The first main topic of the documentary is the 2011 highlights, according to the band. Nick introduced this topic by talking about how the year was so exciting and renewed their music and live show. Simon then listed many of their highlights, including the release of All You Need Is Now and their participation in some American festivals like South by Southwest and Coachella. Nick and John later discuss the Unstaged show with David Lynch. After watching, I wondered if I agreed with their assessments and what my own highlights were. Let’s take each of those 3 highlights, one at a time.
The first highlight that the band mentions is the release of All You Need is Now. I would think that anytime the band releases an album that must be THE highlight of that year since they haven’t released that many albums. It isn’t like they release an album a year or more than one album a year. Writing, recording, mixing, and putting out an album must be an incredible amount of work. I really can’t wrap my head around how much work it must be. I know how hard it is to write a book. Maybe I could compare book writing to album making. Like recording an album, you can’t just sit down and publish a book. You have to take time to outline the book/chapter, then you have to write it which often takes a great deal of time as serious revisions can happen. You start thinking the chapter might be one way only to have it go in a completely different direction. I am sure the same thing happens to songs. Then, you still have to edit, perfect, add, change, fix everything that is written. Even after that, there are more details to add. In our case, for example, we add quotes to separate sections of a chapter. Perhaps, this is like all of those little sounds, pieces that get added to Duran songs. Once all of that is done, there is still all the packaging that needs to be figured and what is going to be included, etc. My point is simple. Releasing an album is a ton of work and a super big deal. Of course, the other important detail to this highlight is that the album is FABULOUS. Frankly, this album should always be a Duran highlight and not just for 2011. It is a career highlight, in my opinion. It is filled with quality music that feels like essential Duran. If anything, I was surprised that they didn’t talk more about the album on this. Although, maybe they felt like they shouldn’t because the iTunes version was available at the end of 2010.
The next highlight was American festivals. They mentioned South by Southwest briefly before spending more time talking about Coachella and the scene there with the sunset that really created a special moment for the band. I wasn’t surprised that they talked about this one as I know John talks about it in his book. (Hope that wasn’t too spoilerish!) I also know that it was a huge crowd and that this festival is a big deal in comparison to many other ones. It was one of those shows that aired online at the same time they played so that the rest of us, who weren’t there and wouldn’t step foot on a festival’s grounds even if paid, could watch it. I enjoyed the show. I did and I thought that the band sounded really tight that night. Thus, I completely understand why it was a highlight for the band BUT I don’t know that it was a highlight for a lot of us, fans. Obviously, fans, like me, would have a different set of criteria. Festivals aren’t for fans. Yes, some fans attended, including some friends of ours, but they typically don’t get to play a full set and include ONLY greatest hits and a few new ones. Yes, I realize that appearances in festivals could broaden the fanbase. I get all that. Yet, when I think highlights, I think it has to either be something that had a HUGE impact on a large number of fans or majority of fans or really do or say something about the band’s success. This event didn’t do it. Frankly, they should have mentioned those rehearsal shows in the UK in the late summer of 2011 in which Simon practiced his voice for the first time since he had vocal problems and in which the band played lots of obscure songs in small venues filled with all fans. I wasn’t there at any of those shows but I do know that they meant everything to all of us. It was proof that Simon was going to be okay and that the band would continue. That meant everything.
The last big highlight that was mentioned was the Unstaged performance/production with David Lynch. For this, the band played a live show in Los Angeles while the David Lynch production was streamed online with numerous effects and images shown on top of shots of the band performing. Again, I wasn’t surprised that the band mentioned this one. After all, many (most? all?) of them are fans of David Lynch’s. It also got a lot of attention. I think there is something to be said for doing something different or showing something different. I applaud it for that. Yet, I know that when I watched it, I found myself either wondering what the heck was now on the screen or why I couldn’t just see the band perform. In my opinion, it was too much style and not enough substance. All of those images almost took away from the quality of the band’s performance. As a Duranie, I don’t mind some additions to a live performance but this felt like it wasn’t a live performance and I was sad by that. My full review of this could be read here. As I said there, it was cool, to some extent, but I missed just seeing the band.
If I had to say what the band’s highlights of 2011 were, I think I would have to say the album’s release, the return of Simon with those rehearsal gigs and the UK tour at the end of the year. I’m not surprised that my highlights for the band didn’t match theirs. After all, we have different priorities. My highlights have to impact a lot of us or all of us. For them, they thought about their personal highlights or thought about those big events that are easy to pick out. I get that. I can understand that. My highlight choices are personal, too. Did those events I mentioned help the band’s career, though, at the same time? I actually think they do. It is a big deal to release an album and an album with super quality. It is huge to be able to perform again after the fear we all had that Simon would never be able to sing again. It is so cool to be able to play shows like they played in the UK at the end of the year. It was the proof that they really are back and are 100%!
What about the rest of you? Do you agree with their highlights? What are your highlights for 2011?