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2015 Year End Katy Kafe with John Taylor

Tuesday brings a  2015 year-end Katy Kafe with John Taylor – this time in video! Let me properly set the stage: John is sitting at his computer in a cozy sort of room with white paneling. There is an upright piano (complete with obligatory metronome) sitting against the wall to the back right of him, and above the paneling around the room, there are figurines of some sort. (To be honest it reminds me very much of a room at my grandmothers old house, and this shelf is exactly where she would display her salt and pepper shakers. I’m pretty sure John isn’t the type to collect salt and pepper shakers [???], and my eyesight isn’t THAT great so I couldn’t tell what they were. As I continue typing, I’m starting to think that perhaps it’s a little weird for me to even notice…but whatever. Fan blog. Need I say more??)  As I further considered the setting, I was thinking “seems like a den”, and at that same time, John mentions that Katy has caught him in his den.  And for you John girls out there – he’s wearing a fedora-type hat (although the brim doesn’t seem wide enough to be called a fedora, but it’s along those lines.) So there you have it!

UK Tour

He recalls Simon saying that this tour was the best ever to the audience on the last night of the UK tour. He said that he meant to ask him later on if he really meant it because he was feeling similar. “Every show was great. No throw-aways. No one lost their voice.” He continues by mentioning the audiences, “The crowds this year have been on another level.”  John says that this past year, he’s felt very loved, unconditionally, which has been encouraging.

2015

In retrospect, he feels very good about 2015, saying that the band still seeks success in a number of avenues, and that touring does help to achieve part of that. “Every night, getting positive feed back. [It is] A validation of what we do.”  John speaks of the press, partially in answer to the subject of whether or not he is surprised that in 2015, Duran Duran is still touring and creating albums. He surmises that perhaps, had the band not shot straight to the stratosphere, but instead had a much more steady rise and build up, the press may have seen them and the band’s future differently.

The album comes up naturally in conversation several times over the course of the Kafe, as John refers to the two years the band spent in the studio writing and recording, “Pulling hair, but still having the inkling that the team still has something to give.” Conversely, touring isn’t all “the band”. The audience has something to add to that conversation. He explains that he isn’t like Nick – he likes the studio, but loves being onstage, “I want to perform.” For John, the albums are produced so that they have material to keep the performances fresh. He talks about how on the UK tour they integrated video into the show and that they’re all “still learning and putting it all together and it has been fun. It hasn’t always been that way. We are enjoying who we are.”  He uses a very interesting sort of analogy to drive his point home, talking about how you can look over the course of the band’s (or anyone’s) career or life in photos and see the various “detours” (as he put it) and you can say “Oh yeah…there’s an apparent midlife crisis happening there.”  But right now, they know exactly who they are.

As a commentary, I found his statement interesting because there are still plenty of people out there that feel Paper Gods was written with the idea of attracting a wider audience (as opposed to just their core fan base) in mind. Katy feels that Paper Gods is emblematic of who they are and their career at this point in time – yet many others disagree, saying that the band is trying to be something they are not.  It’s clear John very much believes that Paper Gods is an accurate representation of who Duran Duran is in 2015.  I tend to feel, after blogging and engaging with the fan base for the past five years, there is a certain faction within who believe unless the band is recreating the sound from the first album, Rio and perhaps even Seven and the Ragged Tiger to a limited extent, they’re not being true to themselves. I suppose to those fans, Paper Gods is a tough sell, which is a shame. I’m sure many would disagree, but that is my take-away after having written and observed the fan base for the better part of a decade, for what it may be worth. 

Favorite album of 2015

Since the Kafe is happening in John’s den, we have the added benefit of John being able to pull the albums directly from his collection. His first “grab” is Julia Holter’s Have You In My Wilderness.  (Is this an appropriate time to mention that I’ve never heard of Julia Holter but I’m going to Spotify right now to find her?? Two songs in and I’m sold, btw – it’s a great album for relaxing, which is EXACTLY what I need right now. Thanks John! This is one reason why I love John Taylor and miss him from social media. He feeds me new music discoveries.) He goes back to the record pile and grabs another – this time coming back with Bjork – I think he held up Biophilia but I’m not positive and forgot to make note. One last grab, this time holding up Beach House’s Depression Cherry.  He seems to like female lead singers, as Katy mentions. Lately, he’s been in to them, he agrees.  He also lists Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, and Hot Line Bling as other favorites for the year.

Favorite Movie of 2015

Without skipping a beat, John announces that Mad Max is his favorite movie of the year. Katy questions him a little about the modern Mad Max, wondering if it is at all like the original. After limited discussion it is agreed that it is its own animal. As a runner-up, John mentions The Clouds of Sils Maria (with Juliette Binoche and Kristin Steward).

Favorite Television of 2015

Finally a topic that causes John to take pause. He contemplates, and says he’s watched a lot of TV this year – mentioning that he just finished bingeing on four seasons of Scandal. Katy assumes he’s watching that with Gela, but no…John is watching this by himself. I chuckle, because well…it is also a favorite of mine.

Favorite Book of 2015

John read Jonathan Franzen’s book Purity, which he liked…but that caused him to read his book Freedom, which he LOVED. He mentions that not only is he not a fast reader, he doesn’t finish a lot of the books he starts. I struggle with that myself these days, sadly. Then he grabs a book from his desk by Ian McDonald called Revolution in the Head, which is an incredibly accurate breakdown of Beatles Songs and the minutia of how the band wrote and recorded them, calling it his bible.

2015 in a word

Complexity. “Everything is a grey area”

That pub show we all wish we’d been invited to…

John likened the experience to being in a punk band. He summarizes the feeling that night by calling it confrontational. Keep in mind the pub had about 120 people in it, and the band was quite literally playing in the faces of their guests (again, wishing my invite hadn’t been lost in the mail…) On a typical stage, you don’t have that same confrontational aspect. He talks about how he’s standing there, weapon in hand (that’d be his bass guitar of course), and he mentions the heat in the pub and that everyone is sweaty…and how he really enjoys those experiences every once in a while because it keeps the performance from getting too sanitized (or as I like to call it, “choreographed”, which I can definitely see being a hazard of the large stage show.) “There are no small stages.”

Looking ahead to 2016

I find it fascinating how differently the band sees next year. They all agree that yes, they’re touring – but where Simon and Roger talk about the entire year being a “touring year”, John mentions more than once that it’s really only 3-4 months at this point.  He talks about the two months of touring in the US, saying that it is very ambitious for them, and that he wants to get through it “peacefully”, meaning that no one gets sick or loses their voice or anything like that. He continues, saying that they are in a great position right now and that the show has “just begun”. He doesn’t know what opportunities it will bring, only that it will bring some. Katy does ask him about the possibility of doing other shows around the world, but I have to say – at least from my point of view as a listener/observer – John seemed hesitant to commit to more. I got the feeling that perhaps, at least at the point of this Kafe, nothing had been decided yet. Couple that with what Simon had mentioned about not knowing where the band was or was not going next year – I would venture to guess that beyond the US, the band has not necessarily committed to more dates as of this writing. Perhaps it all comes down to money (funding) and finding the right promoter, and perhaps the band really just does not know what is in the process of being organized. After all, this isn’t a band who gets involved in the day-to-day tour development. They handle their end, and someone else manages the business, which makes sense.

The subject naturally turns to the world at hand. “Glad we’re out there publicly at this time.” With the events from Paris and elsewhere, there is a lot of fear out there, being “stoked by the media and who knows who else.” Katy talks about how she doesn’t necessarily want to take her kids into the city or on public transportation (A feeling that as a fellow parent, I completely, yet sadly, share…and I am not that way normally.) “People are scared,” John surmises, “and looking for reassurance. You’re gonna get it from us.” He explains that he never takes any of the freedom with which they are able to play in the UK and “the country that embraced us – the U.S.” for granted. I like it when he describes it as always going out there and playing as though it were their last show, because for their fans, that’s exactly how many feel each night.  “We’re gonna fight to keep those lines of communication open.”

Beautifully, John describes that horrible night in Paris for music lovers as having their bubble popped. It really was like that. The concert hall (or pub, bar, arena, etc.) is the escape for many fans. It is utopia. To have that feeling destroyed – well, it rocks one to the very core, doesn’t it?

Even so, John is really looking forward to getting out there. He talks about one of the greatest moments of his life being in Denver as he looked out onto the stage to see Chic playing, knowing that Duran Duran were to follow.

I have no doubt that Duran Duran fans look forward to 2016 with the same images in mind and excitement in their heart.

-R

I’ll hold on to the memories

Funny thing while writing this post earlier…I had just finished this 800-word blog and saw that I needed to delete one single word. I navigated to the word, hit “delete”, and the cursor moved, deleting each letter. Then it kept going. No matter what key I hit or how much I screamed (because you know that I was), the cursor kept going. 700 words later, I finally got it to stop. Well, that’s lovely.

I really don’t know what I hit, but it was user-error of epic proportion. So, I did what any human on a time-constraint might. I said several four-letter words, and slammed my laptop shut. So here I am, back for round two!!


Real life has been “challenging” as of late for me.  As those tests mixed with a few frustrations surrounding getting tickets for shows, I’ve found myself starting to think more and more about selling the tickets I had (or asking Amanda to sell them) and just not doing any shows next year.  Too expensive, too stressful, too unfair, and real-life problems are not sorting themselves out fast enough for me. So off and on I’ve considered that perhaps it is time for me to sit this one out.

This thought was in my head quite a bit over the weekend and truthfully I’m still not sure what I need to do. I am hoping that by not doing anything right now and just letting it all sort of “stew” during the winter holidays, perhaps after the first of the year the right answers will come. Like anything, it’s complicated.

As these thoughts were floating around in my head, I went about my business until I came across a quote posted on Anna Ross’ FB page.

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I stopped and read the quote, and then really thought about it. Oddly, I haven’t been listening to a lot of music lately.  Even when driving back and forth to take my kids to school – I’ve kept the radio off and driven in silence. (I needed peace) Even so, the quote hits home with me. It isn’t just about hearing the music, although sometimes the music is great. It’s the memories.

No matter how many times I’ve heard some songs live – new memories seem to be made each time.  One example I can give, and I tend to hesitate greatly with this one, is “Hungry Like the Wolf” (cue groaning). I was so sick of hearing that one live…until the All You Need is Now tour when Dom and John started coming to the front of stage to taunt…..err “play”…..part of it. I almost look forward to it in the set list now! “Save a Prayer” is another good example. I have seen it played many times and while I’ve always liked it, my memories of the song were mainly hearing Simon ask us to light up our mobile phones, that is, until the last time I saw it played at Agua Caliente. When I think about the song now, I think of driving all the way to Berkeley, back to Palm Springs, and then to my house. 1000 miles gives you a lot of time to think, rethink and overthink the simplest of things.  I remember Amanda reading me texts from friends while I was driving late at night, or walking to dinner and navigating uneven sidewalks in Berkeley while reading and answering email. “Wild Boys” takes me to the morning after the Agua Caliente show when  I drove like a crazy person from Palm Springs to LAX in order for Amanda to make her flight. It rained most of the way – which is pretty unheard of during October in So Cal – and that didn’t help me make-up time. “Pressure Off” makes me think of a party, complete with confetti cannons – which is a perfect description of the last tour in many respects.  I can’t really even think of “White Lines” without laughing at the memory of me ducking down behind a friend as Simon did his infamous water trick.  Farther back in my mind, I think of listening to John’s “Fields of Eden” as Amanda and I traveled in the UK by train, and “Secret Oktober” will forever remind me of being in Brighton – making it to that first UK show ever for me – and having the band break that one out.

The music would not be the same without the memories of people, places and things attached. The thoughts of those people, the places I’ve gone to see them, and the things I’ve done with them make me smile, even through some of the more painful portions of life.

I might not have all of the answers, but when I think about all of the fantastic memories I have from over the years I’ve seen Duran Duran – and all of the people I count as friends as a result, I don’t know how I could even think of missing shows next year. We will see.

-R

Paper Gods 2016 North American Tour Dates!!!

I received the most interesting phone call yesterday at about 5pm my time. I was in my car, driving frantically from Office Depot, of all places, back to pick my youngest up from her singing lessons. I was pushing it, time-wise, and cursing while waiting for a lengthy traffic light to change when my cell phone rang. Normally when this happens, I ignore it unless I happen to see who is calling – so it was just dumb luck that I noticed it was Amanda. I had exchanged texts with her earlier, so I couldn’t imagine what it was she needed, but I answered the phone.

She seemed a little too joyful for what was about 7pm her time, so I immediately knew something was up. Naturally, and I really should have guessed this, but the dates for the North American portion of the Paper Gods 2016 tour were emailed to members of DDM. (Did I not warn all of you to get your membership??!!)

“Honestly Amanda. ONE HOUR. I left my computer for ONE FREAKING HOUR.” 

Amanda laughs, of course, because more often than not – this is how our “tour planning” begins. I would swear I’m always in my damn car, without any way to really check the calendar or have any sort of visual reference as to what being told to me. All I’m thinking of in the moment as she’s listing the tour dates: A. Gotta stay in my lane and not get into an accident. B. Why in the hell does this have to happen NOW?

Somehow, I make it to pick up my daughter, and get us to the grocery store to buy food for dinner (yes, I’m that organized…which means I’m not at all…), then back to my house to prepare said dinner. All the while in nearly a full panic as I try to understand and commit to memory that Durham is in April, Washington DC is happening on my 21st wedding anniversary (not gonna even attempt to go to that one), Chicago is NOT in the spring, but instead in July…when both Amanda and I are as free as birds (Not to be taken literally…), and they’re even coming to the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, which is five miles from my house. FIVE MILES! I don’t even know if that’s what the amphitheater is still called – they change names constantly – but I haven’t seen the band there since the 90s when I was still in college. I don’t really even have to take the freeway or toll road to get there and on a clear day I can SEE it from my street!

For the first time, Duran Duran managed to not only book a tour during a time of year where neither Amanda nor I need worry about scheduling – but they’ve even managed to NOT have dates during May or June – which are disaster months for the both of us.  At first, we bantered about going to shows in Florida during the spring, but ultimately we agreed that we couldn’t do them all – and since it was easiest for both of us to travel during the summer, we would do what shows we could during that time. July it is!

Before I get much further, I just want to take a minute to be thankful.  Duran Duran made our choices difficult this time, but not because there wasn’t anything to choose from. No…just the opposite, really! Most of the shows are centered around weekends (I’ve seen many say they’re during the week, but I didn’t find that to be the case in the shows I considered), they’re during a time of year when Amanda and I can both be away from our homes, and I personally think they’re in great places. But no, they can’t cover the entire country, and yes, there ARE really outstanding places left out completely. There is no winning this game for the band unless they spend the better part of the year traveling here.  That said, it was nice to HAVE choices, and quite frankly it was nice to have dates at all.

Yeah, I know the pre-sales are tomorrow and that Christmas is a couple of weeks away. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and its definitely not the first time we’ve been given less than two days until a pre-sale begins. Optimal? No, it’s not. I am not a fan of Ticketmaster and even less so of the scalpers who will likely leach the tickets before I even have a chance to find decent ones. I’m disappointed that DDHQ decided to go that route, but I’m not in charge and I don’t know how the system works for them at all. There’s always going to be something, and there’s always going to be someone who can’t buy tickets for one reason or another. I’m also well-aware that we’re going to be doing pre-sales for shows that are over six months away. That does seem excessive, until you look at other bands who do the very same thing. To be fair, none of us know how tours work for Duran Duran. I would imagine that deposits have to be made on some of these facilities, people need to be paid, etc, etc…and that money has to come from somewhere. So, pre-sales have to happen. Yes, it sucks and YES…I DO wish they would give us more than 48 hours to make decisions. It isn’t ever going to be perfect.

Additionally, and more importantly at least in my mind, we’re lucky we’re getting shows at all. I may be the only one who feels that way, but I’m still going to take a minute to say it here publicly. We’re fortunate to have dates to even consider. There are many other fans in many other places of the world that would love to just be given the opportunity to go to a show – much less have Amanda and I do parties and meet-ups, so I can’t complain about the system not being perfect for everyone. I see a lot of grumbling and complaining, both good-natured and otherwise, and I just wonder if we’ve taken the time to acknowledge how lucky we really are to have Duran Duran coming here to tour again. After all, this isn’t a band who stays on our “Top Ten” charts for long, if at all. This isn’t a band who has a ton of radio play here, either. Thankfully, they still come here because our market is valuable to them, and I appreciate that.

We’ve already heard from many of you out there, asking us where we’re going, suggesting we come to this show or that one, hoping we’ll set up meet-ups and pre-parties everywhere we go. Rest assured, the time for planning and partying will be coming soon. I can hardly wait to start getting sleep so that I can stay awake the entire month of July to see as many of you as possible!!

After major negotiating and planning with my cohort, we do have some shows in mind. Chicago speaks to both of us because we love that city and there are two dates there. We’re hoping to make Detroit and Toronto as well since I can fly out do those dates in a single trip. We’d really like to do Vegas, as well as Irvine and Chula Vista, which means Amanda would fly out to me and then we’d road trip those together. That’s a lot of shows, and to be perfectly blunt – it’s expensive. We would really love to be able to plan pre-show parties everywhere, because we see the difference it makes when people come to a party for fans, BY fans before the show (and after the show, too!). The reality is, we just can’t unless we win the lottery, find wealthy benefactors, or suddenly figure out how to turn this into a business so that our costs can be covered.  Until then, we do what we can, and we sit a lot farther back! As the tour gets closer, we will keep everyone updated on our plans for parties and meet-ups here, on Facebook, Twitter, and our message board.

In the meanwhile, I extend the best of luck to everyone with pre-sales tomorrow. May your ticket prices not bankrupt you, your seats be fantastic, and good vodka be ever close at hand.  😉  (Ok, maybe not the vodka for a lot of you…but I figured while I was at it, I’d just throw that in there…)

-R

PS – can you believe we’re all doing this again?!?

Take EODM Save a Prayer to Number One!

In my 45 years on this planet, I’ve become quite the cynic.  Though, I don’t think I’ve ever been characterized as an optimist, to be fair,  It is also true to say I tend to think the worst of situations (and people) as a knee jerk reaction a lot of the time. Seems silly to apologize for something that is as integral to who I am as my love for music, so I’ll just admit it’s something I continue to work on (and I often fail).  However, even cynical-old-me takes notice of what happens every single time we find ourselves climbing out of the darkness of whatever tragedy has hit most recently.  I’m writing of those tiny glimmers of good or the shining moments that tend to remind us that not everyone is bad, the world isn’t a horrible place, and yes, there might just be some hope left.

This week, I’ve taken notice of quite a few of these posts on Twitter and Facebook:

Buy EODM's Save a Prayer and get it to number one on UK charts!
click the picture to buy Save a Prayer on iTunes

The funny thing is that I remember seeing a tweet from Dom a couple of weeks ago as Duran Duran was about to perform on TFI Friday Live. He tweeted they were about to perform with Eagles of Death Metal and Josh Homme (Who, at least at one point in time not that long ago, was one of Dom’s favorite guitarists). Dom went on to say that EODM had done a “great cover of Save a Prayer recently.” I kept that in the back of my mind as I went about my day and later watched the performance, which I enjoyed. I made a mental note to download their album (EODM) later when I had a chance. I didn’t think much more of it until last Friday of course, and we all know how irony works…

Once again, even through all of this pain and anxiety many of us are feeling, music works to bring people together. That feeling is pure, and it feels good to buy a song that somehow has just a little bit more meaning today than it might have two weeks ago. I also kind of feel as though the two bands: Eagles of Death Metal and Duran Duran, have a bit of a kinship now.

Quite noticeably, Duran Duran very quickly began promoting the efforts to get the Eagles of Death Metal cover of Save a Prayer to number one on their own social media. I know there were many that pointed out, almost immediately, that Duran Duran stood to gain the most out of this campaign. Yes, I’ll admit the thought crossed my mind as well. I pushed the thought aside and chose to wait and see how Duran Duran might respond. It is sometimes easy for the cynic in me to assume that it’s all about the money. On this one occasion, I wanted to believe there was more than just a few bucks (or quid as the case may be) on the line. I’m glad I waited.

Even as I’d cast aside the niggling little thoughts in my head about who really stood to profit from this venture – I felt that even IF Duran Duran profited in the end, there was still a lot to be said for this campaign to get Save a Prayer to number one. I don’t know how to express succinctly it in words except to write that at least for me, it was about more than just the song. More than just Duran Duran, and more than just the Eagles of Death Metal. I guess that for me, it was about people from all over taking what was truly a horrible nightmare that I can’t even begin to imagine, working through pain, sorrow, loss and who knows what else – and using that energy to do something good.

Can any of us really imagine what it must have been like to be the band (EODM) that night, up on the stage at the Bataclan? I’ve thought about that a lot. There they were, experiencing so much joy in one moment, and complete horror in the next. The band even lost their merchandise manager that night. No, it wasn’t one of the band members (thank goodness), but Nick Alexander was someone’s child, someone’s boyfriend, and the friend of many. I can’t even begin to know how those people must feel. So their fans took Save a Prayer to heart. It has become a sort of “you can wound us but you will not destroy us” type of anthem for them. They’ve vigorously campaigned on social media for people all over the world to buy it to show support.  I don’t know, maybe I’m really living in Fantasyland, but for me, the positive energy speaks volumes. This coming from me, the cynic, no less.

It wasn’t long of course before Simon himself addressed the niggling concerns of profits from downloads of Eagles of Death Metal’s Save a Prayer, saying that the band would donate their profits to charity. As of this writing, Duran Duran hasn’t determined what that charity will be, only that they are considering those that are “peaceful, effective, and unifying.” As a fan, I can’t really ask for more than that. Maybe others disagree, but I still believe the good that the cause itself is doing (unifying music lovers from both bands at this point and getting our minds on something good coming out of the sadness and shock from last week that seems to grow worse with each passing day) is far greater than whatever concerns might be had about who really stands to gain.

For the record, I did buy the cover, as well as the album. I don’t live in the UK, and obviously the sale doesn’t count for the UK charts as result, but that really isn’t the point for me. For one, I think the Eagles of Death Metal did a great job on the song. Secondly, Dom did a good job of pointing it out because I wouldn’t have known about the cover otherwise. (and quite frankly the man has great taste in music which is why I bought their album and might even go back for more.) Thirdly, I wanted to make some show of support, somehow.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel so far away from my friends right now. Here I am, in sunny Southern California with a population of “ridiculous”, and yet I feel really alone, particularly when it comes to my fandom. I guess buying the song, at least for me, made me feel just a tiny bit closer to people I love and care about. The rest of the states, the UK, South America – there are a lot of people I wish I could hug right now. Silly? Maybe. I guess there IS still a bit of sap and kindness left in my hard heart. Dammit!!  No matter, I want to encourage everyone to buy it. I believe the song is only $1.29 here in the states, it definitely doesn’t suck, and you know – let’s just make something good come out of this disgusting, appalling, tragedy. So it might not hit the charts here in the states, that’s really beyond the point for me personally. I don’t know about anyone else, but every single morning it feels like the news just gets worse and worse, and it’s time to let a little light come out of the darkness, you know?

I just wanted to say publicly how much I value Simon, and Duran Duran of course, choosing to address both the social media campaign and the concerns about who would really stand to gain. I love Duran Duran. I am incredibly proud to be a fan, and I didn’t really think I could possibly love them more than I did last week or last month. It turns out, I was wrong.

-R

Fear Today, Forgot Tomorrow

I think I’ve been watching the news non-stop since Friday afternoon.  I’m a news-junkie to begin with, but this weekend I haven’t been far from the TV or my phone, as I monitor news from Paris.

I am still wrestling with what happened on Friday and how. I remember half-listening to the TV as I worked on a display for a history festival at my kids’ school on Tuesday. (I am actually using my gemology degree to teach kids!) All of the sudden, the news broke in regarding Paris and I walked to the center of our living room so I could better hear what was going on. Of course, the very first thoughts that went through my mind were:

  1. Duran Duran just performed in Paris.
  2. I need to get in touch with Amanda.
  3. Please let it be that the band has already left Paris.

It seemed with every passing second, my stomach sunk lower and lower. Talk of a bomb at a football game, a hostage situation at a concert, gunfire at restaurants and bars. All in Paris, and nothing from DDHQ to indicate whether the band was still in the city. In between frantic texts with Amanda, I tried telling myself that of course the band was gone, that there’s no way they could be anywhere near all of this. I tweeted Dom and DDHQ – as if they were actually going to answer me. (because seriously, who in the hell cares? I’m just another fan…but I had to at least try.)

Of course, we all know how it ended. Dom did tweet, to which I responded telling him that I’d hug both him and Martha if I could. As relieved as I still am, I can’t get the idea of those people being gunned down in the Bataclan out of my head, no matter how hard I try. The attacks in Paris, Beirut, and the hundreds of places it has occurred over the years are all horrific and have left their mark on me as a human, but the Bataclan sticks out for me because going to a concert is something many if not all of us have done. Just another night out, just another gig. Except of course it wasn’t.

I highly doubt I’m alone in saying that I think a lot about those people in that theater. It’s not as though I was even there that night. I was thousands of miles away, here in my own home. I’ve never seen the Eagles of Death Metal live. I don’t really know their music that well, but I still identify with those concert goers. I love music. I live for live shows. I don’t care what kind of music it is – classical or rock, jazz or blues – something magical happens when you watch a musician play, and I live for that.

When I sit and think about how I feel when I’m at a show, the word that comes to mind is “free”. I’ve written that I feel most like myself at a Duran show. It’s the one place I can leave reality behind for two hours, and just enjoy myself. I treasure that time. I give up a lot in order to have that time. I’m sure the people in attendance on Friday night in Paris felt similar. I don’t think the choice to attack that theater was pure coincidence or random – the terrorists struck where people were just doing normal things. It’s hard to get that thought out of my head – that this could happen anytime, anywhere. No warning.

I live in earthquake country, and as a result, I’ve been through a few during my life. Everyone who is not from California likes to tell me that they could “never live here” because the quakes are random and come without warning. This is true. I used to be so afraid of them when I was little that I wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep at night, and my dad would patiently sit with me and give the same speech over and over, “We can’t live in fear of them, Rhonda. You have to just go about your day because you can’t fear for things you don’t know are ever going to come – you’ll waste your whole life worrying.” He was right, of course. I’m still a worrier, and things still do not roll off my back, but he was right and I still hear his voice in my head telling me that I’m going to worry my life away.

During the last few days, I’ve seen the reports of U2 having to cancel their show in Paris, and the Foo Fighters canceling their tour. I saw Madonna stop her entire concert one night to say a few words about the attacks in Paris and specifically about the Bataclan. It would be a mistake to assume that just because we may not be fans of Eagles of Death Metal or since we were not personally there that night that this attack didn’t affect each and every one of us. Of course it did. We’re music fans. We are people. John Taylor himself once said that concerts are like group therapy sessions (I am paraphrasing from a sound byte many years ago). Music heals, and yet on Friday night – that is exactly the opposite of what happened to those people in that venue. But we cannot let evil win. We cannot live in fear.

I’m still struggling. There’s a part of me that very much wishes I were going to the Duran Duran shows in the UK just so I could see the band in person, for myself, and feel good that they’re OK. Then there’s another part of me that wants to keep my children here at home with me and never leave the house again. Fear can be pretty powerful. Last night my husband and I made last-minute plans to go to Vegas next week for a few nights. It’s a long, crazy story (aren’t they all?), but we’re going. I’ve been wanting to see the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show for years now – but every time we’ve gone, I’ve either been denied due to timing or circumstance. So last night, I bought tickets. Just before I hit the “buy now” button, I paused. Did I want to risk being in a big crowd right now, and for that matter – is it safe going to Vegas at all? I heard my dad’s booming voice in my head telling me to knock it off, stop worrying, and go.

We can’t let them win.

-R

The smell of 2016 tour dates in the air…

My Duranie-senses are tingling. Yours??

As we grow ever closer to Thanksgiving break, and vacation time comes closer (for me)…I can feel something brewing. 2016 tour dates, maybe?!?

Granted, I’ve been wrong before, and let’s face it, the UK dates are right around the corner anyway….but I sense something delightfully wicked coming, and it’s not just my regular cooking-for-turkey-day anxiety (because that’s not even delightful!!). Even so, a Facebook page dedicated to Caribbean tourism posted that Duran Duran would be visiting the island of Puerto Rico in late spring for a concert on April 30th. The date has not yet been confirmed by DDHQ, and there really is no telling if this is pure rumor, speculation, hopes…dreams…or if someone should be getting their knuckles rapped for posting information too early. No matter, all it does is remind me that it will not be long before the world rejoices in harmony as 2016 tour dates are announced and pre-sales begin.

However, just in time to tide us over, Duran Duran announced yesterday that they are performing for Al Gore’s 24 Hours of Reality and Live Earth that is planned for November 13-14. Mr. Gore is broadcasting from the base of the Eiffel Tower, and Duran Duran will be performing from that Paris stage. There are a number of other performers signed on to act from locations throughout the globe. For more information, check out www.24HoursofReality.org, which is also the site that will be live-streaming the entire event.

In the meantime, I want to give another shout out to the boys of Rio – the Duran Duran Tribute band from Southern California. I was present for their most recent show at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood this past Saturday night. It had been quite some time since I’d last seen the band, and the first gig I’d seen with their new “Andy” (Daniel Coffeng). I don’t want to say that I was surprised by the tightness of the band, but they were great and continue to improve each time I see them. The new “Andy” (Rio apparently has carried on the tradition of that ever-revolving guitarist!!) did a fantastic job on guitar, and the band even broke out a few songs I’d yet to hear from them including My Own Way, White Lines, and my personal favorite – Late Bar – which made my entire night. I don’t mind mentioning that I’ve never been present to witness the REAL Duran Duran play that one live, so you can just imagine my excitement for that one!

I’ve been following Rio’s career now for a few years. Their demand as a working tribute band is growing quite rapidly. Instead of solely playing the occasional gig in So Cal as a hobby of sorts, they’re traveling for shows in Nevada, Arizona, and even Washington. I have said it before and will say it again – this band is very much worth the drive to go see, and I can promise you’ll find yourself up on the dance floor cheering and dancing away.  The band makes the show fun, yet they take their craft seriously.  Despite some incredibly difficult-to-recreate sounds and musical arrangements, Rio sounds very much like the Duran Duran we expect. Each time I see them they’ve improved and I see no end in sight for them.  There is much that sets them apart from other tribute acts out there, not least of which is the fact that the band are truly fans of Duran Duran. There is a lot of love and respect that flows through their performance. The band also loves their supporters, and they never hesitate to stop to chat or take a photo – no matter how exhausted they might be after their set. Take the opportunity to go see them!

Upcoming gigs for Rio:

Kool-A-Palooza (Salt River Fields), Scottsdale AZ  11/15

Totally 80s Bar and Grille, Fullerton CA 11/21

Fremont Street Experience, Las Vegas NV 12/30

Fremont Street Experience Las Vegas NV 12/31

Point Casino, Kingston WA 1/30

 

That’s it from me for now – I’m back to waiting on pins and needles for 2016 tour dates to add to our calendar and dreaming of meet-ups to plan!

-R

The Best Duran Duran Shows!

The other day Rhonda and I looked back at a very important show for us, which was the Chicago show on October 26, 2006.  Why was this show so important?  For one thing, it was the first show after the band announced Andy’s departure.  It was also the show in which we welcomed Dom to the band.  He impressed us so much that night that we not only accepted him, but embraced him.  This is one of those shows that we will always remember, not only because of Dom, but because of the show itself.  We didn’t have the best seats but that didn’t matter to us that night.  We gave it our all that night and more.  We sang, we danced, we cheered.  We couldn’t get enough.  We gave so much, in fact, that someone turned around at the end of the show and told us that we were the most enthusiastic fans she had seen for a long, long time!  Rhonda and I, of course, took this as a big compliment!  Anyway, this year, like every year since 2006, we took note of this anniversary.  Then, we took it a step farther.  We had a little discussion about our favorite and least favorite shows.

While I could go through our favorites and least favorites, I much prefer to analyze why certain shows were our favorites and why some weren’t.  Many of you probably wouldn’t be surprised to know that Rhonda and I have similar ideas of favorite shows and least favorite shows.  For example, both of us put the Glasgow show of December 2011 on our favorites list and put the fan show of 2007 on the least favorite list.  So, what makes a show SO good that it might end up on the favorites list (By the way, in case you were wondering, picking out favorites is SUPER hard as there have been so many amazing shows over the years!!!).  Here are some elements I have found that help make a great show a favorite:

  • The band ‘s energy level and interactions.  It seems obvious that the band does a better job at some shows than others for various reasons.  Sometimes, it seems that the band isn’t JUST giving it their all but giving WAY MORE than their all.  They have a ton of energy, moving to and from each part of the stage.  During those shows, it is like they can’t stop moving, if they tried.  Beyond that energy, they also spend a lot of time interacting with each other and interacting with fans.  They are always so much better when they feed off each other and the audience.  I want to feel like there is a genuine connection between band members and one between the band and fans.  It creates greater emotion in me when I see any/all of them making eye contact, smiling, and more with others.
  • Performances must be based on what they are good at—playing music that they feel good about.  I remember seeing Flaming Lips in 2006 at the Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans.  I cannot tell you one thing about the music but I can tell you that the lead singer crawled over the crowd in a giant hamster ball.  This kind of performance has no interest for me.  It feels like performance and entertainment rather than a live MUSIC show.  I want to see/hear Duran play live.  There is nothing purer than a live show.  The times when Duran has strayed to be more focused on dance moves, choreographed performances haven’t worked as well as when they just allow the music to speak for itself.  Yes, Duran uses visuals.  In general, those visuals enhance the song, the music.  If they become the ONLY focus, then, often, the show fails to live up to its potential.  Likewise, it seems very clear to me when is playing music that they really like and feel comfortable with!  For instance, it is without question that they are enjoying playing Pressure Off these days!
  • In thinking about my favorite shows, I noticed a personal pattern. They were all shows in which Rhonda and I were on the same page.  What does this mean?  Simple.  It means that we have to actually be at the show together and stand together.  It is not enough to be in the same venue.  I have seen some great shows without her and I’m sure she would say the same about me.  Yet, none of those great shows equal favorite.  Then, it also means that we are both in the same place with our fandom at the same time.  There have been shows that I have been more into than she has been and vice versa.  Those do not equal favorite to me either.  Why does this being on the same page matter?  I think being at a show with someone who shares your same level of fandom at the same time enhances the experience.  It is like the experience is multiplied by seeing it with a fan who is like you.  I suspect that the band also feels and has their enthusiasm multiplied as well!

What do you think?  What makes a show a favorite?  What really enhances the show to go beyond just great?  What gets in the way of having a show be one of the best ever?

-A

 

The Present Will Never Last

I feel like the whole world is abuzz with Duran Duran.  Now, I know that this statement of mine is a bit of an overstatement.  Yet, that is how I feel right now.  It seems to me that every other second there is a new post about Duran released by music person/site, a new performance on some show or an exciting piece of news being sent out across the social media world.  Duranland is full of activity!  I am running to keep up, that’s for sure!!  Do not get me wrong.  This is NOT a complaint in any way, shape or form.  I much, much, much prefer this than what it was like a year ago or so.  In fact, I struggle to even remember what life was like then.

Looking back on the blog from a year ago, do you know what was posted?  Three posts were posted on October 24, 2014.  One, of course, was the question of the day focused on Andy Taylor pictures.  The next one focused on the day in Duran history about a John Taylor book signing.  The last one started out like this:  “The Duranie part of me has felt pretty weak lately.  I haven’t been feeling very Duranie like.”  I wrote those lines.  Just reading them makes me feel very, very sad.  That wasn’t an easy time.  The album, then unknown, seemed very, very far away and All You Need Is Now really did, too.  There were no shows on the horizon and no shows in recent memory to look back on.  We were trying desperately to hang on until the quiet ended, until action began in Duranland.

We survived Duran downtime.  We made it through Durantime.  In October of 2014, we couldn’t even imagine what Paper Gods would sound like.  We had no idea that Duran Duran would play at the Hollywood Bowl or would be winning awards like the one they will be receiving tomorrow, the Video Visionary Award, at the MTV EMAs.  Of course, none of this success would have been surprising to us.  We knew that Duran could play special shows and could/should win awards like tomorrow’s.  Yet, I bet none of us really imagined these events.  We couldn’t know.  Here is what we do know.  The present will never last.  (I heard that line somewhere before…Hmmm..)  As much as I want this level of activity in Duranland everyday for the rest of my life, I know that it won’t be like this forever.  It can’t be.  Therefore, I have two choices in how I respond.  I could be super sad about this and worried about the future or I can embrace each and every second!

Obviously, I’m going for the second choice.  So, how am I embracing every single second?  First, I’m trying to check in as much as humanly possible, which isn’t always easy for me with that frustrating teacher schedule of mine, but I am trying!  This might mean, of course, that I’m taking a few minutes out of my day to watch the latest TV appearance.  Speaking of, did you see the performance and interview from X-Factor Italy?

Or what about the performance at Jools Holland in the UK?

Both are well-worth the watch AND sharing!  Yes, please, share away.  Remind people to buy and share, in fact.  This reminds me of the old phrase about voting in Chicago, which is, “Vote early.  Vote often.”  To adapt that quote to now, “Buy early.  Buy often.”  Another thing to say could be, “Share early.  Share often.”  That is another good way, I think, to embrace this time and ensure that every one around you is, too!!!  Of course, having lots of lots of discussion everywhere and anywhere about Duran is important, too.  Heck, I know that my students and my colleagues are probably getting sick of me mentioning Duran and the new album.  (Do you think it would be wrong to include a Duran Duran question on the next quiz for extra credit?!)  I figure, though, that if they aren’t sick of it, then I’m not mentioning it enough!

Beyond all of those ways to live in the moment and embrace the present,  I think, most importantly, it is good just to focus on the now.  I don’t want to spend a lot of time looking back.  It wasn’t that those times weren’t amazing as many other album cycles really were.  I know, for instance, that Rhonda and I wish we were headed back to the UK after seeing a few shows over there for the All You Need Is Now tour.  Yet, as much as I loved that time and always, always will, I don’t want to focus my energy there.  No, I want to listen to the new album over and over again.  I want to watch current clips of TV appearances.  I want to squee with excitement over news like winning awards or new videos.  I don’t want to be concerned with how long this will last or what the next album will be like or will there be a next.  I just want to be right here, right now enjoying Duran Duran.

-A

 

 

Paper Gods, Caveman Edition

Editorial note: C.K. didn’t title this blog and submitted it, probably assuming I’d come up with some catchy title for it. Well, he made the mistake of characterizing his own descriptions of Duran Duran’s music as being “caveman level”. So did what must be done and ran with it. You’re welcome, C.K!!!  – R

 

I had a two-hour drive recently to visit friends in Boston, and it was the perfect opportunity to play Paper Gods! On drive up, I played it in its official running order, because it’s been a while since I’ve heard it that way. Then, I began to skip around, looking for specific songs. It’s about that time in Paper Gods’ five week existence that we start looking for certain songs, right? What I found interesting, though, is that most of the songs I’m gravitating toward now were not ones I liked much a few weeks ago. Specifically:

  1. Face for Today: Some songs grab you strictly with the music, while others may hook you with the lyrics. This one really merges the two for me. I love the idea of Duran giving advice to this generation of pop stars. And yet it also feels like it can apply to our lives too. The “hold on to your time” message is a nice continuation of the similarly themed “All You Need is Now”.   It’s also reminiscent of R.E.M.’s “All the Best,” from what would be their final album, 2011’s Collapse into Now. In each case, the band is clearly speaking from a place of accomplishment and looking back, fondly, to those who are following in their steps.   I loved this song upon first listen, and continue to love it today.
  1. Change the Skyline: Admittedly, I didn’t like this song at first, but it has grown on me. Lyrically, it talks about “moving on” and while that doesn’t necessarily resonate (I don’t want the band to “move on” and I certainly am focused on the “now” in my own life!), I do relate to the notion that you can change the skyline: with your actions, words, accomplishments, with your life…so for me, when I do get to the point where I am passing the torch to someone, I want to feel this way—that I have made a difference. Musically, I really love the percussion, even though it has that club sound (disclaimer: As you all know from my past guest blogs, I am not a musician, so my descriptions of Duran’s music are going to be at the caveman level. No “syncopated bass” references from me!). I also like the rhythm guitar and the keyboard line. And Jonas Bjerre is great, in my opinion. I am sure this puts me in the minority of the fans out there, as this song seems to take a beating on some message boards, and that is fine…I’m used to it (says the guy with the Medazzaland poster in the background).
  1. Sunset Garage: If you asked me in mid-September what my least favorite song was on Paper Gods, I would have easily pointed to “Sunset Garage.” It sounded too different for me, too 60’s/70’s faux Beach Boys-ish.   It also seemed like the descendant of “Taste the Summer” and “Meet El Presidente,” two songs from the catalogue that don’t rank as my favorites. And yet…it grew on me. It’s so damn upbeat and catchy. You can just picture yourself driving on a coastal highway into the sunset with the top down. “Whatever happens, we’re okay…hey we’re still alive!” is one of my favorite lines on this album.   This song has the trademark Duran optimism that drew us to this band in the first place.
  1. Only in Dreams: This one was a fan favorite from day one. It took a little time for me to get into it, but I certainly love it now. I love the orchestral beginning that gives way to the funk about a minute in (very similar to “The Universe Alone”).   Again, lyrically, it’s about celebrating the now (“don’t want to wake up”), but is a little more playful than some of the other similarly themed songs. The Nile Rodgers influence is all over this one. And, yes, the (wait for it…) syncopated bass is also a cool effect. (Well done, my friend. – R) 
  1. Valentine Stones: My favorite of the bonus tracks. When the band talks about this album being heavily influenced by both Notorious and the first album, I think of this song. It’s got the funky rhythm guitar and a haunting, early era Duran chorus that sounds straight out of 1981. Lyrically, the song seems to be about someone getting over a relationship and being leery of a suitor’s promises (as if the protagonist in “You Kill Me With Silence” finally was able to “let go” and move on, but was leery of the “rebound” relationship that awaited him…or her. Yes, I really overanalyze these lyrics!).   I think all of the bonus tracks are amazing, but this one really stands out to me.

You realize that I could have written 13 more paragraphs, right? I love every song on this album. Even Danceophobia. But these are the ones I found myself gravitating toward on my recent trip. I think it speaks to the depth of this new music that these songs were not among my favorites a month ago. Who knows what will happen tomorrow? Whatever happens, we’re okay, though…hey we’re still alive! With new Duran Duran music!

-C.K.

October 2015 Katy Kafe with Simon Le Bon

I don’t know about anyone else, but all at once it feels both like it has been  several months since the last Katy Kafe (seriously, just the other day I was thinking that I hadn’t written up one in a long time, although I know I did the one in September with Nick standing in front of the elevator banks at the Jimmy Fallon show)… and just a few minutes ago it seems like it was August. So, I was thrilled to see that the time had come for the October 2015 Katy Kafe.

This month, Simon joins Katy in the Kafe, drinking his “black coffee, no sugar” while in the UK. The birthday boy discusses everything from #musicrediscovered to his next Simon’s reader. As always, I admonish that these are just highlights that I’ve picked out to share, and if you want to hear the entire Kafe – get yourself a DDM membership.  I still feel as though $35.00 a year is a bargain, never mind the access you’ll receive to ticket pre-sales and the like!

#MusicRediscovered

Lately, Simon has been listening to music he once loved and had forgotten.  A prime example of this is Fela Kuti. Simon liked listening to a piece of music called “2000 Blacks Got To Be Free”  back in 1987 during the Strange Behavior tour (this was a tour where Simon liked to decorate his hotel room and feel at home with lots of scarves and incense).  He’d long since forgotten about it until one day while he was staying with John recently. John pulled out the vinyl and launched Simon right back in time. Since then, Simon has been tweeting with the hashtag #musicrediscovered. (which I personally LOVE. He’s already picked out several gems that have in turn taken ME right back – music has a great way of doing that – so be on the lookout for his tweets!)

Anyone remember cassette tapes? I sure do – until VERY recently – the only copy of Big Thing I owned was a CASSETTE! Simon apparently has stacks of them in his house. The few that I still have are in a box in my garage. I don’t listen to them because I’m afraid that they’ll be eaten by the stereo in my car – which is the only surviving tape player I’ve got left. Simon says he liked them back then because they were easy to take places. Easier than vinyl, yes!

A side note that I think is funny enough to highlight: Simon told a little tale to illustrate why he no longer burns incense in hotel rooms:  apparently he was staying in a Boston hotel and was having an in-room treatment where they were burning incense cones on his back (this might sound stranger than I think it was) as a stress-relief.  A knock comes to the door, Simon answers and it is hotel security along with the police who want to have a stern discussion with him about not smoking drugs in his room.  Point taken.

Anyone out there enjoying Apple Music? Simon mentions that he is enjoying Apple Music – prior to this he had not tried streaming on other apps like Pandora or Spotify, and he likes that he can get just about anything on Apple Music….except Medazzaland and Pop Trash, that is…

Paper Gods

Simon hasn’t been in the Kafe since the album was released, and  says he is still listening to the entire album. (Side note: Katy says the album is very linear and that she can’t skip songs. I am 100% ALL FOR buying the album in its entirety. This is not an album where you buy one song or another – this album is absolutely meant to listen from start to finish at least the first 100 times you listen. I’ve had it myself for over a month now and I’m still hearing it differently every single time. What do you mean you don’t have it yet? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? GO GET IT!!)

He comments that it’s a top ten album, which is true – it did hit the top ten on Billboard, and it’s been a very long time since a Duran Duran album has done that, and yes – Paper Gods absolutely SHOULD feel like vindication for the band in spending the time to get it right, even IF I gave the band nothing but grief for doing so. Sometimes, #Durantime makes sense.

One thing Simon mentioned was that it all still feels very fresh and new to him even though they’ve been on the promotion cycle for the past couple of months now. He says that the first single – “Pressure Off” – has already came and went in the UK. He says that the song didn’t do that well on the charts because of how it was released. Not living in the UK, I don’t know what that means. However, I continue to witness what is or is not going on in the US with regard to “Pressure Off” thus far.  The song JUST debuted on our America’s Top Ten (Hot Adult Contemporary charts) this past week at #39. I cannot even begin to imagine that this is the peak for the song, because I’m still not really hearing it on radio much at all. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s not getting played, or it’s because I’m not listening to the right stations or if it’s because I’m just missing the finer points of how a single is released to radio. I know that I do not just speak for myself when I say that I hope this isn’t where they’re leaving it with this song – I don’t know who is in charge of getting airplay or how, but it just seems like a lot has been left on the table with regard to this one. I’m crossing my fingers that more is yet to come, because the song is outstanding and EVERYONE should be hearing it all over the (radio) dial.

What’s Next?

The band just won the Q Icon award (announced today!!), and they are off to Milan in several days for the X Factor Milan show and a big show in the Piazza Duomo for the MTV EMA’s. Then they are back to the UK for another round of production rehearsals for the UK tour, which begins in November. Simon explained that the UK shows will be longer, with at least another song or two from the new album, and they’ll have more lights. I also heard him say something about the stage, but I didn’t catch it fast enough to write it down.  He was also very quick to point out that after the UK, they’ll be going to many other parts of the world in 2016, and back to the US for the summer – which is exciting!! (Could it really be that Amanda will not have to battle her school schedule as a teacher in order to go to shows?!? We will see….)

Katy asked an interesting question at this point, and it was asked in just the right sort of way so that Simon would answer! (well-done!!!)

“What song do you enjoying singing most off of the new album for the live shows?” Simon paused long enough to absorb that yes, she did ask what he enjoyed singing most as opposed to what song was his favorite – so he answered with “What are the Chances?” That song gives him plenty of highs and lows. The most difficult songs to sing live are “Last Night in the City” (definitely guessed that one!) and “Pressure Off” because the vowel “U” is high in that song, and it is the most difficult vowel to sing high.

Katy also asked about the beloved confetti cannon, to which Simon assured her would remain in the stage production. The confetti creates such a party atmosphere, and lingers into the next song as it quietly floats to the ground. It really is dazzling to experience during their show.

Yasmin and Amber Save the Elephants

Yasmin and Amber have the opportunity to ride a rickshaw in India as a fundraiser for Elephant Family, so check out this link to their fundraising site. If we all chip in a few dollars it will go a long way towards a big check (bank-note)  written for a very worthy cause.

Simon’s been reading!

Currently Simon has been reading H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald and says it’s been excellent. He plans to write a Simon’s Reader for that book as well as an audiobook he’s been enjoying called May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Holmes.  He says the book is very dark and very funny.  Look for those to be added to Simon’s Reader on duranduran.com very soon and check them out for yourself!

The October 2015 Katy Kafe ended with Katy sending good wishes from the community-at-large to Simon…did you know that Katy has been giving Simon socks as birthday presents for 19 years now? I wonder how that started?!? He apparently has a pair of Batman socks among the many he’s been given….who knew?!?

-R