Hollywood Walk of Fame – Were you there?

On this date in 1993, Duran Duran earned their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This was during the height of their popularity resurgence after the Wedding Album. Simon will often speak about how much Ordinary World means to the band as he’s introducing the song in concert. I am paraphrasing, but he has explained the song as being what “saved the band” during the 90s, saying that had it not been for that song, he is unsure of where the band might be today. Often, I will think about that when this anniversary comes up on my date calendar each year.

I found a couple of clips from their ceremony on YouTube…

I wasn’t there, although as it turns out I was working in downtown Los Angeles at the time (I was such a bad fan – I don’t even think I knew this happened until I saw it on the news!).  Were you there?  Judging from the crowd, it would appear many of our readers probably were on the Hollywood Walk of Fame that day!

-R

 

 

Palm Springs and Lost80s Live

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the weekend in Palm Springs. The Lost80s Live concert was at Agua Caliente Resort and Casino again, but this time, I decided to stay off property. My husband and I stayed at a tiny little boutique hotel close to downtown Palm Springs called La Maison. I’m giving them free advertising here because it is wonderful. It’s more of an inn and less of a hotel because it’s owned by a couple that treat their customers like actual guests in their home. There’s a pool, just twelve rooms, and it is QUIET (very unlike my home). In a word, it was heavenly, and I would suggest that anyone who is traveling to Palm Springs check it out.

On Saturday night, we had tickets to the Lost80s Live concert. Let me first acknowledge that any time I drive to Rancho Mirage, or better yet the Agua Caliente hotel, I immediately think about Duran Duran. So, when I drove past a billboard advertising the “Best Entertainment” in Palm Springs, it was no surprise to me that I recognized the people on stage in the background photo. (John, Simon & Dom) I didn’t grab a picture because I was driving and my co-pilot is not that quick. I’m glad I’m not the only one that recognizes what or who deserves the label of “best entertainment”.  After getting to the hotel, we went to will-call and grabbed our tickets. In full disclosure, I paid about $65 a seat, and as such, we were not in the front row. That said, we were still in orchestra, just off to the far left – or John’s side – of the stage.

(Will there ever be a time when I stop referring to the sides as “John’s” or “Dom’s”?  Probably not.)

Our seats were much better than I had even thought, even though we were back in row J and off to the extreme left as you look at the stage. The angle of the seats meant that our view was perfect. The people in front of us didn’t block, and there was AMPLE room for dancing without bothering the people behind us.  I have to say, out of the venues I’ve ever been to – this one has amazing seat layout. There just isn’t a bad seat in the place, even if you’re way up in third balcony.

The show started right on time with TransX taking the stage. The one thing I’ll say is that many of these “bands” really WERE bands back in the day, but nowadays, it’s only one person left playing with session musicians. The bands on the bill were primarily one-hit wonders, with a few bigger names thrown in. They weren’t really “KROQ” or alternative bands, a little more mainstream or top 40. TransX, The Flirts, Pretty Poison all played two songs each, and to be brutally honest – they were fine, just not that exciting to write about.

Now things were beginning to look up. Berlin took the stage next, and although I have seen Berlin about ten times over the years, Terri Nunn always puts on a good show. Tonight was no exception, although she forgot the words to (ha ha ha) “No More Words” about 2/3 of the way through. “I have been singing this song for THIRTY YEARS and I can’t remember the words!!” she said as she laughed. Her backup singer/guitarist kindly obliged, and guided her back on course. It wasn’t horrible, and a mistake easily forgiven.  Berlin was given the chance to do four songs: “No More Words”, “Take My Breath Away”, “Sex” and “Metro”.

The next band was one of the couple I was most excited to see, as  Cutting Crew took the stage.  I didn’t realize that I was going to need to serious research in order to blog about some of these groups – but in this case, I did.

I have never seen Cutting Crew live before, but I own Broadcast, and admittedly – I still know every word to every song on the album.  I have vague memories of playing the cassette over and over again in my (dating myself) Suzuki Samurai (yes, the vehicle that was known for tipping over back in the 80s. Mine never tipped, despite my best…and very stupid efforts…to drive it like a sports car. Someday I’m going to have to find pictures of it and post them here).  Apparently, Duran Duran was not the only band to grace the crappy, cheap stereo system I had for that poor vehicle!!  Once I knew for sure who it was on stage (I didn’t hear anyone announce them), I jumped up out of my seat. To the best of my knowledge at the time, the band onstage were all a part of Cutting Crew, but that was not the case.

Nick Van Eede, the lead singer, said that they’d come all the way from the UK for 15 minutes, but that he hadn’t yet worked out how many miles per minute that meant. They played one new song – “Till the Money Runs Out”, and a precious two songs off of Broadcast: “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “I Just Died in your Arms”.  It has been a long time since I was driven to tears at a show (I lie. It was in San Francisco by the band I’m normally writing about here!), but I was. Sometimes I forget how much these songs shaped me as a person, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. I hope Cutting Crew comes back to the US with more of what they’ve been writing – I’ll be there in a heartbeat. They could have easily played ALL of Broadcast and I would have happily stood there.

Naked Eyes took the stage next, and for me, the performance just lagged. I don’t know if it’s because it truly wasn’t as energetic or if it was because I wanted more from Cutting Crew…but that’s the way it goes.

Something strange happened next, as two of the guys who had performed with Cutting Crew came back on stage. I was very confused, because I didn’t know who they were – and I actually had hoped that maybe they’d sent Cutting Crew back out for more (keep dreaming, right?) Nope. This was Nick Feldman (the bassist) from Wang Chung, and Gareth Moulton, who is the guitarist (and a fine one at that) from Cutting Crew – moonlighting as the other half of Wang Chung. It’s getting to the point where I feel like a primer is needed before I go to these sorts of shows! They were truly the surprise of the night for me because they were awesome!  Whatever was lacking in certain artists and bands before, these guys made up for it in spades. They just had a spark that was contagious, and the entire audience was up on their feet. I loved their short set, as they treated us to “Dance Hall Days”, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, and “Let’s Go”.  Such fun.

The last band to take the stage was Tony Hadley, whom I reviewed yesterday.  The show was a lot of fun, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed I went. Going to see these bands reminds me of just how much a part of my heart belongs to music. Yeah, some of it is schmaltzy and uncool – definitely not as edgy as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses – but they are songs that I’ve attached to certain memories, and it was fun to revisit part of my past that didn’t necessarily include Duran Duran for a little while that night. Lost80s Live was a lot of fun, if you have the opportunity, I recommend the show!

-R

 

 

As If I Don’t Recall: Tony Hadley and other vocalists

My weekend adventures included a concert in Palm Springs on Saturday night. Held at the now-familiar Agua Caliente Resort and Casino, the Lost80s concert was a lot of fun and featured artists such as TransX, Pretty Poison, The Flirts, Cutting Crew, Naked Eyes, Wang Chung, Berlin and Tony Hadley (Formerly of Spandau Ballet).  It was a lot of fun, and I’m going to take a look at the entire show tomorrow.  Today though, I am going to focus on Tony Hadley, and if you are wondering why I would spend an entire Daily Duranie blog on someone other than Duran Duran, keep reading.

In full disclosure, I am a Spandau fan. Like thousands of others, when Spandau Ballet toured here in 2015, I rejoiced and my dream of seeing them finally came true. The shows were packed with energy and the kinds of moments between band members and audience that seemed to indicate they’d be back again, and soon. My hopes were dashed earlier this summer when Tony Hadley announced that he would not be returning to the band. There were more than enough insinuations and bad energy passed between band members to indicate the decision to announce such news did not come easily. Hurt feelings seemed to be shared all around, and many fans chose sides. For my part, I just wanted to see what Tony would be like without Spandau Ballet.

With that in mind, I went into Saturday night’s show without a lot of expectation. I didn’t know what it would be like, but like many – Tony’s voice is what I associate with Spandau Ballet. How different could the performance really be?  I see the same sorts of discussion take place with Duran Duran. So many people say that the band could continue on, replacing any member, with the exception of Simon. I’m not quite sure I’ve ever bought into that line of thinking myself, but I kept an open mind.

Tony Hadley was the headliner, and took the stage in much the same way he might when performing with Spandau. His backing band were excellent musicians, and Tony launched into “Only When You Leave”. The audience was about the same age range as a Spandau audience, and many didn’t stand right away. I was one of the few in my section standing (off to the far left in section 104, but my seats were still fantastic). The main difference I noticed right away was that the music was subdued rather than punchy, spirited and powerful the way it is with Spandau. The arrangement was such that Tony’s vocals took complete center stage. The music we are all familiar with was still there, but it wasn’t quite the same. Nowhere was this more obvious in his set than when the session guitarist – a hired “gun” in the same vein as Dom Brown for Duran Duran – played the sax solo in Gold. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite right. It all felt muted, and while Tony still has absolutely incredibly smooth vocals, the performance just fell a little, ever-so-slightly, flat.

He had a group of admirers off to the right side of the stage that were completely enthused, but to be honest, for being the headliner – most people stayed seated. The people in back of me were hardcore Spandau fans, and they commented on how flat his performance was. Yes, he is the voice, and he was singing the same songs and words, but the spark that made a Spandau performance unique just wasn’t there. Sometimes, it really is the sum of ALL the parts that is what makes something special.  I still stood for him, because I could see he was struggling to make a connection with the audience, and because I still enjoy him, Spandau Ballet or not.

I loved seeing Tony sing. He is a powerful singer with the same sort of charisma as Sinatra or any of the greats. I wouldn’t dare take that away from him. That said, somehow, he’s even a little more sparkling and powerful when he’s up on stage with the band who wrote the songs he is singing. There’s something special there that happens, and no matter the excellence of the musicians in his band (and nobody is denying their talent or expertise), they can’t recreate Spandau Ballet. But, maybe that really the point.

For whatever the reason, Tony Hadley wants to go out on his own. He didn’t want to continue being 1/5 of a band, he wanted to be solo with a backing band. It would be unreasonable to go to a show and expect the music to be exactly the same. It may sound similar, in the same way that Duran Duran’s music might sound familiar without Simon singing. Not the same. Not even close. Our expectations as listeners, and as fans, must change. His show was still fantastic, Tony Hadley is still incredibly talented, and he has the right to go it alone. I need to change my expectations.

I am 100% sure that the debate and discussion over what element(s) of Duran Duran are irreplaceable will continue. People love to point out that the guitarist and even the bassist (and drummer, I might add) have been replaced more than once, while Simon and Nick (oops…never mind…) have never been, thus that somehow equates to his voice been the irreplaceable element that makes Duran Duran.

Well, in my opinion, none of them are replaceable. It isn’t just about the music. You can put a piece of sheet music in front of any professional musician and they can play it. But can they put heart and soul into it? That’s a very different problem. The emotion does not always come easily, and it isn’t always natural. What about the onstage chemistry and camaraderie? Does any of that matter?  If you’ve seen Duran Duran live, you know that it does. The relationships on stage are easily as important as the music itself, and while I’ve seen several different lineups over the years, some just seem far more family-like and important than others. We all have our favorites, and while mine may not match yours, they all matter. It is difficult to recreate that atmosphere and love with just anyone. And that’s why I couldn’t ever choose what person, what element, is most important.  They all are.

-R

 

Sets You on a Path

Do you think you are always aware of turning points in your life?  I think there are some days that are significant enough that you know that they are a big deal.  Then, there are days that you look back and recognize them as essential to determining your path, after the fact. For me, I look back at the 2004 Friends of Mine Convention in New Orleans as being one of those days.  It was just supposed to be a fun event to attend.  Turns out that it changed my life.  After all, I met Rhonda that day.  Beyond getting a best friend from it, it changed my fandom.  I probably would have a gone to a few shows during the Astronaut tour and that would have been it.  Maybe, my fandom would have continued through 2006 or even 2007.  I’m willing to bet that it would have faded without her.  (For the record, I’m sure she would say the same.)  I doubt either one of us would have gone to as many shows as we have and certainly there are lots of places we would have never visited with going on tour there.

What has made me think of this?  Today, my sister, brother-in-law and nieces are in town.  The occasion is one of those life-changing days for the eldest niece.  Tomorrow, we move her into her dorm at Beloit College.  She will no longer be under her parents’ roof everyday.  College will bring independence and growth.  Her learning will include academic, social and life-skills.  I’m super excited for her as I believe that she chose a school that is right for her.  Yes, I’m also thrilled that she will be close to me and her grandparents.  I believe that she is demonstrating a lot of bravery to go to school super far away as her parents live in North Carolina.  Will going to college change her life?  Of course.  It should.

When I think about this niece, I recognize another one of those life-altering days in my own existence.  My niece was born at night and I received the phone call about her arrival way past my bedtime.  After crying in joy with my family, I made a decision not to work the next day and I planned to be sick in order to sleep.  Instead at 6 am the next day, my phone rang.  The principal of a school I often worked at called to offer me a permanent job, rather than the temporary teaching gig I had been doing.  I enthusiastically accepted.  At the time, I believed that this was a step on the path that I had planned for.  Instead, it led to a fork in the road, which included graduate school and teaching students with special education needs for 14 years.

Therefore, in thinking about my niece, I cannot help but to think about my teaching career.  This, of course, just makes me feel old and tired especially as I gear up to another school year.  It is funny.  I’m really back to the original plan in that I now teach United States History and Women’s Studies.  This year, in fact, I will be teaching an honors US History.  Will this year be another major life turn or will not represent anything that significant?  I don’t know.

It is sort of funny, though.  It seems to me that what my niece is feeling today is a little how I feel about my school year and even about the band.  Does my niece have an idea of what college is going to be like?  Of course.  She even visited this school before, including staying in a dorm already and attending some classes.  She also knows a lot about what the college experience was like for her parents and her aunts and uncle.  But there is a lot that is unknown.  Likewise, I have faced a lot of school years.  I know what it should be like but…there are always changes which make me nervous.  For example, I have new staff I’ll be working with and I’m not sure how this new class is going to go.

Similarly, I feel the same way with Duran.  The end of the Paper Gods era is quickly approaching.  I have been through this before and have a general idea of how it is going to go.  Typically, I would expect about three years before seeing an album.  Yet, like my school year, there is a huge unknown in that 40th anniversary.  What will happen as a result of that?  I don’t know.  Maybe they don’t know.  Will there be “new” music in some form either from brand new tunes, tweaked old demos, rarities, or some combination.  Could people hope for tour dates?  I don’t know.  I will point out one thing when it comes to tour dates.  My spring break aligns with Rhonda’s, shockingly enough.  Right now, she is planning on coming up to my neck of the woods to visit then.  Therefore, if the band wanted to do something exciting in the Midwest during the last week of March, we would not complain.  Hint.

In thinking about the future, I think it is important for my niece and for myself to remember to take things as they come.  One day at a time.  Maybe, one of those days will again be a life-altering one.  Time will tell.

-A

Rise Above the Sorrow

Five years ago today, Duran Duran played in Biloxi, Mississippi as part of the final leg of the All You Need Is Now tour.  This show was pretty monumental for Rhonda and myself as it was the first time we ever had front row.  We had traveled to the city the night before so that we could hang out with Duranies and have a chance to line up early on the day of the show.  We arrived around 7 and were, indeed, able to secure a spot in front.  Anyone who read the blogs from then saw that our first front row did not go as planned.  No, we kinda stood there, shell-shocked, unable to really respond.  I remember attempting to process the show afterwards over drinks.  I had a lot of reasons that night for why I was so lame during the show but I suspect that I left out the real reason.

The summer of 2012 was a tough one for me.  I had spent months busting my ass to try and get my state’s governor to lose a special, recall election.  I’m sure that some of you stopped reading at that line.  After all, that is only politics and this blog about being a Duran fan.  Humor me, though, and keep reading.  Yes, it was about politics, but it was personal to me.  I won’t go into all the reasons for this but I think that anyone who has ever failed at something that really meant something to them understands my distress that summer.  On top of that, I already had experienced much stress related to this governor and feared the future.  Yet, I had hope that Duran and our little tour around the Southeast would help with my mood.  In fact, I was so determined in this that I pushed for having pre-show meet ups before each concert.  I wanted to dive into some other task.  Then, I could forget my fear and failure.

Did my plan work?  I have already mentioned that the Biloxi show was a failure, in terms of how we responded at the show.  We did better for the rest of our shows, but I never really felt it.  My distraction didn’t work.  I couldn’t shake it.  I remember after our final show in Virginia about how ready I was to go visit my sister and to have the tour be done.  That is not normal.  Rhonda itched to add a show and I didn’t even consider it.  Again, that is not normal.

Now, in 2017, I feel like I’m in a similar headspace due to the political climate.  Again, I was involved in a campaign that lost.  Like five years ago, I fear.  I feel like I get to a spot where I can shake it and then it comes roaring back.  I recognize that this makes me weird.  I get that.  I know that most people don’t feel politics that deeply.  I do.  Maybe it is that history teacher in me that recognizes the drama of current events.  Maybe it is because I have been active in politics.  Perhaps, I worry about my students and their futures.  Whatever the cause, it is a thing with me.

In 2012, I tried to get over the lost by going on tour and failed in my quest.  Looking back, I know that Durham was a great show on paper and that my partner-in-crime loved it but when I think of it I feel an emptiness that I couldn’t get beyond.  This time, in 2017, I have also gone to shows.  I’m sure that part of the reason was exactly as it was in 2012.  I wanted to get over what was bothering me.  I wanted to forget about it.  I needed to experience some joy.  Interestingly enough, the shows I have attended have all been fabulous this year.  I loved each and every one of them.  What was the difference?  I’m not sure.  I guess that is part of the reason that I’m blogging about it today, to try and figure it out.

Were the shows better?  Maybe.  Was I responding differently?  I’m sure.  If I had to determine the difference, I think this time I dove into the shows in a way that I couldn’t let my mind wander.  I also feel like there is more interaction between the band and the crowd.  Maybe that has helped me keep in the game more.  Fandom has been a sanctuary this time for whatever reason.  Perhaps, I just need my fandom differently now.  No matter the reason, I’m thankful that the shows in 2017 that I attended gave me as much joy as they have.  Certainly, Duran Duran has been the sun through a very cloudy world.

-A

An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!