Daily Duranie Show Review–Chicago, Illinois April 23, 2011

That’s more like it.  This show, unlike the previous one, had everything go right despite a uh…challenging morning.  For those of you who missed yesterday’s post, this half of the Daily Duranie consumed a bit too much alcohol on the night of the Minneapolis gig.  Since I’m not 22 anymore, hangovers are now an issue.  This led my friend, Deb, and I to leave Minneapolis about an hour and a half behind schedule.  Luckily for us, though, we made incredibly good time due to decent weather and little traffic.  In fact, we made it from Minneapolis to Chicago in just under 7 hours!  The other members of our Chicago show group arrived at our hotel around the same time.  We then got ready and got some food in us.  By 4:20, we were ready to take on the world or in this case the line to get into the show.  Like many before and after us, we used the jump the line deal that House of Blues offers, which is paying money at either their restaurant or gift shop and getting a wristband to go in after those who are VIPing do.  The wait in line was pretty standard.  It was a little chilly at times and hard on our feet, back, and other body parts, but we managed to pass the time by having some fun conversation with each other and with the people near us.  By this point, I’m already feeling better about the show.  First of all, I was actually in line, which meant that I had a decent shot at a decent spot to see.  Second, it was clear that House of Blues runs a more much organized operation.  Each different group of ticket holders had their own place to line up.  Then, the doors actually opened at the time they said they were going to be opened.  One funny incident that happened as we were entering the venue was that Deb got stopped as her ticket wasn’t registering on their little scanner.  Turns out that she handed the person her Minneapolis ticket!  Oops.  The problem was easily fixed and we were well prepared with a strategy about where to stake our spot.  We aimed to go between Simon and Dom, figuring that John’s side is usually much more crowded.  Well, in this case, it wasn’t true because we entered from the right so Dom side was filling up faster.  After a quick change of plans to go to John’s side, we found ourselves about 7 rows back right in front of his microphone.  Oh yes, this show was definitely going to be better than the last!

The audience suffered through an additional wait before having the show start.  Like the previous night, what I assume, are some of the fan made videos were shown on a big screen in front of the stage.  The videos matched the nine tracks of the iTunes edition of the album.  I suppose in this way the audience could now say that they heard that version of the album.  Perhaps, that will help album sales.  I also noticed that there was a deal at the merchandise table for some product plus a cd.  I would assume that would be a copy of AYNIN but I didn’t check.  Like the previous night, the band started late.  Luckily, it wasn’t over an hour but it was 25 minutes late.  Ugh.  Torture.  I swear.  Plus, I also agree with Rhonda that this is unprofessional of them.  They should be prepared and on time.

The show began with Planet Earth as they have been doing for a couple of weeks now.  Nick and Roger are the first ones out, which works to both spotlight each member and helps to build anticipation in the audience, especially as people start figuring out what song it is.  The Chicago crowd was into as soon as the first note was played.  They were into it so much that I remember thinking to myself that there was NO way that any of us could keep up that level of intensity.  This feeling is enhanced by this venue’s floor which seems to actually move when there is enough bouncing or movement on it. The band sounded great and the song featured the standard JoSi moments when John and Simon sing part of the chorus together.  I also noticed that John was singing along away from his microphone as soon as the lyrics started, which always pleases me.  That says to me that he is as into it as I am!  This classic was followed up by another classic of Hungry Like the Wolf.  Normally, I complain to myself or out loud about how sick of this song I am but there was something about it last night that seemed fresher.  Perhaps, it was because Planet Earth was so intense but I actually sort of enjoyed it!

The new songs started with All You Need is Now as the third song.  I was so surprised that they didn’t introduce this one.  I instantly worried that people would not recognize it and wouldn’t even think about appreciating it because there was no introduction to it.  I was pleasantly surprised, though, when a lot of people seemed familiar with it.  To be fair, though, I was fairly close to the front, which usually features more of the core fanbase.  I don’t know how well known it seemed at the back.  The energy for the song felt good and the band seemed really comfortable with it.  Being Followed, on the other hand, did not go down as well despite having a great intro.  Simon started talking about Twitter and about how he and John have been tweeting.  In fact, he said that he learns about the plans for the day by reading John’s twitter!  John seemed thoroughly amused by this and later tweeted about how he is now being called Sir Tweetsalot!  After these two news tracks, they returned to an oldie but a goody with Notorious.  Again, they helped their cause by encouraging the audience to join with the saying of “Notorious”.  This worked well.  After that, they played two new tracks, Safe and Leave a Light on.

I was not overly impressed with Safe.  I agree with a number of people’s opinions that Anna isn’t cutting it with this song.  To be fair, I think a lot of it has to do with vocal style as opposed to effort.  Speaking of Anna, I noticed that she plays a much more prominent role in the show in that she is moving around more and is actually often in the main part of the stage with the guys as opposed to being off to the side.  I’m uncomfortable with this as her role isn’t to be part of the group exactly.  Now, it makes sense when she is featured in a song, but otherwise, not so much.  While I’m thinking of backup musicians, Saxy Simon seems to have taken on the role of doing additional percussion over by John.  Interesting.  I didn’t notice anything particularly wrong with this but I also didn’t notice him much in that role.  Anyway, I expected to be really impressed with Leave a Light on based on what I have heard so far about that song live.  John gave a wonderful introduction about how they had been coming to Chicago for like 30 years and that this song was about those 30 years and the next!  It gave me goosebumps to think of their history like that and to think that they plan on continuing for a long time!  That said, the song didn’t really hit me.  There was nothing technically wrong with the song but something seemed missing.  I wonder if that had to do with the lack of emotion coming from the audience.  Since the crowd wasn’t feeling it, the band wasn’t feeling it much either.  Perhaps, it is hard for me to judge slower numbers as they are not really my thing. 

At this point, the band decided to bust into Friends of Mine.  I had to laugh at the comment about how they had to brush the dust off of this number as I know that they have been playing it periodically during this tour.  Nonetheless, it lived up to its billing as being a super big crowd pleaser!  The crowd was WAY into it as was Simon!  He was so into it with the dramatic faces that seem to accompany this song!  This was a definite highlight.  From there, they decided to do Blame the Machines, which I thought was an interesting choice at that time.  The crowd was really pumped from FOM and then to go to a new one was a tough jump.  The band performed the song relatively well.  I’m still not sure about the ending with Anna being the voice of the GPS woman.  It just seems really hard to translate live well.  After that point, they performed two classics:  The Chauffeur and Ordinary World.  They performed these well but were not the highlights.  Like a normal Duran show, the end always builds into such intensity that no one wants them to stop.

They played four more songs before the encore including Girl Panic, Careless Memories, Sunrise and Rio.  My personal highlight out of those and out of the whole show was Careless Memories.  It featured the BEST of Duran Duran, in my opinion.  First of all, it features both DoJo (Dom and John rocking out together) AND JoSi!  I wasn’t expecting that!  In fact, at one point, it appeared as if John put his head on Simon’s shoulder when standing behind him!  Dang!  Then, it also features highlights of both Roger’s playing as well as Nick’s.  Such good stuff!  The rest of that group of songs went over as they normally do.  By now, the fans get excited to “Reach up for the Sunrise” and are ready to clap at the end of Rio.  I, for one, though, was pleased to get a brief break as I had been moving around a lot, singing and screaming, when something worthy took place, which seemed to happen a lot during this show!  The encore featured the Reflex, for a change, and Girls on Film.  I didn’t miss a View to a Kill and enjoyed the Reflex.  Girls on Film was good, as usual, but the intros were better than ever!!!  Each person was given time to perform a solo, including Anna, Saxy Simon and Dom.  Then, of course, I enjoyed the heck out of Simon’s introductions for the band members, especially John’s.  Again, Simon did a little Poker Face as part of his intro, which was fine but the audience participation of that fell apart.  People just don’t know it well enough.

Overall, the show was amazing!  It was definitely one of the best shows I have ever seen!  Now, I still had to deal with the usual crap found with general admission including the drunk people near you and the people that move in from nowhere just when the show is about to start.  In general, I thought the crowd was really into it, but even near me there were people who didn’t seem to.  Some people were literally just standing or barely moving.  I don’t get that!  How is that even possible at a show like this?!  Why bother coming if you aren’t going to enjoy it?  The band sounded very tight and really seemed relaxed.  They really seemed to be enjoying themselves and I believe that they enjoyed the reception they received.  John, in fact, made motions that he kept hearing a lot of screaming.  I can’t imagine why?!  I’m glad that this was the last show I go to before the UK shows as it did exactly what I expected it to:  it made me want to do more!  I even joked about hopping on a plane to Toronto to go to the next show!  Ha!  I guess I have to be a little patient and Birmingham will be here before I know it!

-A

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