades on because my eyes bugged out and I didn’t want him to think ALL of his new fans were basketcases. He turned to look at me momentarily before ushering the group off down the way towards the tropical restaurant called The Rain forest Café. I followed. At about thirty yards I had a great view of Numan leading his crew around, stopping for photographs and to catch some scenery with the DV camcorder (most obviously for the tour diary) . I staked out a place near a sign with my camera, taking pictures and observing the group as they wandered around for a bit: somewhere across the street at the ESPN building Iggy Pop’s “Lust For Life” was blaring at full volume. Gary and Gemma were talking, taking pictures of the band horsing around near a giant green tree frog; some blond guy not in the band bearing a crew pass ran off with a bottle of water down the way, Steve saw the talking parrot abusing it’s trainer and watched with his head tilted in deep thoughtful interest for a good long while, Ade walked off around a building and only Richard was left with nothing to do. Poor guy must have been confused.

Gemma went to look at the gift shop with all it’s cute stuffed animals and Gary was left outside near the baby strollers with his camera scanning the scene. Nothing at that point could surprise me more then when he stopped the camera and zeroed in on me! He watched me watching him for long time, he took pictures of me, I took pictures of him. Very mutual. My eye backed away from the shutter momentarily and saw Steve was even watching me, the parrot must have lost it’s hold of him. I could see a near-empty bottle of water in his hand and instantly I realized that my vinyl jacket was making me very hot standing there that whole time, so I broke off contact and ran into a coffee shop for an evian. Some water and a break from the sun really made the day!

They all regrouped and went in for lunch after the blond guy returned, so I thought of hanging out outside of the movie theater with my water to rest and watch the scenery for awhile. A friend was supposed to meet me there that afternoon so I kept an eye out for him as well. Things got dull after awhile and I went browsing the shops for awhile and off to the House of Blues for door info. Bored even further I returned to the Rain Forrest café to hang out for awhile in the shade. I noticed an empty water bottle sitting on the edge of the flower bed and a cleaning woman quickly approaching it. “damn, that’s Steve’s water bottle bitch, don’t touch it!” She took it.

After what seemed liked an eternity, the band walked out again, ready to sort out another 45 minutes worth of wandering and sightseeing. Camera came back out again and my stalking continued. This time Gary, Gemma and the band walked to the movie theater I was just at, looking at the posters and such. I followed once again. They started hitting other shops while the band followed suit, looking at the classic rock and roll memorabilia, two shops more and the group started to break up a bit to go their own way. I thought; “Now or Never” so I walked to the bathroom to check my hair, be sure the spikes were sticking straight up and everything, earrings were just right, eyeliner was great, clothes were nice, and off I went again. Ade was outside talking on the phone but only lifted his head once to notice. I was after Numan.

This was my shot. Gary and Gemma were taking pictures of a wild looking fountain shooting water up in the air, Gary with the DV and Gemma with her Camera. I approached his wife, Gemma first. She had her back turned to me watching the fountain when I came up behind her and watched the water shoot through the air for awhile with her. After what seemed like ages she turned and jumped with a bit of a surprise “Hello!” I chirped, “ your Gemma, aren't you?” She smiled and took my hand which I shook gently just before bowing like a prince. “Gemma” She corrected, still smiling brightly as ever. (I thought her name was pronounced ‘gema’, full prominent G and all. whoops) “Im Nick…” I said, introducing myself.

Gary heard us talking and walked over turning his camera off. “…And your Gary! It’s great to meet you sir, im a very big admirer of your work.” “Hello” he said, reached out for my hand to get acquainted. “I came all the way from South Texas to see your show because there weren’t any dates set for the south, figuring since you hit Texas before during Exile I was really worried about why you didn’t come back. I mean you took this huge arch and skipped us entirely.” I said with a hint of sadness in my voice. “Why not?” “Record company wouldn’t let us…” He said, feeling guilty. “Oh, look at these!” Gemma chimed in, looking at my giant pewter dragon’s rings. “Oh, those are nice” he observed. “

I really love the new album, very ferocious and heavy. ‘Rip’, ‘Pure’, ‘Prayer…’, best music I’ve heard ANYWHERE. Im sure everyone loves it, god knows I left so many people back home who couldn’t see the show.” Gemma was still looking my rings over with all fascination. “Well, we’re going to come back in September for a southern tour of, you know, all the places we missed before.” He added “I’ll be sure to see all the Texas shows, I mean, this is my first show, this is so amazing to meet you! I got into your work last year when I got a copy of The Black Bible and heard your song on it, oh wow, those percussion loops…” “How old are you?” Gemma quizzed, looking up from my hand. “Only 17,” I piped. “Poor dear, you must be hot in all of that” Gemma added, looking over my all black ensemble. “

Oh sure, but it’s worth it really. I wore this white shirt all the way up here after a friends dog mauled it and other such things, but I had to hit a mall near here and pick up these new threads for the show” They smiled appreciatively about that one. “… I mean, to be here… I’ve had a good share of torture from the trip up here, almost mugged by crackheads in Dallas, not sleeping the whole while… heat stroke is small potatoes this afternoon, to be frank. I mean,” I sort of shot my arms out in a bewildered gesture before Gary, “This concert is when life starts to get good! I’ve been following all your moves online, and I had to come to see you at THIS venue” Gary smiled. They both were impressed that I had come so far, being a minor and all, to see his show. “I mean, this is the greatest thing EVER to meet your sir!”

Gemma set down her handbag “Would you like a picture?” “Yes ma’am, I would!” I handed her my camera, showed her how to reset the loading mechanism and she went back a few feet, Gary and I moved in for the magic moment, me muttering nonsense like, “This is truly a great honor, sir” she got two pictures and returned the camera, it felt heavier, like it was made of gold now. “

How do you know so much about what’s been going on? Where do you hear about, you know, all that’s going on with the tour, do you go to website’s?” Gemma asked. “Theres this great site I go to at least three times daily to see what’s going on in the news, what other fans thought of your shows going back as far as three something years to the exile tour, it’s called AFENET.com. it’s got chat, links, and everything great because you know, your not always around to update Nuworld so theres other fans out who make it their life’s work to keep track of all your moves.”

“What’s this black bible?” Gary got closer to talk as Gemma took out the DV camcorder and began filming us talking. “Cleopatra’s Gothic, Industrial & Ethereal Collection they put out a couple years ago, each disc has all this gold colored religious imagery on it. Your spot on the collection was disc 1, track 3, they put “Dead Heaven” on there. that’s what broke me, it shocked me that I out down $40 dollars for a collection and the only track I really liked was Yours!” “I guess we should have stuck with them then after all.” he giggled. “I wouldn’t be too quick to say that, every time I ordered a CD of yours from them, the case comes back all massacred. I made those little bastards replace em all, too.”

The next thought entered my head at that moment. Programming. The drum loops came back to me. “…your work on Exile and Sacrifice is the…BEST electronic music I’ve ever heard,” I stated, as proud as I was. “bear in mind too that only a couple of years ago I didn’t even LIKE Electronica, I was one of those ‘Metal forever’, ‘guitars rule’ sort of idiots…and I mean, wow Gary, your work turned me around! And those drums! What kind of drum machines do you use?” “Oh hell, I forgot” laughing, “too many to remember…” “Do you run everything through computers? I mean the mastering and all? or do you go analogue?” “everything’s recorded and then run through the computer and mastered using software…” he went on to describe the studio environment that his past couple of records were recorded in, and I started talking about polarity spec. in pitch and other such keyboard dabbling that would be almost impossible to remember in it’s entirety. We got into a rant about which keyboards were the best and which he liked playing. The funniest part of the tech talk was yet to follow, “

The gain on the samples and drums have got to be the best ive heard anywhere, and the vocals as well…I gotta tell you about this great demo I found online back in September of Rip before any copies had been released of it anywhere. Drums are tough and tight, guitars more aggressive sounding, the bass synth growled like a beast from the depths of hell… it sounded far better then the copy that went along on Pure…” “Couldn’t be.” “Yeah, sure it is. Vocals are more strained and run at a much higher pitch then what I bought at the record store.” “Not a chance,” he said, almost dead serious now. “must have been the mastering,” he added also “The English and European versions vary from the American ones, ours have much better bass then the American versions...” Although this didn’t explain his vocals and the extension of the chorus I wanted to ask him about, the rest of the band caught up and Gemma was trying to pull Gary into another Gift shop so, with a heavy heart our time was through, Gary and I parted ways till that night. Gemma came up to say goodbye and I returned my gratitude likewise and kissed her hand.

I returned to my spot outside the House of Blues to wait for Alex to show up. The rest of the afternoon was pretty quiet and cool, Gary and the rest of the mob came back around to the House of Blues, after seeing me sitting against a lamp post he turned and talked to a man for a moment and he, as well as the whole band, turned to look at me. I felt really odd so I put my shades back on quickly and tried to keep cool. The man approached me. “What’d they say?” he asked. “Oh, usual stuff.” I replied. “No, I mean the club.” “The club?” “yeah, isn’t this venue 18 and up?” I got alittle panicky and checked my ticket stub real fast. Sure enough it said ALL AGES. “Oh, well, just in case you have any trouble getting in, Gary told me to make sure you were in there tonight, any guard asks you anything just refer them to me and I’ll take care of it.”

Another swell of joy hit me. I kindly declined and told him I would get in okay and told him to thank Gary for the kind thought. “That’s what you can always expect from Gary.” Every inch of my smile couldn’t say ‘I know’ enough.

Alex showed up eventually, we spoke for awhile & smoked a clove, he watched all the boys wander up and down the street, got bored and walked to a gift store to look at Cheshire Cat toys. He didn’t stick around though but commented he would like to have gone to the show had he the cover fee of $21 on him. He had $8. The sun had fallen somewhere around 7:00 that evening when all the fans started showing up. Mostly large amounts of Goths & Rivetheads out with their girlfriends, boyfriends, love partners of the same gender, anything you can think of; the fat, balding type Numan fan was at an all time low at this show: PERFECT.

The age was very well mixed too; personally being at 17 I thought id be almost totally alone at this show, but there were a good few amounts of college types and high school seniors to meet & hang with during the quiet before the storm. When I got around to queuing up to the side of the building, there were a good amount of people waiting, I got around to talking to them for a few moments; my hang time with Gary and the distance I traveled for the show was the topic of interest among them. When the bouncers for the club came out to straighten the line out and get people ready to come in, those same fans grabbed me and stuck me at the front of the line; KUDOS!

The inside of the building shocked me the most when I stepped in; it was all dark, there was a square dance floor with a large prominent DJ/mixing console and before it hung a giant blue and purple patchwork quilt for a curtain. I was euphoric, I had stepped into the venue from my dream! I quickly grabbed my piece of the front of the stage & never let go, no restroom, no merchandise table, nothing, I was THERE, I was before the alter on which Numan was going to come out and bring a small piece of happiness to my world.

The first openers were a great sounding metal band called Grand Theft Audio, more in fact a bunch of Sex Pistol clones in Lip Service clothing, but I only quietly mused about them during the set, which turned out to be very good, well paced and tight as a drum. They rocked the crowd, though they were an odd choice of openers (a hint of tape-played samples helped though). I hold nothing against them because they were metal, I used to like metal a lot; the songs were pretty pop-y sounding (sorta familiar, too, though I know ive never heard of GTA before), the singer was very abusive, but I guess that’s what’s gotta be done to make the crowd react to a band they didn’t pay to see. They gave it their best, played a beastie boys song for a closer, which went along well because EVERYONE sung along to that. Pretty cool actually. These guys’ll be big, I can imagine.

The next openers were probably the ones most horribly hassled in the past reviews for sucking and having a dumb stage show; the very misunderstood fish out of water, The Gwenmars. With a sound not unlike the Cure & Echo and the Bunnymen, with an image that rolled straight out of Angus Young’s closet (see that tie??) they didn’t sound half bad. Their equipment was barely up to par though, I was right in front of Mike Thrasher (yes, that’s really his name), singer and guitar player; pretty talented but he had more distortion pedals on the floor in front of him then I have major organs from the cranium down, and there seemed to be no excuse when the other two thirds of the band took a break and let him play alone; DICKS!

Now tell me if this is bazaar or not: towards the end of the set mike sees me in my little concert cul-de-sac, watches me for a moment & during the last song tries to fit in a few arm gestures & added expression. Odd, huh? They were well received though, but very out of place as well at an industrial concert. First song, Venus, was the best one of the set. Download it.

Curtains draw and the building gets packed – the shows about to go on. I see movement behind the curtain and the monitors were moved out of the way, a red light radiates from underneath. The building gets hushed as more murmurs start flooding the air, from that point on theres barely any space to stand, theres chicks and huge tall guys squeezing in from all angles. Then the lights go out.

The crowd gets worked into a frenzy as the curtains open to reveal the stage, very sparse: The drum riser held a set up of peavey drums, a guitar to the left of the stage, a black bass to the right, two keyboards and right in the middle was the Les Paul sunburst; Gary’s Guitar. The opening strains of pure come into the air, a grouping of blue lights rotate above the stage, giving off the impression of a giant zeppelin preparing to land before us. the crowds emotions skyrocket as the band jogs on stage & take positions, Gary’s last on and the crowd screams.

He floats around a bit before putting on his guitar.. the final groans of the synth draw to an ebb and Steve, clad in a pair of black bondage pants with braces holding his legs loosely, does a little dance beside Gary before beating out the opening chords of pure, Gary and Dave, mounted to the keyboard with his PVC and awesome headgear, head banging along in a furious uproar steaming from the crowd.

The show went on this way for the next hour and a half: the second song, “Films” was a no brainer for Steve, only one chord. It was very well received, the whole place rocking out, head banging and such. “Rip” came up next, I went nuts during that one, too. Id once in the company of another of the newly enlightened listened to "RIP" and had an epileptic seizure with it playing at full volume. The bass jarred me from out of my skin.

“A Question of Faith” played out, not really my favorite from Sacrifice (Id rather have heard “Seed of a Lie”, or “Desire”)… And if THAT wasn’t enough, “Metal” came up next! Clearly one of the best of Gary’s remakes played before us in full glory, the fit of euphoria was too much to handle. At one point during the song, free of the restraints of his guitar, he came over to my piece of the stage and stood before me, RIGHT OVER ME, leaned back and spread his arms, doing the weathervane pose from Pure’s cover. I could reach up and barely touch him again, he was spreading his love back to us again. He did that three times that night, one point I actually got ahold of his boots.

Gary was having a great time tonight. His menacing glare soon wore off and he played even more of the great songs from Pure. Walking with shadows, Listen to my Voice (during this tune, Gary and I had a head banging match, he was watching me out of the corner of his eye… I’ll hand it to him that he won…THIS match!), Down in the Park was presented & loved by the crowd, as well. “Prayer to the Unborn” ushered in some other theatrics ive never seen from Gary. He fell on the floor!!! I’m also pretty sure this wasn’t intentional, but im sure Gary and the band was focusing his performance to my part of the stage the most. Steve dancing around the edge of the stage near my head, Gary, as I’ve said before weathervane’d in front of me several times and reached out to the fans around me. Dave the keyboard player even ran over to my end to hand this Goth girl a bottle of water.

After the show, we were treated to an encore, “Are Friends Electric?”, “We are Glass”, and “I can’t Breathe”. The show was absolutely excellent, I’ve never seen anything like it. a very minuscule man with a pertinent for aggro stood before me that night and rocked the shit out of us. The days of synth pop were dead. A new Numan stood before us, full of life and energy, power, emotion, heart.

You’d never see anything like this from any other performer. Ever. I had been connected to a truly gifted artist in a way that id never thought possible.

And if you think the show was insane, lots of fun was waiting for us in the parking lot! I had been introduced to Jack Nappier, President of the north American Gary Numan Fan Club. So we all grabbed our stuff, gathered more fans and took off in search of Gary’s Tour Bus. We walked around to the back of the building and camped out. Nothing happened, so we all got up and ran around to the front of the park and with me in the lead and scaled a fence and ran at the tour bus, even faking out a guard to let us in, who was as bewildered as ever when all of these black clad kids ascended down from out of nowhere. was this guy going to stop us? I think NOT!

But unfortunately someone else did, Disney security stopped us and told us that the tour bus couldn’t linger around any longer and had to leave. So, perhaps as a shock to all of us, we were denied Autographs and pictures…but that’s okay, He’ll be back.

He told me so…

Nicholas Christopher Leur (invitro@law.com)

San Francisco - West Hollywood - San Diego - Anaheim

Left the San Francisco gig just after Gary started due to verbal abuse from more that one of the attendees of said gig - this place was the pits and I would never want to return there.

However, I had a brilliant time from then on. The Hollywood gig was brilliant. The actual venue was really good and I met a lot for very cool die hard fans. This was for them something quite spectacular and they had been waiting a long time for Gary to return to them. As the show started the roof opened up to show the diners in the floor above which I thought was really cool. The first group Grand Theft Audio were a brilliant band - very funny and just perfect for a crowd warmer. The second band however, I thought personally were crap. They were called the Gwenmars (or something like that!) which to me were a bunch of bubble blowing five year olds (I think they probably needed a note from their mums to allow them to enter these over 21 places!) Gary was as fantastic as ever - he looked very fit and well and the whole place seemed to be really rocking.

San Diego
The venue wasn't quite as good as it was larger and seemed more impersonal really. GTA again brilliant - 5yr olds relying very heavily on visual aids (still crap!) - Gary superb as usual. Saw some of the crowd from Hollywood turn up again - they seem a really good bunch.

Anaheim
Bit of a mind blower this one as the venue was part of Disney Land (sureal). This concert in my opinion was the best. Gary and gang really seemed to be enjoying themselves bouncing all over the stage. Everyone had a great time - the crowd was heaving - the atmos was increadible. Gary announces that it looks like he will be going back to the States in September, but doesn't give out any other details. I again met fans from the other gigs and would like to say that they all seem to be a really fantastic and loyal bunch (all except those from SF and you couldn't pay me enough to go back there wheither to see Gary or not).

Footnote: What happened to the skinny T-shirts Gary - only elephant sizes left when I got there (but I bought one anyway!)

Nooooomaaaan (Roll on September I say)

P.S. sorry for the crap spelling etc but I have only just got back and am seriously jet lagged and travel weary.

Patricia des Angeles (azou7@hotmail.com)

SF-LA-SD-Anaheim

AWESOME is weak compared to the evening I had those short fours days!.

Complete brilliance!. Pure energy!. I have seen him over 50 time slive, and he still amazes me !.

I am very fortunate to see him so often and so close!. The utmost gentlemen and kind soul.

My only complaint?... too short!!!!!....I WANT MORE!

NuRuss See you all in the fall !!!!!

 
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