The Gary Numan "Savage" Tour 2017/2018
I've been to see Gary Numan live a number of times. I couldn't say how many times but I'd put the figure somewhere around the 70-80 mark? Once upon a time I could have told you, but with the introduction of e-tickets, people at the venue taking the tickets, moving house, etc, I don't think I have ticket stub anymore. I missed the early tours - too young to be allowed to go - so my live Numan journey started in 1983 on the Warriors Tour - I was 16 years old and it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen!
Move forward a number of years to 2017 and my 50th birthday. I'd been toying with the idea of a Gary Numan Meet & Greet for a while, but it was expensive and although I'd met Numan before wasn't really sure what I'd say. That issue was taken out of my hands when members of my family chipped in to buy the M & G for my birthday.
So, on the 6th of October, the day after my birthday, we set off to the O2 Academy, Oxford. I was allowed to take 5 items to sign (I took nothing due to the short notice) but I was allowed to take a DSLR camera to take photos of the 3 song Soundcheck. When would I ever get the opportunity to take photos of Gary Numan, this close, again?
Well...it was a lot sooner than I expected. Having met my hero (properly this time, not at a fan club event), received my signed poster, signed photo, had my VIP lanyard signed and asked a few questions that I thought were intelligent, but probably weren't. I have my photo taken with Gary get myself ready for the Soundcheck. These photos will be great; I'm using a proper camera (I think I took my Nikon D7000 and D700) and I've got several lenses - what can go wrong? they'll be better than using my Panasonic Lumix or my phone! The band appear on stage and I'm stood in-front of bass player Tim Muddiman. I know him enough to smile and nod, rather than stare at him awkwardly. I saw him play at the Craufurd Arms, Milton Keynes and went to his album launch, In Northampton, where I was somewhat impressed that he knew who I was.
The 3 songs go fairly quickly, I'm not listening to the music, just tracking my hero on the stage. Click, click, click...swapping lenses, changing settings like I know what I'm doing. I clearly don't. At the end of the Soundcheck Gary disappears back stage and I'm approached by Tim; "Are you shooting in the pit later?". Slightly bemused that he even thinks I'd be worthy of shooting in the pit, I shake my head. He asks; "Do you want to?". I don't remember the exact reply...I probably babbled a bit, but I didn't say 'no'!
So what do I do now? I've got a VIP pass that allows me in before everyone else, but a photo pass means I can stand in "no mans land"; an area less than 3 feet wide between 1000 fans and Gary Numan. I have a camera bag full of gear that I "think" I can use and I'm stood with other photographers who probably can. I'm very conscious that I don't belong and I'm very much out of my depth! The lights dim and on top of that feeling of excitement that I've had every other time the lights have dimmed in the past, I get a feeling of dread...fear, even. I stand there looking like I know what I'm doing, I swap lenses and I change settings again...Jesus...this could be my one and only chance. Aperture priority? shutter priority? Do I go Manual? I've got the Intro and 3 songs to try and work that out, at the same time as being under scrutiny of the few rows of fans who don't want me getting in their way, I've also got a lightshow that's switching between red lights, blue lights, all sorts of bloody lights...and towers at the back
It was over as quickly as it started and now it's time to leave the pit...to where? The place is heaving, it's the hottest venue under the sun and no one wants to me back into the crowd because, quite rightly, I've had my 14 minutes of glory. Luckily, I managed to find a gap about 8 rows back, on the side, where I could watch the rest of the show.
I learned very quickly that I didn't know as much as I thought! Some photos were good, some were OK and some were just black. I shot in RAW + JPEG (thankfully) so there was a chance to rescue some in Photoshop and Lightroom...the rest got deleted.