Category Archives: shows

Think Yourself Lucky: Some thoughts on this tour

I’ve been thinking about the Paper Gods tour, or at least the shows that I attended. I have fantastic memories from the past few years, that is for sure. There really isn’t anything like seeing Duran Duran on stage, and being able to go to these shows with my best friend, knowing that however insane I seem – she usually gets it – makes it all the better.

I am pretty lucky that I was able to see Duran Duran play at the Hollywood Bowl, for example. Although I’m not a huge fan of the venue for rock concerts (the crowds are ridiculous and it takes a special sort of patience to handle the parking and traffic issues), seeing Duran Duran there was a dream. To begin with, it was the first show of the tour (for me), not counting Jimmy Kimmel the evening before.  Our seats were amazing – we splurged for second row center tickets, and I just remember how excited I was to be there. We had our friend from Canada with us, and the memories of giggling in the car after the show as I drove over the Grapevine will never leave me.  Amanda read me texts from another friend of ours who had gotten into to the after party with the band, and I was over the moon about the scene she described, wishing I had been there. I still can’t believe I drove all the way from my house, up to Berkeley, then back again, the very next day.

Amanda and I saw a lot of shows this time around. We’ve never done this many before, and I don’t regret a single one.  My bank account does, but that’s alright. You only live once, and I didn’t want to waste the opportunity. I did turn down a few shows—Amanda went without me to DC over New Years, for example—and while sure I wish I could have been there, I also wasn’t ready for the chaos and anger that would have caused here at home. It’s a tradeoff, and not an easy one at that.

When I start thinking about all of the miles and driving and travel—it begins to blow my mind just a little. I’ve gotten to see some parts of this country I’d never seen before, and I even got to go to Canada! I’ve also met a lot of new people, made new friends, and perhaps even made a new pal out of someone I’ve known for a very long time.

I toasted with Simon, saw Nick laugh at me more times than I care admit (I CAN’T HELP ROLLING MY EYES AT HUNGRY LIKE THE WOLF – I AM SORRY BUT I TRY MY BEST TO BEHAVE!!), ducked from Simon-spit 16 times (we’re still winning that war, Simon!!), and exchanged smiles with other band members countless times. I can’t even count the amount of moments I would look at Amanda and we’d share a huge grin, because we were in exactly the kind of “heaven” we love most.  She and I made fun of this band at every single opportunity, laughed at ourselves so much our sides hurt, and fell more in “love” with each one of them every single day. Yeah, they’re band members. Celebrities. People. Just like us. We adore them even when we’re calling them dorks. Our readers don’t always understand that, and some really get on us about teasing them – but Amanda and I don’t feel as though we have to apologize to them for our antics. Something tells me that they not only get it, they really kind of like it! Rock on!

No, they probably don’t know me, but they made this tour worth every last mile I traveled, and a lot of the turmoil that went along with my absence from home. I don’t regret a single moment…well, maybe aside from the moments when we should have zigged instead of zagged. (If you don’t know what I mean by that, you’ll need to re-watch last Monday’s video blog)

Then there’s the way I ended this tour – with a show in San Francisco. It was GA, we were pretty far back, and yet I can honestly say I had a great time. I’d forgotten just how much better the sound can be when you’re back away from the stage, and the crowd energy was infectious. The thing is, of course we wanted to be up closer to the front. Yeah, I’m not afraid to say that I wanted to rock out with Dom one last time. But, we made the best of where we were, stayed present in the moment and danced like crazy. Some ridiculous part of me thinks that he still saw me out there, having a great time. And I did. The one thing I can tell you I thought about that night over and over again, was that I was so lucky to be there.

There I was, standing with my best friend, smiling so hard my cheeks hurt, watching the band we adore do their thing. About 30 seconds into the show, it stopped mattering where we were standing, or that there was a really rude, and very tall kid and his also-tall girlfriend standing directly in front of me, positioned so that there was no way I could see past them at all (he was rude for other reasons, not because he was in front of me).  I was just happy to be there one last night. I don’t know if I’ll always be able to be there, and if nothing else – the past couple of months has taught me that there really are NO guarantees in life. You get whatever you get. I would peek in between the sea of arms and camera phones to catch glimpses of Dom, Simon and John, and I just danced.  Pure bliss. And yeah, I’m pretty sure that by the end of the show, I got a wink or two from Dom. I can’t imagine he really saw me, but I smiled in return. We waved to Simon, Nick, John and Roger, and refused to acknowledge that for us, the tour had ended.

These are my favorite people, and I regret nothing. My two girls are performers. Heather is a dancer/choreographer, and my youngest is a singer and piano player, although she’s only nine so who knows what she’ll really do when she’s grown. I always tell each of them the same thing when they’re about to perform, and that’s to leave it ALL out on the stage. Don’t hold back. It’s the only advice I know to give. The only reason I know to give it is because I wouldn’t want them to live life the way I did for so long before I started doing all of this. I only half-lived, and it wasn’t enough. So this tour, I did the shows I wanted to do, and I LIVED. I left it all out there, no regrets, heart on the sleeve, and all of that. Nobody should wonder how I feel about this band, and particularly about the people within—whether or not they’re members, or supporting players.

Those memories are gonna have to last me until I-have-no-idea-when, so I’ll take them.  I am lucky.

-R

San Francisco Show Review Video Blog

Right now, as I type this, I am sitting in the passenger seat as Rhonda is driving.  Clearly, we take this whole blogging thing seriously or else we are just that crazy!!  Before we got into the car to drive back to Rhonda’s, we did do a little video to review the San Francisco Show.  We talked about our experience about half way back in the floor as well as some changes in the show (different song!).  One thing we forgot to mention was that the DJ also changed things up for the better, which we appreciated.  Tomorrow we will try to summarize the Paper Gods album cycle and more since we have one more day together before I head back to the Midwest.  Something to look forward to!  Ha!  Until then, here isn’t today’s video!

It’s a Video Blog! – Fox Theater Oakland, CA 7/8/17

Hi everyone!

We apologize for the lack of blog yesterday. I’ll simply say that it was a rough morning, before we knew it we had to leave for Oakland… and we’ll leave it at that.

So, for your viewing pleasure today – Amanda and I did a video blog to talk about the show, and dancing with other people’s bodies against you….and heat.

We’re having a great time, but as always, it never seems like we have enough of it before it’s time to go home. Like I’ve said before, I just wish time would stand still or go a lot slower on tour.  I hate the fact that we’ll be driving home tomorrow and for us, Paper Gods will be done and we’ll be back in limbo-land.

Yeah, not a fan.

There might be tears tonight. Hell, there were tears LAST night, but for different reasons. It’s been a rough (but at the same time wonderful) trip.

Looking Back She Sees the Pattern

I have decided that Duran Duran’s fan base is tough to understand and full of contradictions.  What led me to this big conclusion?  I could answer that with a simple–years of observation and participation.  That is not the whole story.  Lately, I have been reading a lot of the press that is surrounding the band’s upcoming tour.  One of those articles caught my attention.  Specifically, one question grabbed me especially in light of recent twitter conversations about live performances and the classic debate about set lists.  What was this question?  What were the conversations?

Buzz Bishop of Calgary recently interviewed John Taylor, which you can read here.  The question that first made me react then think was this:

How Duran Duran balances a desire to put out new music with the fan base’s love of nostalgia.

“I don’t know that the fan base wants to live in the past. I think they want to be stirred up and inspired. I think you have to come to terms with your past, we’ve got to be present. I think doing what we do you get a better opportunity to stay current because you’re trying to stay relevant. We have this formula: legacy plus currency equals career.”

At first, when I read this, I thought, “What is this guy talking about?  Fans love nostalgia?  Really?  Has this guy not seen all of the complaints about the setlist?  I know SO many fans who are tired of Hungry Like the Wolf and the rest of the classics.”  Later, I added the idea that it isn’t the hardcore fans who want the old hits at a show, it is those people in the crowd who loved/liked Duran in the 80s but aren’t aware that the band has still been going.  I thought to myself that the guy was just confused about who wants what at a Duran concert.

Then, I thought about the conversation that I have been having on Twitter about which tours Duran performed better for.  Dedicated readers and participants know that the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984 has won each and every time.  I have argued that the band performs better now as a result of the decades of practice.  Others have stated that that tour of 1984 wins due to “sentimentality”.  That makes sense.  If you were a Duranie in the 80s, you probably do love Sing Blue Silver.  It captures the time period is which Duran was loved worldwide by tons of people.  Sing Blue Silver is the documentary that many of us grew up watching over and over again.  Watching any of it including the live performances remind us of those good times we had as kids.  So does this mean that the fan base really does love nostalgia?  Maybe so.  We are a confusing bunch, that’s for sure. If the band recognizes this, it must make creating that set list a challenging one.  Heck, maybe that is why it doesn’t change much!  Who knows?!

I cannot argue against 1984 or nostalgia as I have been doing.  That time period means a lot to a lot of fans.  I get it.  For many fans, it is when they became fans.  It might represent what they think of as the best time period for the band.  I can recognize that I might feel differently based on my fandom, my experiences.  Don’t get me wrong.  I loved Duran Duran in 1984.  Sing Blue Silver is a DVD that I have memorized just like so many of you.  Yes, I had a great time as a kid being a fan.  Yet, when I really think of the best time with my fandom, it has been in recent years.  As a kid, my fandom meant watching videos with friends or singing along to the Rio album.  As an adult, it means those things still plus traveling and seeing the band live in concert.  It means a level of fun that my kid self couldn’t even imagine.

Maybe, this is why, for me, I don’t feel so attached to the glory year of 1984.  It could be why I feel so strongly that the band performs better now.  Unlike back then, I can now be there and be a part of it.  It makes the world of difference.

-A

Duran’s Peak Live Performances

Lately, our daily questions/polls have focused on Duran’s live performances.  Specifically, people have picked which version of a song they like better.  The versions are live performances from different tours.  We have asked about New Religion, Careless Memories and the Chauffeur.  Interestingly enough, for each song, fans who participate in our daily questions have stated that the 1984 Sing Blue Silver version of these songs are the best.  This has made me think.  Was Duran really better live in 1984?  Were the arrangements better?  If so, what does that say about the band?  If not, what does that say about the fans?

1984 was the height of Duranmania.  They were selling out stadiums worldwide and had songs and albums at the top of the charts.  Most would agree that they were the most popular band in the world at that time.  Their concerts were often filled with teenage girls who spent a LOT of the time screaming, from everything I read.  I have also read/seen many interviews in which the band discussed the “wall of sound” that was created from the screaming crowd.  Watch the video below and hear the band talk about this about 7 minutes in:

Now, in fairness, I did not see Duran Duran in 1984.  I’m sure that I would have thought that they were amazing then!  But, would they be better then than now?  Would the 30 years after that not make them better, in terms of their musicianship and performance?  Did their live performances peak over 30 years ago?!?  Listen to what Nick said in 2005 about 1 minute into this clip:

Duran would argue that their live performances are better now.  That said, I’ll play devil’s advocate.  In 1984, they were younger and had more energy.  Perhaps, that energy would make their performance more entertaining.  I could see that.  Yet, when I think of live performances, I do want the songs to be entertaining and fun, but I also want the music to be played well.  

Let me try an experiment.  I’m going to put videos of Careless Memories from 1984 and then from 2004.  Just listen to them.  Do not watch them.  Then, tell me which version you like better.  Both of them are from official videos, too, to ensure that the sound quality is decent on both.

In thinking about this question, when did Duran play better live, I think about my own career.  Just yesterday, I was asked to meet with a bunch of soon-to-be-teachers.  While I appreciated their enthusiasm and their idealism, I liked that they wanted me there as someone with experience.  While I might not be as energetic as I once was as a teacher, I know that I’m a better teacher now than I was when I first started.  Experience matters.

Personally, I would hate to believe that the best days of my career were in the past, when I first started.  I would imagine that Duran would hate that, too.  I’m willing to bet that Duran gets a lot of questions in reference to their “heyday” and how they “peaked” in their mid-20s.  I’m sure that’s frustrating and that they would prefer to think that they are at their best right now.  After all, if they were at their best in the mid 80s, then why continue now?

I’m sure that the fans who are voting for the 1984 Sing Blue Silver Tour versions of the songs don’t mean all this.  They are just thinking that they loved that time period.  Sing Blue Silver and As the Lights Go Down bring back nothing but fond memories of a band that they fell in love with.  I guess, for me, while I loved the band then, I love them differently and more now.  Maybe it is the fan in me that actually believes that they are better now, too.

-A

10 Years Ago: The Fan Only Show

Ten years ago, yesterday, Duran Duran played at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  This concert was open only to paid members of DuranDuranMusic, the band’s official fan community.  This show took place during the writing and recording of Red Carpet Massacre.  In some ways, I feel like this show was just a year or two ago, but, in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.  I learned a lot about the Duran Duran fan community.  On top of that, it represents not only that time period but also marks a dividing line in my personal fandom.

In 2007, a lot of Duranies were members of DuranDuranMusic.  The message board was busy all day and all night.  Threads had pages and pages of posts.  Posters had thousands of post counts.  Whenever anyone went to those boards, it was clear which fans were friends with each other and even, I dare say, which groups were more popular than others.  In saying that, I’m not criticizing anyone–just giving my observation.  When the band announced this fan only show, I felt nothing but excitement and determination to get there.  The fan community advertised the event as special, one time only.  Most fans I know desperately wanted to be there because  it seemed to be so special.  I was no different.

While my group was no where near popular or even known by many other fans, I still wanted to be a part of it.  Did I think that popularity within the fan community was tied, at least to some extent, to how many shows people went to?  Sure did.  I remember watching other fans in 2005 and 2006 going to tons of shows and they always seemed to have these amazing stories of their experiences.  I felt certain that attending this fan only show would provide me with my own story, so to speak.

I did have a story of sorts.  It focused on our sad attempt at getting VIP tickets.  My group, at that time, included Rhonda and myself and a friend of ours.  We needed three tickets.  The tickets were distributed by lottery.  When the results came up, two of us got regular general admission and the other got VIP floor.  Through trading and much communication with other fans, we were able to score three VIP balcony seats.  No, they were not as good as VIP floor.  Yet, we took what we could get.

Then, on the night of the show, we learned that many fans think that wearing the band’s t-shirt to a show is uncool as we got many unfriendly looks as we walked by.  We also learned that fans don’t always stick together after a show with many groups going off on their own despite any promises to get together afterwards.  This, of course, was all on top of a show that left a lot desired, which we have blogged about many times.  No matter one’s opinion about the show or about the album, it was clear that all was not happy in Duranland.  For our friend, it proved too much.  The fun had left her fandom.  She went to one more show but that was it.

After that show, things changed for me.  I chose to hold on to the fandom with every ounce of strength I could muster.  My friend, as stated earlier, left.  I wasn’t happy necessarily within Duranland as I saw flaws in the album and felt like it was unDuranlike.  I also recognized that others in the fan community didn’t see that.  Tensions were high and arguments were frequent.  I thought for sure that I would be the only one remaining as Rhonda not only struggled with RCM but also had a lot of real life stuff to contend with.  Thus, I did what I needed to go to get through it.

I went back to New York City to see one of the shows on Broadway.  (I went to the second night, the one in which Donald Trump was there.  Yippee.)  I needed to give the band a chance to fix what went wrong at the fan show.  They had to show me that they were going to put all of themselves into this new album cycle.  The performance at that show did just that and gave me strength to make it through the rest of the very divisive Red Carpet Massacre era.

Overall, the fan show ended the first part of my adult fandom.  The innocence I had for the fan community and for the band seemed to end.  Lucky for me, the strength of my friendship and my love for the band kept me in the fight until a new era dawned.

-A

Ultimate Box Set: Live Tracks Part 2!

Today and this week, we continue on with our task to pick the best 7 songs to represent Duran Duran’s amazing live performances.  We began this process by looking at the 50 most often played live songs by the band.  From there, people voted for the 7 songs that they feel best demonstrate the band’s mad skills live.  This week, then, we get rid of the 15 or so songs that were least chosen.  Based on this, there are 32 songs remaining.  After another round of voting this week, we will eliminate more songs that are not chosen often.  21 songs will remain and we will select the 7 that should be chosen for our Live Tracks on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set.

On that note, which 7 songs from this poll should be included in the Ultimate Box Set?

Now that you have voted again for live tracks, you might notice that some songs were removed.  I eliminated songs that received 2 or less votes.  These songs included:

  • All She Wants Is
  • Astronaut
  • Do You Believe in Shame
  • Hallucinating Elvis
  • Hold Me
  • Last Night in the City
  • Meet el Presidente
  • Night Boat
  • Nice
  • Nite-Runner
  • Red Carpet Massacre
  • Safe
  • Skin Trade
  • Some Like It Hot
  • Tiger Tiger
  • Too Much Information
  • Union of the Snake
  • Vertigo

I was not terribly surprised by any of those.  While I know that there are plenty of people who love each of those songs, people just think that there are better songs that represent Duran’s live shows.  I also recognize that it is pretty dang challenging to just pick 7 songs out of 50!  I know that I struggled.  Hopefully, this week will be a little easier because there are less choices.  If you voted for one of the songs above last time, you now have a new choice out of your 7.  I will be anxious to see which songs are pushed out this week!

On that note, happy voting!!!

-A

Ultimate Box Set: Live Tracks Part 1

The task of creating the Ultimate Duran Duran Box Set moves on to the next category this weekend.  So far, fans have voted and chosen songs to represent Duran’s singles, their albums, and their b-sides and demos.  Now, we start on voting for songs that represent Duran’s live shows.  We will eventually settle on 7 songs that we think demonstrate the quality of their concerts.  Perhaps, these will be songs that are so good live that fans don’t want to listen to record versions anymore.  Maybe, they are songs that fans really hope they play at each and every concert they attend because they are so awesome.

Despite the description above, picking those songs will not be easy.  The band has performed hundreds of different songs.  Last weekend, I asked for opinions about how to narrow this category to a small number of songs to choose from.  Clearly, I cannot include each and every song that has ever been performed live.  Some readers felt that I should limit the list to 21.  Others believed that 50 seemed more fair.  Still others asked about specific performances or arrangements.  After weighing the feedback, I decided on the following plan.  It might not be perfect but I think it is a decent compromise.

This week’s poll lists the 51 most played live songs.  People should choose the 7 they like the best in this category of live songs.  After this week’s vote, I will drop the 15 songs that were voted for the least.  Then, we will vote again on 36 songs remaining.  We will do the same thing after then we will be down to 21 songs.  From there, we will select the final 7 to be included on the box set.  Finally, from there, we can discuss specific arrangements or performances of those 7 songs.  I hope that makes sense and seems fair enough.

On that note, let’s go ahead and give this a try.  Which 7 songs should be the live tracks on the Duran Duran Ultimate Box Set?

-A

 

Highlights and More from Night One of Spring 2017 Tour!

I apologize for the lateness of the blog today (as well as the lack of a question of the day).  Wi-fi has not been super cooperative for us as we have been out by the pool most of the day, enjoying drinks and Duran trivia (let the record show that our friend, Lori, and I beat Rhonda and our friend, Suzie!!).

Today’s blog is a little vlog that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s show.  Just kidding…it is more about the highlights, lowlights and hopes for tonight’s show.

Without further ado, here are our thoughts about last night’s show, the first Duran show of their Spring 2017 Paper Gods Tour.  This show took place at the Agua Caliente casino and resort and definitely features some excitement (a new song!!) and some disappointment (have I mentioned that Planet Earth is my favorite Duran song of ALL TIME?!? and it wasn’t played!!!).

-A