Category Archives: 2011 All You Need is Now US tour

Today in Duran History – Baton Rouge

On today’s date in 2011, Duran Duran played at the Baton Rouge River Center.  This date was included in on the All You Need is Now tour.  Neon Trees was the opening band. Were you there?

Here is the set list:

Before the Rain

Planet Earth

A View To A Kill

All You Need is Now

Blame the Machines

Come Undone

Safe (in the Heat of the Moment)

The Reflex

The Man Who Stole a Leopard

Girl Panic

Tiger Tiger

Careless Memories

Leave a Light On

Ordinary World

Notorious

Hungry Like the Wolf

Sunrise

Encore:

Wild Boys

Rio

 

-R

Today in Duran History – Vegas

On today’s date in 2011, Duran Duran played at The Joint in Las Vegas, and of course this date was included in their All You Need is Now Tour. In looking at the calendar, one thing I can tell for certain is that the band doesn’t seem to mind playing in Vegas around this time of the year.

Gotta say, I don’t usually watch the whole clip of whatever I’m posting. I check it out to make sure it’s reasonably clear, post it, and go on about my day.  Today, I stopped and watched, and so should you.  Simon is especially theatrical in this one, Nick is practically dancing at his keyboard, and dang it…I miss this band.  Looking forward to the day when they’re playing live (and not just for private gigs) again.

-R

Today in Duran History – John Taylor in Tokyo

On this date in 2001, John Taylor did promo work in Tokyo…and since I don’t have any other exciting information to add to that (if anyone else does, send it in!), I’ll also add that on this date in 2011, the band played the Fox Theater in Pomona California as part of their All You Need is Now Tour!  I was there for this one, and I can say – it was a great show.  They played Friends of Mine on this night and nearly brought the house down when it played.

Lastly, I have it on good authority from DDHQ that The Reflex has an anniversary coming up.  #30 is coming up on Wednesday.  If you’re on Twitter, they’ve been using the hash tag #DDReflex8414 to celebrate.

Busy week ahead – my kids are on Spring Break, so a very Happy Monday to you and yours!  If you caught the blog earlier, you may have noticed that I had the wrong month’s worth of dates today.

All I will say is that it’s Monday and my children are home on break.  I think that explains it all.

-R

How Many Shows of the All You Need Is Now Tour (Feb. 11, 2011 to August 24, 2012) Did You See?

I am continuing in my quest to find out about Duran Duran fans and their touring experiences.  First, I asked about what year people first saw Duran.  Then, I asked which tour people first saw Duran.  Now, I will break it down into specific tours.  People wondered which tour was most popular.  This is my attempt to figure that out.  Thus, I am curious how many shows people went to during the All You Need Is Now Tour, which lasted from February 11, 2011 to August 24, 2012. Please note, I’m not trying to make this a competition or show that some fans are better/bigger than others.  This is part of the reason I created a poll.  All you need to do is indicate how many shows you went to on this poll.

I Must Have Flowers in my Brain

I have been a part of Duranland, of the Duran Duran fan community for a long time.  I have seen and heard a lot of discussions about a variety of topics.  Sometimes, topics come back over and over again.  For example, discussions surrounding setlists and single choices seem to pop up over and over again, especially during touring time and during new albums.  Despite my experiences and observations, I still find myself surprised, at times, by what comes up in discussion and what does not.  Rhonda and I comment to each other frequently about which blog posts result in a lot of discussion and which do not.  Sometimes, we know a topic might get a lot of attention.  Typically, posts surrounding things like DDM, the official fan club, or presales get a lot of comments and discussion.  Yet, some topics result in crickets chirping.  Those topics are easy to see if you look through the history of this blog.  Many of those posts have very few comments or no comments.  Of course, there are topics that we have yet to tackle and many of those haven’t been talked about by the fan community either.  One of the topics I am surprised hasn’t had any discussion in the documentary part of A Diamond in the Mind.  I can’t imagine that people haven’t watched it.  Yes, there must be some fans who haven’t but there has to be a lot of fans who have.  So, why isn’t there discussion about it?

The documentary part of the DVD is not very long, a mere eleven plus minutes.  Yet, it is jammed packed with discussion topics.  The documentary title is Duran Duran 2011.  It goes through the previous year, including highlights, Simon losing his voice, the live band, the Girl Panic video and a summary.  Of course, there are more specific topics that can be pulled out.  For example, when they discussed the live band, they talked about Dom and Dom spoke.  The only people who spoke in the documentary where Simon, Nick, Roger, John and Dom.  So, certainly, there could be a discussion surrounding Dom’s role, his place in the band, etc.  Another topic that could be discussed would be the highlights given.  The band talked about Coachella, Unstaged with David Lynch, and American festivals.  We could discuss if we agree with those highlights, why the band might think those were the highlights, etc.  Of course, there was a great bit of attention given to Simon’s vocal problems in the summer of 2011.  Again, I have to ask.  Are those not worthy topics?  Are we tired of talking about Simon’s vocal difficulties?  Do we not want to look back to 2011?  Is our fan community focused more on the present and the future?  That could be.  After all, the band, themselves, seem to focus on the present and the future much more.  Yet, as a historian, I see the value of looking at the past and analyzing it.  After all, hindsight can make a big difference in how we see something.  Then, of course, there is the discussion of Dom and his role in the band.  I know how passionate people are about Duran’s guitarist no matter which guitarist one is loyal to.  That said, isn’t it worth a discussion? 

As someone who likes dive into everything Duran, I propose that we tackle the topics that I presented, the topics that Duran included in the documentary.  I wish go through topic by topic in the coming weeks.  I am hoping that everyone has a chance to rewatch the documentary or watch it for the first time before I dive into these items of discussion.  It is also very likely that I have missed a topic.  Thus, I welcome suggestions for topics.  While this blog is mine and Rhonda’s, it is also a place for all fans.  Maybe, you not only have a topic from the documentary to discuss but you want to lead the discussion.  I would welcome that.  After all, a lot of people are probably sick to death of what Rhonda and I.  Next week, I will start the documentary discussion on 2011 highlights.  As part of this discussion, I plan on not only talking about the band’s highlights but my personal highlights related to Duran as there were many.  I will ask you to do the same. 

-A

UK vs. US and the Ideal Show

Since attending my first UK show in Brighton a little over a week ago, people have asked me if I prefer to see shows in the UK or the US.  I think they would like a simple, quick answer.  Unfortunately, I don’t really have one.  I have learned about what kind of experience I prefer to have over the course of this tour and previous tours.  In most cases, my preferences have little to do with the location.  That said, I’m willing to admit that there were some differences between the two.

Rhonda and I have been saying that we need to write a book with the title, “Things We Have Learned on Tour”.  In this book, we would have a whole chapter, at least, dedicated to what makes an ideal show experience FOR US.  Those last two words are key.  Elements that we desire might not be what everyone desires.  Nonetheless, we have been able to determine what makes an ideal show after seeing Duran perform in various locations over the course of years.  Our ideal show starts out pretty simple.  We need to have good seats.  (Disclaimer:  We have been very lucky to have had many “good” seats and realize that not everyone has had this experience or can have this experience.)  So, what do I mean about good seats?  When I first started touring, I would have said that good seats include any seat within 20 rows of the stage, on either side, as long as they are too far off to the side.  I have been fortunate in that I have been able to get seats that fit that description through DDM, the fan club.  Now, though, my opinion has changed.  We had good seats for this tour.  In most cases, this is partly due to our willingness to spend a lot for them and the fact that we got tickets after they had gone on sale so we could be really picky before purchasing.  On this tour, we had 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows.  The 2nd row seats were the best and not just because they were the closest but because they were in the middle.  We could see everyone and everything happening on the stage.  When you are off to a side, this becomes a lot more difficult.  For Rhonda and I, this is the ideal setting.  She can watch Dom and I can watch John.  We are both happy, especially since so much of the show happens more in the middle.  Thus, we have now been spoiled and will have a hard time not going after seats like this again.  They were worth the money.

The second element we need for an ideal setting is a good crowd, in both a large sense and in a smaller sense.  We need the whole venue to be into it or at least willing to be into it!  At the Brighton show, for example, people did not stand much during the first song but then jumped to their feet for the second song and stayed there.  They got into it even if it took a minute.  On the other hand, Bournemouth’s crowd sat down A LOT.  This is unacceptable to me.  Yes, Duran suffered from technical difficulties during this show.  That said, they might have been better able to regroup if the crowd was good.  Yet, for Rhonda and I, we also need a good crowd around us.  We need our area of the venue to be especially into it.  For both Brighton and Glasgow, especially, we were surrounded by friends.  The show then became like a large party.  We could share the intense, funny, or cool moments together.  We could then feed off of each other’s energy to intensify our fun! 

For a long time, I focused on show elements that a lot of people focus on:  the venue and the setlist.  People want small venues and they want new and exciting setlists.  While I, too, would appreciate a more intimate setting (as long as there are assigned seats!) and a varied setlist, I have discovered that those don’t matter as much as the other elements of good seats and good crowds.  The most boring setlist can become a lot of fun with the right people and with a band that is full of energy!  Goodness, even Rhonda learned to appreciate Hungry Like the Wolf!  I found new excitement over songs like the Reflex this time.  The setlists, I think, become more important if those other elements of good seats and good crowds are missing.  The same is true for the venue.  I figure that the venue doesn’t matter much if I have good seats.  The largest arena in the world can feel small when you are 2nd row!  Then, in fact, if the crowd is good, it becomes a real party of 10,000 people!  For example, when everyone at the SECC in Glasgow was clapping to Leopard in unison, the echo of the claps was overwhelming. 

This, of course, brings me back to the original question.  Which is better:  the UK or the US?  In many ways, for me, it isn’t about the country as my ideal show can take place in either location.  Right now, the best concert I have ever seen in the one in Glasgow because of those parts I mentioned earlier.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t have the same experience in the US because I think it is possible.  Of course, I can acknowledge that there are differences beyond those aspects I have already discussed.  One thing I thought was weird in the UK is how far back from the stage, the seats started.  There was a walkway for photographers, then there was a barricade.  I would have thought that first row would have started at that barricade.  Nope.  There was still more space before the seats began.  I think that makes less seats “good” at least with my definition.  That said, I found the non-US fans to be refreshing.  Many of them have been friends for not just years but decades.  Duran brought many of them together and they haven’t lost their friendships in the quest to one up each other that I observe in the US.  For me, that felt nice to not have to worry about what other fans are saying, thinking or doing like I feel like I have to do here.  One thing I did miss, though, is the after parties that typically take place after shows in the US.  I didn’t see as many people doing that after shows in the UK.  🙁

Yet, obviously, traveling to the UK is very expensive and requires a lot of money and a serious amount of time to do it right.  Thus, while I hope to go back to the UK for a convention or for shows, it won’t be the standard touring location.  It just can’t be.  This makes me appreciate our experience more as it was special.  I had such a fabulous time and learned a lot about what is an ideal show for me.  All I can do now is save money to do shows the right way, no matter which country they take place in.

-A

The End of the US Tour and Embracing the Now

Last night marked the end of the US tour as the band played the final, official show in Atlantic City.  (Yes, I know they are doing some sort of gig in Atlanta tomorrow.)  In many ways, this tour was like any other and, in some ways, it was very different.  It was a usual tour in that the same discussions popped up that always pop up.  People debated setlists, stage setups, ticket sales, album sales, clothes, and more.  People bought tickets and many traveled to one or more shows.  Pictures and videos were posted.  Excitement was felt throughout the fan community.  In those ways, it was a standard 6 weeks tour of the US.  Yet, to me, it felt very different than any other tour.

I remember that there is a scene in Sing Blue Silver where John, I think, talks about how that 1984 was never an assured tour.  I always thought that was a strange quote.  As a kid watching that documentary, I thought he was making a really silly statement as the band was the biggest, most popular band in the world.  What did he think was going to happen on that tour?  What did he think was going to get in the way?  I still don’t have answers to those questions about that tour but I certainly do if I apply that statement to this tour and, frankly, to any tour in the future.

When these tour dates were announced, Duran’s future seemed questionable.  Many people wondered either openly or to themselves about if these dates were actually going to happen.  I saw people consider various shows and decide not to even try because they felt so uncertain about whether or not they would actually happen.  After all, this tour was following a spring and summer in which Simon lost a significant portion to his range, which resulted in tour cancellations.  I could not blame anyone for being cautious.  Then, the shows started and they seemed…well…less than normal in the beginning.  The sets were short and there was information about the band cutting songs in the moment.  For me, and others I’m sure, this raised many alarm bells.  Would Duran be able to perform these dates?  If they did, would they be as good as what people have come to expect from them?  I remember feeling very anxious while I waited for my show.  In some ways, this feeling of anticipation reminded me of years ago when I was SO excited to tour.  Yet, it was different as this time fear was present as well as excitement.  Anxiety was the word of the day.  I didn’t want to voice my concerns because I didn’t want others to feel what I had been feeling and I thought that if I said them out loud they would become more real, more possible.  Luckily, they were able to make it to my show and perform.  They were able to perform all of the shows they have scheduled.  Beyond that, it seemed that they got stronger as the tour went on and became more normal. 

What was interesting to me was watching those fans who were still fixated on things like ticket sales and album sales.  I couldn’t relate.  I get wanting the band to be successful.  I want that, too.  Yet, it seemed to me that they were focusing on less immediate concerns.  None of those external elements of success would be important if they couldn’t perform and if they couldn’t get back on track.  Thus, while I didn’t feel like last week’s Chicago show was the best ever, I still thought it a victory.  They were able to play for two hours in a way that we have all come to expect of them.  To me, that was enough.  Will someday I begin to demand more?  I’m sure.  I think there is a lesson here, though, and one that I don’t want to forget.  The album’s name was a reminder to all of us to appreciate the now and I thought I was doing that in December when the iTunes version came out and I thought I was doing that in April when I saw them in the Midwest but I wasn’t.  I don’t think I really started to do that until I realized and realized deep in my gut that Duran will end someday.  That someday might be years or decades away but it could be tomorrow.  I didn’t really get how important the now was until I almost lost something precious to me, to all of us. 

For many people, yesterday marked the end of a chapter in Duran’s history and in their history as a fan.  For Rhonda and I, it marks the end of the US part and the break before the UK tour.  Did I ever think that I would be going to the UK to see them perform?  Not really.  I went in May because my friends wanted to go.  I figured that it was a good time to do it.  Now, I’m going back because I might not have the chance ever again.  I don’t want to regret something despite the financial cost, despite the time away from work, despite the time away from other aspects of life and more.  I now know what it means to embrace the now.  I’m sure that there will be people reading this blog and thinking that we have it so easy.  We don’t.  We are sacrificing to make this happen.  Frankly, we had to sacrifice to make Chicago happen.  Shows and tours don’t fall into our laps.  The band doesn’t play in our backyards (they are welcome to, though!) so we have gone out of our way for this tour that just finished and for the tour that will be coming up.  This way I know I won’t have any regrets when the end does come.

-A

My Response to Nick!

For the past two days, I had professional development, which means that I sit and listen to the latest and greatest idea in education.  I’m not very good at these type of things because, as a teacher, I’m used to doing.  I’m used to moving and talking constantly throughout the day.  I am not good at listening and NOT responding as I have many things to say about any/every idea presented.  Perhaps, this is part of the reason I chose to do this blog so that I could respond to what is going on in Duranland.  Tonight, the boys are playing their second to last show in Boston.  Yesterday, I became aware of an article/interview with Nick from The Boston Phoenix.  The article can be found here and my responses to the answers are here!  Obviously, some questions did not get my attention as much as others.

In the beginning of the interview, Nick is asked where he is to which he responds about how he is Chicago and says the following, “Actually in Chicago we’ve spent quite a bit of time.  I’m sure I’ll find some trouble to get into.”  As someone who was in Chicago, I have to ask.  What did Nick do?  I know that John and Dom went record shopping but what about Nick?  What about Roger or Simon?  Next time, I think the band should let Rhonda and I know their plans.  It would make our lives more interesting and fun!

Shortly, Nick gets asked about the new album. 

SD: So 2011 has been a pretty big year for you guys, although, not without ups and downs.NR: Yeah, it’s been one of the most exciting years in the Duran calendar in our three decades, I have to say. It all started with the release of All You Need is Now, which we worked on with producer Mark Ronson. I think when you have something that you feel very confident in musically and artistically, it gives you the energy to go forward and do other things and it helps to unfold the origami, because things start to happen when you have something other people are excited about too. We made the film with David Lynch. That’s certainly one of the highlights throughout our career so far. He’s been someone we’ve admired for many, many, many years, so when the opportunity came up to make a film together, that was a complete thrill. We started out playing in America at the SXSW festival. We talked about going there for years, because the spirit of Duran Duran has always been that of an independent band. Even when we’ve made records that have been enormously successful commercially and we’ve been on major record labels, we’ve never lost the spirit that we started out with.” 
My response:  I’m thrilled that they feel confident about AYNIN, musically and artistically, and that should be a highlight of the year.  Yet, the interviewer asked about the ups and downs.  Why not acknowledge everything that Simon went through?  Everything the band went through?  Everything the fans went through?  It could be easily acknowledged and done in a way in which tells how Duran is stronger, better because of it.

Later in the interview, after discussing how other bands had been “borrowing” from Duran, the interviewer asks about the fanbase, which as a student of fandom got my attention!  “SD: I think one of the reasons that you guys, and you know, this is me postulating, you can tell me what you think about it, one of the reasons you’ve maintained this fan base is because Duran Duran is kind of like it’s own little culture, it’s own little land. From the earliest interviews with you guys, you’re always talked about different art and culture, and I think in America, especially kids living in the middle of nowhere, to hear about Andy Warhol, to see Keith Haring on television, to hear about Cocteau and Patrick Nagel, and all these people. This was a big deal for a lot of people who didn’t have access to that kind of culture.NR: Well, I hope so, because I know what other artists from all spheres have given to me over my life. It’s food for me, for my imagination. Nothing makes me happier then sitting in a cinema or going to an art gallery. John, Simon and I all went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art the other day, because I’ve been there several times before and neither of them have actually visited there. I said, “Look, we have a day off, let’s go.” They were both completely up for it. We all left there just floating because seeing the collection that has been that well curated over so many years. I mean they have some of the greatest artworks ever made in there. They have the ultimate Marcel Duchamp collection, including The Bride Stripped Bare, the Nude Descending a Staircase, the Urinal, the Bicycle Wheel, each absolutely extraordinary. But then you sort of wander down the corridor and they’ve got one of the greatest Van Gogh Sunflowers. They’ve got a couple of the best Matisse’s that I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world. You know, if you can bring a little of that information to other people in, I don’t know, in the form of suggestions, or images, or just the notion of it. Then I think that’s great.”
My response:  First, I completely agree that Duranland is its own little culture, which I have addressed before.  I think that Duran has influenced many of us to check out musicians, artists, fashion, etc. that we would not have ever considered.  As much as I was destined to check out art because my mom is an artist, I doubt I would have cared as much if it wasn’t for them.  I also find it amusing that Rhonda and I are like them as well since we try to check out art museums when we can!

This question about the year leads to questions regarding Mark Ronson.  “SD: Back to the new album briefly, I have to ask, I think a number of people have asked, and I know you guys obviously don’t have any plan or anything. But as a big music fan, like you guys are, I’m sure you can think of any number of sequels or trilogies of records that bands have made with producers. I know a lot of people are wondering if you guys might work with Mark again. It’s been a while since you’ve done two in a row.NR: Of all the producers that we’ve ever worked with, I have to say, Mark is the one that I think suits Duran Duran best. We’ve worked with some amazing producers, we really have, we’ve been very lucky. Sadly, the first few albums produced by Colin Thurston, and then the third album by Alex Sadkin, who have both passed away, but they were extraordinary teachers.
SD: For me as well…
NR: Yeah, amazing, amazing, amazing people. But, of the people we’ve worked with in the last couple decades, Mark just suits us better. He has an understanding of so many genres of music. He has incredible style and great taste and he really, really gets what Duran Duran is about. So, I sincerely hope we work with him again. We stay in constant touch. We’re so fond of him on a very personal level, as well as musical level. He’s really something.”
My response:  I completely agree with Nick that Mark is the producer that suits Duran best.  I think he gets THEM and I think that he gets US (the fans).  Thus, I, too, hope that they work together again.  🙂

Of course, this leads to brief discussions about both Red Carpet Massacre and Reportage.  “SD: I like the last record, I like Red Carpet MassacreNR: Me too.
SD: …I actually think it’s great Simon record.
NR: Yeah, a few people have said that. John and Roger feel that their presence was diminished on the album, I understand that.
SD: I feel like maybe the fans kind of felt like that. It felt a little anti-climatic post-reunion?
NR: Maybe. It was very programmed. You see, the genesis of that record is quite interesting because we made an entire album with Andy Taylor. Which is called Reportage…”
My response:  I’m not surprised that John and Roger felt like their presence was diminished.  It felt that way to me, too.  Thus, it didn’t feel like Duran to me no matter the quality of the song.  It wasn’t what I think of when I think Duran.  I also agree that it was very programmed, which again makes it anti-Duran to me.  Of course, Duran can, has and should use technology but it should have something organic, something more musical. 

The interview continues to say:  “SD: Which is coming out when?NR: It may come out, it would need mixing, it would need finishing a few things, but then what happened was we were just literally going to do a couple tracks with Timbaland and we got in there and Andy didn’t turn up for those sessions, and so we ended up doing them without a guitarist, we obviously added guitar to the tracks later, but we recorded them without guitar, wrote them without guitar. That set the mold, really. Had Andy been there, I think those tracks would have probably started to sound a little different in the first place.
SD: They sound really cool, and if that record had come out in, like, ’99 no-one would’ve batted an eyelash, but I think when you have this sort of legendary rhythm section back together it felt like, you know, they are a little bit under utilized on that record, theres just little moments…
NR: Yeah, I understand. For me, that album was an experiment. For everyone in the band, that album was an experiment. It was how to merge the Timbaland beats with Duran Duran. And the expense of us doing that was the rhythm section became different. Obviously they both played on the album. They played synth bass on some of them. Some of the drums were programmed by Roger…
SD: There’s some of that on the new album too…
NR: Yeah.
SD: It’s not like it’s unlike Duran Duran to have some synthbass.
NR: Yeah, but on that one it was largely the makeup of the sound and I think we definitely sacrificed something but we work as a unit and whatever we feel is right for Duran Duran, and I mean honestly, if we decided we wanted to make an album that was just guitars and strings and we decided, no, we’re not gonna use any synths on this, we would do it. It’s a case of the time and we felt with Tim that he was one of the most interesting people out there making contemporary music at that time. We’ve always loved dance music and so…”
My response:  Obviously, I have no idea about the quality of the songs on Reportage, how much work it would be to finish or even if they can finish it and release it, legally, but I would still love to hear it.  It might also be a good way of releasing another album sooner rather than later, if there aren’t legal issues with it, as most of the writing and recording appears to be done.  Nonetheless, it says something to me that if Nick, who was RCM’s biggest supporter, is saying that “something sacrificed” when they made RCM. 

Nick goes on to make a really good point and one that I must remember: “And certainly, the other point about working with Timbaland is that had we not made that album, I don’t think it would have lead us to make this new album with Mark.”  If this is true that Duran needed to work with Timbaland and needed to make RCM as a step before working with Mark and making AYNIN, I am grateful it happened.  I do think that sometimes things need to be one way before things are able to go a different way.  Maybe RCM was the lesson they needed to learn.

Then, of course, the interviewer turns to the current tour and the current setlist.  Oh boy.  “SD: I have it on good faith that you guys are gonna be playing “Shadows On Your Side” in Boston. Can I put that in print?NR: (laughs) We haven’t played it on the American tour at all yet. The trouble is with set lists, and I’m sure you could talk to any artist, you must know this yourself, if you have have a lot of material, it’s hard enough to condense it into something that is a little less than two hours. But when you want to put in a song that is possibly a real fan favorite, but maybe not with the broader audience, it’s hard to find places in the set to put them in. For example, recently we have been playing a song “Tiger, Tiger” from the third album which is instrumental. And the reason we started playing it was to create a little three minute spot for people to Tweet live during the show onto the screen. And it has been a fascinating moment in the set.
SD: Gives Simon a rest.
NR: So we thought, perhaps we’ll replace it and we’ll do “Secret October” instead because it has a vocal on it and we said we would play this song. And of course, Simon said “I don’t want to do it and have Tweeting going on whilst I’m singing.” Whereas musically, we are just creating a soundtrack and I think that’s fine, visually. And so we took out the Tweets and we did the song, and the song went down really well. But then we realized that a lot of people were missing the Tweeting thing because a lot of it was interactive and thats part of modern shows. So you have all these things …all I’m really doing is making excuses for you. We probably won’t. We could play it instead of a number of things but I’m not sure what would give.”
My response:  Clearly, they don’t want to put in anymore “fan favorites” than they already have for these US dates.  Obviously, they feel that they need to appeal to the “broader audience”.  As Rhonda and I have both mentioned, I think this is lame.  If you play enough hits, that “broader audience” will be happy.  Duran should worry about keeping us dedicated fans happy and keeping us going to shows.  Then, to hear Nick talk about the discussion surrounding Tiger Tiger versus Secret Oktober, I got even more frustrated.  Yes, I can understand Simon’s point of view of not wanting people to tweet during him singing.  I tweeted during Tiger Tiger but that felt uncomfortable, too, as I’m ignoring the band playing.  If you want to have the tweet thing in do it when the band is not on stage.  Have people tweet while waiting for the encore to start but don’t let that get in the way of the fans hearing a song they desperately want to hear!  Ugh!

Speaking of Twitter, the interviewer asked about the band’s involvement.  “SD: It is interesting. I think both Simon and John have been doing it since around the release of the record. It is interesting to kind of follow along…NR: I think John particularly loves it. I think its really something that he’s been able to focus some of his energy on. I know he’s always taking little photos and putting them up when we’ve arrived somewhere, or we see something interesting. He was tweeting from the Museum the other day. I’m all for that. I have a concept for tweeting which would be very much against the grain of what people like it for, so people may really not like the idea of what I might want to do with it, and I keep threatening to do it. For me, it would be a complete experiment so I would enjoy it, and I think there may be some people out there that would see what I was getting at, but it’s much more of a one way street. It would be that I was really just publishing certain things and not really getting involved in conversations about them. I’m not sure if that’s in the spirit of it, but I may do that.
SD: Well it’s difficult, I think, to have in-depth conversations. I think John tries to answer peoples’ little questions and things from time to time, but I don’t think you can get too in depth. The other side of it is, I think for some people, and I don’t know if you fall into this category or not, but some people see that artists being on Twitter constantly, kind of affects their mystique a little bit. Where it was so hard to get information about somebody ten years ago but now it’s like…
NR: Well I feel that way very generally anyways. We were talking about when were growing up as kids and the photos of artists we used to see, whether it was David Bowie or Iggy or the New York Dolls or Lou, they had a real mystery to them because there weren’t that many photos. You might see the occasional live photo from a concert or you’d see David Bowie and Iggy Pop in Moscow together or a picture of a couple people on a train having lunch and this was really as far as you got into their world and you had to then use your own imagination as to what else they might be doing or what it was like in the studio and what they were recording. Now I do feel with web cams everywhere and everyone with a mobile phone during the show, every second of everything is recorded from all these different angles and published everywhere, it’s an overwhelming amount of content. In a way, you definitely lose focus because people are watching dreadful live videos with dreadful sound quality and then saying, “Oh well that was that, wasn’t it.” As opposed to something that was being produced with beauty and care. And its not that I’m completely against it because this is a very modern world where this is what’s happening and that’s that, but as regards to what it has done to mystique, yeah, its shattered it into a million pieces.
SD: Yeah that’s true, it’s a strange game. I can’t think of a band, current day, that can maintain that exactly. You have to, obviously, evolve with the times somewhat, but it’s interesting with some groups, it might not be in their best interest to be too involved with that.
NR: I think you have to embrace new technologies and use them to the best of your ability, and use them artistically. With our online presence we’re always looking to do different things. We launched Second Life some months ago which was initially launched as a completely non-commercial project. It was literally an arts project. We built a universe for people go in as Avatars and communicate with each other, really. And so far I have to say I’m thrilled with the results because it seems to be a really good breeding ground for ideas and for artistic statements. The costumes that people are wearing in there are spectacular. It’s worth going in to look at that alone. When they have parties in there it really is pretty remarkable, it’s an utterly surreal world where anything goes and they’re having an amazing time. So, you try to do these different things with the website we’re going to relaunch that soon, so its version 2.2 or 3.3 or wherever we are now, and there have been some huge improvements there. The live stuff and the Tweeting. During the live shows I take pictures of the audience every night which has now become quite interesting because there’s a whole section on the site where you can see the audiences from my point of view from the different shows. We’re always looking to do things and find ways to make it a bit different. Everybody out there is putting everything up they can.”
My response:  I can definitely see Nick’s idea of tweeting being VERY different than what is normal, common, expected.  My guess is that Nick fans would eat it up!  Yet, ideally, fans would want some conversation and it doesn’t seem like Nick does, for whatever reason.  I also agree with Nick that technology should be used and embraced but that it does have its drawbacks and has taken some of the mystery out of life.  That said, I still don’t get Second Life.  I don’t understand why he is so thrilled by it.  He says that it is filled with artistic ideas.  Really?  Someone who is involved in it tell me how. 

The interview ended with a question about John’s book.  “SD: Have you seen any advanced writing in Johns book?NR: No, nothing. I think it’s probably best that I don’t and I’m sure John would feel the same. I guess eventually there will probably be a full set of books. I don’t know when I’ll be doing mine. I don’t know when Simon will be doing his but I imagine there will be a set, and that will give you all the different perspectives as to why Duran Duran is what it is.” 
My response:  I’m thrilled with the idea of one day having a set of autobiographies from the band members.  Maybe then, we would have a good idea of what went down and how it was!

So, readers, read the entire interview, and come back and tell me your responses!  Were there questions that I didn’t focus on that I should have?  Were my responses different than what you would have said?  I would love to know!

-A

Back home and running!

This past weekend felt extremely long…probably because it started on Thursday for me!   The trouble with those weekends though, is that come Monday morning, reality sets back in with a vengeance, which indeed is the case.  It’s the price we pay I suppose.

My weekend was a lot of fun and I’m glad I had the opportunity to head to Chicago for some fun! I felt as though I had to squeeze a lot into the two days I was in the city, and I tried my best to make every moment count (and then some!).  Seeing fellow Duranies at Hoyt’s was memorable, and I hope everyone had a good time.  We will definitely do it again!

The concert.  The concert was fantastic.  I have to admit that the band has improved quite a bit over the show in Valley Center – and even that show was great – so I can honestly say the band is in top form.  Madison Square Garden is going to have a fabulous show, that is for sure.  I known Amanda posted our joint review of the show – and I have to reiterate that while it was our intention to do a video chat of the review – be glad you don’t have to see that, and pray the video never gets leaked.  No one should ever have to witness something like that, and we’ve learned our lesson:  never do a review at 5:45am.  Ever.

As for me, I headed home to a lot of not-good things going on here at home that have to take precedence, so I must tend to them.  In the meantime for today though, I wanted to share a couple of photos of the show with you.  If I catch anyone using them without MY permission, you’ll be cursed to a life without a Duran show.  Yes, I do have those powers.  (Listen, you don’t really know or can’t prove that I don’t have magical powers…so I wouldn’t chance it!)

Have a good week everyone!
-R

Is Duran Successful Right Now?

Is Duran Duran successful right now in October of 2011?  How can that question be answered?  Is it about album sales?  Album or single chart positions?  How well the tour is selling?  Something else?  I ask this question because an article I read, the announcement of some rescheduled dates in Europe and my observations of the band on the road. 

Many people, both inside and outside of the fandom, look to album sales and chart positions to determine how successful a band is.  I suppose in this way it is like a business looking at profits or how many of a certain product was sold.  It could also be like a teacher analyzing test scores or reading levels.  Numbers are an easy way to judge success or are they?  It seems to me that numbers can be given without context, which when known can dramatically change their meaning.  For example, let’s say a business had profits of one million dollars.  To me, that would seem like a lot but what if that business had a profit of ten million a year ago.  Then, that number seems to be negative or bad.  Likewise, an 8th grade student with a 6th grade reading level sounds problematic until you find out that last year the student was reading at the 3rd grade level.  Context is important.  That said, according to Billboard.com’s article:  Hot Tours, Duran is in the top 10 of hot tours.  This article allows us to compare Duran to other artists, which provides some context.  Does it give us the complete picture?  Absolutely not.  We don’t know what the expectations were.  How does this compare to the Red Carpet Massacre tour of 2008?  Is it enough to cover expenses and the canceled shows of the spring and summer?  I don’t have answers to those questions.  Of course, it does provide some good publicity and definitely paints this tour as successful, which can’t hurt. 

This week was also filled with more “good” touring news.  First, the shows have increased to twenty songs and are now a full two hours in length.  Second, some of the rescheduled dates for Europe have been announced for January.  Clearly, Duran is feeling more and more confident with Simon’s voice and are planning on continuing to tour for at least through January.  These could also be signs of success once people know of the context.  If people didn’t know that Simon had lost the higher range in his voice in the spring, these pieces of news wouldn’t be a big deal.  Who cares if they added a couple of dates in Europe?  Isn’t that their job? could be the random thought of the non-Duranie.  Likewise, a non-Duranie could think that it is normal for Duran to play for two hours and include 20 songs.  For Duranies, we know that this wasn’t a guarantee and wasn’t happening in the beginning of this fall US tour.  For Duranies who know the context, these are positive signs and signs of success.

Can success be completely told based on articles, numbers and facts?  Are there less tangible, less concrete elements to consider when answering this question?  For example, does it matter if the band is happy and enjoying themselves?  Does it matter if they are getting along?  Does it matter if the fanbase is happy?  I think those things DO matter and, perhaps, might matter more than those concrete statistics.  Based on what I have heard and seen via youtube and in person, it seems to me that Duran is finally starting to really relax and have fun on stage again.  I loved all of the smiles and the laughs that they exhibited on stage when I saw them on Friday.  I wasn’t hearing or seeing much of this carefree attitude in the beginning of the tour.  Now, I don’t blame them for this.  I think it is perfectly natural for them to feel the way they do and did.  It must have been a very difficult spring and summer for them and that kind of emotional trauma and worry doesn’t fade in a day or a week or a month.  It takes time.  It takes time to trust that everything is okay.  That said, I’m not sure that they are totally there yet.  While the show in Chicago was great, performance wise, I sensed a need on their parts to really get a positive response.  Simon often encouraged the audience to cheer more and louder.  Then, it seems to me that after almost every show, the guy(s) feel it necessary to comment on how great the audience was.  Do they really think that every audience was great?  I don’t know but they need us to believe that they do.  I suspect that they need this affirmation, emotionally.  They need to know that the fans are still here and are still supporting them.  Perhaps, this need for positive feedback is keeping them cautious.  Maybe they are fearful of trying something different with their live performances (like putting Secret Oktober or some other rare track in their setlists).  Maybe they couldn’t handle an apathetic or negative response.  I can understand that but I do think they will be better served when they are feeling perfectly normal again.  While they might be hoping that fans can help, in reality, only time will heal all wounds, especially emotional ones.

Thus, to answer my own question, I do think that Duran is successful right now to some extent.  I do think it is a success that they are back on the road, playing good, long shows.  I think it is great that they are having fun on stage and that the tour is making some money and getting good press.  Yet, I feel like they aren’t completely healed from everything that happened this year.  I am hopeful, though, that their confidence continues to grow and more success will follow!

-A