I was still quite young when I bought my original copy of ‘Telekon’ by Gary Numan, but I never got the chance to see the man live as a kid for a number of reasons.

One reason was the fact that at that time most of the venues he appeared at in my native Nottingham such as Rock City had a strict over sixteens policy, sometimes relaxing it to an accompanied with adult status, but with both of my parents not understanding a synthesizer, never mind even remotely liking the music of the Numan-god, I led a sheltered live gig life in that respect.

Another, of course, was money. I had a couple of teen jobs that paid just enough to buy a copy of the latest choice vinyl albums but, as at that time I was buying records for England, I didn’t have anything left after my Saturday shopping sprees to the West End Arcade to spend on anything else.
The last reason was that after he made the impressive ‘Telekon’ album Numan retired from live music for some years. It was at that time that I lost touch with Numan until I finally caught up with him again a few years ago when I had the pleasure of seeing him at Rock City tour the latest in the line of a series of 'industrial'- flavoured albums.

As I squirmed my way through the stage door to get into position for taking photos in the pit at the O2 Forum, I looked around the lower section of this wonderful old building and it was packed with folk just like me. There were a few gaps here and there as we watched the support Outfit, but by the time they had finished their set the Forum was jammed full.

Numan was at the back end of a three-night stay at the Forum in which he played a different album each night. After revisiting his Tubeway Army days with ‘Replicas’ and the start of his solo career with ‘The Pleasure Principle’,it was turn for him to play what I consider to be one of the most influential albums of that time and ‘Telekon’. Back in the day, Numan had sold out stadium-sized venues with this album.

The stage was now ready in total darkness to bring on a superstar. There was a rush of dry ice and suddenly a figure appeared from out of the mist. He blasted straight into the track list of ‘Telekon’, beginning with ‘This Wreckage’ and followed it with ‘Remind Me to Smile’ and the title track. A short while later I was in total ecstasy as two of my favourite songs came together, ‘Please Push No More’ and ‘Remind Me to Smile’, both a lasting legacy of Numan’s past failings to be able to deal with the limelight and the stage. He looked more at home now. He was actually smiling!

Before the encore, a humble and almost-in-tears Numan stopped for a breath and thanked the audience for all their support over the turbulent years and admitted, “If you think it’s not been much fun being a Gary Numan fan over the years, well, it’s not been much fun being Gary Numan.” The hall filled with football chant style shouts of 'Nuuuuman' and cheering and whistling. Numan then said that this was possibly the best gig he had ever done, and that Numan fans would in ten years still be talking about this show.

Other tracks then came thick and fast, including ‘Cars’, ‘Films,’ Down in the Park’ and ‘Are Friends Electric?’.

I watched the rest of the show from the back as I tend to do. I was absolutely overwhelmed with not just the music. Numan sounded like he had never been away, but also so did the crowd. The onlookers were as transfixed as I was at somehow being able to celebrate what they were seeing at the same time as being totally dumbstruck. Towards the end, I looked around and the whole room was packed with people just like me, singing away to an album they heard over thirty years ago and we all felt like we were back there hearing it for the first time. This was a night I will take with me forever, and I will quietly smile in knowing pride that I was in the crowd when Gary Numan played at the Forum in Kentish Town. Astounding.

Photos by Dave Goodwin

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