Category Archives: opening bands

Shamir Takes On Hungry Like the Wolf

I will not tell a lie: I didn’t really see myself clicking on the link to Shamir’s cover of Hungry Like the Wolf.  I am really unfair and most definitely NOT impartial that way. Most readers know that it is not my favorite Duran Duran song, and the last thing I need is to hear a cover of it. By anyone. Ever.

At least, those are the things I was telling myself yesterday morning as I wrote.  I found (and chuckled) at the irony of Shamir opening for Duran Duran later in the spring for a handful of US dates. (Eight, to be exact. I said seven yesterday, and this is because I cannot seem to count properly. My apologies) After all, why wouldn’t Duran Duran choose an artist who has covered Hungry Like the Wolf to come to open for shows in the US? The only thing that would have topped this announcement was to see that he was opening at shows I was actually planning to attend.

Even so, Duran Duran did their due diligence in retweeting any and articles where Shamir, his cover of Hungry Like the Wolf, and the dates he will be opening for Duran Duran, were discussed. With each tweet, my silent but steady insistence that I would not be listening seemed to diminish ever so slightly. Not only am I stupidly headstrong and a bit rash at times…I’m also pretty damn curious. I like knowing things. So I read a few of the articles, all of which came with glowing reviews of the cover. Hell, even Duran Duran themselves commented on his cover of Hungry Like the Wolf, saying it was “rad”…a word I haven’t actually heard used since the late 80s…oddly enough… and yet I didn’t cringe. In fact, the use of the word intrigued me even more. But then, life happened, as it usually does, and I didn’t have a chance to really think on it much more until this morning, when I succumbed to my curiosity.

I clicked the link to one of the articles, sat back in my chair, and sort of winced until I thought about the crows feet that were likely deepening with each second. Can’t have that. I thought to myself, better to just rip it off like a band-aide and get it over with. I mean, how bad can the song really be if everyone is saying it’s smooth and beautiful and even better than the original???  

The song began…and at first I wasn’t sure it really was Hungry Like the Wolf. It was so different and the familiar drums along with the electric guitar riffs were missing in favor of a simple acoustic guitar. It isn’t as though Shamir took the song and stood it on its head….it’s more like he took the song, turned it inside out and then stretched it, leaving the listener hanging by threads and longing for more.  The first verse is fairly one-dimensional and simple, which really works for a great opening. Then as the second verse begins, we’re treated to a deeper sound with far greater movement, as there is a second track of Shamir harmonizing. This really adds something special to the song. It’s still Hungry Like the Wolf; but instead of being that familiar pop, it’s almost, but not quite, a folk song. His voice is so unusual that one might not think it would lend itself to a song like this, but in some strange way, I think it works.

So then I decided to start digging. What else could I see and hear by this kid?? I might be late to the party, but I can catch up quick. YouTube gave me lots to choose from. I decided to click “On the Regular” next. I had no idea of what to expect, and I was DELIGHTED. First of all, many of you will be shocked to know it was rap. Not in a typical “hip hop” sort of way…but oddly it reminded me a lot of the music I might listen to back when I was a kid (we’re talking 1980s here)…or even, “The Bike Song” by Mark Ronson and the Business International. The video reminded a whole lot of the videos I’d watch on MTV, too. The song itself is colorful, fun and honest, and the video has the images to match…never mind that Shamir himself is positively darling (spoken & written like a true mom of three, right??) with just enough mischief going on behind those big brown eyes to let you know he’s not quite the innocent he might seem. I clicked on “Call it Off” next. He might be 21 and been born just after the fervor of Ordinary World…but his sound is a throwback to everything I love and miss about 1985. He mixes New Wave with the groove of Chic and throws in some rap for good measure…which I have to tell you, I really, really like. Moving on to “Darker“, I see a completely different side to Shamir. The song is gorgeous (the boy can sing), full of depth, soulful and honest. What I love best is that he is exactly what I wouldn’t expect. I am a woman on a mission at this point, so I click “In For the Kill” next. First thought: he’s in a damn spaceship (well, they call it a UFO…), not entirely unlike our own Mr. Rhodes. (I can’t help it. There is always a Duran reference to be made!!) Second thought: every song is a surprise and has a completely different sound and I love it. Third thought: even his videos are done like videos are meant. They’re entertaining, whimsical, and fun with just enough irony to make them interesting.  This video has to be my favorite one yet. I love the premise of throwing cassette tapes of Ratchet down to the people below to get his music out there. Seriously, it’s really getting to that point where artists have to do something original to get their music noticed. Again, huge thumbs up from me. I’m running to iTunes as soon as I’m finished writing to download the entire album.

The bonus?? He shares my birthday! So while I was turning 24 (!!) and busily planning my wedding the following April – the world was preparing itself for Shamir. Huge thumbs up from me. I’m sure I’m not in his target demographic and nothing like what his label wants for fans, but he’s got me!  I don’t know why he’s not all over the radio here in the US yet, but I look forward to seeing huge things from him in the years to come.

-R

Tour Expectations and Lessons Learned

It’s official.  The Daily Duranie is going on tour.  We have purchased tickets for 2 shows.  I can count that a tour, right?  I think so, especially when we plan on adding a third.  As you all might have guessed, the two shows are Durham, North Carolina, and Biloxi, Mississippi.  We hope to add Atlanta, which is to fall in between and maybe something else depending on how we feel and what, if anything, gets added.  To me, this equals a tour.  For one thing, we have to fly to get there.  Second, we will see the band in 3 different states.  This amuses me, as once upon a time, Rhonda and I made arrangements to “go on tour” for another band, but one related to Duran Duran.  In fact, this band was an opening band for Duran Duran in 2005.  Anyway, as we made plans to see that band, we knew of two shows but we kept hearing rumors of a third.  We joked that it wouldn’t be a proper tour without three shows.  Well, we got those three shows in three different states.  We openly declared that three shows in three states equaled a tour.  In fact, we wrote this equation on a window of my parents’ van that we borrowed so that we could travel in style around the great Midwest!  Anyway, now that I’m calling this an official tour, I’m starting to think about previous tours and those experiences.  In fact, in discussing which shows to go to, how we are going to travel, which tickets to buy and more, we have been making constant references to past tours.  Why?  I suppose because we truly do believe that you learn many lessons on tour, at least we hope so.  This way every tour gets better than the last!

We have been “on tour” a few times.  Okay.  We have been on tour more than a few times.  Some tours have involved lots of driving.  Others have involved more plane travel.  Still others have had relatively little travel.  We have seen all types of shows from small theaters to large arenas.  We have seen the band indoors and outside.  We have had seats and we have experienced general admission.  Heck, we even survived a festival!!!  Sometimes, we have traveled with other friends and, sometimes, we have gone by ourselves.  At times, we have been to parties the night before a show.  Sometimes, those parties took place a few hours before a show or immediately following a show.  Thus, you would think that we would be experts at this by now and that none of it stressed us out or got us excited!  It would be old hat, by now.  Yet, we still do get stressed out and need to remind ourselves of the lessons learned. 

Some of the lessons we have learned include that if driving most of a tour, it is important to give some time in between travel days and/or make sure that people can take turns driving, never do festivals unless you don’t care how far back you are, know as much as you can about the venue/seating chart/costs as you can before buying tickets, everyone included should be on the same page about activities/budget/etc. and much more.  Presently, Rhonda and I are trying to use what we have learned to make our tour better than previous ones.  For example, we are hoping to get to Biloxi the day before the show so that we have 2 nights there before driving on to Atlanta.  We will make sure that both of us can drive the rental car.  Of course, some lessons are bigger, more important than others.  One of those big lessons is that every show can’t be everything.  Maybe, it can, but you shouldn’t expect that from one show.  For example, show X cannot be the best band performance, the best seats, the best time with friends, the best pre-show and post-show fun.  Nothing can be that perfect.  That just isn’t really natural and normal and we certainly don’t have any luck that would result in a perfect experience.  I mean..really…we are two people who have never been front row, who have never gotten a drumstick or guitar pick or pictures with the band.  Thus, a lesson we learned is to try to make realistic expectations.  Don’t expect to meet the band or don’t expect to get a picture with a band member.  Don’t expect the post-show activities to be the most fun ever.  Thus, if any or all of those happen, you will pleasantly surprised.  If you expect it to happen, you are only leading yourself to disappointment.  I understand this impulse to try and plan for perfection.  I, too, have tried for that and, in most cases, I am disappointed.  Yet, when I limit my expectations to something more realistic, I have been wowed!  The show in Glasgow last December is a perfect example.  It was right after Birmingham, which I had TONS of expectations for.  While Birmingham was great, Glasgow was better, WAY better.  I think part of this is due to the fact that I didn’t have any real expectations for Glasgow. 

I guess I’m pointing out this lesson because I have seen US fans already begin talking about how the show(s) are going to go for them, like they can predict the future or that they can make it happen exactly as they want it, too.  While I understand their excitement, I worry for them.  How will they feel if things don’t go as planned?  Will this disappointment be so much that they won’t want to tour?  Yes, you can argue that if they, too, learn this, it would help them with future tours.  That’s true, if the people continue to tour.  I just don’t want anyone, including myself, to be let down by a show or a tour.  After all, this is supposed to be fun, isn’t it?  How much fun is it to have these super huge expectations to only have them crash and burn?  Can anyone live up to perfection?  Is that fair to the band?  To oneself?  To the friend(s) and the other fans around you?  Thus, I offer a little advice.  Keep the expectations reasonable in order for it to be fun, no matter what!!!

-A