Gary Numan + KANGA. Newcastle Academy, 26.09.19.

Gary Numan + KANGA. Newcastle Academy, 26.09.19.

The Academy is filling up nicely by 7.30pm. It’s good to see a decent turnout for tonight’s support – Kanga – whose reputation as a performer is growing quickly. Los Angeles based Kanga is an artist, composer and musician whose credits include work on films such as The Conjuring 2 and Insidious 3. One computer with various sound effect gadgets surrounding it: all Kanga has to do is press the odd switch during/between songs and the place is filled with dark, heavy, industrial beats leaving the space and time for Kanga to move around the stage delivering vocals and sounds perfect for dimly lit, underground clubs where people prefer to remain anonymous, where people can be themselves without being judged. Hypnotic, danceable, mesmerising, deep and dark – the songs and the performance. Kanga prefers to remain obscured and this point is driven home by the wall of red or blue backlighting that allows us to view this artist mainly as a silhouette or shadowy figure with just the occasional flash of white light giving us a glimpse of the person delivering these powerfully irresistible tunes. It’s all over too quickly and it’s a shock when suddenly our eyes have to get used to some lights again.

Recent self-released six track EP ‘Eternal Daughter’ together with self-titled album ‘Kanga’ are available to stream across the usual platforms.

Having recently seen Pixies and been stood next to people complaining about songs (they only liked the old stuff apparently) it’s heartening to be stood in a crowd tonight where it rapidly becomes obvious that everyone knows pretty much everything Gary Numan has done. Numan fans are dedicated, some are obsessed so from the moment the lights come back on after Kanga’s opening slot there’s a constant barrage of chanting “Nuuu-maaaan”, “Nuuu-maaan”. There’s a real buzz in the air. The (R)EVOLUTION tour celebrates 40 years since the year Numan became a mega star. 40 years since Tubeway Army’s ‘Are Friends Electric’ and Numan’s ‘Cars’ were no.1 and a constant sound on our TV and radio. Tonight’s set covers the time between then and now. No one era dominates with songs drawn from from at least 13 career spanning albums. Opening with 2018’s superbly dark and powerful ‘My Name Is Ruin’ we’re then thrown right back 40 years to the powerful punk of ‘That’s Too Bad’. Songs from the electro-synth pop years and albums ‘The Pleasure Principle’ and ‘Replicas’ are delivered with a much harder edge. Powerful, noisy with guitars, drums and bass that pummel your innards. Thus ‘Cars’, ‘Films’, ‘Metal’, ‘Down In The Park’ still sound fresh and don’t simply take us on a trip down the lane called nostalgia. ‘Are Friends Electric’ is as epic now as it was back then and there’s something powerfully emotional hearing almost 2000 people sing back at Numan. Voices and arms raised high right to the back of the venue. People aren’t standing around chatting. This audience is living in the moment. Songs from the lean years when tunes were tinged with disco dance beats and only the dedication of fans kept the music alive are given new life. ‘Call Out The Dogs’, ‘My Breathing’ sound great.

Add into this personal favourites ‘We Are Glass’ and ‘My Shadow In Vain’, a superb light and stage backdrop, a performer who, at 61, is a captivating showman, still has the energy to writhe and pound around the stage and has lost none of that unmistakeable voice. This was a superb performance from Numan and his band. Even the 4 song encore spans his career. Opening with 1978’s ‘My Shadow In Vain’ this is immediately followed with ‘It Will End Here’ from 2018’s ‘The Fallen’ EP. Numan isn’t one for many words between songs but does introduce new song ‘Intruder’ almost apologetically explaining that it’s still at a demo stage and he hopes we like it. He has no worries on that front. These are fans in front of which he can do little wrong. Finally he picks up an acoustic guitar for the night’s closing song – ‘Jo The Waiter’ from Tubeway Army’s 1978 debut album is a complete departure from the noise of the last hour and a half and a great end to a great evening.

Words + Pictures by Steve White