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Duran Duran in Birmingham

Duran Duran in Birmingham.

Duran Duran in Birmingham - Tweet
Our infamous tweet before the show in Brum

Three years ago today, I stood in a concert arena, anxiously awaiting the moment a lifelong dream – a dream so big I really didn’t even dare dream – would come true. Duran Duran would walk on the stage and play a gig in Birmingham. Their hometown. Mecca for all Duranies. In some not-quite-defined but strange, bizarre way, Birmingham is now as much a part of my history as theirs.

I remember that night seeing Duran Duran in Birmingham at the  LG Arena easily. At the time I can remember telling myself not to blink because I might miss something, and I wanted to be certain that I would remember every single second of the show, as well as later that night as I wandered around Birmingham…in search of…well, I’m not really sure, but I think I may have found it, although I’m not exactly sure how to describe what “it” really IS.  No, not the band…although at the time I’m pretty sure I was naively hoping to stumble across their path. The memories from that night come to mind so simply, easily, and yet I can tell you that getting there was no easy feat. Talk about roadblocks! Everything from Amanda’s job to my family,  December weather possibilities, and even a public workers strike seemed to be thrown in the way as possible detours, but somehow – we got to see Duran Duran in Birmingham. Amanda and I had taken a train to get from Bournemouth to Birmingham, and we soaked up as much of the English countryside as possible along the way.  When we arrived in Birmingham, both of us were practically beaming. We still had a show to get to that night, but we’d made it to their town.

Duran Duran in Birmingham
From our first trip in May of 2011 – we made it to Broad Street!

Their town.

What Duranie, especially those of us who aren’t graced with the good fortune of having grown up in the UK, doesn’t dream of going to see where the band started? Seeing Duran Duran in Birmingham? The idea always felt so completely foreign…not of this world. Well, not of my world anyway. I spent a remarkable amount of time as a teenager tucked away in my bedroom wondering what it was like in Birmingham. Was it really all that different from my life in Covina, California?  Probably. I mean, these were rock stars. They were British. I was a clarinet player in my junior high band. I said things with that annoying American/Southern California accent.  I said “like” and “awesome” a lot.  (I never said “tubular, man”….even I had my limits.) I was convinced that they had to have come from a much more exciting life, and that I would never, ever get to Birmingham to see it for myself.  Flash ahead about 28 years, and there I was, having a conference call with friends to plan the trip!

I’d heard many things about Birmingham by the time All You Need is Now came out.  I won’t lie, not many of the things I heard were at all kind. As far as I could tell, the only reason to ever go there was to see the band’s history, and perhaps to see Duran Duran in Birmingham. In fact, when I came through customs on the way into the UK for our first trip in 2011, the officer who looked at my passport and talked to me about why I’d traveled to London strongly recommended that I avoid the city, saying that it was (and I really am quoting here) “the armpit of England and the UK.”  Well then.  I definitely needed to see the city at that point then! I was really expecting the worst of the worst – take Compton or Inglewood and give it a British accent.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One thing I learned about my British friends – and perhaps anyone from the UK, including the band, was that you’re incredibly hard on yourselves. Birmingham is not even remotely close to an armpit. In fact, it is pretty. I liked the canals.  Granted, that canal water is deathly black…and I sure as hell wouldn’t want to fall in there…but they’re unique. My city barely has water, much less canals. I liked the architecture. The red brick. The way that I didn’t dare step off a sidewalk because I was never sure which way the traffic was coming (an American issue for those of us who might be directionally challenged.), and of course – Duran Duran. Memories of that band are everywhere throughout that city. From reading street signs that have been mentioned to searching for the exact spot where the Rum Runner once stood – if you’re a fan you can’t walk around that city without feeling the energy, the excitement that surges through you when you know the band must be nearby. I love history, anyone who knows me realizes that – music history in particular is a passion, and Birmingham is chalk full of that. It is beautiful, and now I dare to wish that I can go back again.

Duran Duran in Birmingham - Rhonda by a canal
Oh look, an American tourist!!

Duran Duran in Birmingham - canalways

Duran Duran in Birmingham - night lights!
Beautiful street lights in Birmingham

What did I really find that night, aside from seeing Duran Duran in Birmingham on that LG Arena stage in front of me? I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to pinpoint what I gained. A sense of perspective, perhaps?  Maybe a realization that yes, sometimes dreams really do come true, even if they take thirty years longer than you’d ever thought?  Maybe what I really found was a part of myself. Answered questions…closure? A circle made complete?  Maybe all of that, and then again, maybe none of it.

What I do know, without a doubt, is that as I sit here typing this, watching the rain (!?!) come down in Southern California, that my life was made just a little more complete on that fateful evening in 2011…and I do openly hope and wish that I have the chance to return.

-R

More Top Duranie Fandom Moments

Having recently read Amanda’s and Rhonda’s top 10 Duranie fandom moments, I wanted to share my own top fandom moments. So here are my top five Duranie fandom experiences, in no particular order:

My first Duran Duran concert

October 17, 2011 at the Tower Theater, Philadelphia

Fandom Memories - PamG

Having been a fan for almost 30 years it was a surreal experience. I still have trouble putting those feelings into words. My seat was on John’s side of the stage and I was just mesmerized from start to finish. I remember being in a trance almost the entire time and just staring at John. I mean, staring. I felt like I was a young teenager again, plopped in front of MTV and was engrossed in their videos. The show was better than I could have imagined. I remember telling myself that I should look at Simon and the other people on stage and take in the experience, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of John. And at the same time, I was also trying to capture as many moments as I could with my camera. Of course in hindsight, I wish I had put my camera down and absorbed as much as I could that night. Little did I know that it would not be my only time seeing the band that year. In an uncharacteristically impulsive move, I saw them again eleven days later in Boston.

Seeing the band arrive at the Tower Theater

I went to that Philly concert by myself, so I got there a bit early and killed some time in the pub across from the venue. I met some other fans and we had all decided to skip most of the opening act (Neon Trees) and head to the theater between acts. As we were leaving the pub and walking across the street to the theater, a white van drove past us and went down the alley to the backstage entrance. Very quickly, whispers turned to excited-yet-still-low-key squeals saying that it was the band. My initial thought was No Way! They must already be there at the venue. Well it turned out I was wrong. We tried to be cool and saunter over to the alley to catch a glimpse, and our suspicions were confirmed. They waved hello in response to some brave fans who called out their names. I was in Duranie fandom heaven, and I hadn’t even entered the theater yet.

Turning lemons into lemonade in Atlantic City

I planned my summer vacation around this show (August 25, 2012). My friend Stephanie and I wanted to attend a show on that summer tour together, but she ended up going to see them at Foxwoods the night before and I chose AC because I could visit some nearby family. That choice was a critical one for me because she got to see the band and I did not. As we now know, they ended up cancelling this show in Atlantic City as well as the remainder of that U.S. tour. I found out the news like many would-be attendees did: at a bar in the casino, within an hour of the start time. It was another surreal Duranie fandom experience, but in a sad way.

One amazing opportunity did rise from these ashes though. After commiserating with other Duranies and trying to make the most of the situation, we heard rumblings that some of the band was in one of the other bars at the casino. Sure enough, I ended up meeting Dom Brown, Anna Ross, and Simon Willescroft (saxophone). I had a lovely chat with Dom about his solo work. So for not being able to see the band live, the night gave me my only chance (so far) to meet members of the band.

JT’s book signing in Toronto

2012 was turning into a tough Duran-year for me. I also missed John’s book signing in Toronto. Regrettably this one was my choice though. It was the day that Superstorm Sandy was due to hit land, and although I was nowhere near the direct path of the storm, it did cause some pretty severe weather in western NY. After a lot of debate and even a little heartache, I decided not to make the drive to Toronto out of safety concerns. I think I avoided Facebook and other social media for a week because I didn’t want to see what I had missed out on.

But somehow the Duran karma was looking out for me again. Not too long after missing the chance to meet JT, I won a signed copy of his book from DDHQ. Of course it wasn’t the same experience I had hoped for, but I do treasure it nonetheless.

The controversial Duran Duran & Steve Aoki show

June 20, 2012 at Terminal 5, New York City

Oh I know the controversy this show caused. I read the fan forums and the criticisms both before and after the show. You can look them up yourselves.  I am grateful for the experience no matter what. Perhaps another time I’ll write about my entire experience, but in a nutshell, it was a one-of-a-kind Duranie fandom experience that I don’t regret one bit.

I truly ventured out of my comfort zone for this one. I went to New York City for the first time. I was a guest of a Duranie who was looking for a +1 for her ticket. I had faith in a fellow Duranie, but it was still a risk to put my faith in this stranger in NYC. It all worked out just fine, and we met up outside of Terminal 5 in time for the show. We ended up being among the first group of fans they let in, so we got pretty close to the stage. And as Steve Aoki says in the video that captured the essence of the evening, I had no idea what was about to unfold. Yes, I got cake on me, was sprayed with champagne, and many sweaty, annoying 20-somethings bumped into me with little regard for my safety. But I also got to meet some awesome Duranies, witness a new arrangement of HLTW, sing Happy Birthday to John, and even watch the band watch Aoki from backstage. And even though it was a short set, it was a unique Duranie fandom event that I’m glad I took a risk on.

Do you have a list of your Duranie fandom moments? Share some in the comments below!

-PamG

Duran Duran History – Arena

The Arena album makes Duran Duran history today by climbing all the way to #4 on US charts on this day in 1984. 1984 wasn’t a bad time to be a Duranie: from MTV to radio, magazines to board games, it seemed like the band was everywhere, and in many ways fans were spoiled into believing it would always be that way. There was little (if any) down time for the band during this period and it seemed that nothing but good times lay ahead. Little did fans realize that with the end of 1984 also came the veritable end of the band’s initial heyday…at least as far as chart success, and the general public was able to gauge.

-R

 

Duran Duran History – Southampton

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us back 33 years to 1981.  On this date, Duran Duran played at the Gaumont in Southampton, UK.  This was the opening date in their Careless Memories Tour, which took them all around the UK.  To put this tour and this tour date in historical context, by this point, Duran Duran had released their first album and had, in fact, just released their fourth single.  Does anyone know what their fourth single was?!  It was My Own Way!  Clearly, the band was moving forward towards the release of their second album, Rio.

Let’s watch a clip of this single live:

-A

Duran Duran History – Orlando

Today’s Duran Duran history takes us to Orlando, Florida. On this date in 1997, Duran Duran played Pleasure Island inside of Walt Disney World.  That’s right…you too could been present for this show donning not only a Duran Duran shirt, but Mickey ears to boot. I know there’s more than one Disney AND Duran fan out there…

This date was included on the Ultra Chrome Latex and Steel tour.

Here is a video of Electric Barbarella live…not quite from this date, but you know, it’s Thanksgiving in the US. Not all of us watch football or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, you know.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-R