Category Archives: Arena

Arena Anniversary and Live Albums

On this date in 1984, Duran Duran’s live album, Arena, was released.        This, of course, makes me think of my connection to the album and the other live albums of theirs.  I also give my little fantasy for live albums in the future.

Arena

This album was the first live album for Duran.  It captured the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984 and included the sentence, “recorded live around the world” on the sleeve.  This is unlike most live albums, which are recorded at one specific show.  Of course, we also know that the album featured one new track, Wild Boys.  Around the same time, Arena, An Absurd Notion, DVD was released along with Into the Arena board game.  Indeed, fans had a lot of material to watch, listen, and buy in late 1984!

I remember receiving this album for Christmas in 1984.  That year also marked the first walkman for me.  From what I recall, all of the kids in my family got walkmans that year.  For me, this meant that I could use the headphones while I listened to my brand new copy of Arena.  The family’s record player was located in the dining room portion of our living room/dining room combo.  I have distinct memories of sitting on a dining room chair, listening and pouring over the lyrics.  While I knew all of the songs (except for Wild Boys), I was fascinated by what changes took place, lyrically, from the original recording to these live versions.  Even as a kid, I analyzed everything Duran!

Looking back on Arena, I can now acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of the live album.  It obviously featured a lot of the band’s hits, including Is There Something I Should Know, Planet Earth, Hungry like the Wolf, and Save a Prayer.  Yet, it wasn’t until the reissue of 2004 that Girls on Film and Rio were included.  It also included some fan favorites that weren’t hits, but were well loved like New Religion and Careless Memories.  Still, many other songs seemed to be missing.  I recall being surprised that the Reflex was left off since it was such a huge hit in 1984.  It is a rather short album in comparison to the 90 minute sets that they commonly then.  The main criticism about the album, though, is that it was simply too polished.  It lacked the feel of a live album.  I cannot disagree, which is, perhaps, why I don’t tend to play this one much.  I have heard far better bootlegs of that tour, which seem to capture the feeling of that era more.

Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind

Since Arena was released, fans have enjoyed two other live albums, Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind.  Live from London focused on the reunion of the Fab Five and came out 20 years after Arena.  During that time, I loved to listen to this one as it had all the great hits and really made me feel as if I was there at the concert.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that it also came with a tremendous live show DVD and a lengthy documentary about the band’s history and the reunion.  What more could a fan want?!  It didn’t hurt that I also got to see the concert in a movie theater with lots of other Duranies.  While it wasn’t a live show, it wasn’t the next best thing!

Truly, I didn’t think it could get any better until A Diamond in the Mind came out.  This one, released in 2012, focused on the All You Need Is Now era.  In 2004 and 2005, I couldn’t imagine a better time in Duranland, but by 2011 and 2012, I knew that the AYNIN era made me even happier.  During Astronaut, I went to a bunch of shows and had an amazing time.  Yet, AYNIN came at a time that my fandom needed a shot of energy and pure Duran-ness.  That album and tour gave me more than a shot.  They gave me lots more as Rhonda and I started this blog and began to plan meet-ups.  It also featured a couple of trips to the UK, which will always be special.  Like Live from London, I was also able to see the DVD part in a movie theater with other Duranies as part of Durandemonium, our little Duranie convention in 2013.

Hopes for Future Live Albums/DVDs

Ideally, I would love a live album and DVD for each album cycle.  I know that the show at the Budokan in Japan will air in Japan on December 10th.  Hopefully, maybe, possibly, this will be made available elsewhere after that?!  I, for one, would love it.

Another idea that I would love if the band would consider would be to record all of their live shows.  They could either make them available for purchase or include them in VIP packages.  For me, I would love to have every show I have been to available to listen to after the fact.  They would bring back lots of good memories.

What about the rest of you?  What do you think of the Duran’s live albums?  What would you like them to do in the future?

-A

Back Into the Arena

It isn’t every day that I can sit and listen to an interview on BBC West Midlands featuring my favorite drummer in the entire world, hear Hungry Like the Wolf…and contemplate that on this date thirty-one years ago….Arena was released.

I know Duran Duran says they’re not nostalgic, and that may very well be the case;  but I don’t know how they can help but NOT but look back fondly from time to time.  When DDHQ pulls out the pictures of “Into the Arena” board game on top of it all, I just can’t help but remember 1984. I’d just turned 14, in fact, my mom and dad had put money into the card they gave me for my birthday so that I could go down to Wherehouse Records and get Arena on the day it was released. It was the height of Durandom in America, and I can remember getting so excited over every little mention of Duran Duran, which was often! At the time it seemed like I lived and breathed them.

Oddly, it wasn’t a whole lot different from the present… kind of funny, really. I mean, I take blogging seriously because it’s a responsibility I’ve chosen to take on, but I also am well-aware of how crazy it seems. I’m 45 and yes, I write a blog about being a Duran Duran fan. I’m glad life worked out this way.

On any given day, I make it part of my day to read any articles about the band, watch/listen to interviews, and try to keep up with whatever is going on in the fan community. I glean whatever I can, try to make sense of it, and post away.  In plenty of ways, this blog has allowed me to still BE a fan. I would have never seen that possibility at the age of 14. I just don’t think I had any kind of foresight of what would come next. My goodness, my dreams back then were to open the door and see Roger Taylor waiting to take me away, but not before I became a conductor for the LA Philharmonic. Because you know, those two life aspirations go together perfectly….right???  Yet, if I really think back on what I was like at 14 – I’m not all that much different. I used to journal quite often, particularly when something was bothering me. Some kids had sports, I had writing and music.  I still do.

Back then, I believed the 80s would last forever. It felt like a very long time before I would graduate from high school. I couldn’t imagine music being any different from it was on Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and even after I came out of Wherehouse on that fateful day in 1984, clutching a bag with my cassette tape and vinyl copies of Arena – I had not a single doubt that I would love Duran Duran forever.

Life was so innocent for me in 1984. I didn’t realize that Roger was about to leave the band, or that Andy would follow. I hadn’t even had a boyfriend yet, or had my heart completely broken. I didn’t know that a day would come where I wouldn’t practice my clarinet, or that I’d be a stay-at-home-mom.  I don’t remember worrying about wars, or bombings – although I do remember talking about the possibility of nuclear weapons. I hadn’t ever used a computer, phones still had cords (in fact our phone in the kitchen was still a rotary!), and I didn’t really even know what rap was. Facebook, Twitter and social media weren’t even twinkles in someone’s eye….in fact, I kind of giggle when I think of what Simon, John, Roger, and Nick might have said or done if someone had told them that at some point in the future, they’d actually have the opportunity to trade messages with Duranies. Even better? Dom would have only been twelve years old. Had he even learned to play guitar by then?!?  Who knew what the future would hold….

So there’s some 1984 for ya.  Happy Anniversary Arena!

-R

Happy 30th Birthday Arena!

There are some anniversaries that just seem monumental, and this is indeed one of them. Thirty years ago today, Arena was released. We won’t talk about how old (or young) I may have been at the time, but I have distinct memories of Arena’s release. To begin with, I’d heard Wild Boys on the radio. If there was ever a quintessential “Duran Duran sounding” song of that period, Wild Boys surely met the mark. Little did I realize that it would be the last song the “Fab Five” recorded together until the days of Astronaut, but isn’t that always the way it is? You don’t realize something is really over until it just IS. There’s rarely a huge sign waved at you to pay attention and not miss anything – you only see those signs in hindsight as you wonder what could have happened and where everyone went. Laughingly, I remember getting the album and being a little disappointed that it was just live versions aside from Wild Boys – I was young and didn’t quite get it, I suppose. Additionally, I remember reading that the album was recorded “around the world 1984”, and I knew that meant it was recorded on their Sing Blue Silver tour…the tour I had missed due to some overprotective parents and a budget I couldn’t quite understand at the time.

For me, these products: the Arena album, the Sing Blue Silver VHS tape (and now DVD), Into the Arena (board game, which I never owned but had on my Christmas list…), As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album and of course the Arena movie were all symbolic for me. They represented the (then) unattainable dream of getting to see Duran Duran. The band was on a completely different playing field in a completely different stratosphere than I was as a young teen growing up in Covina, California. I didn’t think I had a hope in the world of ever seeing them in concert, much less ever standing in front of them, face to face, having an album signed or being able to tell Roger Taylor that he was in fact, my favorite. I look upon that time and space – the Sing Blue Silver tour – with a great deal of reverence. I built that time up to be so much more in my head. For many years I remained at least partially convinced that had I been to any show on that tour, I may have actually met the band, been invited backstage, and become instant friends. I would have followed through with my own dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor and being principle clarinetist for the LA Philharmonic. All of my hopes and dreams would have been realized had my parents simply bought me a ticket to a show, dammit.

In the decades since, I think I’ve been nearly rehabilitated. I’m at least fifty percent convinced, for instance, that even if I’d gone to the show and stood near my seat (most likely up in nosebleed because I know that at the time my parents had very little “extra” money to speak of), I still wouldn’t have met any of the band members.  I doubt my life would have changed much, but there’s still that lingering “What If”.

That “What if” is probably one thing that has continued to drive my fandom for all of the years since Sing Blue Silver. I know that when the original band ceased to exist, and as we went through Warren, Steve, Sterling, Wes…etc… I never once felt that sense of closure or contentment. I felt like I’d missed my chance. A chance at what? I have no idea. I just knew I’d missed out on something amazing. Let’s face it: seeing your favorite band live is something that everyone needs to do at least once (and some of us need it 30,40, 50 times!!).  By the time my opportunity arrived in 1989, I couldn’t help but feel like I was getting the consolation prize. Sure, it was great seeing Duran Duran live…but it wasn’t really Duran Duran unless all five of them were there.

When the reunion was announced, I made sure that I wasn’t going to miss out again. I know from reading message boards, Facebook and meeting countless of you along the way – the things I’m writing and sharing today are not new. There were many of us who missed out in the 80’s that have had their chance since. That lack of closure we once had is probably gone now, but we’re still emotionally driven. For many, the band helped to usher in adolescence or the teen years.  We were at least as emotional about the band as we were about life. The screaming teenager we thought we’d left behind still shows up every once in a while. None of us want to miss the next show, next appearance, or next meet and greet. Those emotions drive our fandom.

In the thirteen years post-reunion (announcement, in 2001), I’ve been in front of the band long enough to have an album signed AND had nerve enough to tell Roger Taylor that he was always my favorite, and I was really glad he came back. (He responded by saying “That is really sweet, thank you.” with a huge grin….some things you just never forget)  I’ve seen quite a few shows, and I’ve been overseas to places I honestly and truly never even dared dream I’d go. I still believe Duran Duran is on a completely different playing field in a stratosphere far, far away from me. Even with social media, they still seem incredibly unattainable or unreachable, and let’s face it – given some of our emotional behavior, that’s probably for the best. I continually marvel at the people who do whatever it takes to get near them, whether it’s getting to know the right people, standing in enough lines, or paying enough money.  I can barely manage to get myself to the shows I do without trying to show up every single time there is a possible appearance somewhere, so I applaud those who can make the extra effort. Sing Blue Silver, Into the Arena, As the Lights Go Down, the Duran Duran video album, the Arena movie and naturally the Arena album are still somewhat enigmatic to me. They still manage to collectively represent a period of time when much of the world (as well as the band) was a complete mystery.  They symbolize a lot of my adolescent hopes and dreams. The memories that come along with Duran Duran, Arena, Sing Blue Silver and other things continue to drive my fandom. I’m not chasing after childhood (or rainbows, as they say…), but I revel in those memories as much as I thoroughly and completely enjoy everything that has come along since.  Happy Birthday, Arena.

-R

But I’ll Hold On to the Memory…

I have been enjoying my brief holiday without work, class or other responsibilities (except this one!).  This time spent sitting and relaxing has allowed me a chance to think.  The other day I was reminded by a friend about how insane my life was just a year ago.  The reference this friend was making was a political one, but this led me to think about my life in a broader way.  What else was I doing a year ago besides being political activity?  Well, I’m sure that many of you remember that Rhonda and I were getting ready to go back to the UK in our second attempt to see Duran play in their home country.  A year ago, we were sweating over this idea of a labor strike blocking our travel arrangements.  Thanksgiving break wasn’t relaxing or enjoyable.  Instead, it was insane and stressful.  I could be looking back and thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to deal with anything like that this year, but I’m not.  Why not?  It is simple.  That trip was too fabulous not to look back with anything but fondness.  On top of the memories surrounding that trip, I was reminded of a different kind of memory with our day in Duran history fact.  Today’s day featured a fact about the live album, Arena.  As soon as I typed that fact, I thought back to when I got that album.  It seems that some days, some times just lend themselves to memories.  Today is one of those days.

The memories that today brings up for me bring nothing but joy.  Both memories of the UK trip and the Arena album are positive ones for me.  While today’s day in Duran history fact surrounded the album peaking in the US in 1984, I did not contribute to that peaking because I didn’t get it until that Christmas.  I know that there are pictures out there of me listening to the album on the family record player on that Christmas day.  In fact, I also got a walkman that year so I decided to plug the headphones in so that I could listen more closely.  While these memories are fun on their own, I can look back to that particular Christmas and remember the overall holiday with fondness.  It was a Christmas sandwiched in between two not-so-fun years.  The previous year was a tough one for my household as my dad was in between jobs.  My parents did an amazing job still, ensuring that we still received gifts and didn’t feel the pressure that they were dealing with as much but we all knew it was there still.  By the time Christmas rolled around in 1985, my father had found a job and the family had moved 90 miles away.  Of course, these 90 miles away felt galaxies away as I missed my home and the best friend I had left behind.  Duran’s story, in some ways, mirrored by own as 1985 saw a serious transition for the band as they moved to their side projects.  Thus, Christmas 1984 represented the end of an era.  When I think back to myself on that Christmas day in 1984, listening to Arena on headphones, I see only innocence and joy.  Amanda then had no way of knowing exactly what was going to happen in 1985 and beyond.  Part of me definitely misses that innocence and the safety I felt then.

Last year, at this time, I definitely was longing for innocence and safety.  While I was longing for that, politically, I found myself wishing for that with my world of touring as well.  2011 saw all of us lose a little bit of our innocence when Simon lost his voice and the band had to cancel many shows.  Then, I think Rhonda and I were hoping to repair some of the damage done by going back to the UK a second time for shows.  We needed our Duran world to get right, much like my family needed to get right after my dad lost his job.  Then, we ran into another roadblock with the concerns over the labor strike and how that was going to impact our ability to even get to the shows.  As we now know, the labor strike did not cause us any problems.  In fact, in some way, it might have helped us at the airport.  We then went on to experience one of the best tours of our lives.  This tour was so amazing with the shows, with the other fans that it not only assured us that we had made the right decision to go back but it renewed our Duranie spirits.  Our Duran world was definitely made right on that tour. 

How do these memories connect other than they both relate to Duran?  I think the connection here is they both represent times when I, personally, needed things to be okay.  I needed my world to be right again.  As a kid, I couldn’t control much and Duran was used to bring me joy.  The Arena album did that in 1984.  It also marked the end to a much larger era, both for the band and for myself, personally.  Arena was the bookend for the first part of Duran’s career.  This part saw the band as the Fab Five reach massive commercial success and become the biggest band in the world.  The era that ended for me was living in the Chicago suburbs and having a connection to pop culture that my new town 90 miles away would not have.  As a grown up, I, too, discovered that I could not control everything and certainly couldn’t control political decisions in my state.  I also couldn’t control the vocal cord health of Simon LeBon.  The November 2011 tour was to assure me that, at least, one big thing in my life was going to be okay.  My Duran fandom would continue.  Luckily for me, that tour did allow my fandom to continue as all things Duran were right again. 

It seems to me that, sometimes, memories can remind us about good times, bad times and life lessons learned.  I think I feel extremely fortunate that Duran has been there for so many of my memories and all that comes with them.  In these examples, Duran has provided joy even when the rest of my world isn’t so joyful.  Perhaps, this is why I will choose to hold on to all of these memories.

-A