All posts by Daily Duranie

Once upon a time, there were two Duran Duran fans. One named Amanda, the other named Rhonda. Over many vodka tonics, they would laugh about the idea of one day writing a book about their fan experiences. While that manuscript is still being composed...Rhonda thought they should write a blog. (What was she THINKING?!) Lo and behold: The Daily Duranie was born.

Lesson: Duran Duran Live

A topic that seems to be coming up again and again lately is going to shows with people who aren’t quite as…obsessed as you are.  One of our readers talked about how she gave her companions a little “tutorial” about Duran before they went to the show.  (How did everything go, Amanda?)  This got me thinking that I, too, should provide not only my show companions with a little lesson but also give it here so that others may use it, if they are in a similar situation.  I apologize in advance, if I give away too many secrets and if I forget something!

The first thing to know about seeing Duran live is the current touring line-up.  It includes four familiar faces of Simon, John, Roger and Nick.  People you might not be as familiar with are Dom Brown (guitar-he’s totally great, by the way), Anna Ross (back-up singer) and Simon Willescroft (saxophone).  Obviously, Andy Taylor is no longer in the band as he left in 2006.  The second most important is to know the songs.  Based on the setlists so far in 2011, here are the songs you must know as they have played them every time:  Being Followed, All You Need Is Now, Notorious, Girl Panic, Sunrise, and Girls on Film.  Other songs that you really, really should know since they have played them at almost all of the shows are Hungry Like the Wolf, Ordinary World, and Safe.  Then, you really should know these, too, as they have been played frequently:  A View to a Kill, Rio, Leave a Light on, The Reflex, Friends of Mine and Careless Memories.  Now, if you have a bit more time on your hands, I would also recommend Runway Runaway, Come Undone, Wild Boys and Planet Earth.

After you know the songs, it is important to know what to look for and what other people in the audience will be looking for.  Some of those moments are connected to specific songs and others are not.  The first general thing to look for is JoSi.  What is JoSi exactly?  Well, literally, it is a combination between John and Simon.  On stage, this might mean a moment when the two of them are singing together using the same microphone.  It may mean a look exchanged between them.  It might also mean an arm over the other’s person shoulder (usually Simon’s arm over John) and, if you are really lucky, it might mean more body contact.  This is a warning, though.  If something like that were to happen, many, many, many people in the audience would NOT be okay.  There will be massive amounts of screaming.  Many people will attempt to take pictures and videos quickly.  Some may faint.  It would not be pretty.  My understanding is that some fans who saw the kiss in Vegas in 2005 did not make it out in one piece.  Now, fans will also appreciate another interaction between members and that is DoJo.  This is the combination between Dom and John.  In this case, it is more musical as it is when the two of them meet and seem to battle of sorts with their instruments.  Good stuff.  Now, this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t pay attention to individual band members because they do can be entertaining all on their own (Reminder here:  Roger and John are on the left and Nick and Dom are on the right side of the stage).  Roger, for example, likes to twirl his stick, which will induce screaming.  The other member in the back, Nick, isn’t as flashy but it is possible to catch him snapping pictures as the show moves along.  John fans will be watching for his famous pouts and smiles.  I, for one, always loves when he sings along with the song, microphone near or not.  Then, there is Simon.  Some love him and some are entertained by him.  The one thing you can say about Simon is that he is never boring.  He can keep us all laughing by his silly dance moves, for instance.  Pay attention to the end of Notorious when he squats down and begins to punch the air (click on the title to see a clip!).  It is highly possible that Simon will forget the words at some point and probably the order of the songs on the setlist as well despite the fact that there are many copies of the setlist taped on the stage.  If you are at a special show, you may witness a fall like at this show:  Simon falling in Paris in ’05

There are many moments to look for that are connected to songs and many of these songs are being played on this current tour.  First, they have consistently playing Girls on Film, which has featured band introductions for years.  Here is the song from Foxwoods of this year:  Girls on Films with introductions.  If you notice John’s introduction included a little chant, which many of us love and goes something like this:  “Play the f***ing bass, John.”  Be prepared to join in.  Another song that has been consistently played is Sunrise.  Again, here you should be prepared to reach up for the sunrise by raising your hands up in the air.  Notice that this song also features a JoSi moment.  Another fairly common song is Rio.  There is more audience participation in this one as the audience claps at the end.  Planet Earth is my personal favorite and features all of my favorite things.  This clip shows JoSi moments and audience participation.  The crowd screams out “switch it off” after the line about “the tv sound”.  John also encourages everyone to clap during his little solo.  Now, Nick fans might appreciate the Reflex more as he often gives a reason why he does not “use it”.  This clip shows us that Nick left it about 3 and a half minutes into the song.  Simon girls tend to love Come Undone where Simon licks his fingers about 1 minute into the clip.  These Simon girls will scream in delight while the rest of us hide!  While we are on the subject of specific songs and Simon, be aware if they bust out White Lines as they have been doing once in awhile.  This clip shows the best and worst of Mr. LeBon.  First, he does a lovely kick then proceeds to forget the lyric.  Then, he spits out his water while tilting his head back.  Oh boy.  I couldn’t make this stuff up!

Now, while waiting and watching for these moments and more, fans are also hoping to interact with their favorite band member.  Perhaps, they will be watching for a smile from John or Dom.  Maybe, they will be waiting to sing with John.  Some might be watching for Simon to get close enough to flirt with while others are looking at the best way to get Roger’s attention in the hopes that he will throw a drumstick to them (which happens at the very end of the show).  They watch and wait while they are standing, dancing, singing and screaming.  Typically, the only people sitting down are not Duranies.  Be prepared to be on your feet for the two hours of the show and more.  Many people will also be taking pictures.  This is all very normal and expected.  Another common occurrence at a Duran show is the feeling that you have just stepped into a weird reunion as Duranies know each other.  Thus, it isn’t uncommon to see women run up to each other, exchange hugs, and take pictures together.  Perhaps, the pictures also explain why many people like to look nice at the show.  Now, that doesn’t mean that people are wearing formal dresses but nice tops with nice jeans or pants is common.  Some women will wear heels. 

Beyond the other fans, the songs and the band members, you should really expect the following to happen.  You should know that you will lust after the band members by the end of the show.  You will also want to go to more shows.  This will happen.  It happened to me for the first time in 1993 and I suspect that it will happen again after each show this year.  Good luck and have fun!

-A

What’s the Goal?

I spend my time reading a lot of articles and interviews with and on Duran Duran during “Duranietime” (thanks to Rhonda for the term!) like this when they are doing a lot of publicity for a new album.  I always enjoy these interviews and articles as they often give me insight or what I think is insight about the band members, about the project and more.  For example, there were a number of articles during the Red Carpet Massacre phase that got me thinking that they weren’t 100% excited to be working with Timbaland (No, I don’t remember which ones.  I’m old.)  It seems to me that most of the current batch of articles have focused on how great it was to work with Mark Ronson and the return of the classic Duran feel.  It seemed to me that they were happy just to be making a quality album, making quality music.  Then I read this article yesterday:  Duran Duran: Still Hungry?  I didn’t have the same feeling after reading this one.

This article began as many of the current set of articles have with praise given to Ronson.  I appreciated that John talked about how every note and every word were considered when writing the album.  I like knowing that there was that level of intense attention to detail.  Then, the article took a turn as John explains how addictive having hits is and that the point of pop music is to sell.  In fact, he describes their goal as to “turn this baby around.”  I assume that the baby would be album sales and chart placement for their singles.  Now, normally, I agree with John’s thinking.  This time, not so much.

Why should the focus of pop music be to sell?  Why is it that pop music needs to be hits in order to be worthy?  I guess I don’t agree with that premise.  I can think of many pop songs that are high quality that aren’t hits and I can think of many pop songs which suck, which have charted.  In whose mind does this matter?  Does it matter to them?  Now, I can understand that they would want to have hits.  It is the most obvious means of showing how successful they are, but is that the only way?  Shouldn’t making higher quality music be more important?  Couldn’t hits be just an icing to the cake and the cake being having good songs? 

This debate is an interesting one to me as a teacher.  I’m constantly hearing other teachers, parents, the public and politicians talk about facts regarding how well students are doing.  Usually, when this is done, they are referring to test scores.  Yet, this measurement does not always work.  I’ll explain.  I am a special education teacher, which means that I work with students who have been found to have one or more disability(-ies).  Some of my students might score very well on standardized tests but then struggle behaviorally.  Do these tests show how well those kids are doing?  Then, I might have other students who will never score at grade level, due to their disability, but they might be making tremendous progress.  If I judged myself and them based solely on this one test, I would think that they are complete failures.  I would think the same of myself.  Yet, for the most part, I think my students are great.  They are not perfect but they come to school and they fight to improve.  Thus, I don’t think that they should be judged based on this one measurement.  Clearly, one size does not fit all.  So, why should Duran use this one measurement of sales or chart placement to determine their success?  Shouldn’t they realize that there is much more to it than that?  Besides, art isn’t always popular and they should remember that. 

To be fair to John, I don’t know the other questions that were asked or the other statements that were made.  I know enough about interviews to realize that quite a bit might be edited and that a certain angle might be focused on over others.  Nonetheless, I’m surprised that he even made comments like that.  I honestly thought that Duran might have moved past that focus.  I do get that having hits and being commercially successful is something that must feel so wonderful, but I don’t think it is good to always expect that.  Let’s face it.  The music industry is not always kind to artists as they age.  I don’t know that Duran is even being given a fair shot for this.  Are they then just leaving themselves open to major disappointment?  Instead, I would prefer them to feel good about what they have accomplished with AYNIN, no matter where they end up, chart wise, and no matter how many units get sold.  Perhaps, they should learn from my students, in this regard.

-A

The Daily Duranie Review – Diamond in the Mind & Return to Now

Today Daily Duranie is reviewing the two instrumental interludes on the album, Diamond in the Mind and Return to Now.  Since the band (as a whole) does not really play on either song, we’re not going to do the review in our regular format, but just as a general commentary.

Rhonda’s Notes:

I have to admit that when I first heard that Duran Duran was working with Owen Pallet (Arcade Fire) on some of the songs, I was intrigued.  I really don’t know much about Arcade Fire, but I have heard several of their songs and while they are a completely different genre of music than what I typically enjoy, it’s very difficult not to feel blown away by their music.  My own musical background comes from classical training, and I played in an orchestra for several years, so I know what depth and warmth strings can bring to a piece of music.  I couldn’t wait to hear what Owen would do for Duran Duran.

To begin with, I was somewhat disappointed (but not surprised) that both of the pieces are rather short.  I have to remind myself that Duran’s fans aren’t interested in hearing a classical piece of music on a Duran album, and they had to create a space for the music that wouldn’t overpower the rest of the album, but would blend in nicely.   Diamond in the Mind is the first such piece on the album, and musically, it’s beautifully done.  In some ways the song is reminiscent of what was done with A View To a Kill (Fatal Kiss), where the strings bring a very lush environment.   My only real complaint with the song is that the vocals completely overpower the moment.  I just feel that they should have left Simon’s vocals completely off of the track and kept the piece purely instrumental as a true interlude.  His vocals add nothing to the emotion of the moment, and are pretty distracting from the beauty of the strings.   Harsh criticism for the vocalist I suppose, but it has nothing to do with Simon’s voice.  It’s just that when you listen to the song, the mood that is created when the music begins is completely broken when Simon’s vocals begin.  It would have provided a much better continuum to leave it as an instrumental.

I know many fans have complained about these pieces of music, not completely understanding their place on the album, and saying that they should have been left off completely since the band doesn’t really play on them.  I can understand that sentiment to some degree because it’s true – the band doesn’t really lend itself to either piece, except that the original song was written by the band.  These arrangements are simply that: arrangements.  I would also agree that had both pieces been left off the album completely, I don’t think the fans would have necessarily missed them.  Neither one creates a mood or theme that is continued (as though the album would have been separated into “acts”).  They just seem to be short breaks, and on a 14, 15 or 17 track album – they might be welcomed.  However, those little breaks do give the listener a chance to absorb what they’ve heard, and I kind of feel that these two instrumentals take the album to a completely different level in general.  They give the album a little bit more texture, there’s another layer of sound to enjoy, and in some ways – they almost make the album as a whole a little bit more “grown up” or adult like in a playful way.  I can’t argue that the album wouldn’t have been complete without them; but on the same token, I can argue that the songs make the album a little more “whole” and rounded out.

My favorite out of the two instrumentals is Return to Now.  The musical composition soars and it’s just long enough to create a bit of a mood – and I’ll admit that my favorite part of this song is that there are no vocals.  No distractions, just pure beauty.  Owen Pallet did a gorgeous job with this particular arrangement, and it’s enough to make me wish the band had him arrange the entire song (All You Need is Now) and have it on another single or a remix album.

Rhonda’s ratings:  
Diamond in the Mind

Return to Now

 Amanda’s Thoughts:

My thoughts, in many ways, echo Rhonda’s thoughts here.  Like her, I noticed that the songs were very short.  They seemed to be placed after more upbeat songs and before more serious, more somber music.  Diamond in the Mind is after Girl Panic! and before The Man Who Stole a Leopard and Return to Now is after Runway Runaway and before Before the Rain.  I really like the idea of having brief interludes to separate these songs.  It does force the listener to acknowledge that there will be a shift of music and allows for a smoother transition. I am also not opposed to music in a more classical form for an interlude.  Obviously, I wouldn’t want this type for the whole album, but, for this type of purpose, it makes sense.  Of course, it makes sense if the songs are right and fit.

I really like how Diamond in the Mind begins and I can definitely hear That Fatal Kiss reference of Rhonda’s.  It feels fairly upbeat with an underlying dark beauty that seems fitting to introduce Leopard and then Simon begins to sing.  Rhonda mentions that the vocals overpower the beauty of the song and I agree completely. I also think that the particular lyrics he chose to sing were deterimental to the quality.  Yes, I realize that this is an arrangement from All You Need is Now.  If the lyrics weren’t there and the song title was different, I’m not sure how many fans would know this fact.  Therefore, I understand why the choice was made to sing, “Stay with the music.  Let it play.  All you need is now.”  It captures the feel of AYNIN but that gets in my head and I have a hard time transitioning to Leopard.  All you need is now is to say goodbye to an obsession?  It jars me a bit, especially the last line of “all you need is now.”

The second instrumental interlude, Return to Now, is much more fitting, in my opinion.  The music and the mood that it creates completely complements Before the Rain.  The music is simply wonderful and transitions well to the next song.  Like Rhonda, I was glad that there were not any vocals in the song.  The music spoke for itself.  This one is a much better song because of it.

Overall, I like the idea of interludes as a means of calling attention to specific tracks and I absolutely agree that the tracks of Leopard and Before the Rain need to be showcased.  Return to Now does a better job both in showing its quality and in fitting its location on the album.

Amanda’s ratings:
Diamond in the Mind

Return to Now

Anybody Know?

Most days, I wake up and immediately start thinking about what I can blog about.  My goal with the blog is to come up with a topic and finish the blog in about a half hour.   Most days, that doesn’t happen.  I could probably spend several hours pouring over the boards every day, coming up with just the perfect topic – but the reality is that I don’t have that kind of time.  Or at least, I shouldn’t be spending that kind of time.

Today, and honestly for the past week, I’ve been sick.  My youngest and I continue to pass what I think amounts to a cold back and forth.  It’s no fun if you can’t share, right?  Anyway, I feel fairly removed from what is going on in the world of Duran, mainly because I write this blog each day – then I put the computer away and go lay down on the couch!  If shows have been announced, I wouldn’t know.   If Nick started a Facebook page in the last few days, I’m completely in the dark. So today I find myself twiddling my thumbs and racking my brain trying to come up with a topic that I haven’t already whined about previously.   I’m coming up completely blank.  That might have something to do with the cough medicine I’m taking, or the fact that I know I should be getting groceries at the store right this second….

So, instead of a real blog, I have a couple questions for anyone who can answer.

My husband, in a quest to try and find an album or Duran Duran treasure that I’ve never heard of before – found a Boys Keep Swinging vinyl online and bought it for me.  I think it was an auction win, actually.  The cool thing is that it’s yellow vinyl and I believe that it’s pretty rare – I think only 500 were made.  Anybody else have one out there?  This really isn’t a question as much as just a comment that although I knew about the vinyl, I can only find clear ones for sale online – not so much of the yellow.  Anyone know?

The other question I’ve got is also vinyl related.  There is apparently an album out there that is somehow related to Duran Goes Dutch.  According to something my husband read (keeping in mind that his only goal here is to come to me with knowledge of something Duran related that I’d never heard of before – therefore one-upping me and feeling superior.  Picture my eyes rolling ), there’s an album that is of the full show that Duran Goes Dutch was recorded from.  According to the seller it’s the “Holy Grail” of Duran Duran – and I wish I knew the name of the album, but the person who was selling it wanted about $1000 for it. (actually, it could have been more, my memory is failing me here)  Anyone know anything about this? It’s something I hadn’t heard of, and I’m sure as heck not admitting that to the husband if in fact this is something valid!  😀  I’ve tried googling it but I’m coming up empty.

Well, my brain has completely ran out of power today, so I’m calling it a day and going back to laundry.

Til tomorrow, be good to one another! -R

Confession time!

I’m sorry the blog is later than usual today.  My oldest is out of school on Spring Break, and we did a rare thing:  we went shopping.  I know that seems hard to believe, but it’s true.  Normally we’ve got the little one with us, which means shop FAST….or we’ll have the men with us too, which means shop even FASTER.  Today we took our time, and now I’m hard pressed to get this blog finished before my husband arrives home to an empty dinner table with nothing cooking.  *gasp*

In my quest to complete the blog, I scanned facebook and the boards for any bit of news to report on – and I found a new video!  It’s posted on Duran Duran’s Youtube channel, and it’s to Before the Rain.  It’s all over facebook and the boards now, but in case you haven’t seen it – here’s the link.

Naturally, I watched the video.  I have to say, Gavin Elder has outdone himself.  Yes, the video is of a photo shoot, but the video really works with the music well.  (the background and perhaps the subjects didn’t hurt either.)   This band combined with black and white video is just stunning.  I love seeing them laugh, and I think it’s interesting to see them all look with such great attention to detail at their proofs from the shoot.  Vanity?  Maybe.  Rock stars?  Definitely.  There was actually a glimpse of what I feel is a very rare thing these days – and that was Nick with a full smile.  Teeth and all.  I miss seeing that these days.  He has such a lovely smile, and yet we really don’t see that very often – just the smallest of grins usually, so it’s a treasure to see a full smile.  I know most of the shots end up on the cutting room floor, but I’m very curious about those white hats – hopefully we’ll see one or two of those pictures at some point!

While watching the video, I was thinking about how entwined the bands career has been with fashion.  I don’t have to recite much of the bands history with their Anthony Price suits and the New Romantic era…or even how they’ve played shows during Fashion Week in Milan to prove my point.  Yet fascinatingly enough, this blogger knows almost nothing about fashion.  That’s right.  I know almost nothing.  I realize this must be a shock, so go ahead and take a breath or two.  I’ll wait.

Here’s the reality:  I know what I like.  I’m casual.  I love denim.  I love t-shirts.  I wear flip-flops or athletic shoes on a daily basis.  I’m pretty sure that if Nick Rhodes showed up at my house, he’d take one look at my wardrobe closet, grab my Duran Duran albums, posters and what-not, and be on his way.  I wear makeup, but on any given day my makeup consists of eyeliner and mascara.  That’s it.   Sometimes I feel as though I’m a big faker who snuck in under the radar of whomever is the big judge of Duran Duran fans.   I have to try really hard when I go to Duran Duran shows, and that begins with telling myself that no, I really cannot possibly wear tennis shoes to the show – even though we ALL know that they are the most comfortable!   (you can’t even begin to imagine my joy when I started noticing, and oh yes, I *did* notice, that Nick started wearing sparkly athletic shoes of some sort on stage.  Bless. Him.)   I try to start noticing what people are wearing, and I do go shopping.  I just have to go against my gut instinct to put on a rock t-shirt, jeans and some old converse tennies and be on my way.

That said, I don’t rock the Mom jeans.  Pleats and I haven’t been friends since I was in about the second grade and pleated skirts were all the rage.  I really am against wearing a clothing fashion that I have photographs of myself wearing back in the 80’s (leggings and I broke up YEARS ago), and mostly – I just take a good hard look at myself in my mirror before I leave each day.  That’s about where my sense of style begins and ends, to be honest.  I read something once about how Nick (and I’m sorry if it seems as though I’m picking on him – I’m really not!) admires people for taking chances with their fashion.  My idea of taking chances is god forbid buying something off the rack without trying it on first.  That IS risky when you’ve had 3 children!!!  *gasp*

When I go to a Duran Duran show, I’m amazed at everything I see.  I admire the women who can still pull off purple hair in their 40’s and still look their children in the eye – I have a feeling mine would just laugh.  I wish I were that way….I aspire to be that way.  The hairstyles are amazing – I couldn’t ever pull off anything edgier than the very slight A-line haircut I’ve got going on right now, otherwise my hair would truly be wearing ME.  I love the way women will wear stilettos to a GA show and then look as though they’re still having fun the entire night.  There’s no way my feet would respect me in the morning after being treated that way.  My feet insist on flats, and since it’s the only way we continue to get along – they win.   So I watch and admire from afar.

I really don’t know how I got past the guards when I became a Duran Duran fan.  I’ve never bought a Vogue magazine, much less spent any kind of time pouring over what the latest designer fashions may be.  Never mind the fact that at least for most of my life – finances dictated that I shop from the discount rack.  I’ve learned to love nice things as I’ve grown older, but fashion is still my downfall.  It’s my little confession.  What’s yours?

Here is to Friendship

This weekend was a busy one for many a Duranie on the east coast.  If anyone was lucky enough to score a ticket to the Second Chance Prom in Hartford CT, Duran Duran did an acoustic set there on Friday night, and on Saturday they played at Foxwoods (also in Connecticut). I’ve seen photos both from the “prom” and from Foxwoods, and it looks like a good time was had by all.

Seeing the pictures and hearing the tales of the weekend reminded me of my trip to see Duran Duran at the Foxwoods resort a couple of years ago.  Naturally Amanda and I traveled together, and the show at Foxwoods was our first for that particular extended weekend!  We had the chance to meet some new friends that night before the show at the Hard Rock Cafe there at Foxwoods – “MichDuran” (her screenname) and SusanDeFeo (her real name…which was her screenname too!) sat across the table from us along with their husbands that night.  I remember thinking that their husbands were so nice to be willing to go along with them to the show, they were certainly good sports about it, and that my husband was sitting at home with our three kids at the time!  I’m not sure that we really made the best impression on our new friends at the time. (in fact I’m pretty sure I should continue to apologize for our behavior…) Amanda and I had just had our typical celebratory shot at the bar (that as far as I can remember was ridiculously strong and took effect rather quickly!), and since it was our first full night out together in several months, I am sure we were crazier than usual – making up for lost time, so to speak.  They all seemed to be very nice though, and after dinner I think we all ran our separate ways to get to the theater on time for the show.  I know I saw a few from that dinner after the show that night at whatever club we ended up at in the hotel, but it was nothing more than a fleeting “hi” and we were on our way.

Months later, a show was announced in Las Vegas.  Amanda and I made plans to go, and mentioned them on the message boards.  Sure enough, other friends were traveling out for the show, and we made plans for dinner on one of the nights.  Mich and Sue caught up with us on DDM and we made plans to meet them that night, along with another one of their friends – “Whooosh” (also her screenname!)   When the time came, we did catch up with two out of the three at the restaurant, but due to circumstances beyond all of our control we didn’t actually end up eating together.  We saw one another after the show and took a photo together, but there wasn’t a lot of catching up that we could do in the short amount of time we had.  We promised to do better next time, and went on our way, because really – that’s what you do during these short trips.  You squeeze in what you can, and promise to do better later.

Sadly, there isn’t always a next time, as we all learned some months later.  Sue DeFeo passed away in her sleep, and for Amanda and I – we won’t have that chance to catch up with her again.  I think the two of us learned a very powerful lesson from that experience, and that is – if you’re given the opportunity to connect with a friend, you take it.  You move mountains to spend that time if that’s what it takes, and you appreciate it, because you might not get the chance again.

As I said at the beginning of the blog, this weekend was busy for the folks on the east coast.  I know that Sue’s friends went to the prom and to Foxwoods this weekend, and I have no doubt whatsoever that Mich thought of Sue the entire time.  I hardly knew Sue and yet I found myself thinking about all of them – Mich, Whooosh, Sue…and a host of other faces I recognize but have yet to connect screennames with yet.   This was the first show that Mich went to without Sue, and I’m sure that it wasn’t easy.  I think to all of the traditions (sentimental, crazy….and “other”) that Amanda and I have, and I can’t imagine all of that just ceasing to exist.  Of course, we all know that Sue really WAS there with all of her friends (I have no doubt whatsoever.  There’s no way she was missing out on that acoustic set!), but I’m sure it was bittersweet to start new traditions and experience old ones without her physical presence.

I know this fan community has a lot of drama.  I also know there’s a lot of bitterness at times.  There’s also a lot of love and friendship.  When the time comes that I’ve stopped blogging, and stopped getting online and only have my memories of going to shows and being a fan to rely on – I highly doubt that I’ll remember the arguments or the one-upping that people seem to like to do.  My guess is that I’ll remember the tour binder, the customary shots we take to begin each of our touring weekends, our stops at IHOP, and the fact that I have three other people that I can call, day or night, to bail me out of jail if ever necessary.  😀

Here’s to starting new traditions, remembering old ones, and keeping our friends in our hearts and minds!  – R

Embarrassed to be a Fan?

Yesterday, I went door-to-door talking to voters about Wisconsin’s election on Tuesday.  Normally, the conversations would focus on candidates, political ads on TV, polling places and other political like topics.  This canvass was a little different as this political world of mine crossed into the fandom world and it offered me a mirror of sorts. 

At one house that we stopped at, the woman who lived there started telling us about an event coming up with various musical artists to support working rights in the state.  Normally, these local events bring artists only well-known within the community, the state or maybe the region.  No one really famous.  The guy I was canvassing with mentioned about how he would like to see Pete Seeger come to town.  (Pete Seeger is pretty famous when it comes to the worker rights movement, by the way.)  The voter we were talking to said that she would prefer Bruce Springsteen.  I found myself tuning out a bit.  I can’t say that I’m a Bruce fan despite him having political ideas that I generally agree with.  Musically, he doesn’t do much for me.  Did I think her idea of having him come to town was out of the range of possibility?  I don’t know.  I can’t see him coming for a small event held at one of the local theaters but I saw him when he was playing at Kerry/Edwards rallies during the 2004 political campaign season.  Anyway, that really isn’t the point of sharing this story.  Let me continue.  My canvass partner agreed that he would be great to get.  Then, the next thing I knew the two of them started comparing how many times they had seen him in concert, including when and where.  When she said that she had seen him in New York City, clearly, she wanted the fan prize of being bigger and better than the other guy.  This competition of sorts continued as he said that he saw some special acoustic show.  She responded with how her son works at a venue in Milwaukee and that she tried to get a note to Bruce through her son.  The note was going to be about how much she absolutely loved him and that she would still be willing to marry him.  I was not contributing to the conversation at all.  Instead, I stood silently, blinking furiously.  Should I laugh or cry?  Is this what I seem like when I am talking about Duran?

Obviously, there was so much to that conversation that I could relate to.  I, too, have found myself talking about how many concerts I have been to, which usually does include when and where.  Goodness knows that I want to tell everyone and anyone who will listen about how excited I am to be seeing them in their hometown, in their home country!!  I might have said once or twice in my lifetime, too, about how much I love John Taylor.  I might have even said that I would be willing to marry him.  I’m also sure that I would use a connection like she had with her son.  I can’t say that I would tell John how much I loved him in a note like that as I would probably be more likely to give him setlist recommendations.  (Have I mentioned how much Rhonda and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear Late Bar?!)  Despite all that I could relate to, I still found myself having mixed feelings.  I was slightly embarrassed for this woman.  I’m not sure why.  Obviously, I think going to shows is great.  I think it is wonderful to travel to see shows as I do it all the time.  Was it that she was expressing her inner fangirl to us, people who were random strangers?  Was it because she didn’t seem embarrassed about it that caught my attention as it isn’t typical for adults to talk about being an intense fan of something? 

After we left that woman’s house, my canvass partner continued to talk about how great Bruce is live.  Okay.  I had the chance to jump in and tell him either about seeing Bruce at the Kerry rally in 2004 or tell him that I could relate because I feel the exact same way about Duran.  I didn’t, though.  I still don’t know why really.  I have been in many situations where I have blabbed about my love for Duran.  In many of these situations, the people are new people to me.  I wonder if it had to do with the fact that when I am going on and on about that British band we love, it is usually with a crowd of women.  I have shared things about Duran with men that I know before, though, so that can’t be it.  I admit that I don’t know my canvass partner well.  I had only met him a couple of weeks earlier but he has volunteered a lot for my team and I suspect that he will stay involved.  Is it because these two worlds of politics and fandom are usually so separated that I didn’t know how to respond?  I wondered if it could be the stigma of fandom that I was worried about?  Let’s be honest here.  Most people think that fans are crazy.  Maybe they don’t think we are mental hospital type of crazy but they might think that there are so many more important things that we should be doing with our time.  Perhaps, they think that we haven’t grown up quite yet.  I think being a Duranie usually gives that stigma and more since Duran isn’t so respected, especially here in the States.  Was I too busy worrying about being respected by this new canvasser that I didn’t want to risk having myself labeled with the fandom stigma?  After all, I want this guy to join my team and when I mean my team, it literally is my team.  I’m the leader. I am the one who communicates with the actual campaigns and provides direction, organization and more to the team.  I do think that my members need to see me as a leader and that might not happen if all they can see is that I’m a Duranie.  I don’t know.  I don’t have any answers.

I doubt that I’m the only one out there who has held back the fact about being a Duranie, about being a fan.  While I don’t know for sure why I held back, I do know that I believe the stigma of being a fan, of being a Duranie is real.  I’m not sure what to do about it exactly, but I know that acknowledging it is the first step in ending it.  Then, I believe that I need to be prepared to actually say it no matter the people around, myself obviously included.  It shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about.  Frankly, it should be something to be proud of.  After all, I believe that the band is good, really good.  I should be proud to be their fan.  I should be proud to write this blog and to write the book.  Maybe if all of us came out of the fandom closet, the stigma would lessen.

-A   

The Spectrum of Fans

This past week I was reminded of the spectrum of fans.  This spectrum could be referring to age, location, political opinions and more, but, in this case, it refers to the spectrum of positive and negative.  On one end of the spectrum are those who seems to think that everything the band does is fabulous and that they can do no wrong.  On the other end of the spectrum, every move the band does is met with criticism.  Most of us live somewhere in between, I believe.  Nonetheless, this whole idea of a spectrum of this sort calls into question if both kinds of fans are good for the fan community or not? 

This idea that there is span of positive and negative fans started early in the week when I was on some social networking site and saw that a friend of mine had posted something about an actor she likes who just signed on to a new project.  I glanced at it quickly and planned to move past until I saw that she wanted people to comment on this new project, but only if the comments would be positive.  She didn’t want to read negative reactions at all as she just wanted to be excited and happy about seeing her favorite actor in some new show.  I almost responded to it, but not to react to the actor news but to respond to the no negative statements wanted comment.  I didn’t, though.  Then, a couple of days later, Simon hurt his back and the band had to cancel their appearance on Sirius radio.  Immediately, there were negative reactions to the news as some seemed to think that this would stop Duran’s ability to do a lot of promotion and to play shows, which would seriously harm their chance at success for this album.  Again, this type of reaction caught my attention and again, I thought about commenting, but didn’t. 

To me, both of these types of comments are extreme.  As far as the “I don’t want to hear anything negative” person goes, this seems not only silly to me but detrimental.  Are all moves that a band, actor, sports team or author does good moves?  I don’t think so.  I have seen Duran Duran make moves that I thought were fabulous and I voice that opinion here, on social networking sites or on message boards.  Like many Duranies, I was beyond thrilled with the reunion and expressed my excitement all over the place!!  That was a great move, in my opinion.  On the other hand, I have also seen moves that make me cringe.  For example, the decision to work with Timbaland was one that I questioned.  Now, years later, I might conclude that this was a bad move for them.  Yet, do all Duranies agree with me?  No way.  I’m sure that there are many fans who liked Duran with just Simon, Nick and Warren.  Maybe Warren was their favorite member.  I’m also sure that there are those who think that working with Timbaland was great.  Disagreements are going to happen.  Should fandoms just accept the idea that everything the band/actor/author does is fabulous?  I don’t think so.  Part of fandom’s goal, in my opinion, is to discuss what is good and bad.  I think this type of discussion keeps people involved and engaged and that once people become unengaged, then they will leave and the fandom dies.  Of course, the fandom could also struggle if every fan is on the other end of the positive/negative gamut.

Some fans always seem to find something to criticize about the focus of their fandom.  In these cases, it is almost like the band/actor/author/sports team can’t do anything right.  In Duranland, I,sometimes, feel like these fans are just sitting and waiting for the next move because no matter what the band does, it isn’t right.  It reminds me of those parents who aren’t satisfied with their kids getting Bs and As on their report cards because they should have gotten all As.  It is never good enough.  As much as I don’t understand the “let’s always be positive fans”, I really don’t understand the others.  Isn’t there something positive and good with the band/actor/author?  There must have been at one time or another or else I’m assuming that they wouldn’t have become fans in the first place.  Now, I’m not saying that people should stop having opinions.  I don’t think that.  I also realize that there are times when it might seem that all of the moves are negative but if that is all that there is, then why still pay attention?  Why still care what the moves are?  If they are all bad, why not just walk away?  Plus, I don’t think it does anything to help the fandom thrive, either, as this doesn’t lead to meaningful discussion either.  Maybe there can be some good conversations, but after awhile, people will stop listening or caring about what Mr. or Ms. Negative is saying.

Luckily, I believe that most people in any given fandom are somewhere in between these two extremes of all positive and all negative.  Most of us, Duranies, think that most of the moves have been generally good, but will agree that some haven’t been.  We like to discuss which moves are which.  People then engage in conversation and get to know other fans.  This helps the fandom stay alive as people get a personal connection and remain part of a community and a community with diverse thinking.

-A   

Looking Forward (Cautiously) to the Upcoming Mini-Tour!

Three weeks from today, I’ll be in Minneapolis waiting for my first Duran show since the summer of 2009.  To say that I’m excited is a bit of an understatement!  I have been barely able to keep myself in check while I see others attending Duran shows, including my writing partner.  Soon it will be my turn.  Like Rhonda, I will be able to see two shows before we head to the UK.  Unlike Rhonda, these shows will be back-to-back, in Minneapolis and Chicago.  In my opinion, these shows are the warm-ups to the shows in the UK.  It isn’t that I’m not thrilled to go to them, but they will be different.  First, they are general admission shows, which I hate, but will suffer through.  The shows in the UK have seats and we have pretty good seats for them.  🙂  Then, for the shows here, I’m sure that I will run into people I know!  While this is generally a good thing, I will be able to experience the freshness, the fun of meeting new people while in the UK.  Lastly, I will be attending these shows in the Midwest with some people I have attended shows with and some new people.  No matter what, it will be different than what I am used to.

I have been “touring” for what seems like a long time now.  When I first started attending multiple shows back during the 2005 tour, I went to shows with a ton of different people and had an awesome time doing it!  Then, as the years progressed, I found myself getting into a touring pattern of sorts.  I now have a routine to attending shows.  It usually goes something like this.  A show or series of shows are announced, I call Rhonda.  We both comment for hours about how silly the dates are and about the genius was who came up with the shows in this way.  At the same time we are doing this, we are contemplating what can be done and what should be done.  After a conversation or three, we generally have a plan.  (This is pretty much how we decided the UK tour, too.)  That plan usually consists of the two of us finding our way to a location where a show is taking place.  From there, we pick a typical hotel for us and fill in an agenda.  We have actually developed traditions on tours that we can’t imagine not doing now.  For example, we like to eat at IHOP at some point.  Bet you would never get the Duran connection there…Anyway, we have developed a similar style of traveling and a similar approach when it comes to the show itself.  For example, some fans like to get to the venue at the last minute.  We aren’t like that.  We prefer to arrive in time to scope out our location, get a drink, etc.  I’m not sure if we were really this similar before we started touring together or if it just happened naturally over the years, but it is what it is now.  I have to admit that I like it this way.  It is comfortable and both of us know what to expect of it and of each other.  Obviously, it has worked well for us as we keep doing it over and over again.  If it didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be planning to travel to the UK together for 9 days! 

Now, for my Midwestern mini-tour, I will be going with people other than Rhonda. I’m obviously looking forward to seeing the band live, especially seeing the new songs performed, but I’m also looking forward to the experience of going to shows with different people.  My Midwestern travel buddy is a good friend of mine here and is someone who is going with us to the UK.  We are good friends who have attended shows together before.  We have even been to many of the same Duran shows but we have never really gone together.  (That seems really weird to me, by the way.)  While I believe that we are going to have an awesome experience both at the shows and 
traveling to them, I still know that it will be different than when I go with Rhonda.  I’m pretty serious when it comes to my Duran show experiences and hope that I don’t scare her away or anything!  LOL.  Beyond my hometown buddy, three other people will be joining us.  One of those people will be another good friend of mine who lives in Minneapolis.  She has attended a Duran show with me and knows what to expect (I think.  I hope.)  Will these two friends get along?  I suspect that they will!  Then, for the Chicago show, we have two others joining us.  One of them is a friend of hers whom I have been looking forward to meeting for a long time.  She isn’t a Duranie, though.  She likes the band and is looking for a good time.  Will this person think I’m insane?  I can be pretty intense about my fandom.  (If this blog wasn’t proof of that, the book will be!)  The last person has yet to be completely determined.  I’m hoping that my cousin’s wife is able to go.  She has been a long time Duranie and I know she will have a blast, if she is able to arrange for a baby-sitter. 

I have three weeks to finalize my plans for this little mini-tour.  The concert goers will all be set as will the times of departure in all locations.  We will have a game plan about when to arrive to the venues and where we should head to when we enter them.  Hopefully, we will have a chance to see other friends when out and about.  I have no doubt that the band will live up to my expectations.  I suspect that despite any concern I have about this little mini-tour, I think it will still be absolutely fabulous and will wet my appetite for more!

-A

The Daily Duranie Review – All You Need Is Now (Deluxe Version) Packaging

Continuing in our weekly review series, today A & R will be reviewing the packaging for the new album.  For most bands, perhaps that seems like an odd thing to review, but as fans of Duran Duran know, the band takes as much pride in how their end product is packaged as they do the content contained within.  We will be reviewing the Best Buy Deluxe Edition packaging for the U.S.

Rhonda’s notes:

It’s a relief to finally have something physical to actually hold!!  I’d been waiting months to be able to pour over the artwork, hoping that the photos would somehow become clearer to me than what I’d seen online.  Sadly, that isn’t really to be the case here, as you’ll read below.

First of all, I do like the striking contrast of the pink and charcoal front.  The print is done in an almost metallic like finish, which is very different from what other artists use these days, since all of that ‘extra’ adds to the final cost of the album!  The photo(s) on the front consist of a bed on one side (the “pink”) side, and on the charcoal side – what I think might be a chandelier.  Maybe.  Then of course there’s the infamous black “burn mark” with a giant pink D in the middle, along with the band’s name at the top, and the name of the album scrawled across the front.  An interesting point is that there appears to be some sort of an animal print (Leopard maybe?) rug thing on the floor by the bed.   I was really hoping that once I was able to see the artwork in person that it would somehow become clearer to me – and that just isn’t the case.  I still can’t tell exactly what I’m looking at – although perhaps that’s the point.  The only thing that is clear is what we’re examining at the time?

Clunie Reid is the artist that the band chose to work with to create the album artwork.  I’m fairly familiar with her body of works, but what strikes me most about the artwork is that Clunie worked from pictures that Nick Rhodes took – and then used her own artistry to manipulate the photos into the story she wished to tell.  My problem with the artwork is simply that it’s incredibly obvious.  Think of Duran Duran for a moment.  Tell me what images come to mind when you think of them (aside from each member of the band!).  Women, beds, body images, sex…oh and I suppose some yachts might be nice on the side! (that would be over the top obvious for this album, no?)  This album’s artwork has all of that…and perhaps even a leopard print rug.  Duran Duran is smarter than that, and quite honestly, so is Clunie Reid.    That aside though, the images aren’t necessarily beautiful.  I look at the bed coverings – they seem to be those really cheap satiny finish bedspreads that I remember my mom having back in the 70’s.  There’s a big black spot on the album cover that I still can’t quite figure out.  The images in the art booklet that is included inside the album are very grainy…distorted and have more of that metallic finish.  The artwork doesn’t detract from the packaging…but it doesn’t add that extra layer of interest that I believe Duran Duran have always excelled at including.  The artwork isn’t smart, it doesn’t make you think…and that is very disappointing for this fan.

The booklet, as I mentioned above, comes with the deluxe version of the album.  It’s printed in a reasonably good weight of art paper, probably so that the metallic effect that Clunie worked with would show itself off well.  It appears that the images in the book are variations of the same exposure.  The first pages are of a woman in what I think might be a jacuzzi or bath – she’s got a diamond pendant held up to her mouth.  The second pages (intermixed with lyrics) are of a topless woman with water being sprinkled over her.  There is great beauty in the female body – I’m pretty sure the band understands that rather well!   There’s just a certain amount of boredom (for me) that goes along with that. I’m no prude whatsoever, but it’s just so OVERDONE and EXPECTED.  I’m not surprised it’s there – I probably would have been more shocked had it not been, but it would just be nice to have it actually mean something for a change.  It’s Duran Duran though, and I do suppose there’s a certain frivolity that goes along with that.  As I said, it was expected!

One thing the booklet does not include are pictures of the band.  Conspicuously absent from the artwork are any photos of the band.  I know many fans don’t care, still others care very much.  My personal opinion is that it would have been nice to have had at least one.  I know it’s difficult to believe, but there are actual people out in the world that haven’t seen the band since the 1980’s.  I’m guessing those people, should they be compelled to pick up this album, would like to see what the band looks like these days.  Well, they won’t see that here.  They’d better get themselves to iTunes or Youtube and watch some videos!

I paid special attention to the liner notes on the back page of the booklet, as well as the credit page.  The list of thank you’s seems to be getting longer and longer!!  One thing that I really found distasteful was the very last few lines of credits.  The name of the band and it’s current members are in bold…and then a line is skipped and then Dom Brown is listed as guitar.  I think it’s fine to have bolded the band – but I think that they could have found a better place to credit Dom with guitar.  Perhaps he could have been included on the credits page (not in bold), and that way it wouldn’t have looked like such an afterthought on the back page of the book.  Yes, it’s nit-picky.  I agree.  I just think it looks kind of lame to put him there, to be honest.  I know the intention was probably to include his name prominently, but because of the fact the band is bolded, and Dom is not a 5th member of the band they couldn’t do that for him but felt he was worth more than just a mention on the credit page.   It just looks tacky in the end.

Ultimately for me the packaging on this album is generally ho-hum.  It doesn’t add, it doesn’t really detract…but it’s not the work of beauty that the album so richly deserves.  When I think back to what this album really stands for, and what adversity the band has come from in order to get to this point, I just feel they missed the yacht on this one.

Amanda’s notes:
Many of my comments will be similar to Rhonda’s and others not so much.  Like Rhonda, I was completely thrilled with being able to hold an actual album in my hands.  While I am okay with downloading much of my music, for some bands, for some artists, I must get a hardcopy.  Those artists are like Duran in that I have a large collection of their music AND they take their time to produce a quality product.  I can remember even being excited to hold Red Carpet Massacre in my hands on the day it was released.  I also remember being generally pleased with the packaging even if I wasn’t thrilled with the actual cover.  Therefore, I figured that AYNIN would, at least, be as good of quality. 

I purchased my copy at the local Best Buy (see Rhonda’s post on March 22nd for all of the details of her experience!).  As soon as I unwrapped it, I noticed there was a sleeve covering the actual album.  At the time, I thought that seemed strange to have an additional sleeve like that because it is cumbersome to take off and on, especially since it goes on from the top or bottom as opposed to the side.  On closer inspection, I realized that this additional sleeve was added to show the additional songs available on the exclusive Best Buy edition.  That made perfect sense to me until I realized the back cover of the actual album doesn’t match like the outside sleeve does.  On top of that, the booklet does not match either.  The booklet contains the lyrics to 13 of the songs with lyrics.  It does not contain the lyrics to ALL of the songs on the Best Buy edition.  Okay.  I can live with that.  Networker Nation’s lyrics are in the booklet with the track number being 15.  Uh.  On the Best Buy edition, it is number 17.  Why put song numbers at all if the booklets were to be used for all editions?  Why not just have song titles?  The way that they have it seems lazy.  If they wanted to keep both song titles and track numbers, then why not have a special booklet for this exclusive edition?  Then, it could have included all song lyrics.  This seems very un-Duran Duran like.  Where was the attention to detail here?

Now, as for the front cover itself, my opinion about it didn’t change much from when it was unveiled online months ago.  I appreciate the glossy quality of the pink D and think that it is a nice touch to have the “All You Need Is Now” part raised.  That seemed to be the Duran that I know and love.  Very detail focused.  That said, the artwork still seemed generally okay with me.  I was hoping that it would fit more with the music, but it didn’t.  The left side still seems dark and the right side or pink side seems brighter.  Yet, on the album, the songs don’t go in the same order.  Some of the darker songs are toward the end of the album.  Maybe that is the whole point.  Maybe the cover really doesn’t have anything to do with anything and that the joke is on those of us who are looking for a pattern, a reason, something.  As for the back cover, I liked that it was all in pink and still had a big D on it, which goes in the opposite direction.  Yet, it didn’t have the same glossy finish.  It isn’t bad but it isn’t anything special either.

The inside part of the packaging had more Nick photos with Clunie Reid’s art.  Like Rhonda, I, too, don’t really need to see another woman.  Duran has done it to death.  I do appreciate that the artwork carried over to the actual CD and DVD even with a D featured on them.  I do appreciate that they got a theme and stuck with it.  I wish that the CD and DVD were easier to get out and in.  I worry that I will end up putting fingerprints all over them!  Perhaps, they would have been better off putting it in different kind of case?  I don’t know.  Obviously, it doesn’t matter for the booklet at all, though.

Speaking of the booklet, I had a very similar reaction to Rhonda.  In fact, on that day, while she was still in her quest to find a Best Buy with a copy, I had texted her to complain that there are NO pictures of the band.  While I love art and I do (my mom is an artist), I also love seeing pictures of the band.  I keep seeing these great photoshoots but where are the photos?  When and where will I see them?  It is like they are trying to tease me/us!  Now, I do appreciate that they included the lyrics (unlike RCM—what does that say about what they think about these lyrics vs. those lyrics of the last album?!  Hmm….)  I also appreciated that they included the date of the writing/recording as well as who was a writer on the song.  🙂

My general impression is like Rhonda’s.  The packaging isn’t bad but it isn’t really what I’m used to.  Of course, they have a chance to redeem themselves a bit when they come out with the vinyl packaging.  I was much more impressed with the packaging for RCM’s vinyl than I was for the regular or deluxe version of it.  Perhaps, the same thing will happen with this album.