- Graphic styled by Kristin Harris
One of the biggest events in my life took place on Sunday, October 17, 2010. I wanted to write about it immediately after, but decided to wait a few days for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to let the warm, joyous feelings from that day wash over me, and be replayed over and over in my mind, savoring every moment, nuance, note, gesture, sight, touch, taste, sound… And second, I wanted to try to separate the rabid fan in me from the music critic, in hopes of writing a purely objective review. It’ll be close.
My husband and I arrived in Orlando around 2:30 pm following a long drive. Gary Numan was playing the Club Firestone that evening, but we had been informed to queue up for the meet and greet no later than 4:15. After figuring out the parking situation, and having a picnic in the vehicle, we walked to the back of the venue and asked the people setting up the show if we were in the right place. Everyone we spoke to related to the venue and the show could not have been more helpful throughout the entire event. Hubby has a rare medical condition, and necessities for his comfort were cheerfully attended to.
The Sound Check
Around 4 pm, one of Gary’s staff came around to check ID for the meet and greet, and to provide us with further instructions. A short time later, all of the VIP ticket holders were ushered into the building and directed to sit on the two stairs that separated the levels of the half-moon shaped venue. Up on the stage, amidst equipment that was being set up and tested, was Gary Numan and his band: Ade Fenton (keyboards), David Brooks (keyboards), Richard Beasley (drums), Steve Harris (guitar) and Tim Muddiman (bass).
For the next two and a half hours, we were treated to the awe-inspiring spectacle of a master form his craft in front of our eyes. In a word, it was mesmerizing. We even heard snippets of songs that were about to be played in their entirety in the near future. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Gary and Co. were absorbed by what they were doing, but at one point when I led a cheer following a partial song, Gary looked up and flashed us one of his polar icecap-melting grins. It was as if to say, “You finally woke up!”
The Meet and Greet
We were called up by name to talk to Gary Numan and have a picture (or two) taken. The man is incredibly gracious, friendly, and has the priceless ability to make whomever he is talking to feel like they’ve known him forever. I really worried that I would be so gobsmacked that I would be speechless. But, I felt so at ease, we actually had a brief conversation about immigration, Florida, and what his music has meant to me. Looking back at the photos my husband dutifully shot during our exchange, Gary looked so animated and connected, giving the impression of a meeting between old friends.
Gary Numan doesn’t just use synthesizers as an accompaniment – the synthesizers are used to orchestrate the very core of the music. It takes a huge amount of skill to use synthesizers as the foundation of song after song without sounding cheesy. Numan is an absolute master in drawing out the very heart and soul of a song by giving a heartbeat and breath to electronics. He also ensures that his light show is up to par with the music. It was breathtaking to behold, especially considering he packs the whole kit ‘n kaboodle along with him as he travels.
Numan was true to the sound of the original Pleasure Principal selections. The reason behind his reach for absolute perfection during the sound check was apparent throughout the performance. During the past week, I have listened to live recordings of The Pleasure Principal tracks performed in the early 80’s. Aside from Numan’s voice being slightly throatier, Sunday night’s music was nearly identical, giving it an authentic, rich feel.
The love and energy flowing between the crowd and Gary Numan was actually palpable. As the show wore on, Gary became more animated and energized. It was like watching batteries recharge. Numan interacted with the audience, becoming one with his fans, drawing them up into his magical sphere.
As he skillfully moved through the set, the instruments changed along with the music. Midway through the set, Numan’s keyboard was removed and replaced by his guitar. The wired mic was replaced with wireless when Numan sang sans instrument. He was poetry in motion, bringing us up to date in time with his later genre of Gothic/Industrial, mining for the deepest emotions, pouring his heart out and laying it bare for the audience to envelope.
When Numan and co. exited the stage following an exhausting, satisfying set, the crowd refused to let up their applause and adulation. Gary and the band returned for another three songs, including “Are ‘Friends’ Electric.” The show defies adequate description. Those that paid the ridiculously reasonable general admission rate of $25.00, certainly got so much more than their money’s worth. Those of us that paid the VIP rate also received well over our tickets’ face value.
I had high expectations for this, in my case, once in a lifetime event. I could not have been happier with the results. The music critic in me was satisfied with a professional and energetically performed show. The rabid fan in me is eternally grateful for my best concert experience ever, hosted by a most gracious and unassuming artist. Thank you Gary Numan for October 17, 2010. It is a day I’ll happily relive in detail for the rest of my days.
Purchase Gary Numan music and merchandise here.
Visit Gary Numan’s official website.
“Films” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:
“Haunted” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:
“Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” via YouTube user GaryNumanOfficial:
“Replicas” montage via YouTube user knightvision1228:
“Pure” via YouTube user deadliner:
The Pleasure Principle Live Tour play list:
Down In The Park
Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
We Are So Fragile
A Prayer For The Unborn