Category Archives: touring

The Wedding Album was released on this date in 1993!

My first thought as I sat down to write this blog was that I graduated from college in 1993.  Today, that feels like a million years ago. I don’t know quite what it is about those mid-90s for me, but the years and memories all blend together. Not quite a black hole, but not quite distinct vivid memories, either.  Unfortunately for me, that includes The Wedding Album.

Sure, I remember hearing “Ordinary World” on the radio.  Who wouldn’t?  It was the first time in many years that Duran Duran seemed to be on heavy rotation. I also remember blasting “Too Much Information” in my car as I would drive home from school.  So, I know I must have bought the CD at some point.  I can remember wondering why on earth they (the band) went with the album being self-titled again, because it seemed so confusing. As it was, I always called their first album, well…their first album, as opposed to Duran Duran by Duran Duran. Why not just give it a name?  Turns out, we did it for them anyway. Everyone I know calls it The Wedding Album. I even capitalize and italicize it as though that’s the way it’s meant to be!

Where was I?  Oh yes, very few memories of this album when it came out. It is true. I suppose in some way, my experience is indicative of where I was in my life at the time. I was months away from graduating from college. I was trying to find a job, dating my boyfriend (who eventually became my husband), commuting a ridiculous distance back and forth to school each day, and I guess I really wasn’t paying as much attention to Duran Duran as I once did…or would again in the future.

I can tell you a few things about my own feelings about that album from day one, though.  To begin with, I really liked “Ordinary World”. My husband even learned the guitar part well after we were married and moved back to California because he knew how much I loved it. However, my favorite song on the album, both then and now, is “Too Much Information”.  I also liked “Come Undone”…and for me, those were really the only songs that hit me off the album.  I played it all the time in my car, but I found myself hitting repeat on those songs and skipping much of the rest.  All I can say is that we all have our favorites.  I’m glad the album propelled Duran Duran onward, because they’re still with us today as result.

From what I’ve read over the years, I wasn’t the only fan that was consumed by real life during this period. I wish I had more memories. One thing I do remember – very vaguely – is going to see Duran Duran play at Irvine Meadows later that year. I went in August, and I sat…wait for it…on the LAWN.  My friend had bought tickets for the two of us to go see Duran Duran together as a graduation gift.  I was excited to see the band – I think it was only the second time I ever saw them, actually.  I knew we’d be way back from the stage but it didn’t matter much to me, at first. However, even back then going to shows wasn’t without some sort of drama.  My boyfriend was more than a little annoyed that he wasn’t invited, and so he went and got his own tickets – much closer to the front – and went with one of his friends. This, my friends, was the one and only time that Walt has ever had a better seat at a Duran show than I’ve had, and HE WILL NEVER LET ME FORGET IT.  Good times!

That’s probably why I barely remember the show or much from this era – I blocked it from memory.  😀

-R

 

The Big Egg in 1989 – do you remember?

Oddly enough, I barely remember 1989.  I can tell you that on this date in 1989, I was living in the dorms at Cal State Fullerton, and I’m pretty sure that I knew my (then) boyfriend and I were going to go see Duran Duran at the Universal Amphitheater in March. Aside from those two things, I can’t tell you much about what was going on in the world back then.

HOWEVER…I do remember this show for a couple of reasons. First of all, they played at a venue named The Big Egg.  Come on now.  Who forgets a name like that?? Secondly, I have seen video from this show. The wardrobe choices alone are burned into my memory for all eternity. Yes, I’m poking fun…because I can, and because none of them are standing in front of me. <insert big wide grin here> Listen, the 80’s happened to ALL of us. I just thank my lucky stars that me and my frizzy, peroxide-bleached hair from back then is nowhere to be found online.

So, while I wasn’t at the show (how many of us really traveled to Japan back then anyway?)…I still enjoy when this date comes up each year so that I can search for just the right YouTube video to share.

Enjoy Maximum Big Surprise (mash-up medley of Election Day and Some Like it Hot)  The video quality isn’t great but it was the best I could find this year…

 

Happy Wednesday!

-R

 

 

 

It’s about the money, honey! Those darn ticket prices

Lately, the blog has been void of truly controversial topics.  I have stuck to basics, like commemorating days in history and that sort of thing. The writing has been easy, and I’ve enjoyed not having my inbox/comments flooded with inflammatory and argumentative replies. I don’t miss that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, nor do I miss being called out by people on Twitter who really know nothing about me.

However, sometimes, no matter how incendiary a topic might be, it is worthy of some discussion. Amanda and I never used to shy away from the tough topics, and I don’t want to start that now just because of my own comfort zone.  Over the past few days, I noticed a friend comment about the ticket prices for Duran shows. I replied, commiserating over the cost.

On this same thread, another Duranie commented that he didn’t feel the band cared how we felt about their prices. First of all, let’s be clear: I am not all that sure that the band even knows what they charge for concert tickets. As Simon has said many times, they don’t really get involved on the business side – after all, that is why they hire management, right? Second, I would agree that they probably don’t care. I think the band comes out on stage, sees that most of the seats are full – if in fact they can even see that well past the first several rows – and they go about their business of playing their set. They aren’t fixated on how much their shows cost, only what they need to do at the time. Third, Simon himself (and I’m sorry to “pick” on Simon, it just so happens he’s the one who I remember making any mention of this subject) has said that when a fan buys a ticket to their show, they are getting a terrific value for their money.  So I think we all know where he stands, and I can’t blame him.

As the thread continued, another Duranie friend chimed in.  She’s seen them quite a bit over the years, and flat-out refuses to spend so much money to see a band that she’s seen so often. She continued by saying that their latest releases have underwhelmed her, and that also plays a part in her decision not to attend shows. I can’t argue with any of that, either. I mean, why pay to see a band that is putting out music you’re not into? Fair enough.

The one question that always seems to come up during these conversations is whether or not the band is really just into it for the money.  Now, before you hit the comment button here – I KNOW WHAT THE BAND HAS SAID. John Taylor has said in more than one Katy Kafe that it is not just about the money for them. I KNOW.  I would simply ask what do any of us think they’d really say in public?? I highly doubt ANY band would openly say they are still working and performing purely for the money. Even if we don’t think they’re ONLY in it for the cash (which for the record I do not), let’s be fair: making money is part of the deal. It’s called business.

Curiously, the answer to that one little question matters to fans. We white knuckle the belief that the band we love really is not about taking us for everything we’ve got and are willing to part with, to see them.  Yet I think most of us know in our heads that money has to enter into it all somewhere.  The question is, where is that line between having a successful career and selling out purely for cash drawn, and why?

Discussion points are continually made that the band isn’t continuing to sell out massively large venues, and that they’re playing Festivals and casinos. No argument there, although I have pointed out in some conversations that this past summer – they definitely came close to selling out at least some of the venues they performed in that while touring with Chic.  I’ll admit, in my own personal opinion, the ticket prices were pretty high (considerably so if you bought VIP, which I did).  While no, they aren’t playing the same size venues this spring [in the US], the ticket prices have not come down that much. I do see other bands besides Duran Duran on occasion, and while I pay the most to see DD (VIP cost having a lot to do with that so to some degree it is my own fault and I own that), I have found that other tickets are still expensive. It’s just not cheap to go to concerts anymore unless you’re willing to sit in the back or on the lawn.

This is not just about priority for fans. The implication that if you really want to see Duran Duran you’ll pay the price and if you’re just a fair-weather fan, you probably won’t and that’s your problem, is distasteful.That belief gives far too much leeway in passing judgment on others. After all, five years ago, I could afford to do whatever show(s) I wanted, and didn’t have to work outside of the home. Now, I can’t, and I work. Things change, and it isn’t just about priorities. There are real fans of the band who have just gotten to the point where they feel as though the ticket prices are too high to see the same basic set list, or to see songs from albums that just have not hit home.

In closing, I’ll throw out one more sub topic to mull over.  In recent weeks, Amanda and I have had conversations about where the band sits in the overall hierarchy of popularity.  The band (DDHQ) markets their success with Paper Gods.  I made the comment to Amanda just this past weekend that if one listened to management, it is easy to believe that things have never been better for the band.  On the other hand, the energy and buzz have certainly changed over the years we’ve written this blog. It is vastly different now, for a variety of reasons. It is difficult to really grasp the true interest level. On one hand, they can sell out the Hollywood Bowl when touring with Chic. On the other hand, they tend to go for the low hanging fruit and play festivals. They have the opportunity to play for huge crowds without the risk of booking massive venues on their own.  They also play a lot of casino shows.  More and more often, I read of long time fans decide to sit out shows and tours, saying that they’ve given enough to the band over the years.  Is it just the people I follow, or is it a growing trend, and why? Is it our age? Our circumstances? The cost? Are we really that worried about whether the band is only in it for the money these days – or is it just reason to complain?

-R

 

 

Do you remember DD playing Jacksonville in 2005?

I find myself struggling to think of something to blog about on this fine Monday morning in February. The sun is out, it will warm up to the mid-70s here at my house in the OC today….and I can’t think of a single thing to write. Even the dates in history are failing me today.

Turns out, DD hasn’t done a lot over the years on the 13th of February. They’ve played a few times, but the shows haven’t been monumental….or at least there’s nothing about them that I can really remember that needs blogging.

So, I’m going to wing it. First of all, the show in Jacksonville was towards the beginning of the Astronaut tour. If you’re like me, maybe you’re saying “Hey, wait a second – didn’t they play Japan?” The answer is, well…yes…they were supposed to, but no…they did not. There were six shows in Japan during the month of January that were cancelled. So the band went straight from their show at the Hammersmith Palais in London on January 13th to playing the show in Puerto Rico on February 8th. Then they did two shows in Ft. Lauderdale on the 10th and 11. (the one on the 10th was billed as a warm-up show), then a show in Tampa, and then the show in Jacksonville. From then on, it was a crazed ten, fairly solid months of touring. If you don’t believe me, you should check out the complete tour list on dd.com.  They did take breaks in their schedule – but only for a matter of weeks each time (for the most part).  Although, if I think back, it did seem like that entire year was all about touring. Every time I turned around new dates seemed to be announced, and friends were always planning their travel around the band.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – 2005 was a good time to be a Duranie. I didn’t even take full advantage of all of the touring, in fact I limited myself to only a couple of shows, while many others I know were gone for weeks, if not months, at a time.

Jacksonville was really only the beginning, but it was what they did on this date in 2005.  Do you remember?

-R

 

I’m Looking Out the Window…

I hate February.  I think I say that every year.  If you went back and looked at blog plots from February from last year or the year before or the year before that, etc., I’m sure there are sentences that are very similar to my first sentence.  My students are going a little stir crazy as it has been months of cold temperatures and little sunshine.  I’m dying for spring break but it is months away.

In thinking about this, I realized that the last few Februarys have also been quiet on the Duran front, too.  The band has not toured during the month of February since 2005.  Yes, they have played a few shows here and there in February but not a real tour.  Before that, they did play a few shows in February in 2001 and 1993 with longer tours only during the years of 1994, 1989, and of course, 1984.

Ah, yes, 1984 is the year of Duran-mania.  We all know about that year, that tour.  After all, we all saw Sing Blue Silver, right?  This scene always pops in my head when I think about Duran touring during the winter:

I bet that drive to Pittsburg (That is where they were headed in that scene, right?!) was a tough one.  (I recently drove right past Pittsburgh in the middle of the night in the worst fog ever so I can relate.)  In watching that scene, I always wondered if they feared that they wouldn’t make that show.  This, of course, makes me consider why they might not schedule many tours during February.

Winter can be harsh.  Traveling is certainly unpredictable during the this season.  I worried about the weather in making plans to see Duran around New Year’s in DC.  What if the weather sucked and flights got canceled?  What if I couldn’t get to O’Hare?  I had the same concerns in 2008 when I went to a few shows in the Northeast during December.  Luckily, the weather cooperated both times.

I guess the band could tour just in warm places during the winter in order to avoid potential weather pitfalls.  Then, they would be assured that they could get to the shows  without a problem.  That said, others might not be able to get to those shows as easily.  Perhaps, they realize that there is a group of Duranies who are willing to travel to see them when they can.  Their audiences are not just made up of local or nearby fans.  Some part of the crowd consists of people who traveled to go.  Therefore, tours during the winter could be problematic.

Really, I have no idea why Duran has not toured in the winter in the last ten plus years.  It could be that weather factor or something else.  As much as I understand the potential reason(s) why, I find myself wishing that there were shows coming up in a week or two.  Maybe, it is just that I’m anxious for the shows in March.  Perhaps, I just want a break from a reality that is beyond exhausting at this point.  Whatever the reason, I’ll try to hang in here until the shows get started.

-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

Who wants more shows?!? DD Announces Four More 2017 Dates! (US)

If  Duran Duran fans didn’t already have plans for 2017, the band is doing their part by announcing four more US dates to take place during March and April.

March 21, 2017: Dallas, TX Music Hall at Fair Park

March 22, 2017: Sugar Land (Houston, TX area) Smart Financial Center at Sugar Land

April 5, 2017 Hollywood, FL (Miami area) Seminole Hard Rock Casino

April 8, Atlanta, GA Chastain Park

Oh, to only be a fly on the wall at the band’s management office….

Why more US shows?  What made these cities stand out as places to visit? Why do the dates surround those in South America instead of say – beginning here, moving on to South America and then the rest of the world, which we are ALL aware they have sorely missed thus far?   Why didn’t they ever plan a European tour to support this album?  Where are those Australian dates and why is it taking so long to even announce them?

These are only a few of the questions that I’ve seen posted and directed at Duran Duran on every sort of social media. I don’t have answers. I can guess that touring in the US pays the bills, although I don’t know why that would be more so than other places – particularly when the band points out that audiences in South America are among their best in the world.  I can also imagine that logistically, touring here might be easier?  We are 50 contiguous states on a large continent with many large cities to visit and arenas to play.  Even with that in mind, it does seem like it has taken quite a long time for the band to even announce other dates in other countries.

In the most recent Katy Kafe, Nick mentioned that they are looking at the Septemberish time frame for Australia, and that they are hoping to get to other places (Japan, etc) in that area of the world. This is much of the same thing that has been said since Paper Gods was first released in 2015 and the band discussed places they’d like to tour. Each time the subject comes up during a Kafe, it seems as though the time frame continues to be set out farther and farther – the idea becoming more like a dream than an eventuality. One can only assume that the costs of touring are astronomical, and that the band must have to front much of that cost, so even the very best tours that would pack a huge bang for the buck must be planned with precision and care.

I have no doubt that many fans, throughout the world, are getting frustrated. I’ve seen the words, “since you’ve forgotten your fans in _______________” included in many a comment on any post the band has made lately.  I know a lot of people are angry about the additional US dates, and while sure I’m thrilled to hear they are visiting, it does make one wonder about the business of touring.

This time, at least for the dates they are doing in Rancho Mirage, the shows are in a much smaller venue than those I saw last year. Yes, arenas are great, but I am ready for some smaller, more intimate gatherings. It would seem that these newly announced shows are a reasonable balance. Although I have not seen them at all of the venues announced, I did see them at Chastain Park in Atlanta for the All You Need is Now Tour.  The amphitheater seats 6,900 and is nicely sized.  When the band is touring on their own, this size of venue feels comfortable and appropriately welcoming in most cases.  Sure, I’d love to have them play for me and a few hundred of my close friends in my backyard….but I’ll take the shows with a few thousand or so any day and be happy!

There is a lot coming up in the world of Duran. 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of the formation of the band, John and Nick are working on a musical…there’s been talk about the band going back into the studio, although no time frame has been suggested.  It is hard to say how to this will fit into the journey, all we can do is buckle up for the ride ahead!

-R

A Corporate Retreat? Sign me up!

Do you ever get the feeling that you are working for the wrong company?  I sure do, particularly when I see that the band is in Palm Springs (Palm Desert, to be more precise), which is about an hour and a half from me, and they are doing a corporate show for the WME/IMG company retreat!

First of all, my “company” doesn’t even do retreats. I work for a charter school, and we teach…and wrangle children. (that’s my job!)The best thing we do to team build is have meetings, which quite frankly—I enjoy—because it’s the only time we have to actually talk to one another without risk of a small child coming in to ask for a band-aid or to call mom.  It is never a dull moment, but I love it. I’m also completely exhausted at the end of the day. But, back to those retreats that I’m missing out on and that band we all love…

I noticed on Monday…or Tuesday (the days run together for me anymore), that Anna Ross had posted a photo from a morning hike in Palm Springs. I really didn’t give it much thought, figuring it was from another visit. I mean, how could they possibly be in Palm Springs? Or maybe she was here on her own. I had no idea. Until Dom posted something similar.

I remember seeing the tweet, and thinking –  they are here. (Who am I kidding? I really thought, HE IS HERE. Don’t tell anybody.) In my state. 90 minutes from me. What. The.  (well, I’ll let you think the rest from there.) 

Granted, I could have gotten into my car and driven out there. I know this. YOU know this. But I’ll bet you also know I didn’t. I couldn’t. No way. First of all, my days are pretty wrapped up anymore. Either I’m teaching at home, or I’m at school. If I’m at school, I have no time to think about anything else for the entire eight hours I’m there. I rush from the second I arrive – usually being bombarded by children from the moment I shut the car door before I even hit the door to the building, until the moment I close the car door to leave. Sometimes even then I get a phone call on the way home.  When I get home, I crash. Hard.  It’s a problem.

Even so, I could have gone out there. What stopped me was the though of how ridiculous I would have looked. (Oh, and yes – my children. And husband! But never mind them…) Yes, I had a reasonable idea of where they were, but stalking isn’t a hobby of mine. I’m terrible at being a fan in that respect, because the last thing I want to do is annoy any of them. I don’t approach (been there, wrote that email, crashed and burned spectacularly…thank you very much), and as a result, I’m the last person who is ever going to “meet” them after a show, or anywhere else for that matter, unless we’re introduced….or unless Simon comes on over for another toast at a bar. When I sit back and think about how long Amanda and I have been blogging and yet we’re STILL saying we don’t really know them, well – it’s laughable (and believe me, we do laugh).  Even so, I was tempted, I’ll admit. Of course I wanted to see them, but on the same token, I didn’t want to look like a fool, which I would have. For sure.

So instead, I tried to enjoy the torture of knowing that they were so nearby, and that they were also very close to where I’ll be seeing them in a couple of months.  Anticipation can be fun. Sort of.

Honestly, seeing the tweets from Dom and Anna – and there were only a few – was nice. It was a treat to have them share where they were, knowing that fans (at least not many) weren’t really a part of what they were doing out there this time. And today they’re headed back home, presumably until they begin the sweep of shows they have planned for spring.

Me? Oh, I’m very much looking forward to a weekend in Rancho Mirage come March, and not just because of the band! You see, for Amanda and I—it’s going to be our own Daily Duranie weekend retreat! I am looking forward to some hopefully sunny weather, a little peace and quiet by the pool, and some quality time with some friends I rarely see. It will all be happening. Soonish.

-R

New Year’s Day Show and Overall Weekend Review

I returned home last night after a long day of travel from the Washington DC area with Duran Duran and the weekend still on my mind.  Throughout the day, I exchanged text messages with Rhonda about the show and weekend.  I suggested that I provide today’s blog in order to review the New Year’s Day show while it was fresh in my mind.

After I emptied my suitcase and started the laundry, I glanced through social media and came across a post with a review from the show, which you can read here.  What do I think of this review?  Read on, people.

The author begins by going over band members and stating how they seemed excited to be there.  I would agree.  Their energy level was hundred times greater than the previous night.  I’ll give a couple of examples.  John Taylor bounced up and down a TON more during Wild Boys on the 1st versus the 31st and we got Sunrise/New Moon on Monday, which we did not have on the 31st, which I love.  Anyway, unfortunately, then, she goes on to rave about the venue.  The author writes:

“There are so many music venues across the country that were never really designed for concerts. This theatre was designed with concerts in mind and its apparent. Soon, I believe, The Theater at the MGM National Harbor will rank as one of the top concert venues on the East coast. So remember you read it here first!  The modern style theater holds around 3,000 people but still manages to feel intimate, there isn’t a bad seat in the house helped out by two huge screens on either side of the stage.”

As I read that, I scratch my head.  There isn’t a bad seat in the house???  Our last two posts, which you can read here and here, point out that there are seats that literally face walls.  Yes, she is right that there are screens and I am sure that people in the back appreciated them.  That said, some seats had such extreme angles that the only way to really see was to watch a screen.  To me, when I go to a concert venue, I want to watch the actual band.  On top of that, the barricade between the stage and the front row was HUGE, causing all others on the floor to be pushed back.  The flat floor does not help attendees who are short see beyond taller people in front of them.  Needless to say, I was not impressed.  Now, in fairness, the author stated that the last time she saw Duran it was in a muddy field.  This would be better than that.

The rest of the review focuses more on the performance with the standard ‘they haven’t aged at all’ comment.  The author mentions the crowd and describes how they “lit up screaming”.  I cannot disagree with this.  The front center section appeared to be full and what I could tell they were up, off their feet, singing and dancing the entire time.  The crowd felt more like genuine fans.  I cannot help but to think that there is a correlation between the band’s energy level and the crowd.  Better crowd equals more energy and vice versa.  The two feed off of each other.

The author goes on to mention some specific songs, including Planet Earth with the David Bowie tribute, The Reflex and more.  Interestingly enough, she called them “oldies.”  Ouch.  Yes, these songs that she referenced were released decades ago but to call them oldies hurts.  She also compliments Simon’s voice as well as the backing vocals of Erin Stevenson and Anna Ross.  I agree that Simon generally sounded strong and unlike the previous night, I didn’t notice any lyrical goofs.

The rest of the review discussed aspects of the casino itself from the parking to size of the casino and how she liked what she saw.  Overall, I would say that the casino has potential but needs to iron out some details that detracted from the fun.  First, I appreciated how friendly and helpful all of the staff were from coat check staff to cleaning staff and everyone in between.  I liked the layout with the casino in the middle surrounded by restaurants on the outside perimeter.  All that said, last call inside the bars was 1:30 even on New Year’s Eve.  This particularly did not make sense to me as cocktail waitresses inside the casino itself still served beyond that.  Some of the bar staff was super slow to deliver drinks.  Restaurants also closed early, which was a problem when you want to hang out late into the evening and needed food.

I saw lots of people I have seen at previous shows, which was great!  At one point over the weekend, I declared that there should be a Duranie yearbook with people’s names, pictures and a list of shows they attended as it is hard to remember everyone and when/where you met them.  The Lobby Bar, which was an open (no door man monitoring who comes in and out unlike the other bars in the place), bar served as a decent meet up spot for Duranies both before and after the shows.  As always, I saw people there whom I didn’t have a chance to talk with much but wanted to.  Time flies when people are having fun.

That said,  I felt a bit of a disconnect there.  If I had to guess why, it was the hotel situation.  The MGM hotel was far too expensive for the vast majority of us to stay in.  Therefore, we sought out different places within a short distance.  Some stayed there in Oxon Hill, others in Alexandria like myself and Nat, and some in DC proper.  There wasn’t the same running into people during the day like you would find at a typical casino show.  During the day, everyone scattered to do different activities only to meet up very briefly before or after.  On top of that, the early closings of bars and restaurants did not make it easy to stay late and hang out.  When I go to a casino show, I want to be able to hang out all night long.

Overall, I still feel as though I made the right decision to go.  I loved being able to finish off a year with a Duran show and starting a new one the same way.  One thing that Simon said at the New Year’s Day show that stuck with me was this theory that whatever you were doing on New Year’s Day is how your year will go.  I would love for that to be the case.  My year would be a great one if it was filled with Duranies, Duran music, and fun.  I loved seeing many friends there and enjoyed getting to know my friend, Nat, more.  She put up with me, which is always impressive!  Just ask Rhonda!  It also increased my excitement for the next shows in Agua Caliente in California in March.  With a little over 10 weeks until that trip, I know that I’ll be ready to go!

-A

Shouldn’t VIP seats be great?

Happy New Year!

It is my first blog of 2017 and I am hoping this post finds everyone happy and healthy.  Many of you are making your way home from the  New Year shows in Washington DC – safe travels! I have to say, sitting these shows out and staying at home wasn’t nearly as depressing as I thought. Not that I didn’t miss being there to see the band, but seeing the posts and updates from Amanda gave me a totally different perspective than I would have had if I were there too. It was interesting, not that I’d seriously try to recommend staying home to anyone!  I just didn’t have a choice, and I needed to make the best of it. I am going to have to get used to that, until I win the lottery.

Since I’ve been at home, I’ve had the opportunity to hear a lot about the venue. From a dress code that didn’t seem to be enforced to a countdown to New Years during the show that did not include the band dragged down spirits a bit. On the upside: DURAN DURAN. I mean, what could be better than that?  I have a hard time thinking of anything else that could be better than spending New Year’s weekend seeing Duran Duran.

Take it from someone who wasn’t there: I WISH.  I saw plenty of tweets, posts and comments that began with the words, “Once in a lifetime”.  I get it, and I have to concur. Those of us who weren’t there missed out (although I speak solely for myself when I say that I’ve gotten to do a lot of other “once in a lifetime” things as a result of this band – so missing one weekend won’t kill me).

On the other hand, had I spent the nearly $400 a show to see the band, I would have been very disappointed to get to the venue and see this view:

photo taken on an iPhone with no zoom, courtesy of Jennifer Burroughs

That’s a view from a VIP seat. In order to see any portion of the stage, the person in the seat had to angle way to the side. If they looked straight ahead, this may have been their view:

This is a photo Amanda took the first night.

Sure, the seats were close, and there’s no argument about that. Close seats, however, are not always “great seats”, and they definitely aren’t the “great seats” that paying nearly $400 for a VIP tickets should get you. These seats are partially obstructed, and should not be marketed as anything else. Shame on the venue for that. Sure, you might be in the first six rows, but if those rows face a brick wall and you never see the band – are they really VIP? That’s my question to all of you.

In an online discussion about this very issue, I mentioned that Amanda and I really try to do our homework before pre-sales. We search online for images of the venue. We even look to see photos from people in the audience, just to try to get a handle on the length of the stage as opposed to seating. Then we print out a copy of the seating chart, and we try to make sure that we know how the seats are numbered within each section. Buyer beware: even the seating charts that ticket agencies use sometimes aren’t always the best or most accurate. That’s why we take a good look at any photos  we can find online. Those are things we do ahead of time, so that way when row 2, seats 45 and 46 show up in our basket at the pre-sale, we can decide for ourselves whether or not we want them. And believe it or not, we’ve thrown second row seats back before because they were so far to the side that it didn’t matter. We’ve agreed that we’d rather be back a bit farther but in the middle than be way off to one side.  But that’s a choice that YOU must make as a buyer. We all want different things. So let’s look at the seating chart used for this pre-sale:

seating chart for MGM

It feels very counterintuitive, or even greedy, to throw back first or second row VIP seats because they’re not more to the middle. No doubt about it. I’m certainly not telling anybody what to do here because I don’t know what I would have done, had I participated in the pre-sale. Which brings me to another point.

Shouldn’t VIP seats be, well….great?

In the past on DDM (and by past I mean PAST)…we’d participate in pre-sales and not be guaranteed to have the best seats. It was explained that the DDM allocation for pre-sales were 10% of the best and worst seats in the venue, and it was a crap-shoot as to what you might get. DDM customers knew that risk going in, and I don’t know many of us who weren’t burned at least once. Those pre-sales, however, were not VIP. They were simply fan pre-sales. Over time, DDM began promoting their own VIP packages in various forms, whether they included cocktail parties, meet and greets, tiers, merchandise, or just the “great seat”.  Keeping in mind that during a pre-sale, you could go for just a regular seat OR pay the extra to do VIP.  Call me crazy, but if you’re paying the surcharge for VIP, you’re probably expecting a really good seat – one that doesn’t have you staring directly at a wall.

Granted, I’m not entirely sure that DDM has much control over what the venue touts as a “great seat”.  It isn’t as though DDM actually sorts through the tickets themselves and allocates them to fans (although at one time, they did). I just know that as a fan, if I bought a VIP ticket and ended up with that kind of view—I’d think twice before buying another. It doesn’t beg for repeat business.

I saw quite a few comments to DDM from “owners” of these types of side-seat tickets. Many asked if this is really how the band should treat their VIP customers. I can understand the question and the sentiment. I also have a fair idea of just how much attention DDHQ pays to such complaints. Unfortunately, it’s widely regarded that the only comments online are the negative ones, which is incredibly untrue (those are just the ones easily seen, which says more about the viewer than it does the countless GOOD things I see every day about the band).

Here’s the problem: we are customers. We also happen to be fans. Those are two different things. Sometimes, I feel that DDM and subsequently DDHQ forget that point. Fans can be fans without being customers; and many customers really aren’t fans. But, once they are truly customers – when they buy something directly from DDM—they should be treated as such.  The complaints have little do with crazy fans, it’s about wanting good service. It is wanting the goods and services one paid for. The relationship is transactional, not emotional.

I’m somewhat dismayed by just how many times I see the comment, “You saw a great show for the ticket price” or “The band puts on a fantastic show.”  without any validation given to the concerns of the customer. Particularly so when the complaints aren’t about the band doing their job, but about the folks behind the scenes doing theirs.

-R