Right now as I type this, I am listening to A Diamond in the Mind, the live CD. Funny how listening to this brings me right back to the UK shows I went to in late November and early December of 2011. I can remember standing there listening intently to Simon sing Before the Rain, and then practically rejoicing in the moment when the lights come up about 2/3 of the way through the song. Every time I saw it – and I saw it 4 times during that trip, I could feel the excitement reverberating right off my body. It was amazing.
Amanda and I decided that each of us, and hopefully at least one of you readers out there, would share our most favorite concert experience, whether that’s a song, a full show, whatever. I don’t think I realized just how difficult it would be for me to decide upon my favorite show when I agreed to do this. The fact is, I have favorite moments from many, many shows. I think I’m lucky that way. Some moments are because I felt that electric moment of connectivity between a band member and myself. Other moments are from pure joy at seeing all five original members onstage again. Still more moments are from watching “the new guy” blend in absolutely beautifully and seamlessly with the band. Other moments happen because the band collectively plucked me up from my life and took me on a wild ride during the course of a 2 hour show….and then there was the night that did anything and everything a concert should.
For me, that show was Glasgow in 2011. It was the final night, the final stop on our “train tour” of the UK. By this point in the week that Amanda and I were traveling, I was pretty much completely spent. To be honest, I had been very sick the night before and was still not feeling that great, but I was determined to make this show happen. So much so, that when I was told by our hosts that the weather had called for snow and that we might not be able to actually get to Glasgow (we’d stayed in Edinburgh), I think I might have actually pitched a bit of a fit. We left early in the day to get to Glasgow before it began to snow, and I slept in the car along the way. I wish I hadn’t because I didn’t see any part of the ride from Edinburgh to Glasgow, but as I said – I was still feeling fairly ill. The one thing I remember distinctly from the venue, aside from meeting some wonderful Duran friends we’d only conversed online with prior, was that I couldn’t get warm. I was freezing. I don’t know if the Scots just don’t like heat, or if was just that I wasn’t used to the weather, but the place felt like it was 30 or 40 degrees inside. Our seats for this show were to be our best yet – second row center. It was fitting that this was to be our last show – my motto is “last time, best time”, and so I figured we were ending it correctly. Funny thing: we added Glasgow relatively last minute. We hadn’t bought tickets originally when they’d gone on sale. We’d agreed to only do three shows (if you read Daily Duranie you know that we’d originally gone to the UK back in May of 2011 when Simon had vocal problems and had to postpone the tour), and somewhere along the way – we’d seen that there were a couple of second row Glasgow tickets that came up. My feeling was that if we could swing it – we needed to go, and we did. After agreeing it was time to get to our seats, we made our way into the arena, which seemed even colder than the rest of the venue! I shivered my way up to the second row, which seemed extremely close, and giggled with Amanda as we made our way to our seats. I couldn’t believe how amazing they were! It seemed like forever as we waited for the band to finally take the stage, and I had to keep my huge down parka on the entire time, it was that cold for me! (Yes, I am a wimp. I’m from Southern California and it makes HUGE news when we wake up to frost on the ground. No, I’m not kidding. Ask John Taylor.)
When they finally did take the stage, the front row ran for the rail. This doesn’t really happen in the states – where there is typically about 6 inches between the chairs and the rail guarding you (audience) from them! (band…and vice-versa in a lot of cases!) I was really happy with where our seats were, and so I stupidly took about 20 extra seconds to decide to run for the front. We got up there, but not quite to the rail – we were in the second row, but even so – that was AMAZINGLY close. Imagine feeling self-conscious because you are right in the faces of the band. Yeah, that’s me, worrying that I look like a nutter being up that close! (Note to self: Rhonda, you write a daily blog about being a fan….you’re already at nutter status kiddo.) That feeling didn’t last for too long though, as the music has this way of enveloping you and taking you somewhere completely different where nothing else really matters…and that’s how I spent the majority of the concert, and this my friends is the absolute closest I think I’ve ever been to that ever-treasured front row.
Another thing I have to mention here is that as you all know, we’re from the US. I am from California (Orange County) and Amanda is from Wisconsin. Even though we were both truly thousands of miles from home, we knew nearly everyone around us in this crowd. How in the hell does that happen?!? I can go to a Duran Duran show at home – like in Costa Mesa for instance, and pretty much know no one around me. I might see a few people I recognize, but that’s about it. Yet I travel to the UK and it’s like going to a show with old friends. I don’t think anyone would have been able to explain to me just how special of an experience it is to travel outside of your country, meet people you’ve only spoken to online and then be able to call these people lifelong friends thereafter – and yet that’s exactly what I’ve experienced this year. I can’t imagine never seeing these wonderful people again, so my future “tours” will be including them for as long as possible. Yes, Duran Duran really has brought people together, and I will never, EVER regret going back to the UK after that first trip last May. As John said, there was a reason beyond the trouble with Simon’s voice that it didn’t happen the first time and going back only made it better. He is 100% correct.
So while my “spot” had everything to do with why this show is among my favorites, it was the music and the experience that pushes it over the edge for me. There were several times during the show that I completely forgot just how big the arena really was until a song would end and there would be a deafening cheer. One of the reasons I love The Man Who Stole a Leopard live is because the band insists that we clap – and as you are clapping, you need to look around – it is remarkable to see everyone standing up and clapping together. It’s a special moment in the setlist and I still say they’ve made a mistake by removing it from the setlist. It was only in that moment as I looked around and saw everyone clapping that I realized I was in this huge arena and not in a much smaller venue.
Then of course there’s the interaction. Who does not want to be close to the band?? (OK, you men and a few of you women out there who are only in it for the music might be saying “ME” at this point. I get it and I bow my head in reverence to your fandom.) Me? I like being close! Call me crazy but when you’ve got band members coming over in your general direction and they bend down to play right in your face and lock eyes with you – if that doesn’t get your blood pumping NOTHING WILL. You might even be dead, and that would be most unfortunate! I had several moments like that during their show, and I still say that certain guitar players breathed new life into a song or two for me. We’ll just leave it at that for now.
I’m not usually one to be brought to tears at shows. I know fans who have cried, and while I suppose I can understand their sentiment at certain songs – that’s just not me. In Glasgow though, my heart was so full by the end of the show. I was partially sad because I knew it was my last show (and I think that at the time I didn’t even know if they’d be coming back to the US again), I was exhilarated by my excitement, I was joyous because the show was really that good, and when it ended – it was so bittersweet. Yes, they left me wanting more. Again. It’s difficult not to feel that letdown, yet I was determined not to let it ruin my night. When I waved to the band that final time – in fact I’m pretty sure at least one or two of them knew it was my last show before going home so I caught their eye and said good-bye, to which they grinned and said as much in return, I felt completely spent. I’d given all of my energy to them at that show, and I felt as though they’d lived up to their end of the bargain as well. I think I said to Amanda “that’s how I should feel after EVERY show”.
We walked out of the arena and out of the venue, thinking we’d hang out with our friends at the hotel bar nearby before heading back to Edinburgh. After making our way to the hotel, I dared to peek out the window and saw huge snowflakes coming down. This was a problem because we had to drive back to Edinburgh on the highway, and apparently they aren’t used to snow in Glasgow or Edinburgh – so the highways shut down when it snows. We couldn’t be stuck in Glasgow because we had a flight out early the next morning. So, we said hasty good-byes and started out for our trip home. We made it back to Edinburgh without a single problem although it was well after midnight before we got home – we had to be up at about 5am to leave for the airport, and our host headed to her bed while Amanda and I packed up. It was during this time that we agreed that we would not sleep before leaving in a few hours. (I plead insanity due to Duran Duran!) Instead we stayed up, endlessly searching for youtube videos from the show (admittedly I was on the hunt for a video of Hungry Like the Wolf because I wanted to see a specific moment in the show that Amanda had noticed from Dom that I hadn’t), I left Facebook posts for our friends, chatted with US friends (I loved the time difference!!), tweeted about our evening and trip, and even left messages for a couple of special band members, thanking them for what was truly the trip of our lives. I think it’s probably important to note here – for those conspiracy theorists amongst us – that Amanda and I never got any closer to the band than being in the crowd while they were onstage. We didn’t get backstage for after parties, we didn’t ever see them at a hotel or whatnot. They just did an outstanding job during their shows. Sure, the winks, grins and nods didn’t hurt either…and we wanted to thank them.
By the time the taxi arrived to take us to the airport, I had greatly regretted my decision not to sleep. I knew I had an incredibly long day of travel ahead of me, but I had to hope that somehow this would help me readjust to California time. I also had to hope that I wouldn’t run into ANYONE in the airports because I truly looked like I had just come off of a three day bender. It wasn’t pretty. We got to our gate in Edinburgh and fell into our seats (by the way I was STILL freezing!), and tried to make sense of the week we’d had.
I can’t imagine that any concert I ever attend again will come close to those moments in Glasgow. (but I’m certainly willing to keep trying!) I think that’s why all of us continue to go to shows though – we’re looking for that “high”. Luckily for me, they seem to keep getting better and better.