Category Archives: show commentary

Poker Face Made Me Hurl

No really – I did!

My plan was simple:  get home from a day out with the family in time to catch DD’s set at Coachella.  I was thrilled they were broadcasting their show on Youtube because it saved me the pain and suffering of having to be at the Festival in person.  (Please see my previous blog: The Top 10 Reasons I Won’t be at Coachella )  The plan worked well, I was home from a fantastic Earth Day hike around Newport’s Back Bay in plenty of time to rest up, put aloe on my sunburn and get myself a glass of wine for the show.  Then just as Duran took the stage – my stomach announced that the day was going to end badly:  FOOD POISONING.

As I clutched my belly and hunched over in my chair in pain, I watched the band take the stage at Coachella.  At first, I felt that they all appeared rather tentative.  Well, all except perhaps Nick Rhodes, who was barely recognizable behind the facemask – or hat – he wore on his face.  (Daily Duranie secret: I am still trying to understand the purpose.  I’m all about art.  My gosh I’ve taken enough art classes to count it as at LEAST a minor degree, but I still don’t get it.  I am positive that Nick Rhodes is going to show up here some day and revoke my Duranie card – if it weren’t due to my lack of fashion sense, it’s definitely going to be this!)  They just seemed a bit nervous and not quite at ease, but that feeling dissipated quickly as they blew through Planet Earth and on to HLTW.  The setlist didn’t really surprise me, since I had a fairly good idea of what they’d play from the Pomona show last week.  I still feel that it was smart for the band to intersperse the new music with “oldies” that the crowd might have heard over the years.   I think one can take the setlist in one of two ways and in many ways it IS a double edged sword to have such a great back catalog:  by playing the oldies such as Rio or GOF – perhaps kids in the audience said “Oh, that band plays this song?  My parents listen to that!”  therefore being turned off….or….the band won them over with the songs they’ve learned to sing along to in the car, and then snuck some new songs in to give them a taste of what they’ve been doing all these years.   Judging from what I saw in crowd reaction – this crowd was happy to hear whatever Duran Duran was playing.  I wouldn’t say the crowd was ridiculously with them, but on the same token – I saw a variety of reactions going from the Duranie who was likely both thrilled to see them as well as thrilled they’d made it through the weekend alive (props to those of you brave souls out there!!!); to those Coachella attendees that were thinking the band was OK but still not quite their favorite – so they stood there and watched; to those who might have started out thinking that the band was just OK but as the set wore on, they began to bob their head and clap their hands in spite of themselves.  At a festival, what more can you really ask for?

A few standout moments for me were during the Chauffeur – the band sounded as tight as ever, and definitely a whole lot better from some of the other acts appearing that weekend.  Safe – I am a HUGE fan of Ana Matronic after her appearance with them last night.  I wholeheartedly think she should just be on tour with the band so that they can play Safe the way it was meant to sound from here on out (I’m sorry but Anna Ross just doesn’t cut it on Safe)  and the AVTAK medley.  Simon sounded perfect, and that string section makes that entire song just work.  It was gorgeous, lush and all of the things that it should have been, and everything that shouldn’t really work at a festival, yet they did.  To perfection.

I’ve seen comments from fans saying that this was the tightest they’ve sounded yet.  Well, I can’t really agree with that – Pomona, overall, was the best show I’ve seen from them recently with regard to the bands performance, both musically and otherwise….but I might be a bit biased, since of course I was there in person and LOVED IT!  I just didn’t see quite the same amount of connection to the audience at this show, but again – it was a festival.  It’s a different crowd.  You’re not necessarily playing to a group of FANS as much as you’re playing to a group of interested bystanders who you need/want to win over.  Regardless, it was a great show for them, and if they didn’t earn any new fans from that festival – well, I’d be surprised.

By midway through the show, I was really convinced I was going to die, painfully. The show kept my mind off of the stabbing pain up until their Girls on Film encore though, in which case it was clear that my body wasn’t going to be keeping my lunch.  Or dinner.  I ran from the table just as Simon insisted on the sing-a-long that led to Anna and Simon’s version of Poker Face. Not my favorite moment of the show for a myriad of reasons as I look back on last night with a sense of infamy.  I still miss the intros – but even if we couldn’t have those, I just don’t think Duran pulls off Gaga.  (and before anyone asks, I actually like Lady Gaga)  Surely there’s got to be something else out there that could be done for a fun encore moment.

I’m much better today, thank goodness (2 of my kids are off school for spring break and they wait for NO illness!), and I look forward to my next review – which will be from Birmingham!!!

If you’re a reader of the blog and plan to be at any of the UK shows that Amanda and I will be at: Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool and London – let us know!  Let’s get some meetups organized – we’d love to meet you!!

-R

Daily Duranie Show Review – Fox Theater Pomona 4/14/11

Last night I spent just under two hours in near hysteria.  I came out of the show at the Fox Theater in Pomona dripping with sweat and completely exhausted, not at all unlike how I felt when I emerged from the Voodoo festival in New Orleans the year that Duran Duran headlined. The difference being that last night I was sweaty from dancing, not sweaty from the heat of the day and someones armpit being smooshed against my face.  (ah, the joys of festival attendance)

I don’t think I’ve been at a show quite like the one last night, and at this point I think it’s fair to say I’ve been to more than a few shows.  It was amazing and bizarre all at the same time.  I don’t know if it was because the audience was every bit as into the show as I was, or if it was because the band seemed genuinely happy, if not thrilled, to be there….or if it was due to the Grey Goose I’d been enjoying, but I still say it was a show unlike no other.  There have been times when I’ve gone to a show and felt like the band just phoned it in.  There have been times when I’ve gone to a show and felt like *I* had just phoned it in as an audience member.  Last night was something special because the band was giving it, and we were accepting it and giving it right back, like some sort of huge orgy of music, dancing, sweat, adoration, love and lust.

The band did several things that surprised me, one of which being that they played in Pomona….but the Fox Theater is a beautiful venue.  I hear it’s not well run in that if you were able to get upstairs to the Skyloft bar that you were allowed early entry to the show – so if you were one of the diehards in line at 7am, that didn’t guarantee you anything but an entire day wasted by sitting outside of a venue in Pomona, CA.  To be fair to the venue though, it was clearly stated on their website that if you went to one of the venue bars for dinner or drinks you were granted early access.  Anyone could have gone, and it wasn’t as though it was a tidbit buried on the website – I found that information out pretty easily, and no – I did not take advantage of the early access.  I had my own scheduling issues, so once we were able to get to the venue I stood in the line that wrapped completely around the building one and a quarter times by the time it was just after 8 and the doors opened.  The precious VIP section was not cordoned off either, so folks who paid for VIP found themselves standing right next to, and fighting for space with folks who paid for regular GA admission.  In my opinion, it’s the same GA issues, different venue.  This isn’t going to change and it will always be an issue for GA shows.  The band and their management can only be responsible for their portion – they have zero control over the venue policies, and that’s something to consider, regardless of whether you’re an avid VIP’er or not.  Once inside though, the theater was beautiful with an art deco theme, and it’s one of the few buildings in Pomona that has both stood the test of time and hasn’t fallen into disrepair during the city’s difficult history.

It wasn’t long after we were in the venue and settled that the show began. (yes, I really cut it close this time…)  Luckily we’d gotten in just in time and were still able to get wristbands that allowed us floor access.  We found a great spot about 3/4 of the way back on Dom’s side of the stage, which is where I typically choose to stand (although not always so far back) for a GA show.  I was actually pleased that I wasn’t quite so close this time because it afforded me the opportunity to see the show from a different angle, and I could really get a better idea of how the audience responded.  When I’m up front, I’m typically among fans that I recognize, and you know everyone up front is going to go wild for certain things.  It’s easy to assume that EVERYONE in the audience is that way, when that isn’t the case at all.   Nick Rhodes came out first and began playing some chords – I found it odd that he came out alone, but then suddenly you could hear drums, and Roger was visible behind his kit.  Then of course John, Dom and Simon appeared, and began playing the familiar sounds of Planet Earth.  Wait, what??  That’s right – they opened with Planet Earth.  I don’t pay close attention to set lists, but l’d assumed they’d open with AYNIN – which they saved for later in the show. At first, everyone around me immediately pulled out their cameras and their cell phones and started filming the show.  It was ridiculous.  I couldn’t even see the stage because everyone had their arms and their camera in the air.  No one was singing, no one was dancing – and I was pissed.  We’re at a show to see the damn show, not film the whole thing!  So, I started yelling at people.  “YOU KNOW THE FUCKING WORDS, SO START SINGING!  PUT YOUR DAMN CAMERAS AWAY AND ENJOY THE SHOW!”  Yes, I really did.  My husband was probably hoping the floor would swallow him whole, and elbowed me more than once…but I didn’t care.  I was on a mission.  The funny thing is, first it was the guy next to me who gave me a guilty grin, put his phone down and started bobbing around, then the girls in front of me turned around to look at me, put their phones down and started dancing.  Before the end of the song, the section of people around me were clapping and singing “Bop ba-bop, ba-bop bop ba-bop!”  Damn right!!  Film during HLTW if you wanna – but this is Planet Earth, people!!!

Using Planet Earth to open was a really smart tactical choice, because ultimately I believe they decided to play what people knew, build momentum and then throw in a new song or two.  I have to say, this worked well.  Extremely well.  The crowd was already with the band, so they didn’t have to work so hard to sell the new material.  AYNIN went over huge with the audience, and I would guess that it’s going to become one of the band’s anthems in the long run, much in the same way of Rio, GOF, Wild Boys and Sunrise.

There were many high points during the show – Friends of Mine was done brilliantly, even without Andy Taylor on guitar.  I couldn’t get over how well the audience responded to this song – it’s not really a “hit” of theirs, but it’s a song that all Duranies know and love, and apparently a lot of general fans do as well.  The entire theater was jumping during this song, and there was no way that the band could have not noticed the thunder of enthusiasm coming right at them.  The Chauffeur was a big surprise (in fact, when it started I thought for sure they were doing Leopard until Simon came towards the front of the stage in his infamous chauffeur hat!), and of course Rio and Wild Boys were played as though the songs were just as fresh as AYNIN.  I don’t think a fan really recognizes just how timeless those songs really are until you go to a show where they play 5 songs off of their new album and yet you simultaneously feel as though the show was all of their greatest hits because they all really do seem like hits, yet – they all feel brand new because the bands enthusiasm just doesn’t wane, regardless of whether they’re playing Safe or The Chauffeur.

This wouldn’t be a fair or balanced review (who am I kidding – I am completely biased!) if I didn’t mention that there seemed to be some sound issues last night.  I don’t honestly know what happened, but during the Chauffeur I first started noticing something that sounded as though another song was also being played by mistake, but then it went away.  Then in Blame the Machines – well, that song was truly a train wreck from start to finish.  Don’t get me wrong, the band seemed to play it well enough, I think – but I could hear something going on in the background that definitely was NOT part of the song.  At first I thought Dom was playing the wrong notes (sorry Dom), and then I thought Nick had taken complete leave of his senses…and then Anna’s mike started doing a very odd echo, and Simon’s mike was too quiet.  It was bizarre, but it definitely didn’t sound right.  I turned around to look at the sound guys, and they all looked pretty nervous and were fiddling with knobs and things – and then I looked at Nick, who seemed to be looking right at them.  I can only imagine what Nick was thinking, but I would imagine it had something to do with cutting off certain parts of their bodies and collectively hanging them from the back of the bus as ornaments.  😉  After that song, it was clear that the band also knew something was awry because John kind of laughed, Roger looked up from his drum kit, shrugged and smiled, and then I saw Simon and John trading a laugh.  Oh, and Nick had someone out taking a look at his setup.

Sure hope those sound guys still have all of their um, bodies intact this morning.  🙂

That brings me to Ordinary World, which normally I wouldn’t mention because it’s a standby that I feel has reached it’s time for retirement (before you cry for my beheading – Save A Prayer is currently being “rested”.  If that can happen, anything is possible!!), but I have to mention that towards the end of the song, there was something that looked like a stick being thrown onstage.  AT Simon.  He actually had to duck to avoid being smacked in the head with it.  First of all, I applaud his reflexes.  I have a feeling that had it been me, I’d have met the stick with my face, and chances are, I’d have been visiting an urgent care for stitches after the show.  Secondly, What the hell?!?   Listen, I can and do laugh at LeBon like anyone else.  His dance moves really are something akin to seizures at times, and if he ever comes on stage wearing the glasses and pimp hat that he wore during Skin Trade during the shows in 2009 in OC and Las Vegas again, I will probably have to be carried out of the venue in a strait jacket for going hysterical – but throwing things at him, especially something that looked like it could hurt him, isn’t cool.  Simon didn’t do anything to react other than duck, and went on as though nothing happened at all – I was impressed.

By the time the band got to Rio and then Wild Boys, I was exhausted and dripping with sweat.  I can’t imagine how they must have felt, but clearly I need to build up stamina.  They went off stage for the encore, and the house was vibrating with excitement.  People started stomping their feet (and I gleefully joined in!) just as they came back out onstage.  Simon came right to the front of the stage, motioned for the cheering to continue (which it continued to raise in decibels), and stood there soaking it in.  You could see the complete pleasure on his face, and I don’t think I’ve ever really seen him quite so happy.  Even John and Nick looked up from their respective places with looks of pride and accomplishment.   I actually stood there wondering what was possibly left to be played other than GOF.  Of course, I’d forgotten about the AVTAK medley (That Fatal Kiss) – and it was fantastic.  Not quite as impressive as at the Mayan when they had the string section, but Simon sang beautifully.  Then they played GOF, and did something a little different from the normal intros in the middle.  We did a little sing-a-long with Simon that somehow morphed into Poker Face.  Truth be told, I’d seen mentions of this online, but I’d been ignoring it.  Well, I lived it last night.  It wasn’t good.  The one real disappointment in the show was this section, and I think they should ditch it.  IMMEDIATELY.  I miss chanting “Play the fucking bass, John”, and I’m not at all enamored with the idea of Simon trying to sing Poker Face.  It just doesn’t work well to end the show.  Hell, even singing a rousing rendition of “We Are Family” would work better than this, especially because at 30 years in – we really ARE family, like it or not!  Oh well, can’t fault them for trying something new, so I won’t.

Last night, I was a part of something that I believe to be very rare, and that was the pure and undeniable connection between audience and band.  I’ve never seen an audience that was so “with” the band the whole way, meeting them note for note, song for song.  If that weren’t enough, I could feel the energy in everyone else around me.  I stood there several times just marveling over the sense of community in the room.  It wasn’t just as though I stared at the band and felt a connection with those guys on stage – although that was certainly present and something worth noting – it was as though I could feel the energy of the whole experience, and I looked around and knew that everyone who was standing around me was feeling that same energy and having that same experience.  It was wild and I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way before.  I can see how addicting it can really be.  I’ve often had to explain why I continue to go to so many Duran Duran shows, even now that I’m supposedly an old lady at 40.  It’s because I’ve never felt the high that I feel after a Duran show for anything else.   I continue to go to shows to chase after that high.  Well last night, I had another “shot” of that high, and it’s indescribable.  I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop going to shows at this point, and I really don’t want to.

Birmingham, here I come!!   -R

Duran Duran Unstaged – The Daily Duranie (By Internet) Review!

I was not the lucky half of the Daily Duranie for Duran Duran Unstaged as I could not attend the show in person.  (During normal tour season, I would have considered it but must be at work to go to the UK later!)  Despite not attending in person, I was excited for the show!  I knew that this was going to be a unique one in that I would be able to see the concert as it took place and experience some extra visual effects courtesy of David Lynch.  On top of that, Rhonda kept in touch throughout the day and I was able to watch with a local Duranie friend.  It was all good in my world!

As 9pm, my time, rolled around, I was glad that I had turned the computer on when I did as I had to install some new flash update or something.  After I did that, I was able to sit back and wait for my friend as strange Duran interviews played on the screen.  These interviews were not typical ones as they answered questions that aren’t usually asked.  For example, each band member was asked what moment in their lives they would like to go back to in order to experience it again.  Simon said something about the night they wrote their first song together (Sound of Thunder).  Roger discussed how he wanted to experience the first time he heard Planet Earth on the radio.  John’s comments were about the first time the band landed in the States.  I can’t remember what Nick said because it was strange!  (Anyone remember???)  These interviews increased my excitement, especially since I thought they all looked so fabulous!

Once the show started, my friend, Deb, and I were both a little shocked by what we were seeing on the screen.  We kept switching cameras in order to find the camera that would show the clearest coverage of the band.  (I should note that there were 3 camera choices.  One was the Lynch version.  Another was a fishbowl camera of the crowd and the third was a fun cam, which also seemed to be mostly crowd.)  After switching a number of times, we ultimately landed back on the Lynch camera.  Then, we had to sit back and wait to get used to the visuals.  To be fair, I don’t think I really understood how the visuals were going to work.  I assumed that we would be able to see the band clearly and in color.  I thought there might be interesting backgrounds, which is a common experience at Duran shows.  I also thought there might be some flashes of different images but this was almost like there were layers of screens, figuratively.  The first screen showed the band.  Then, the second, turned the color image to black and white.  The last layer had some other images or images on top.  In some ways, it reminded me of the screens the band used during Dirty Great Monster for their Red Carpet Massacre Broadway run in 2007 where there were layers of screens lowered in front of the band in order to superimpose color patterns and to hide the band some.  I thought that was absolutely wonderful so I had hopes that I would think the same thing here. 

I didn’t.  While I did get used to the visuals and seeing little of the band and what I did was in black and white, it still didn’t feel right to me.  Yes, it was cool.  Yes, many of the images were well thought and fabulous, but it wasn’t what I expect from a Duran show. The Broadway thing worked for me because it was fitting for the song AND because it was only for one song.  In general, when I am at or watching a Duran show, I want to see them perform.  I want to see the interactions between the band members.  I want the little looks from Nick and John in the silent way they seem to assess the show.  I missed any of the musical battles with John and Dom.  A show doesn’t feel like a show unless I can see Simon’s silly dance moves.  Yes, when I’m at a show, I like the backgrounds they have, but only when they enhance their performance.  If they were to overpower their performance, then they no longer serve their purpose, in my opinion.  At some point I realized that I was no longer watching a Duran show but something different.  I began to think of it more as an opportunity to listen to a show live while watching what could have been videos.  Then, I was able to relax more and take in both the music and the visuals.

From my perspective, musically, they were on!  I believe this to be true because I felt like singing along and I had a bit of the post show “high” that I normally do after a good show.  (For the record here, like Rhonda, I have and will criticize the band if they do not perform well.)  The setlist was pretty solid with only a few exceptions.  I was not wild about the part of the set that went from Hungry to Safe to Leave a Light On to Ordinary World.  I can also openly admit that I’m sick of HLTW and OW and I wasn’t really looking forward to Safe.  Despite this part of the set, I was impressed that they played a number of new tracks and felt that the end was awesome, except for Come Undone (another song I’m sick of).  Speaking of impressed, there were a number of songs where I felt that they really hit a home run.  The first song that really got me excited was Friends of Mine.  I have only seen that song performed once and would love, love, love that one to be a given on this tour.  I feel the same about Careless Memories.  As far as the new songs go, I was completely impressed with Leave a Light On.  It isn’t my favorite on the album but it sounded beautiful.  I loved hearing Leopard.  I’m not sure that I would say that Leopard was solid, though.  It seemed to me that it took a little while for Simon to be comfortable with it, which I hope gets better because it is my favorite part of the song.  I felt the same about Blame the Machines.  He just didn’t seem sure of himself.  I also think that Anna struggled with the new material.  I wasn’t sure what to make of the spoken word part of BTM or the female part of Safe.  That said, I hope to hear all of these new tracks in person myself.  It will be interesting to see which tracks they continue to play live and which ones they don’t.  They could always bring out other news ones, too, like Before the Rain and Too Bad You’re So Beautiful (hint, hint!).

Some of the new songs also suffered from the worst of the visuals, in my opinion.  Leopard started out with this cool, dark fog moving across Simon and Kelis’s faces.  That made sense to me and could have even begun to enhance the music.  Then, out of nowhere, there were these heads.  They appeared to be Mayan like heads that moved up and down.  Huh?  I don’t understand and they definitely distracted me (and made me laugh!).  Of course, the Mayan like heads weren’t the only weird images.  Can someone please explain the Barbies with red thongs and eight balls on their breasts that had Ds instead of number 8 on them?  What about the hot dogs and mice during Come Undone?  Those images did nothing but make me laugh and they complete took my focus away from the music, which is exactly what they should not have done, in my opinion.  Other images just seemed obvious and silly like the Earth during Planet Earth or the sun during Sunrise.  Now, I did think that some of the images were cool.  I liked seeing the close ups of both the bass and guitar in the beginning of Being Followed.  It reminded of the song, Careless Memories, during the 1984 concert production As the Lights Go Down.  (Maybe I was expecting something more like that??)  Some other pieces made me think.  I didn’t understand the use of the fork, for example, during Friends of Mine, but I appreciate that it made me think.

Perhaps, I was supposed to be thinking throughout the show and was just trying to enjoy it.  Maybe that is what I was doing wrong.  Nonetheless, I was still disappointed by not being able to really see the band.  I could have been okay with the visuals if they enhanced the mood of the song but too many of them seemed random and silly.  I’m sure that there are many fans out there that absolutely loved what they saw.  I get that.  I think that for me, when it comes to Duran, I want more pure music out of their live performances.  Thus, my expectations were for something completely different than what I got.  Now, that I know this, maybe I could watch it again and see it in a totally different light…

-A

Duran Duran Unstaged – The Daily Duranie (In Person) Review!

When I thought about writing this review this morning, I had to make a decision whether I was going to write it solely on my experience being there in person; or make an effort to see the youtube version of the show so that I could gain the full 360 degree perspective.  While I am hoping to see the show in it’s entirety through youtube at some point, this review is written purely from what I saw at the show, both beforehand and during the performance – I left the show promptly after it ended, rather than sticking around to try and see friends and chat, which I will explain later.  I’m sorry to those I missed!

My date for the evening was my husband Walt – whom I am deeply indebted to at this point. (as if I weren’t before this show….) You’ll see why in a minute!   We arrived, no thanks to my GPS system in my car, at about 2:15pm.  There was already quite a line that had about 75 people ahead of us, but no matter – I’m not one for wanting to be in the front row anyway.  I like being back a bit so that I can really see the whole stage without craning my neck. (although I had to do that last night anyway)  Anyway, we got in line just as it started to sprinkle.  Thankfully though, there were awnings over parts of the building, and we simply stood under one and watched it first sprinkle, then rain.  I am getting over a cold, and in a fit of stupidity on my part, I did not bring a jacket with me (but managed to remember an umbrella!).  I started to shiver, but I was insistent that I would be fine.  Cold is fine.  Wet and cold, very bad.    So, off my dear husband went – I didn’t know where he was going, but he gave me his jacket and said he’d be back.  A while later he came back complete with a zip up hoodie, scarf and gloves for me.  Thank goodness for the Mayan being in the garment district of LA!!  I really think that is what kept me from having pneumonia this morning, so thank you dear.  During this time someone from the venue came out and explained the rules, told us what time the doors would open, how “paperless” ticketing works, etc.  We had been told doors would open at 5:30, but alas – 6:00 came and went before the line even began to move.  Then suddenly, just as the line really started moving someone came running back and said that if you were in the fan club you had to go to the will call booth and get your tickets, then go to the BACK of the line again.  Oh no way was I having that!  I ran and got the tickets as Walt stayed in line, then I got back in line with him in time to get to the front.  At this point, there was scuffle not in our line – but what I thought was the VIP entrance (it was).  Apparently a couple of fans got their tickets and then wanted to jump the line because like us, they’d waited all day (and in full disclosure they had been quite a bit ahead of us – but because she had to go get their tickets they’d lost their place).  The security people screamed, and I mean SCREAMED very crudely at them – using language that wasn’t really necessary, basically telling to F off.  I don’t know what happened but I did see them in the venue prior to the show so I have to think it all ended fine (although I don’t know where they ended up standing in proximity to the stage).  

I have to say that this “organization” was anything but.  In their usual sense of decorum, there was absolutely NO organization.  How hard would it have been to have one of the security people go down the line telling everyone that if you bought tickets through DDM fan club that you’d need to get them at the Will Call tent before the line started moving?  Better yet – how difficult would it have been to actually keep the event as “paperless”, especially since DDM had made sure to tell us all that was the way the event was going to be ran to begin with??  Once again, the fault here lies directly with the hamsters that run DDM – it’s not necessary for that type of disorganization to take place, and ultimately it makes the band look ridiculous to the very people (fans) that quite frankly – pay their damn salary.  It took me no more than 30 seconds to retrieve my tickets, and I had no problem with having to pick up my tickets – it’s that first we’re told it’s ticketless, then suddenly, without warning, we need a ticket to enter.  That just seems like a shoddy and poor way to run a business.  I don’t know – call me crazy but if I were running DDM, I would want to be respected.  Respect is earned.

With that nonsense behind us, we entered the Mayan.  The venue was gorgeous.  It looks nothing like the art deco architecture outside would indicate (and truth be told – I came to this club at some point during college, about 20 years ago – give or take, and it looked NOTHING like it does on the inside now!).  The interior design is all done in a Mayan theme, obviously.  Lots of fake rock, stone design work – almost like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom, so to speak.  As we entered the showroom, people were running, and I mean RUNNING, for the stage.  (how old are we again??)  I refused to do that, mainly because I didn’t see the point.  The front row was completely taken – and I like being back a bit from the stage anyway just so that I can see everything.  I also am a bit claustrophobic, and I don’t like being pressed at the stage.  We calmly walked over to an area between Simon and Dom (although as the evening wore on we were closer to Simon that I would have preferred.), and I think we were about 5 “rows” back.  I was in front of Walt to begin with, but people were pushing from behind so much that I felt very uncomfortable, so I moved back behind Walt – giving myself a little room in front of him.  I really wish I could have stood in front of him because he’s taller than I am so I had to peek around him constantly – but directly in front of him there was a woman with a Hello Kitty backpack that seemed to be using it as a weapon – so I was better off staying right where I was.  😀

I excused myself to find the Ladies Room, as almost immediately upon finding our spots I was getting tweets that the Mayan had a whopping 4 stalls – TOTAL – for women to use, and that concerned me!  I went up to find the bathroom, which was on the second level along with another bar and stairs up to the balcony (that was roped off for VIP).   The bathrooms weren’t horrible, just old and not spacious.  When I do a review – you get the whole deal!!

Back to the floor, the crowd had grown a bit, but it seemed that once you were about 10 rows out from the stage, the crowd thinned, and many had found a great standing place right by the railing (there was a floor section, then some stairs up to a pretty large secondary floor by the main bar).  It wasn’t long before David Lynch came out to tell us what to expect.  Basically for us, it would be a concert like any other.  He made sure to tell us that we would be able to view the ENTIRE show online for the next month or so, starting today.  I was excited by that because that way I could see what my friends were seeing at home.  Not too long after that, the lights went down and the show began.

To be honest, the beginning of the show is a blur.  It always is for me – I think it’s because I’m just too darn excited to process much at the time!  They opened with All You Need Is Now though, and that was fantastic.  I have to say that for me, the only way to describe seeing the band again was like finding water in the desert after like 3 days; just as you think you’re dying real water is found, and you are having trouble slowing yourself down – you want to drink the entire aquifer, but obviously you can’t take it all in and you know that if you don’t slow down you’re going to be sick.  That’s how the entire show felt to me, so as you’re reading this review – keep that in mind.

I can’t possibly describe every single song, so I will stick to the highlights.  The band sounded very strong overall.  It’s funny to me because as I was there watching I couldn’t help but feel like this was one of the best shows I’d seen from the band, performance wise.  They all looked very into it – lots of energy, lots of power, and Simon’s voice was top notch.  When I got home last night, and this morning though, the reviews I’ve seen from other fans weren’t that great.  A lot of people commented on the “many missteps” of the band – and yet I was there.  I didn’t see missteps.  A few things here or there yes – but in my opinion, those things kind of make the show!  Did I notice that Nick kind of slipped up on Girls on Film with the camera noise at the beginning?  Yes.  I also saw him sharing grins with the rest of the band, and I reveled in the fact that yes, Nick Rhodes actually made an error onstage and LIVED.    That kind of thing doesn’t hurt them, it makes them human.  If I wanted to see errorless – I’d go watch a robot, or better yet, I’d see Nick hit the “start” button and stand there (which he did LITTLE of last night!).

I was less than excited by the prospect of Gerard Way coming out and shining Simon’s shoes, much less singing with the band – but I have to give the boy props – he didn’t do a bad job.  I felt that he tried to overtake Simon’s singing a little bit and upstage him, but rest assured, nobody upstages Simon.  😉  Naturally seeing Mark Ronson play guitar with the Dom and the rest of the band thrilled me to pieces.  Mark is so unassuming up there.  He didn’t even look out at the audience and he barely held any kind of a gaze with the band.  I kind of think he was completely weirded out by the idea of playing with his idols – and that just endears him to me even more because he’s still “just a fan” in his own way.  I was very much less-than-impressed with Beth Ditto from Gossip; but I have to be fair, it wasn’t her singing that I wasn’t impressed with, it was the overall performance of Notorious.  I think she was far more than just a little nervous (she alluded to it several times before and after the song – you could see just how star struck she was to be onstage with Duran Duran and I can’t really blame her there), so I ended up just feeling a little sorry for her because I know I would have been very much the same. (my dream is to play the sax part for Rio with them!)   I was surprised to hear that they were playing Safe without Ana Matronic.  In my opinion, Ana is who makes the song.  The way she delivers her lines *makes* the song funky – and while I don’t feel the song is amongst the strongest on the album, I was hoping that live, the raw sound would make up for what I feel it loses in the recorded version.  Well, they played the song with Anna Ross doing Ana’s part, and I must say – she just doesn’t BRING it.  She sounds like a back-up singer, not like someone who has a vital part of the song.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Anna well enough, but she just doesn’t have the chops or the onstage persona to do this one any sort of justice.  I watched Anna throughout the evening, and this is one of the first times where I felt like she just phoned her performance in.  She was great with doing the high parts on All You Need Is Now, but other than that – she had to compete with the other female voices on stage, and I think that wore on her to a degree.  Even my husband commented on her seemingly lack of interest in the show, and that’s a shame.  I hope that changes as she grows more comfortable with the new material and her own place on stage.  I was more than amused with some of Simon’s new dance moves…going dead like a robot at the end of Blame the Machines…his swagger (for lack of a better descriptive term) during Leopard…and at more than one point I was concerned he was about to have a seizure, but that’s Simon.  Those moments make each show unique.

There were many “best parts” of this show for me, but one of them was seeing The Man Who Stole a Leopard played live with Kelis.  I really didn’t get her costume much – I figured she dressed like that because that’s who she is – only later did I understand the gold chains that went from her ears to her nose ring to be whiskers!  Regardless, I thought her performance was absolutely stunning and sent shivers down my spine.  I felt it was every bit as good as the album itself, if not better because it had that unrefined edge to it that made the song that much more sexy, with just the right amount of wrong – as I like to say!   I told my husband after it was over that I needed a cigarette.  He wasn’t amused for some reason.  😀  Another fantastic highlight, one that as a Duranie sent me as close to “the edge” as anything – was the performance of Friends Of Mine.  First of all, I love that they turned up Dom’s guitar.  Secondly, many are saying that his guitar playing wasn’t up to snuff and that he was coming in early and chopping up the music.  I was there, directly in front of him, and I didn’t hear any of that.  I thought it sounded great, but I am really hoping to get video of that song at some point because I’m more than willing to admit that I was so into the song and the band as a whole, that perhaps I missed it.  Regardless, for me it was the best they’d played that song in a long time and I’m glad they dusted it off for the show.  Another fantastic moment was Sunrise.  We Duranies know our parts, and know them well.  There were very few who didn’t reach up for the sunrise as if on cue during that song – I dare say that even my daughter’s dance team couldn’t have timed the moves better.  It’s rare when I feel like the fan base is completely in sync (whether it’s figuratively or otherwise), but during that song – we really were one.  Sunrise is a song that has become somewhat of an anthem for the band and the fans.  It’s good to see them play it, it feels good to live it, and it’s almost somewhat of a surprise that a song written so “late” in their career has become that much of an icon to all of us.  Makes me wonder if All You Need Is Now will become another one of those anthemic moments.  Even this morning, I still feel as though this show was one of the best I’d seen.

As the show continued, I took moments to look around the audience, especially during the newer songs.  It quickly became clear to me that not many actually KNEW the new material, which really surprised me. I hope that as the tour goes on, this will change so that there’s a little more energy during songs like Blame the Machines and Being Followed.  Girl Panic! was received extremely well by the audience though, so I expect to see that continued in the setlist for a long, long time.

After the show, I immediately turned to my husband and said “Let’s get out of here.”  I had a great time, but my body was completely spent.  It was hurting for me to take deep breaths, and I knew I’d be in for it this morning.  I wish I’d gotten the opportunity to stand around and see people I haven’t seen in 3 and 4 years now, but I have to believe good times are still ahead for both the fans and this fantastic band!! – R

Fan Jam Review

Duran Duran played last night in Dallas at the Superbowl Fan Jam along with other artists:  Jason Derulo and Kid Rock.  As with any other performance lately, there seems to be mixed reviews about how the band did, at least among the fans.  Some fans thought that they sounded and looked fantastic and other fans believed them to lack energy and seem like they are trying too hard.  I have to admit that part of me would love for the entire fanbase to think that they did great.  Is that even possible?  Can the band bring everyone together like that?  Was this performance worthy of that?  I have to admit that it is not. 

Like most fans out there, I was completely THRILLED over seeing them on TV doing a performance, ANY performance.  My excitement increased as I spent the evening with a good Duranie friend and had been working on plans for the UK trip before that.  I was in a good mood and ready for a great performance!  I also think my personal excitement has to do with the fact that this will have been the first performance in the US with the new material (I believe).  This was Duran’s first attempt at getting their new music out to the masses, to those people who aren’t already fans.  Thus, should I judge the performance by my standards as a serious fan or should I just consider if it is a performance that would bring new fans into the fold?  Do those two things have to go hand and hand?  I don’t know.  I wish I could ask non-fans who saw the performance about what they thought, but, alas, I don’t know any.  Thus, I’m left with just what I thought as a fan.

There were many positives in my mind about the performance.  As a fan who is sick to death of hearing the same old hits, in particular, HLTW, I was ecstatic that VH1 didn’t show that.  I enjoy Notorious.  I was also glad to see VH1 air the current single and a new song.  Really, they could have aired TWO old songs but they didn’t.  One thing I really LOVED was the use of numbers on the background during AYNIN.  I liked how it showed what the song is about without being too in your face.  Time goes by quickly and the numbers reminded me of that.  I also liked that they chose to all wear black as they seemed united that way. 

Now, there were many things about the performance that weren’t positives for me.  Some of these things, I believe, are related to the situation and others are elements that Duran could control.  First, I didn’t feel much warmth from their performance.  Is that because I wasn’t there in person?  I’m sure that had something to do with it.  Seeing Duran live is so much better than seeing them on TV.  I thought the stage was huge.  Too huge.  The band had to go a long way to interact with each other.  I didn’t see a ton of interacting in those two songs and I expect to when watching Duran.  Yes, I realize that there were some glances and smiles from one band member to the other, but I want more.  For example, why is there no JoSi in AYNIN?  There is in the video and that feels right to me.  Why not have it live?  Why isn’t there more interaction between John and Dom or Simon and Dom?  I saw a clip of HLTW from last night and there was more interaction during that song.  So strange.  Maybe this is partly on VH1 for deciding which two clips to air.  While I’m on that subject, yes, like every Duranie on the planet, I wanted more songs.  Did I expect more?  Not really.  Not in an hour long program.  Sucks but that’s how it is.  Second, they didn’t seem completely comfortable.  Simon appears to still be figuring out AYNIN.  He isn’t sure how he wants to move during the song and, as many have mentioned, the ending vocals seem…well…tough for him.  I want him to appear confident at all times, but especially when performing to non-fans.  Obviously, in my opinion, Notorious seemed better in that regard.  I noticed that John kept trying to do things to show how into it he was from kicking his leg up to bouncing up and down.  Were those moves natural or forced?  I can’t tell and that doesn’t feel good.  It just feels to me that they need to practice more.  Of course, I would love to know how the other new songs went.  Third, while I liked the choice of black clothes, the outfits seemed confused.  Nick was in this great jacket but did that mesh with Simon’s bomber jacket?  I noticed John in leather pants and a leather coat but did the shirt underneath fit with the rest?  I don’t know.  Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed the clothes as much if the performance, itself, felt energized and prepared.  For me, the clothing seemed to match the perceived lack of preparation or lack of something. 

Now, my opinion about this one performance doesn’t mean much beyond this performance.  It doesn’t mean that they won’t put on awesome shows in the upcoming tour.  It doesn’t mean that they aren’t into this whole thing anymore.  It doesn’t mean that they don’t love their new music.  It really might be how VH1 aired their performance with the crappy camera angles showing uninterested people.  It might be that they were tired.  It might be that my expectations were WAY too high.  Who knows?  I do know that I still enjoyed seeing them play even if wasn’t the best performance ever.  I also know that I can’t wait to see them live in person to properly judge!!!

-A

Fluff!

Today’s blog is full of fluff…and I make no apologies for that.  It’s one of those days where I can’t think clearly enough to put anything hard-hitting together, and so I’m going to just gush instead.  🙂

Has anyone seen the photos or video from the bands’ appearance with Mark Ronson yesterday?  (if not, you should check out gimmeawristband.com for photos and youtube for video – I found one of Planet Earth that was great and I’ll post the link below!)  The band looked great, and I loved that Mark was all in his 80’s glory as he was playing the guitar – I would swear I had similar hair at one point during the 80’s.  😀  A couple of comments:

*The Eagle has landed…on Simon’s belt, again.  I couldn’t ignore that the infamous eagle belt has been resurrected.  Some love it, some don’t…but it was there in all it’s glory.

*Plenty of JoSi moments for those who like that sort of thing…it was good to see John and Simon smiling and happy, and it did make me wish I was there!

*Nick was wearing….sneakers???  Really?!?   Jeans can NOT be far behind, my friends.  All that really did was give me permission to ditch the heels, save my forever aching feet and be proud in my own sneakers as I stand in GA this tour…which I will!

*I loved John’s t-shirt…so much that I already own one of my own.  Love that we’ve finally gotten rid of the Red Carpet Massacre-wear.  I’m so used to seeing the guys on stage in basic black/white, to me it’s how they belong.  I’m sure they’ll have something different going on for the next tour, but I do love a man in a suit.  😉

*Musically (oh yes, they did play didn’t they?), they sounded great.  I thought that maybe the beginning was a little slow – but given that the video was taken from a live show and of course the sound wasn’t balanced the way it would have been had it been taken directly from the sound board, I thought they sounded great.  I have to wonder what Mark thought about being on stage, playing with the band he seems to idolize so much….that’s a subject I would LOVE to hear more about from him if given the chance.

I hear more dates are to be announced soon, and the video from yesterday only makes this fan more excited!

Promise to back to my more analytical self tomorrow…..

-R