Gary Numan is a true artist: conductor, musician and instrument; a triptych much like the three albums from the Machine section of Numan’s career (1979-80); tonight, Telekon, of which I am the lucky spectator. I don’t know quite what to expect from him, but as his silhouette approaches centre-stage, haloed by primary-coloured light, my hairs stand to attention, automaton-like.
There is a chemistry between the man and his flock of “Numanoids” with reciprocal love in word and action; everyone’s in black but no one is mourning. The audience are the congregation and Numan is a God. He has an eccentric gracefulness and strong but pared theatricality, presence, power and talent in the correct quantities. An auteur, he knows where everything should be and can be spotted mimicking the conductor he clearly is.
His voice is well-preserved, leading me to think he moisturises his vocal chords daily by drinking olive oil. He is able to hit his unique soprano, alto and tenor range as well as on record. And contrary to the static, robotic and brooding image implanted within my head, he spends the show looking chuffed which is surprising and delightful – you can tell he’s really enjoying himself and it fertilises the audiences’ own enjoyment.
The lighting is Numan’s spectacular backdrop, colleague and creation, often so in synch as to fit the beat of the given song, and its enrapturing. It fits so well and is nuanced to make him sometimes imposing and at others it’s just like the Aurora Borealis tumbled down and went on a bender to Kentish Town.
‘This Wreckage’ is just awesome live. Although of course heavy on the synth, there are other flavours, making the night feel like a very satisfyingly balanced meal: classical ‘Please Push No More’/’The Joy Circuit’ and funk, too (‘Remember I Was Vapour’). ‘Are Friends Electric?’ is anthemic and no one is silent. ‘Cars’ is a personal high point and I thank my lucky stars (and National Express, ironically, for getting me here).