Category Archives: shows

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

Is It March Yet???

I slept in this morning as I often do on Saturday mornings, hoping to recover from a very long week.  As I grabbed some breakfast, I glanced at my super long to do list that includes some cleaning, paying bills, grading some paragraphs, and more.  Instead of getting started right away, I opted to ignore the list.  I decided to go online to look for a plane ticket.  Where might I be going?  Simple!  I have a couple of Duran shows to go to next month!

That’s right.  Rhonda and I will be attending the two shows at the Agua Caliente casino and resort in California, during the weekend of March 17th.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to these shows for two reasons.  First, we have seen Duran perform there before in October 2015.  I loved the venue.  It is small, has good sound, and no barricade up front.  I cannot imagine that there is a bad seat in the house frankly!  Second, these shows will take exactly 12 years after the first shows Rhonda and I saw together.

That’s right.  Rhonda and I went to our very first show together in March of 2005.  We went to Chicago to see them play at that the All-State Arena, north of the city.  It amuses me that we will get to see another show on the very same day.  I think back to that show in 2005.  My childhood fandom had been reawakened and I could not get enough.  I remember the day before the show.  My colleagues practically pushed me out the door since they were so sick of me talking about nothing but Duran.  Since that show, I don’t talk about Duran as much at work.  My love has not diminished.  It is more that my fandom  has become just intertwined with everything else that makes up me.  I cannot separate my Duranieness the way I could in 2005.  Now, being a Duranie is part of who I am in such an essential way.

All of that said, it isn’t like my colleagues don’t know about my love for Duran.  Just this week, I participated in a trivia night fundraiser with a couple of colleagues.  When Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer was played in the music category, they were impressed (or frightened) that I could name the song in literally 2 seconds.  Then, my colleagues went on to explain to others at our table about my “dedication” to Duran, including this blog and going to as many shows as I can.  I think the others at the table were a little surprised as I saw a lot of blinking and silence filled the space.  That reaction isn’t new.  I didn’t take that as negative, more like they didn’t know how to respond.  I suspect, though, they were happy with my answer since it helped for our team to win.

Speaking of wins, I got another win when I asked my principal if I could take a couple of days to go to these shows mentioned earlier.  His response, “Sure.”  Nice.  It is nice to be able to move forward with plans.  More than that, having something fun to look forward to is keeping me going.  Now that we have our tickets, our hotel room reserved and I have my plane ticket, I’m ready for the countdown to begin.

What about the rest of you?  Do you have a countdown going for a Duran show or for something else?

-A

Testing the Concert Rubric

As a teacher, I know that I can write the best lesson plan on paper.  I can include some great, engaging activities with a solid assessment to measure learning.  Rubrics can look good on paper but fall far short when they are actually used and applied against actual assignments.  Therefore, today’s blog focuses on actually using the Duran Duran concert rubric that was created yesterday.  If you need to know what I’m talking about, read yesterday’s blog post here.

The purpose of the rubric is to determine how great a Duran show was.  Theoretically, it should help pick out the subtle or sometimes, not-so-subtle differences between shows.  Theoretically.  Let’s use it to compare the two most recent shows in the Washington DC area over New Year’s.  I wrote reviews of those shows, which you can read about here and here.  In my opinion, the New Year’s Day was a better show than the New Year’s Eve show.  If I use the rubric, will it match my initial assessment?

New Year’s Eve Show:

Seat Location–I would give that a 4.  We were in the 6th row, center with a clear view of the stage.

Crowd–If you read those reviews, you know how unhappy the crowd made me that night.  There were far too many empty seats and a ton of people sitting in that front center section to give it anything above a 2.

Sound–Generally, the band performed decently but it wasn’t the best sound I ever heard as far as venue acoustics goes.  There were some missed lyrics and they were clearly off in the beginning during Paper Gods.  I would give it a 2.5.

Company–I was definitely with a totally awesome person and loved seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  That said, Rhonda was absent.  I would give that category a 4.

Location–I love Washington DC in terms of ease of getting around and having plenty to do outside of going to the concert.  Yet, I don’t really think of it as a big party city.  Again, I would give that a 4.

Venue–I wrote a lot about the various criticism I had with the MGM National Harbor in general and the theater within.  I won’t get into all of that again here.  I give it a 2.

Setlist–The setlist was basically the same as it has been.  We did not get Sunrise/New Moon on Monday, though.  This equals a 2.5

Interactions–There were some interactions between the band and the audience.  Definitely.  Let’s just say that if I ever hear Simon mentioned twerking again, it will be too soon.  Decent interactions on stage as well.  I would give it a 4.

Energy Level–As I mentioned in my initial review, the band’s energy level seemed down.  I’m not sure if that was due to the sad state of the crowd or what.  I would give it a 2.

Any Extras–Nothing exciting to report on that front.  That said, Nick was back!

Total–27

New Year’s Day Show:

Obviously, there will be some scores that are the same since this show happened as the same venue as the previous show.

Seating Location–Our seats were slightly better for this show.  I would give it a 4.5.

Crowd–As I stated in the original review, the crowd was much better for this show.  I saw far less empty seats and everyone in my area was up and dancing.  I would give it a 4.

Sound–Acoustics from the venue were the same but band seemed right on for this show.  Probably worth a 3.5.

Company–Same as previous show.  Still a 4.

Location–Still a 4.

Venue–I would actually give it a 2.5.  The venue didn’t improve but at least I didn’t have to see the band leave the stage for the Carson Daly countdown like I did on New Year’s Eve.

Setlist–This slightly improved by having Sunrise/New Moon back in the set.  I give it a 3.

Interactions–Interactions between band and audience was still solid as was the interactions on stage.  I score it a 4.

Energy Level–The band had a lot more energy for this show!  John Taylor bounced around a lot, for example!  It was a definite 4.

No extras to report.

Total–33.5

Based on the these shows, the rubric seems to work.  It clearly shows that one show was better than the other.  Have any of you tried the rubric?  Did it work for you?

-A

Duran Duran Concert Rubric

Last weekend, I wrote a little blog, which you can read here, but devising a method to determine the quality of Duran Duran concerts.  As a teacher, I create and use rubrics or charts to determine the quality of students’ performances on a task all the time.  I would apply this same skill to Duran Duran concerts to figure out how awesome each one was.  I considered various elements of the concert experience, including sound, people I was with, venue, seating location, band’s energy level, etc.  Beyond that, I would also add points for experiences that go beyond the concert itself.  This list includes meeting band members, getting a drumstick and more.  It would also consider removing points for missing band members.

Today, I created such a rubric.  Typically, I hope to fit a rubric on one side of one piece of paper in order to staple it easily to an assignment.  For this rubric, I could not fit in on one page.  I squeezed it onto two pages.  While I consider this rubric a draft, it feels pretty solid to me.  That said, I welcome feedback.

Before I post the rubric, I want to preface it with what I’m about to say in order to minimize the criticism I expect to receive.  I suspect that many fans reading this blog post or looking at the rubric will say this, “Duran Duran concerts are ALL AWESOME!  They are all perfect and cannot be judged like this!”  While I recognize Duran Duran’s greatness as evidenced by maintaining this daily blog for over six years, I acknowledge that some shows are greater than others.  Everyone can have an off day or an off performance.  Goodness knows that I do.  Some days I’m the best teacher ever.  Others I kinda suck.  It happens.  We are human.  They are human.

Besides, this is just for FUN!  I repeat this is just for FUN!  It is not intended to be taken super seriously.  I’m not criticizing Duran Duran or their performances.  If I thought they sucked, I would stop going.  I feel just the opposite.  In fact, there is no place I would rather be and cannot wait for my upcoming shows in March.  Without further ado, I give you the Duran Duran Concert Rubric!

 

Obviously, there is a lot of writing on this rubric and the conversation to JPEG made the writing tiny.  Therefore, I recommend printing the rubric for use.

What do you think?  Did I miss something?  What needs to be explained better?  Clearer?

-A

Determining the Best Concert!

A funny thing happens when two teachers go to concerts together.  They find themselves talking about the qualities that make a good concert like they would discuss a child’s homework at school.  This literally happened last weekend as my friend, Nat, and I sat at a restaurant eating a meal.  Both of us teach for a living.  While I wrangle those obnoxious, smart ass teenagers, she develops the minds of little ones in Kindergarten.  That said, education is education so we both can talk the talk, which led us to think about how best to evaluate concerts like we do at work.

In the education field, teachers create what are called rubrics, a chart used to evaluate a student’s performance on a certain activity. Here is one for example that I found online:

As you can tell from this picture, this is a rubric for a writing activity with 5 categories for the teacher to judge:  introduction, conclusions, information gathering, summary, and grammar.  Then, from there, each of those categories are judged from the best quality, which would equal a 4 to the worst which would equal a 1.

So, would it be possible to create a rubric to determine the quality of a show?  Nat and I would say, “Yes!  Definitely!”  For our concert rubric, there would be more than just 5 categories.  Here’s what we came up with off the top of our heads:

  • Seat location
  • Crowd
  • Sound/Acoustics of venue
  • Company/People You Went to the Show with
  • Location of the Show (City/State/Country)
  • Venue (including all factors from bars to security to layout)
  • Setlist (including length of setlist and song choices)
  • Interactions between band and audience
  • Interactions between band members
  • Energy level of band

Now, what did we leave out?  What did we forget?  I suspect that some of you might be wondering about those shows in which you might get a setlist or drumsticks or get to shake hands with a band member or get a meet and greet.  What about those shows?  I guess I would give extra points for those experiences.  Maybe those really special extras need to be ranking as well.  That could be fun.

Do we include other circumstances like traveling?  How easy it was to get there?  How fun the journey was?  Traffic?  Weather?  Cost???  What really matters when it comes to show quality?

I am sure that many of you out there are saying things like…Duran Duran shows are always perfect!  While I would agree that there is no better place in the world to be, I can acknowledge that other factors can play a role to make a show fabulous or just good.  I will also point out that this is just for fun.  Again, I repeat this would be just for FUN!  I think this would be a fun way to talk about shows that I have been to but also the ones that I’m going to.  It also acknowledges that everyone’s concert experience is slightly different even if they have been to the same show.

I plan on working to create such a thing, but I want to make sure that I have included all factors.  Then, I want to know if some of those factors matter more than others.  For example, should seat location be worth more points than band interactions with the audience?  Should the setlist be higher than the location of the venue?  Your feedback is requested on that front as well.  Once I go through all the feedback, I’ll come up with a draft, post it on a blog and adjust the draft as necessary.  Then, we can use it!

-A

Amazing or Consistently Good?

Earlier in the week, I wrote a blog in which I provided a review of Duran Duran’s New Year’s Day show and the weekend in general.  If you have not read it, you can read it here.  Overall, the response was positive as many, many readers agreed with me and added even more examples from their own experiences.  Yet, one reader questioned the structure of the blog post as I focused on responding to a review of the show.  The criticism was that I should not have reviewed a review, that I should have just written about my thoughts about the show.

This reaction made me think.  I get that a reader would want details about the show.  Yet, I felt and still feel that I needed that review to respond to.  If you have been reading this blog pretty consistently over the last year, you recognize that I have attended a “few” shows since Paper Gods was released.  This means that I have seen basically the same set list a “few” times.  I have seen the same visuals, the same dance moves, the same introductions (in many cases).  I have reviewed many of the shows I have seen here on the blog.  I am not sure what more I could say beyond, “I love having New Moon on Monday in the setlist.”  I have said that before.  I have commented on how it represents my fandom.  I could have repeated that as well as other comments about DoJo, JoSi, the amazing visuals during What Are the Chances, etc.  I didn’t, though.  I didn’t want to rehash old blogs.  That’s not fun, nor interesting.

So why could I not discuss the differences with this show?  Why didn’t I mention the uniqueness of that particular New Year’s Day show?  Frankly, there wasn’t much difference between that show and the show I saw in Chula Vista, California, or the one I saw in Toronto, Canada.  Most of the shows I have seen during this era are consistently good.  It seems clear to me that Duran has worked HARD to put on a good show night after night.  I don’t hear or read criticism that a show sucked ever.  No one says that.  I think back, though, to shows in 2005 or 2006 or 2007, etc., and I do remember hearing that some shows weren’t as good as others.

Similarly, I can think back to the shows that I have seen and there were definitely some shows that were amazing!  I remember leaving the Brighton show in 2011 thinking that there was never going to be a better show than that and the next night in Bournemouth seemed to prove that to me as that show wasn’t that great.  In the past, shows varied with some being a lot better than others.  Now, before I get hate mail, don’t get me wrong.  “Less than perfect” Duran shows are still better than lots of other bands.  I don’t regret seeing any Duran show and clearly, I’m still addicted since I have tickets to more.  I’m just saying that some were “good” and some shows were “amazing.”

This leads me to think about other bands.  I have seen Depeche Mode, for example, a number of times.  They are consistently good.  I can count on that band to put on a good show.  Yet, despite having had seen them a bunch of times, none of the shows stick out to me.  No show was better than others.  I could say the same about their albums.  Generally, Depeche records good albums, consistent albums.  Duran has had some AMAZING albums and some albums that weren’t as great.  It seems to me, though, that when Duran makes a good song, it is beyond fabulous and cannot be compared with anything else.   The same is true with their albums as well.

This makes me wonder.  Which is better?  Is it better to be consistently good or it is better to have moments of being awesome and some moments of being less than great?  For me, if I really wanted consistently good, I might be writing a blog about being a Depeche Mode fan.  Yet, I like that Duran takes chance to reach that 10 with their music, their albums, their live shows.  At times, they not only reach that 10, they push passed.  Yet, sometimes, they try and miss the mark, creating only a 6.  I think it braver and more interesting to follow a band that isn’t always the same.  I like that they change and try new challenges.

What do the rest of you think?

-A