Daily Duranie Review-Chicago Theater, Chicago, Illinois-October 21, 2011

I have to apologize for how late today’s blog is.  Today was the day in which both Rhonda and myself traveled back home to reality after a VERY brief little mini-tour in Chicago.  Before I get to the actual review of the show, let me enlighten you readers on a fact about the Daily Duranie.  We should never be allowed to attend shows together as we had about 90 minutes of sleep last night and consumed quite a bit of vodka.  I have also had the good fortune (not) of losing my voice.  I can’t blame Rhonda on that one but I can blame a certain band that we all know and love. 

This review wasn’t going to be standard.  We had every intention of actually doing a little video clip of the two of us giving the review.  We filmed it at 5:45 in the morning.  Let’s just say…it wasn’t fit for public consumption.  I have no doubt that we looked beyond exhausted and probably didn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Thus, we decided to return to the good, old-fashioned words method of reviewing a show.  I will be summarizing and combining our thoughts.  For the most part, we saw the show in a similar light.  That said, if part of the review belongs to one of us, only, I will make that clear.  Also, do remember that this was my first show since April and the first one since the UK trip.  For Rhonda, it was the first show since Valley Center earlier this month.  Our perspectives differ, which may or may not impact our review.

Setlist:
This was the exact same setlist as the previous two nights.  How boring for them and for those fans who went to more than one of these shows!  Of course, it could mean that they really feel like this setlist and that they thinks it works for them.  We won’t lie.  We were terribly disappointed that they didn’t play Secret Oktober.  Many, many fans were requesting it on twitter, which could be openly seen on the twitter scroll in the background before the show.  Some fans even brought signs and banners.  Yet, they ignored those requests.  Why?  I am sure that they could say that it didn’t receive that great of a response when it was played but it didn’t feel that way to us when we saw people’s reactions.  As this point, they aren’t really listening and responding to the fans, which is upsetting.  You would think that they would listen to their audience.  After all, we are the ones in the crowd watching the show.  You would think we would know what would work.  Besides, Secret Oktober would have gone in place of Tiger Tiger, a b-side over an obscure album track.  It is not like casual fans would really know either one of those so it would be harmless to switch it up.  In fact, it would make serious fans happy and it would open up those casual listener to not-common Duran, which can’t hurt.  Rhonda pointed out that as Duran moves further on, the audience will become more and more just serious fans.  You would think that they would want to make us happy since we will be there until the end.  It would also provide energy to the audience as serious fans would get really excited!!  There were songs that went over well, including Planet Earth due to its position in the setlist, Notorious except for the extended part of that as Rhonda felt like it went over better in Valley Center, and Wild Boys with Relax in the middle of it.  Relax falls into the song, seamlessly, as people really know it so people jump in right away!  Speaking of extending songs, Rhonda isn’t a fan.  She would prefer to fill those minutes with another song, which is a good point!  We wonder why Duran chooses to do this.  Is it to make a song more interesting to them?  Do they think it will make it more interesting for us?  Will the critics and reviewers respect them more if they do this?  As far as the new songs go, in our opinion, Safe and Blame the Machines isn’t catching any one’s attention.  We aren’t sure why people don’t seem to enjoy BTM, but people who are unfamiliar with it don’t seem to.  It is like they don’t get it.  As far as Safe goes, we both feel strongly that the female vocal makes a huge difference.  Unfortunately, Anna’s voice is very different than how the song was recorded.  We thought that All You Need Is Now went over pretty well and Leave a Light On was okay.  Perhaps, the band would be better served by dropping either BTM or Safe for different new tracks like Too Bad You’re So Beautiful, for example.  We both liked Leopard.  Rhonda really liked the video at the end of the newscaster telling the story to be a good way to present that part of the song.  I liked how John had the audience clapping right away with the song.  It was a good way to bring in audience members who haven’t heard the song before.  Plus, he was singing the lyrics to himself, which I always like. 

Stage Setup:
Rhonda is not fond of the faces at the top of the stage.  I, on the other hand, didn’t look at them at all.  I couldn’t see them from where I was.  Rhonda feels that the angle of the faces make a big difference as some angles are not flattering.  We wonder why these faces were even necessary.  The band is on stage and there are lights and video footage or images on screens behind the band.  Isn’t that enough to focus on?  I really like a lot of the video footage they chose to play fit the songs.  For example, the military images fit well with Before the Rain with the military sounding drums.  We both appreciated that Anna wasn’t as noticeable for this show as she had been in the spring as back-up singers and musicians should be just that—back-ups.  We don’t get the reason they need an extra percussionist.  Is she just to get more men to come to the shows?!   

Band Performance:
John and Dom seemed to interact quite a bit!  They certainly seemed to enjoy playing together.  I noticed how John would be obviously pleased when Dom did something well and vice versa.  Rhonda also feels like the band is laughing more than they did in Valley Center.  Perhaps, they are more relaxed now after their past six months or so of serious stress.  Simon was good with lyrics, setlists and even vocally.  He did make one little mistake in Girl Panic but nothing major.  Yet, the one thing he did that got people to react was when he made a comment about the Iraq War ending before All You Need Is Now.  He described former President George W. Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair as “war criminals”.  The crowd openly booed him.  Both Rhonda and I didn’t understand why Simon felt it necessary to say anything like this at all as any political statement runs the risk of alienating one’s audience.  We also couldn’t figure out the reason people booed.  Did they boo because they didn’t want to hear anything about politics at all since they were there to have fun?  Did they boo because they don’t agree that Bush and Blair were war criminals?  If you were there and you did boo or felt like booing, can you drop us a line and let us know which reason caused you to react in such a way? 

Overall:
The show was good.  It was great that it was a solid two hours long.  Rhonda felt like this show was an improvement over Valley Center and that this show felt like a FULL show.  We did see that Simon tweeted that the band agreed that this was the best show of the tour and possibly one of the best of their careers.  While we both thought the show was a solid performance, we didn’t think it was one of their best and here’s why.  We thought that the audience did not produce the tremendous energy needed for one of the best shows.  At times, the crowd was into it.  Obviously, there were some audience members who were into it the whole time but there were many who weren’t.  I was sitting in the PIT (4th row) and there were people even in that section who were sitting down and when I glanced around I noticed that in other sections as well.  (By the way, who does that?!  Why would you sit at a Duran show?  Okay, maybe, there is some physical limitation, then you should be dancing in your seat as much as possible, in my opinion, especially when they took good seats from others.)  Now, is the lack of audience energy because the band didn’t perform as well as could be?  Not necessarily as they cannot control who comes to their shows and their level of dedication and fandom.  However, perhaps, mixing up the setlist as suggested above might have helped.  A couple of changes in songs could have made a HUGE difference.  It is also possible that Simon thought it was such a great show because the Daily Duranie was there!!!  LOL!  That said, we are absolutely thrilled with the show and cannot wait to go to the UK for 4 more shows!!!

-A

4 thoughts on “Daily Duranie Review-Chicago Theater, Chicago, Illinois-October 21, 2011”

  1. Wow. Our opinions seem to make so much more sense today than on Saturday morning at 5:45am…..

    I still feel strongly about our review though. It WAS a good show…and I think we made a good dent into Chicago's vodka supply.

    …and good times were had by all!! – R

  2. I agree with a lot of your points, but as far as the set list goes, we KNOW that they hash that out every night, so if they're playing the exact same set list they must be doing it for a reason. I can't fault them too much for it. The large majority of their concert audiences are NOT people who are going to multiple shows, so I don't think they really have to cater to them. I was disappointed about not getting Secret Oktober, but them's the breaks, and I won't complain.

    I did feel a lack of audience energy, but I chalked it up to where I was sitting in the crowd. We were probably around the 20th row (on the center aisle), and there were a lot of people around who seemed to be more occupied with going to get drinks throughout the show, and the obnoxious guy dancing in the aisle who seem to think HE was the show, and not the band. I could've punched him on several occasions. A lot of the people around me did NOT know the new songs at all. So they're not serious fans by any means. And at the last show I was at (on the spring tour) I was in the front row, so the energy level was phenomenal. It would be hard to beat that.

    I did like the use of the video screens, but the giant faces can go away any time. They were easy enough for me to ignore, so it didn't bug me too much. I think it's just one of those conceptual Nick/John ideas that they think is really cool. It would bug me less if they were just flat. The 3-D facial form makes it really weird and distorted from certain angles.

    I was seriously offended by the booing. Yeah okay, maybe Simon shouldn't be making political statements, but don't be a jackass.

    What I would LOVE to be able to do, but I don't have any idea how to go about it, is to have a statistically accurate survey of their concert audience: how many Duran shows have you been to? Do you go to more than one show per tour? is this the first time you've ever seen them? How many of their songs can you name? How many band members can you name? As serious fans, sometimes I think we think there are more of us than there really are, and there's a higher percentage of “casual fan” than we realize. I would find it really helpful to know how the numbers break down. But how could you do it and get accurate numbers? I don't know.

  3. When I commented that the percentage of hardcore fans in the audience is getting larger – it's because on average, their overall audience per show is getting smaller, and so the “hardcore” fans take up a slightly larger percentage at this point, but still a SMALL percentage of the audience, of course. Case in point – in 2005 they were doing arena shows, and the hardcore audience was tiny, even though we might have known more than a few people down in the VIP seats, etc. That was the only point I was making that Amanda referred to.

    I don't know why they're doing the same setlist, and I don't really care to be honest – I just know that they need to change some of the songs within it because they don't work well. *shrugs* When you've got input coming from someone down front, someone in the 10th row, someone else in the mezzanine and still someone else in the balcony and we're all saying the same things about the same songs, it's worth considering. As far as Secret Oktober goes – there is a pretty good outcry coming from the fan base for it at this point, but we don't always get what we want. Oh well.

    As far as the booing and cheering went – I think those people had just as much of a right to react the way they chose as Simon did in deciding to make the comment he did. If you don't want people reacting – don't say shit like that. To some, I'm sure he came off as a jackass for saying what he did. Not everyone agrees with his take on things, and that's the way it goes. I'd still like to know if people were booing purely because of what he said or because he said anything at all. I was in the crowd that said “Oh Simon, not a good move” when he made mention of the war criminal thing. It's just never a good plan…. Anyway, he knew what he was doing and I'm pretty sure he was willing to take the good along with the bad. He's been doing this long enough to know the consequences.

    In order to get an accurate account like what you're asking, we'd have to stand outside the theater before a show and do a random sampling, and then do them for several shows on the tour. I'd offer to get that done for ya, but my husband tells me my touring days are coming to a quick end! 😀

    It was a good show, nonetheless, and the rest of it – well, in the end it doesn't really matter. 🙂 -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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