Gary Numan: O2 Academy Leicester 14th March 2018/Darren Gunn
So, the Savage Tour continues and this would be my first trip to the O2 in Leicester.
It's also the first time I meet Darren Gunn. After driving past the Academy and parking half a mile away (and paying a very reasonable Pay & Display fee), I walk casually towards the O2; at least I think I'm walking in the right direction until I spy Tim Muddiman, Richard Beasley, Steve Harris and David Brookes walking towards me. I nod...because the only one of the 4 I know to talk to is Tim, who has very kindly added me to the photo pass list (again!).
Am I walking in the right direction? Gary Numan's band members are walking in the opposite direction, but I'm really not going to ask them where the venue is...that would be too embarrassing! So I continue in the direction I was originally heading...praying that I'm not going to have to turn around.
It turns out that the band, having finished the sound check, have gone for something to eat and I spot the Academy and a queue of people. Having joined the queue and doing what I normally do (keep myself to myself) am stood behind one Darren Gunn. I don't usually jump into someone else's conversation but for some reason I decide to start talking to the people in front of me. It turns out that Darren has also bumped into the Numan band and is showing everyone a photo he had taken with them. I'm also aware that another Numan fan in the queue is Steve Fraser - I recognise him from his conversation about his Barcelona season ticket - I really should stop earwigging other people's conversations!
The queue starts to move and I enter the venue - picking up my ticket and my photo pass.
Nightmare Air are the support and I'm told that I can shoot their whole show...and 3 songs for Numan.
I take my photos and join the crowd for the rest of the show - fingers crossed I've got something decent. I'm doing this for me and my ego, not for a magazine...but I still want something that I can edit and post on social media.
A day or so later I spot the photo of Darren and the band on Facebook - that's it - I have your name and will send you a friend request. We become friends and exchange a few messages and meet again at the Roadmender in Northampton a couple of weeks later.
I've been to a lot of Gary Numan shows - I reckon I'm nearing the 100 mark...and I don't normally make any effort to "make friends". For some reason, I felt a connection to Darren and we spoke numerous times over the next couple of years. In 2021 the Intruder album is released and tour dates for the Intruder Tour are announced; Wembley Arena is one of them - for me, this is the BIG one...Numan last played there as a headliner in 1981 for the farewell shows; after that he supported OMD (which I saw) but to see Numan 40 years later is something special. I spoke to Darren in August 2021, asking which shows he was going to. he said he'd got some stuff going on at home and hadn't gotten round to booking any tickets, but would look at booking some.
Fast forward to the 18th December 2021. I'm scrolling through Facebook and I spot a post by Tim Muddiman which has a photo of my "mate" Darren. I start reading the post...
Straight away I realise something is wrong and I'm reading something I can't quite believe. Darren has passed away - how can that be? I spoke to him a few months ago and we're talking about meeting up for the Numan tour!
Covid takes another life - the first person I know that has died from it and 3 weeks later I'm still struggling to get my head around it. The Intruder Tour will be great...but great with a hint of sadness.
Darren, you'll be there in spirit my friend.