It’s Katy Kafe time!!

I think my lucky stars must all be in alignment today…or this week/month, etc.  I probably shouldn’t waste the time to dwell on it too much, but I can’t help but feel like the winds of change have actually turned in MY direction for a brief moment.   It was just announced this morning that  Duran Duran will have special guests Kelis and Mark Ronson with them in LA for the show at The Mayan – and I read from Simon (at least I believe it was Simon – if it was John I sincerely apologize) on twitter that the show that night will be about 2 hours in length.  That is fantastic news for all of the fans!   I am so thrilled to be able to see Mark with the band, and of course knowing that Kelis is going to be there is extra exciting! (have to believe we’ll be seeing Leopard unveiled for the first time that night…)  It’s going to be a long wait until Wednesday evening!

If that all weren’t enough – which I believe it is – there was a Katy Kafe with John Taylor put up on DDM last night.  I just gave it a good listen, and I’m pretty tickled to be able to comment on one of it’s topics in the blog today.  Specifically I would like to focus on John’s thoughts regarding Twitter; primarily because he speaks directly about the connection that fans are making, both with the band (he and Simon) – and one another.

The one sentence that I found to be the most profound in everything that John mentioned on Katy Kafe was that Twitter is really giving the fans the opportunity to be more connected.  That connection gives the fans a sense of unity and power – he couldn’t have been more “right on” had he tried.  I believe that it’s the very reason that fan communities exist and thrive.  Fans strive for that connection.  They want to know they aren’t the only people on the planet that feel that certain way about whatever it is they are fans of.  The need for connection isn’t limited to only music fans – it’s everywhere.  It amplifies the enjoyment someone might receive from going and participating in shows, games, etc.  For example, I’ve always said that while shows were always fun before I really knew people in the community – the very best concerts I’ve been to (specifically in the case of Duran Duran) have been the ones that I’ve attended with friends.  I can’t imagine traveling to the UK alone to see the band, in fact, I don’t think the idea ever even entered my head until I really got involved in the community!   The interesting thing that I think John is missing, through no real fault of his own, is that this FAN connection existed before Twitter, and even before Facebook.  Message boards created that sense of community – and before that there were fanzines and even earlier – fan clubs, to a very limited extent, lit the fire in the bellies of the communities that exist today.  There is however, one real difference between the fan clubs and message boards and Twitter – and that is band involvement.  Sure, the band was somewhat involved with their fan club – they might have signed a welcome letter that was sent to new members.  They might have done an interview or two for a fanzine, or taken special photos that went out to the fan clubs, but all of that was purely static involvement.  Twitter and Facebook are entirely different animals.  They require time, although as John openly states – they shouldn’t be slaves to it.  (I hope they don’t feel as though they are, because that would completely change, if not ruin, the effect it’s having)  They require energy, and to some degree – I really believe they require some caring on the part of the band.  That emotion does make a difference.  Fans can tell when the band isn’t into it, and there’s no bigger turn off than seeing a band member look like he’s just “phoning it in” for the sake of being able to say he was there and did his duty.  When it gets to that point, they ought to just do themselves a favor and take a vacation.   I think the fans have been connected for quite a while now, but having the band take an active interest – seeing that they at least SEEM to want to connect with their fans in return, has made all of the difference.

I know that for me, and I’m just an average fan like anyone else, having the band involved has kind of taken the whole idea of being involved in the community up a notch.  Let’s be honest and fangirl-like for a second here: who amongst us ever thought in our once 12 year old heads that we’d EVER have a chance to really chat with John Taylor?  Who thought that Roger would comment about us BY NAME on his facebook wall or have Simon directly mention us in a tweet reply?   Granted, I’ve never had any of that happen yet – but that’s not really the point.  I’ve seen it happen with other fans.  I see that John takes an interest in what we think.  Simon seems to like getting some of the corniest jokes I’ve ever read from us…and Roger, well, Roger is just as sweet on Facebook as I’d hoped.  (Yeah, he’s still a favorite.  Old habits die hard.  Sue me.)  I don’t even think they have the time to read many of our replies, but the hope probably exists in all of us that at some point, they just might read what we have to say, and will comment back.  Three years ago, the best I could have hoped for was a chance meeting.  Now there are three of the four members actively seeking our involvement.  I don’t know what to say about Nick there, except that I hope at some point he feels comfortable enough to try it out.  Regardless, I have to think back to the days during Astronaut, or even Red Carpet Massacre, where it was clear that there was some discord in the masses (fans).  I think it was then that I started losing my way in the community.  I had friends, I was connected with the people I chose to be connected with, and after that, there just didn’t seem to be much left.  My friends were going to be my friends whether I loved the band and what they were doing or not.  I didn’t feel very attached to the band, and I certainly didn’t love the album enough to feel connected to that either.  The band, to me, felt very unattached to the fans.  It didn’t seem as though they really knew or cared as to what kept us together as a unified group.  It’s not just about the band and whether or not they keep going – it’s about the fans as well.  Personally, I felt so disconnected to the band, I really started questioning whether or not I still belonged in the fan community.  Perhaps I’d really outgrown my place.  I searched for that feeling, that connection – hoping that I’d feel something, ANYTHING.  As my group of friends started to dwindle – people went off in different directions as their lives moved on, I kept up hope.  It very much felt like the fan community was fading, and to be honest – I worried that time was up for the band.  Then the announcements and snippets from the new album started coming out, and then John and Simon got involved on Twitter, and at some point prior – Roger used his Facebook page more effectively.  I can’t say that the change was instant, but it’s obvious that for many fans, including myself, this has made all of the difference.

It’s not just about the music.  After 30 years of involvement with the band, they are a part of our everyday lives in many ways.  We fans feel like we know them (of course in reality we only know who they want us know!), and now it feels as though they are getting to know us in return.  The once “one-way” relationship is now “two-way”.  That, my friends, is the real difference.  What was once purely a connection between fans of a band is now a circle of relationships that includes the band.

It’s refreshing to hear that John has picked up on the importance of the one monumental benefit that Twitter provides, especially for celebrities and bands.  I know that when Twitter first started getting real press, I was very cautious about it’s purpose.  I just didn’t think it was necessary for a fan to know absolutely everything about the celebrity they were choosing to follow – nor did I feel it was that important for me to tweet about going to pick my kids up from school and so forth.  Who cares??  The trick is that it takes only but a tweet or two about things that DO matter in order to spur interest or to create a connection.  Sure, John could have chosen to tweet AT us, never bothering to reply or answer, but he really doesn’t do that.  He tries to bring us along for the ride, so to speak.  Simon, on the other hand – will sit up for hours, braving the Oscars just to tweet with fans.  Granted, he may have told us all to shut up, and he might have even fallen asleep at the computer or even tweeted that poor Kirk Douglas looked like he was talking out of his ears  (gotta love Simon’s tweets…), but he was at least trying.  Let’s face it – we fans are tough to handle at times.

I know plenty of people in the community that won’t agree with that statement.  They’ll say that the fans don’t matter, that we’re a dime a dozen, and that the band would keep going whether we’re here or not.  I call foul.  The fans DO matter, and while I’m not saying we call the shots (Not in the least, nor should we.) – my assertion is that without the fans, the band would have no real purpose, and without the band, well, there really wouldn’t be a fan base.  It’s a two way street, and in reality it’s really much more than that.  We need each other to thrive as a community.

-R

ITV’s One Night Special

I just got done watching the ITV One Night Special via my computer.  Before I comment about the show, I want to acknowledge how wonderful technology is.  When I was a kid, I would have killed to have a chance to watch specials airing in other parts of the world like this!  The format of the show was pretty typical with both live clips and interviews surrounding telling the history of the band.  There is nothing wrong with the format, but I have to admit that I want more.  I always want more.  Perhaps, I want something different because there are and have been so many shows like this one.  Maybe, it is a sign that I have been a fan for WAY too long.  LOL.  Nonetheless, I did enjoy the show immensely and really got me excited to see them live again!

There were many, many positives about this particular show.  First, I thought the band looked fabulous!!!  They looked great, both in the live clips and in the interviews.  They seem both happy and healthy as well as rested.  All good.  I noticed that the clothes they have been wearing aren’t like what they were doing for the last tour/album.  For RCM, they wore a kind of uniform in which everyone looked basically the same.  This time around they seem to be themselves more.  Everyone seemed to be wearing what they wanted to.  Yes, the clothes seem to be all dark and of a similar style but not so singular.  I appreciate this because it feels like they aren’t trying TOO much while still caring.  Another positive was their live performance for many of the tracks.  I thought they exhibited a lot of energy, especially for A View to a Kill and Notorious.  They performed the new tracks with some excitement, too, in my opinion.  Of course, there were some songs that they seemed to lack this energy or I lacked energy in hearing them.  Who knows?!  Nonetheless, I thought they sounded good, for the most part.  I enjoyed seeing some of the usual live moments like clapping at the end of Rio, Simon’s kick in the Reflex and punches during Notorious.  The strings were unexpected and a nice touch.  One thing that I thought was cool was having all of their different logos in the background during the song introductions.  It shows both their history and their focus on details.

Of course, I didn’t think that everything was perfect.  (Do I ever?!)  I loved the interviews and always do.  I consistently feel like I get something out of hearing and reading interviews from them.  It may just be a little glimpse of who they are and what they think but that’s enough for me.  These interviews seem to stay on the surface and suffered from what a lot of Duran specials seem to suffer from these days.  They try to hit a few big topics but don’t have the time to dive into any of the topics.  Yes, I realize that it must be incredibly difficult to decide what to cover and how to.  I just wish that it wasn’t always about how they band formed, how videos led to their success, and the price they paid from partying.  There was a little bit said about them currently.  I just wish that they would decide if it is a biography or a current events piece.  Then, I’m always left wondering why it is always a female interviewing them?  Why?  Does anyone have any idea?  Is this how the shows will get male viewers?  Is this because Duran has had more females than males fans?  Do they seem non-threatening?  What?  Then, of course, I had some criticism of the live footage.  Why can’t they acknowledge Dom, Anna and Saxy Simon?  Is that too hard to do?  Why they aren’t acknowledged, that always feels a little disrespectful to me.  Then, what the heck is with focusing on Dom during the one moment of JoSi during Sunrise?  Is it done to personally torture me?  I love Dom and want him to get the footage he deserves but not during JoSi!!!  Lastly, what is the deal with all of the fan shots?  Personally, I want to see as much as the band as possible.  Is that so wrong?! 

Yet, despite all of my criticism, I’m still left with a little smile on my face.  Why?  The last segment really touched me when they were talking about why they continue to do this.  I noticed that John referred to the band as “home” and Roger said something about being “accepted.”  Strangely or interestingly enough, I think the fans feel the same way.  We, too, feel at home with Duran and with other Duranies, if lucky.  We feel an acceptance when we join and participate in fandom, too.

-A 

Setlist Reactions…So Far

Next week, my writing partner will be seeing Duran perform live.  I should also be receiving my tickets for the Chicago show.  We have also heard that other people have begun to receive their tickets for the UK shows.  With all of these signs indicating that shows will be coming up quickly, I decided to take a really good look at their setlists so far.  Now, before I analyze what they have been like, I want to acknowledge how difficult this task must be for them.  I realize that they have a ton of material to choose from and I know that they have to balance pleasing us diehards who want to hear really obscure material with those people who only know the hits. 

It seems like Duran usually develops a pattern in their setlists with every tour.  While I know that there might be some changes here and there, some songs in a particular order seem to get locked into place.  This is the first thing I look for when examining the most recent setlists, which included the Superbowl Fan Jam, Milan, special London show, Austin and Oklahoma.  While I’m struggling to find much a pattern (perhaps due to the differences between playing at a festival vs. a solo show), I do see some.  First, all of the shows, except for last night’s in Thackerville, opened up with A View to a Kill or the Bond Medley.  Last night, they opened with All You Need Is Now.  I’m fascinated with this idea of a AVTAK first.  It seems to me that when they are introducing a new album, it is common for them to have the first single or the first track of the album be the opener.  For example, during the Astronaut tour, they opened with Sunrise.  During RCM, they opened with the Valley.  I wonder why they have avoided doing this until last night.  In my personal opinion, I think AYNIN would be a great opener.  The beginning part of the song is definitely jarring (in a good way, I think) and would grab people’s attention and increase energy and excitement.  Thus, I hope this change is how it stays.  That said, I also admit that I’m done with AVTAK.  Over it.  Sick of it.  Second, the second song in all of these shows has been Being Followed.  Clearly, this is one of the new tracks that they are feeling comfortable playing.  They have also played Girl Panic at every show but later in the show.  In fact, that song is being played before either Sunrise or Careless Memories, depending on if Careless Memories is in the setlist at all.  I think that is a solid set of songs.  I approve.  Third, the only other new songs that they have played are Runway Runaway for 3 shows, Safe for the last 3 shows, Leave a Light On for 2 shows, and Mediterranea for 2 shows.  Is anyone else surprised that they aren’t doing The Man Who Stole a Leopard?  Clearly, it is a fan favorite and I thought they would put it back-to-back with the Chauffeur.  I think they are missing something by leaving it out.  I don’t understand it, especially since I know that I saw a tweet from John saying that they were rehearsing it.  Also, what about Blame the Machines?  I would gladly take those two over LALO and Safe.  Am I the only one?  Fourth, the last song has been Girls on Film for these shows.  I’m okay with that but it might seem weird to have Rio before it.  Interestingly enough, they haven’t always played Rio-only 3 out of 5 shows, in fact.  The ending also seems to consistently have Sunrise in it.  I love that one live so that works for me.  Some shows have had Careless Memories and Wild Boys towards the end as well.  I’m a fan of that, too.  Lastly, the other thing I noticed is that they seem to be swapping more of the older songs, which is a great plan.  I would love to NOT know what I might be hearing next.  For example, they busted out with Ordinary World a couple of times, The Reflex a couple of times, Is There Something I Should Know once, Friends of Mine a few times, and The Chauffeur once.

My overall reaction to these setlists is probably like all of yours.  There are some things I like.  Some things I don’t like.  I’m surprised by some things and not by others.  I like that they are playing some of the new tracks but I would like to pick some different songs as mentioned above.  I like that they are mixing up some of the older songs but definitely would pick different ones there.  I could do away with Hungry Like the Wolf and Come Undone and I’m missing Planet Earth (my favorite) already. Am I the only one who would love a little Hold Back the Rain?  I find it interesting that the only song from the last two albums that they are playing is Sunrise.  There has been nothing from Red Carpet Massacre.  Perhaps, that is not surprising.  Although, I really do love Red Carpet Massacre, the song.  I also noticed that they aren’t playing Save a Prayer at all, either.  I’m okay with that.  What will be interesting from here is to see if the setlists change as they get further into the tour or when they go from the US to Mexico or from the US to the UK.  Now, I could always offer them my ideal setlist if they begin to struggle with this task!

-A

Past and Future

Some days in Duranland, I’m completely focused on what is currently happening with the band and there is a ton happening, including new leaked material, new shows, new interviews, etc.  I suspect that I will add some commentary about some of those things before this weekend finishes.  Today, however, I’m going to celebrate both my news of the week and an important show that took place six years ago on this very date!

As many of you have heard through both this blog and via social networking, I, finally, received approval from work to go on my trip to see the band in the UK in May.  I won’t get into the details here, but it was a long and painful month as I kept calling and checking and begging to be allowed to go.  This trip is more than just a tour for Rhonda and I as we both feel it is important to check in with the Duran fandom in their home country before we wrap up the book.  How can we truly talk about Duranies, if we are only covering American ones?  Yes, we realize that we are still not examining so many other places filled with Duranies, which sucks.  We would love to be able to get a flavor for all Duranies.  Unfortunately, our real lives do not allow for that.  Neither one of us has the time or the money to do that, especially within a few months. We both really want to finish the book as quickly as possible so we had to grab our opportunity when it presented itself.  Anyway, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to go and am so looking forward to meeting so many people when we are over there!  Yeah, I’m excited about the shows, too!  One of the things that will be special for this tour is that Rhonda and I are actually doing VIP.  We aren’t doing VIP for every show (trips like this are SUPER expensive), but will enjoy what we can! 

Rhonda and I don’t typically VIP.  We have had good luck with regular presales, especially with how it used to be with those Tier 1 seats through DDM.  Thus, we always felt we had a good shot of getting decent seats so VIP wasn’t super necessary.  We have VIPed twice before, though, and the first time happened six years ago today.  We attended the Chicago show at the All-State Arena together in 2005.  It was a significant show for us for a variety of reasons.  Yes, it was memorable because we went VIP, but more importantly, it was our first show together.  There was a fairly large group of us who decided to VIP for that show, including a number of people who flew in for it.  Rhonda was one of those people.  We had only met a few months earlier at a Duran convention in New Orleans, but had hit it off pretty quickly over a few drinks on Bourbon Street and singing publically to Rio (that’s a story for a whole other blog!).  Therefore, it seemed perfectly normal to be planning to go to a show together.  After much discussion, the group decided on who was going to get the tickets and how many as there were too many of us to buy our tickets all together.  I volunteered to buy the tickets for Rhonda, myself and another friend of ours. 

The show was amazing.  I often wonder if the show was really that good or if the setting made it so good!  Obviously, we had good seats.  Third row in front of John Taylor, in fact.  The arena is a large one-probably seats about 20,000 or close to it and it was packed.  The energy of the crowd was awesome!  The band seemed playful and really into it despite missing Andy Taylor that night.  For me, it was also the first Duran show I had seen in awhile, which probably always enhances my enjoyment.  Yet, I also think my concert partners made a difference in what I thought about that show.  I will never forget singing “We are Family” with them when the band dived into that song from Notorious.  I will also never forget the look on Rhonda’s face during Tiger Tiger.  I remember laughing with thousands of my closest friends about the fact that Roger’s drums had a problem after Wild Boys.  I’m sure that Rhonda thinks fondly of how I threatened her life when she got in the way of my viewing of JoSi.  Overall, everything seemed to fit together.  The songs, the band, the crowd, and my people were all together creating an incredible experience.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the rest of that weekend was amazing as well with another show the following night, lots of late night conversation and laughter, drinks, and more. 

The next VIP experience I will have will be with the same people and a new addition in Birmingham.  While I doubt that anything can really compare to that night six years ago, I’m hoping that Brum has at least a little of that magic. 

-A

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I don’t mind telling you all that today’s blog is going to be shorter than normal because I’m neck deep in UK planning.  🙂  That’s right – we’re back to planning!

Before I go further, I just want to take a moment and express my sorrow, concern and hope for those who are living in Japan.  My husband has co-workers and friends there, my daughter’s dance teacher is there right now, and we hope everyone is as well as can be expected.  I consider ourselves to be extremely lucky – he was in Japan exactly one week prior to the earthquake – a week earlier than he’d originally planned.  Unfortunately it seems as though the news gets more dire with each passing day.  I know that Americans can seem overly concerned about themselves and not really be aware of what is truly going on elsewhere in the world – and while I won’t argue that point (sadly it’s true) – my thoughts are with those in Japan.

Now for our daily dose of excitement!  Our big snag in the UK trip has been untangled, and I’m thrilled to be completely stressed about buying train tickets in advance, finding hotels and all of that good stuff.

If only I had the nerve to submit a question to the DD roundtable that Katy does with the band…my question would be “What is the fastest way to get from London Heathrow to Birmingham (New Street) the day of your show.  Is it better to take the train (even though I hate the idea of having to transfer in central London, which seems REALLY counter intuitive….), should we go ahead and pay a taxi, or better yet – can one of you pick us up on your way??

I’m kidding about that last part.                Mostly.

Driving ourselves is NOT an option.  First of all, I don’t want to kill anyone, including myself, and that whole driving on the left thing – forget that nonsense, especially with jet lag!  Secondly, if the first reason weren’t enough for you, I just don’t know what to say.

Oh, and if you have good suggestions, and if someone could explain the Oyster card to me – brilliant!  I understand the concept of the card, but I don’t know if it would really benefit to have one.  For much of our trip, we’ll be outside of London – going from Heathrow to Birmingham, then from Birmingham to Nottingham, next day would be Nottingham to Liverpool, then I think we’re going to back to Birmingham for a day, and then to London to finish out the trip.  What is the best way to do all of that??  Buy in advance?  Get a railcard of some sort?   To someone from the US who is used to just jumping in the car and sitting in traffic on the freeway, this tends to make my head swim.  Never mind what happens when I made the mistake of downloading a rail map….holy cow.

Well, I am off to find a hotel for Birmingham.  We already have the hotel for our first night, but Amanda and I are going back for an additional night before we head to London for the show at O2.  We’re not sure where to stay, but we do want to be near restaurants, shopping, nightlife and that sort of thing.  Any ideas? Send them to dailyduranie@gmail.com or post them here!  Thanks a bunch!!

-R

Training for the Marathon

On Monday, I blogged about longevity.  More specifically I blogged about my lack of being able to keep up with my friends – many of whom are 5 years younger than I am and quite obviously are blessed with FAR more energy and endurance!  

My dear partner Amanda was quick to remind me that the key is training and that tours are a marathon, not a sprint.  I’m not at all surprised that I had somehow forgotten this along the way.  Back in high school (oh SO many years ago now), I was on the swim team – and I was the sprinter.  If they needed someone to do the final laps in a medley or a relay race, I was the girl.  One day, one of my coaches needed someone to do the middle laps in a longer relay, and some brainiac on the team mentioned my name.  After convincing me that I was only a sprinter in my own head, my name was submitted for that race, and I quickly found myself jumping into the pool – we had a great lead and there shouldn’t have been a problem.  Except of course, that there was.  I was good for the first couple laps – it was what I was used to swimming and I finished them quickly, but then I had to keep going.  My brain quickly announced that I was insane, and my body began to feel like lead in water.  Well, you can imagine what chaos ensued from there. (contrary to popular belief – you actually *can* hear when your teammates and coaches are screaming at you to “get your ASS in gear and move, we’re losing the lead!!” as you’re swimming!)  In any case, my suspicions were confirmed that day: I am not an endurance competitor, nor am I all that thrilled about anything but the shortest swims.   My high school swimming career ended shortly after that first season on the team, but not really because of that race. (more likely because I hated the idea of swimming in freezing cold water that my school district was too cheap to keep heated in the winter time – keeping in mind that I live in Southern California where it doesn’t really freeze.  Read: I am a wimp!)  So, hearing that I must once again train for a marathon isn’t exactly good news.  
I’ll be honest with you, I’m the girl that is great for a one night knock down drag out party.  I can stay up with the best of them, and although I don’t want this to come across as bragging because it’s really not – I can drink my weight in alcohol without much of a problem.   I think I either take after my dad in that respect or I can thank my years as a Zeta Tau Alpha at Cal State Fullerton for that training – that’s right – I was a sorority girl.  (go ahead and laugh – I certainly do.  If you knew me, you’d realize that I am the antithesis of what a sorority girl usually is!  Unfortunately I think my sorority house found that out as well.)  The trouble is, I seem to burn out over the course of that one night.  The next day I wake up, and am generally useless.  I’m not necessarily hung over (although in recent years I cannot make such claims) but I have NO energy and the idea of doing all over again later that night isn’t a welcome thought.  Naturally, when I’m on “tour” with the girls, there’s no way I could beg off a night of partying.  They’d laugh, hand me a drink and say “shut up, it didn’t kill you LAST night.”  So, you would think I’d learn.  Of course, NORMAL people would learn, wouldn’t they?  I might add that normal people also don’t follow a band to the extent that many of us have for 30 years now…..but hey, it’s not my place to ruin the party.  
I suppose I should also add here that it’s all in the ambiance.  I don’t party like that here at home (very tough to do that with 3 kids), and as I mentioned on Monday – I don’t even like clubbing much these days.  I think I reserve all of that for when I’m with the girls for a weekend or I’m touring.  Don’t tell my husband!   Touring begs for living in hotels, living on cocktails (hey…isn’t there a song in there somewhere…like maybe “Hey Day” by Mr. John Taylor? :D), late nights, laughing and friends.  I wholly admit that to do all of that here at home just is not the same, primarily because my closest friends aren’t here.  So, when I meet up with those girls once or twice over the year, I think I’m making up for lost time!  
So that brings me to the topic at hand.  How does one train for such a marathon?  Normally my “touring” is limited to a weekend at a time.  I might get in as many as 3 shows, and by the time I’m headed to the airport for my flight home – I am completely spent.  Never mind how I get off the plane and resume my “mom” duties – my husband and I are somewhat at odds over what happens when I get home.  As I recall, he typically is running out the door for work in order to leave the chaos of the BOMB that went off in my home while I was gone; he claims that I spend the next two or three days in bed recovering.  (Don’t I wish…)  Regardless, there is no getting around the idea that I’m exhausted when I get home.  This time, aside from the couple of shows I am doing here at home over the next month or so, I am headed to the UK for 9 days.  We’ll do 4 shows, and I think we’ll be spending quite a bit of our time doing some quality assurance visits at every pub we can.  How can I prepare?!?  
I can make all sorts of promises to myself: I promise to sleep.  I promise to eat properly.  I promise not to drink all of the cider at any one pub on any one night….(yes, I love cider.  I also love red wine, beer of all kinds… and the occasional vodka tonic)  the reality is, I am sure I won’t be sleeping much, I will likely forget to eat (don’t ask how – I think it’s adrenaline), and I won’t even begin to discuss the libations.   All I know is that I’m getting excited by the prospects, and since we’ve already agreed that my partner-in-crime will be attending with me and we will definitely be blogging on the road (thank goodness we don’t do webcasts – I don’t think anyone needs to actually SEE the effects of my lack of marathon training), so you all can laugh right along with me! (or at me, as the case may be!)
-R
Did I even mention the band by name in this blog???  Oh wait – I did mention John.  *whew*  Close enough!

Unstaged with David Lynch

I am completely aware that Daily Duranie doesn’t do “The News” in quite the way that other blogs cover DD news.  We tend to be more “touchy feely”….in a very good way, and we also try very hard to cover things from the fan perspective.  Now, whether or not it’s the perspective that all or the majority of our readers have I cannot say, it’s up to the reader to decide for his or her self.

In the case of the upcoming show at The Mayan in Los Angeles, however – I feel as though we’ve got to report and comment!  I recently found a PR blurb on newswire that I’d like to share.  I don’t have the original link to the article, but I’m copying/pasting the article in full here for your reading pleasure:

From The PRNewswire:
http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/….-117932264.html

First Installment of Unstaged 2011 Features Duran Duran Performance Coinciding with the Release of the Band’s 13th Studio Album and their First Official Tour Since 2008

March 23rd Live-Stream Performance Will Be Available as a Live VEVO event on YouTube
NEW YORK, March 14, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Grammy® award-winning rock icons Duran Duran will kick-off the second year of “Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express” on March 23rd at the Mayan Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. The event (featuring all four original members: Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor) comes one day after their critically acclaimed 13th studio album, entitled ALL YOU NEED IS NOW (S-Curve Records), hits stores. Duran Duran’s performance will mark the first time an artist within the “Unstaged” music series plays from Los Angeles. Upon release, tickets for Duran Duran’s performance at the Mayan Theatre sold out in under five minutes.

The 2011 “Unstaged” kick-off performance will be live-streamed at 10:00PM ET / 7:00PM PT atwww.YouTube.com/DuranDuranVEVO. American Express, in partnership with VEVO, the leading online premium music video and entertainment service, and YouTube will provide Duran Duran fans worldwide with access to their “Unstaged” performance, which coincides with the start of the band’s first official tour since 2008. Award-winning filmmaker David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive), known for his unique cinematic style that masterfully blends imagery and sound design, has been enlisted to capture the performance, providing fans with a visually stunning home viewing experience.

“I am very excited about this opportunity to experiment with the band, Duran Duran, at the Mayan Theater on March 23rd,” said filmmaker David Lynch. “The idea is to try and create on the fly, layers of images permeating Duran Duran on the stage. A world of experimentation and hopefully some happy accidents.”

Speaking from a rehearsal studio in London where they are preparing for the ‘Unstaged’ show, lead singer Simon Le Bon said: “We are all beyond delighted that David Lynch has agreed to direct this show for us. It’s a dream come true quite frankly. We are all such fans of his work and think he has a creative vision like no other. In talking to him about what he is planning, we all believe this live-streamed performance is going to look nothing like anyone has ever seen before. We can’t wait.”

Duran Duran’s “Unstaged” performance represents the fourth installment within American Express’ innovative music platform “Unstaged,” which launched in the summer of last year and has featured music sensations Arcade Fire, John Legend & The Roots, and Sugarland. Collectively, these artists from the 2010 “Unstaged” music series recently combined for eight Grammy® nominations and four Grammy® wins at this year’s 53rd Annual Grammy Awards. Additionally, two of the three artists’ albums debuted at #1 on the Billboard albums chart following their “Unstaged” performances. American Express, in conjunction with VEVO and YouTube, tracked more than 30 million total streams for all three artists’ performances combined.

“There is no doubt that our ‘Unstaged’ platform is quickly emerging as one of the music industry’s most innovative distribution and marketing models for musicians to share their music with their fans around the world,” said Jessica Igoe, vice president global sponsorship marketing, American Express. “We are thrilled to welcome Duran Duran to the Unstaged family and look forward to David’s artistic vision in bringing their iconic sound to their fans in an entirely new way.”

Bringing the in-concert and at-home viewing experiences to entirely new heights, “Unstaged: An Original Series from American Express” showcases some of the music industry’s most breakthrough artists playing at landmark venues across the country, while tapping some of today’s most influential filmmakers to direct the live-streams and using digital and social media to connect the online audience to the live shows in unexpected ways. Additional artists are set to be unveiled in the coming months.

“YouTube is honored to host this iconic event,” said Ali Rivera, Music Partnerships at YouTube. “The classic British band, Duran Duran, captured on camera by Academy Award® winning director, David Lynch, and shared with viewers worldwide; fans are in for a real treat.”

“We’re thrilled to elevate the American Express ‘Unstaged’ program to an even higher level in 2011… pushing the boundaries by creating innovative and personal concert experiences on multiple ‘stages,'” said David Kohl, EVP, Sales and Customer Operations, VEVO. “VEVO’s primary focus is to offer fans even more live events and interactive viewing experiences for American Express.”

American Express® Cardmembers and music enthusiasts can digitally connect to these live music experiences in ways that further blur the line between an at-home and in-concert experience:

Choose Your Cam: The audience can control their viewing experience throughout the show by switching between the director’s main stream and alternate “Lynchian” artistic lenses on the night.
“The Now Pulse” Crowd Visualizer: Further uniting the audiences at the show and at home, this new interactive project will create a real-time visualization of crowd excitement based on social chatter online. When the social buzz reaches a climax, a special Duran Duran memento will be unlocked for fans everywhere.
“All Of Us Now” Photo Project: Audiences worldwide will collaborate with David Lynch in an on-stage and online art installation, by submitting photos. In true Lynch style, the photos will be showcased on surreal displays throughout the night. Visit
www.YouTube.com/DuranDuranVEVO to find out more and submit videos.
On-line Pre Show: Building anticipation of the night, viewers who tune in early to the live-stream will catch an exclusive segment directed by David Lynch.
Tweet The Band: Fans can Tweet questions to #amexduranduran for a chance to have them answered by the band in a series of Pre-Show vignettes.

Leading up to the March 23rd performance, fans will be able to receive insider updates by connecting with American Express atwww.twitter.com/AmericanExpress or www.Facebook.com/AmericanExpress. Fans can visit YouTube for a special “Unstaged” trailer video, including highlights from previous performances. Additionally, a special screening party will be held in New York City, featuring the Duran Duran live-stream performance, including industry insiders, select media and fan club members.

Produced by Mark Ronson, ALL YOU NEED IS NOW is a return-to-roots homage to their most celebrated musical panache, and features guest vocals from longtime collaborator Ana Matronic of the Scissor Sisters and R&B/neo-soul superstar Kelis. Owen Pallett of Arcade Fire contributes the album’s string arrangements.

For more information about American Express and music, please visit http://www.americanexpress.com/entertainment.

About American Express

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com and connect with us onwww.facebook.com/americanexpress, www.twitter.com/americanexpress and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.

About VEVO

VEVO is the web’s leading online premium music video and entertainment service with over two billion worldwide streams and nearly 60 million unique visitors in the U.S. and Canada each month. VEVO’s programming is made available across the VEVO platform, which includes VEVO.com (the service’s marquee destination site), VEVO Mobile (iPhone, iPod touch, iPad, Android), VEVO connected devices (Google TV, Boxee) and a VEVO-branded embedded player. The service also serves as a syndication platform for additional internet destination sites, including AOL, BET, CBS Interactive Music Group (including Last.FM), Univision and, through a special partnership, YouTube, expanding the reach of the VEVO platform across the worldwide web. VEVO was created in partnership by Universal Music Group (UMG), Sony Music Entertainment (SME) and the Abu Dhabi Media Company. It is operated independently by a dedicated management team with offices in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and San Francisco. Explore VEVO at http://vevo.com. Journalists/Bloggers can stay updated on VEVO news at http://twitter.com/VEVO_Media

About YouTube

YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. Our mission is for YOU to discover and shape the world through video. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small. YouTube, LLC is based in San Bruno, CA and is a subsidiary of Google Inc.

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The show sounds like its going to be fantastic!  This is obviously a huge opportunity for the band, both in that they are going to be working with David Lynch and that the show is getting quite a bit of press and buzz – along with being shown on youtube for an entire month!  Outstanding!  


I will be at this show, and I’m very excited to see the band again as well.  I think that the experience at home might even better than at the show, but we will see.  It’s certainly going to be a very interactive experience for fans that night – and it’s the type of groundbreaking experience that I think Duran Duran is known for.  Once again I must acknowledge that my luck is rarely this good – and I’m really looking forward to going to the show.  It’s been a very long wait in between Duran Duran shows, and I am still having trouble believing that I’m actually going to be seeing them again just next week!  (yes, it’s the fangirl in me – I try to keep her caged, but sometimes, she does escape.)  


If you’ve read the article carefully, you’ll see that there is even to be a special screening party in New York City for the show that night.  I haven’t read or heard anything about this within the community as of yet – but I’m hopeful that fans will have the chance to attend.  I know that if I weren’t going to the show myself, I think it would be a lot of fun to be at a screening party somewhere in the country.  What’s better than seeing Duran Duran?  Seeing Duran Duran with a bunch of friends!  The only thing I can think of that would make the experience better would be to do some sort of an interactive show of this scale on the big screen at movie theaters across the country.  So rather than having one screening party, doing many across the country as was done for Live from London, yet it would be live, and interactive.  


I think the fans have a good year ahead with many surprises – looking forward to seeing how it turns out!


-R

Longevity

One of the major themes for our book is longevity, both for the band AND for the fan community. Interestingly enough, you can’t really have one without the other to some extent.  Sure, The Beatles still have fans, and I would assume that somewhere out there there’s a fan community….but I don’t think it’s quite the same as a fan community for a band that is still very much in existence.  Perhaps you might disagree, and that’s OK. (leave a comment below as I’m sure this would be an interesting discussion comment!)  I don’t really know of many bands that have the longevity of Duran Duran, yet there’s no fan base.  If you can name one, let me know.  I’ll check it out!

The goal of our book is two fold: Why does a fan community exist, and how does it thrive for so long.  For a lot of us, we’ve been fans since we were in that wonderfully awkward adolescent period of our lives.  Yes, there are fans that may have been older, a lot that are younger – but the one thing that I feel makes our own fan community or fandom unique is that most of us literally grew up with the band in our lives.  Many of us are now entering that also delightfully awkward “middle” age period (you’re welcome for the reminder – I know of what I speak, every morning MY back and knees remind me too!), and yet we’re still huge fans of the band. At times, we even forget that we’re not still 12!   The point of our book is to answer why.  I’m not sure that Amanda and I will ever be able to say we have the definitive answer – I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are fans, but we really hope to encourage fans to embrace their fandom and celebrate what brought us all here, and why we stay.

Last week I blogged about a thread I’d read on a board about aging fans.  Naturally, this hit home with me because I am one of those fans.  I won’t lie, it hit a raw nerve – and perhaps I shouldn’t have let it bother me so much.  I’m human as it turns out, so it did – and I blogged about it.  Many agreed with me, but there were a few dissenting opinions as well.   Over the weekend, my husband and I had a date night, and in the discussion over what we should do and where we should go, my husband wanted to go bar hopping in an area that we used to go when we were younger.  Much younger, as in I think the last time we were over there – I had just one little one at home.  That “little one” is now 14, and she’s got a younger brother that is two years younger, and a little sister that is 11 years younger.  So yes, it’s been quite a while.  I can remember the days when I would jump at such an offer – but this time, I stopped, looked at my dear husband and laughed.  Admittedly, I was tired that night.  He’s been traveling quite a bit which means my days are very long, and with three kids – it’s tough.  The real truth is though, I had zero interest in going clubbing.  I remember when clubbing was fun, but nowadays, I go into those places and feel extremely over dressed (I have on far more clothes than anyone else), very old (self-explanatory here), and I’m typically shocked at the crap (aka really bad music) they’re playing.  If those aren’t signs of impending old age, I’d be surprised.  We ended up deciding to go to dinner (sushi, one of my favorites) and a movie (Adjustment Bureau – very interesting but nothing like what I thought it would be).  It was a fun night, and when I woke up the next morning, I didn’t feel like I was about to die, which is always a bonus!

When I first really got back involved with Duran Duran, and by that I mean joining the message boards and getting to know others in the fan community, going to shows and that sort of thing, I was about 33.  When I went to the convention in New Orleans, I had no trouble staying out very late (as in seeing the sunrise), having many beverages on Bourbon Street, and pretending I was in my 20’s.  In 2005 when the band toured for Astronaut, I was still feeling good.  I didn’t look like I was about to turn 35, and I pretty much ignored the threat of middle age.  Somewhere in 2006 though, life decided to toy with me.  I had major surgery in October of that year, and I swear to you – it aged me a good 5 years.  It was insulting, rude, and uncalled for, in my opinion.  Every time I went out with friends, rather than taking a few hours to undo the damage – it was taking days.  Then in 2008, I did the craziest thing ever – I had a baby at the age of 37.  If that didn’t almost kill me (and it really did), going through the grief after my father died two weeks later didn’t help matters.  It took me forever to really get back to myself after all of that, and it wasn’t until September of that year when I attempted to party it up like I was still in my 20’s again.  As it turns out, I’m not!  The hangover from that trip (it was to see what I thought I would never see – my good friend Jessica getting married!) lasted about two weeks, I swear.  The stitches I received from getting smart with the ceramic soap dish in the shower took a little longer to heal. *sigh*   Later that year, I went with Jessica, Amanda and our good friend Mac to see some DD shows on the east coast.  Between the time difference, the driving every day (I believe we did 800 miles in what – 4 days or so -because we’re clearly insane), and the shows – there was a moment as we were watching the band at the House of Blues in Atlantic City where I thought I was really going to hell, hard and fast.  I had to go and sit down – which has NEVER happened at a DD concert before, and I realized then that as much as I might try, I am not 18 or even 25 anymore.  I went to bed fairly early that night (2am really IS early when I’m with the girls on a weekend trip!), and prayed to any god who would listen to give me some energy to finish the trip.  I mentioned some of this to my friends, who naturally looked at me as though I’d grown three heads, and they seemed to laugh it off, telling me to grow a pair and get on with it.  I would have laughed with them, except that my body hurt too much!   I finished out the weekend, and have even been to a show or two since then, but I have to admit – I’m much more careful now.  I recognize the differences in my body between the ages of 35 and 40 – and for those of you who haven’t had the joy of looking into the mirror and wondering why you STILL have bags under your eyes even though you’ve had a full night’s sleep for the past 3 months, enjoy.  The bags come quickly and they don’t have the decency to leave!  Never mind the grey hair or the aches and pains.  Seriously, turning 35 sucked and 40 isn’t being much kinder!

All of this begs the question – when will I be done?  I’d love to say never, and that they’ll have to pry my cold dead hands off of my Duran Duran albums at some point, but I’m not so sure anymore.  Well, they’ll probably still have to pry my cold dead hands off of my DD albums, but as far as going to shows…I really am not sure.  Is it cool to keep going to concerts into my 50’s?  I’ve asked these questions on the boards before, and I’ve had fans remind me that the band is in their 50’s now and that I have to stop aging myself and the band.  I guess the thought is that if they can still do it, so can we.

Could someone just tell my BODY that?  😀

The Cost of Fandom

Some days, I know exactly what I am going to write about and other days I really struggle.  The days that I have difficulty with picking out a topic are the days, usually, when other things weigh heavily on my mind.  I wonder if my writing partner feels the same way.  Today is one of those days for me.  As I have mentioned here, I live in a state that has been ground zero for the discussion on workers rights and unions.  Despite weeks of hard work, sacrifice and protest, the workers lost their battle.  I am one of those workers.  Today, my union met and signed a contract extension, which will cover us for the next couple of years.  I should be happy about this and I am, but it only really will help with non-financial aspects of the job.  Based on this, I now know exactly how much money I will be losing each month beginning in July.  It is substantial.  Now, again, I’m not here to debate the politics regarding my job, my compensation, this bill or anything else connected but as part of dealing with the impending loss of income I began to think about Duran.  Fandom costs money.  It does.  It costs money to buy cds, to buy t-shirts, to go to shows and especially to travel to shows.  While I have in no way shape or form been someone financially able to do whatever I want in the name of Duran, I have been able to save money in order to go on tours.  Assuming that I stay in this position and stay where I am now (which is assuming a lot), this spring will mark the end for me.

My impending loss of compensation is so great that my days of touring will be over.  In fact, I will have to move from my apartment, if I stay where I am.  I cannot begin to justify going to shows or traveling for tours, if I cannot afford to keep my home (and when I mean home–I mean my one bedroom apartment).  Looking back at the last five or six years, I realize how lucky I have been.  I have been able to go to 20 shows since 2005 and most of those shows have required significant drives or flying.  I hope to have 5 more under my belt before summer hits.  Therefore, these upcoming shows better be the best ones ever because they may have to last me for quite a while. 

Now, do not get me wrong here, I am not giving up.  I refuse to have to move backwards like this and have been and will continue to fight it every step of the way.  Obviously, part of this fight might be to consider my options.  Different profession?  Different location?  Both?  I’m hoping that I do find something that allows me to keep this element of my life.  For me, Duran is both my escape and my fun, especially touring.  I do not want to give that up.  The band and everything that goes with enhances my quality of life.  Could I live without them?  Yes.  Do I want to?  Nope.  For one thing, it means that I won’t see my Duranie friends much as most of them live far away from me, including my co-author.  That is extremely upsetting to me.  It also means that I no longer have things to look forward to as I once did.  Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the queen of countdowns.  I normally count down every day until a big event like a tour because that countdown helps me gets through each day.  It gives me a positive thing to focus on.  Soon, that will be gone.  I can’t rely on Duran to be the lighthouse of relief in the sea of stress.  I cannot even begin to tell you how sad it makes me that I won’t be able to see my friends as much.  Yes, we are all on the internet but it is not the same.  I won’t have the money to travel and we won’t have the excuse of Duran to bring us together as much as we did because I won’t be able to afford it.

I now understand how Duranies who have always been in this boat must feel.  I apologize if I ever seemed uncaring or not very understanding.  I get it now.  I get it in such a way that these last shows will be appreciated by me in a way that I probably haven’t done since 2005.  I look forward to them as I desperately need the escape but I also dread them in a way because I know that they will be the last for a long time.  I feel like I do at every show when I hear the opening notes to Rio, which is typically played at the very end, because I know that the song will be great but I also know that the show is almost over.  It is always such a bittersweet moment.  Now, the whole show will be like that for me.

-A

The Beauty of JoSi

I cannot believe that next week Duran Duran will be here in the States playing shows!  It always seems SO long in between shows and tours!  Yet, for some lucky fans, the wait to see the band live in concert is almost over!  Personally, I cannot wait to see the band in a month in Chicago.  Cannot wait!  There are so many things that I look forward to when it comes to Duran shows!  I always enjoy seeing my Duranie friends and meeting new ones!  I love singing along to some of those classic hits!  This time around I’m so excited to hear the new tracks live!  I suspect that my love for some of them might increase!  One thing that I am always so excited for is the JoSi.  Am I the only one with this fascination?  JoSi, for those not in the know, is the combination of John and Simon.  In concert, JoSi means those moments when they not only sing together, sharing one microphone but also the little looks or smiles exchanges as well as subtle and not-so-subtle touches.  I admit it.  I find all of those moments…to be… hot.  I know that I’m not the only one, right?!

JoSi is an interesting element to Duran fandom.  It does not seem to be completely unique, though, as many other bands have moments when the lead singer sings with another member of the band.  Like Duran, those moments seem to get many of the female fans to start screaming.  Why is that?  What does that say about fandom?  What does that say about females?  Is this just a taste of guy-on-guy action?  Does this mean that we think or wish them to be gay and together?  I obviously can’t know why these moments get some people all…uh…er…excited, but I can acknowledge what I see in the Duran fan community.

First, every female fan that appreciates the JoSi knows that they are both married to women.  Do fans think that they are secretly gay and are in a relationship together?  Do fans want that?  Good questions.  I doubt that most fans think that they are gay.  Some might think that they are bisexual or have had experiences with members of the same sex, I don’t know.  It is possible that some fans want them to be in a relationship together.  I don’t know.  What would this mean, if that was the case?  Would it mean that they wouldn’t be into women at all?  Is that what female fans want?  I doubt that.  Many female fans want to keep a little bit of that fantasy that they could be into them.  Do they want them to be bisexual?  Maybe.  What does this mean to them?  Maybe that means that they would have stereotypically gay male characteristics while maintaining a possible interest in women.  I don’t know.  Could it just be that they think that two hot guys together are super duper hot?  I think this is definitely the case with a lot of them, including myself! 

Interestingly enough, I also see some fans like to see the JoSi but really hate the idea of them actually being together in that way.  I have to admit that I find this very strange.  Do they just like John and Simon together like this as a means of showing how good of friends they are?  Is it just because they are their two favorite band members?  I don’t know.  Maybe they don’t like the idea of them being together, romantically, because they are married and want to honor that marriage.  I can definitely respect that.  I hope that is all it is because, otherwise, I worry about homophobia.  I would hope that there would not be any disgust over the idea of any two men together as I truly do believe that everyone should be able to love and be with anyone they want.  Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time that Duran Duran has had homophobia connected with them.  In fact, I would argue that part of the reason Duran hasn’t had the critical acclaim that other bands have had is because they were deemed to be too “girly”, “gay”, “non-manly” because of their fashion sense, their use of makeup and their female dominated fanbase.  So, I would hope that their fans aren’t contributing to that and can just appreciate the beauty of the JoSi instead!

Personally, I cannot wait to enjoy it myself!  I have to warn the people I’m going to the Chicago show with that they better not get in the way of me seeing any and all JoSi moments.  I’m sure that Rhonda can help with that as I have threatened her safety and well-being more than a few times after she has blocked my view!  I should probably also give them a heads up that I might *squee* a little at those little moments, which may or may not ruin people’s hearing.  Just sayin’. 

-A