I never had a chance to finish yesterday’s review of the Hollywood Bowl. We had to get on the road and didn’t have a chance to log in. Therefore, today’s blog/concert review will be a little different. It will be more like a comparison of the two shows. While I may not hit every song, I’ll definitely highlight a few.
In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned how massive the Hollywood Bowl is with a capacity of 17,000. The Greek Theater in Berkeley is half that size. This, of course, made it much easier to get around from a concert goer’s point of view. While both venues have large hills, the Bowl has more of a slow incline whereas the Greek has a more intense one. I don’t know if that is good or bad as far as viewing goes, though. I do, though, that the Greek has a very tall stage, which I have seen many argue makes for better viewing further back and less than optimal viewing up front. I don’t think that is the case. We were up front and saw everything just fine, including Roger and Nick.
Overall, the setlists were basically the same with the exception of White Lines at the Bowl and Save a Prayer at the Greek. While I would say that I was far more accepting of the setlist last night, I still couldn’t help to want some changes. The beginning tracks are Paper Gods, Hungry Like the Wolf, A View to a Kill, The Reflex and Come Undone. New tracks always interest me so I’m good with Paper Gods. The rest, though? Not so much. In fact, based on those tracks, I am most excited about Hungry, which seems wrong. Likewise, while there has been improvement on Come Undone (NO finger licking, thank the Duranie Gods!), it is still one that needs to go from my point of view. Another thing that relates to the setlist is the fact that both venues had curfews. This means that Duran had to rush to finish their set, resulting in less songs and less of a concert. I’m hoping that this isn’t the case for tonight’s show. Now, on to specifics!
For the Bowl, smoke machines were in full force to introduce this while the Greek lacked the smoke. I’ll admit that the smoke was a neat feature but both shows had enough sound and lights flashing to give the audience that intense, “Oh my God, the show is about to start” feeling. Mr Hudson appeared with the band at the Bowl for this one and I have to admit that I appreciated that he held back and didn’t try to take the place of any of the regular players on stage. Anyway, the stage set-up includes a very large, rectangular screen that showed images and whatnot. For this song, lyrics flashed on the screen in between images of nature, trees, etc. I admit that I’m a bit puzzled by the nature focus for this song as it seems to be more about commercialism and materialism–the exact opposite of nature. Although, perhaps, that’s the point. No matter the reason, I struggled on what to focus on. Do I watch the screen or the band? I was so overwhelmed at the Bowl for this track that I have honestly no idea what I really thought of it. At the Greek, I knew more of what to expect. I think they do a nice job with this track and seeing it live makes me appreciate it more.
HLTW, AVTAK, The Reflex and Come Undone:
There isn’t a ton that I want to comment on with these tracks other than to say that the more DoJo (Dom and John) the better. Last night, the DoJo increased dramatically over the previous night. Likewise, there was more interaction across the board last night. The band interacted more (Yes, the more JoSi the better!!!) and there was more interaction with the crowd. I saw a lot more looks between band members and between band members and individuals in the crowd. On top of that, they did a MUCH better job last night of trying to get the crowd involved from clapping during Pressure Off to singing during Notorious and Save a Prayer. John Taylor really stepped up his game at the Greek, as far as this goes. It definitely increased the energy going into the crowd, which in turn increased their energy. The only other thing that I wanted to comment on in regards to these tracks is that Simon had some entertaining dance moves during Come Undone that actually made me chuckle. I always appreciate that.
LNITC and WATC:
Last Night in the City is an interesting track live, simply because John Taylor is behind a keyboard and Dom Brown is back with the backing singers. While that makes me uncomfortable, I do like the song and do feel like the song captures the feeling of touring quite well. What Are the Chances, on the other hand, is a completely different story. At the Bowl, Simon along with Jessie and Anna left the stage to go sing in the crowd leaving me and countless others to wonder who to watch? The singers or the band? I hated that. I don’t want it to be the Simon show. I want it to be the band’s show. The whole band. Therefore, I appreciated it SO much more last night at the Greek when Simon and company remained on stage. It felt more cohesive and I think the band needs to be all be together to feed off of each other. Last night, for example, John told Dom, “That’s good,” as Dom played the guitar for that song beautifully. Speaking of beauty, that song features a gorgeous video featuring sunrise and beach and sky. It fits SO well with the message of the song about not taking it all for granted.
Notorious, Pressure Off, Planet Earth:
Truly, this section of the show was the real highlight both nights. Interestingly enough, I had a feeling that it was Simon’s too as he messed up the setlist last night, trying to get to Notorious earlier than he should. The best part was when John yelled, “No!” loudly across the stage. Clearly, John has the setlist memorized. Anyway, what makes this part of the show special was that Nile comes back on stage to perform Notorious and Pressure Off. His appearance definitely breathed new life into Notorious and created an enthusiasm that I know I had been lacking in regards to the song. The best part of Nile’s appearance is the level of interaction happening on that stage. It isn’t just Duran AND Nile. It is Duran WITH Nile. Nile jams with Dom. Nile jams with John. Nile jams with John and Dom. Everyone seems to be an equal part to it. I loved each and every second of it. I loved the hug that Simon gave Nile last night and I loved seeing Nile and Dom exchange a fist bump. It was like acceptance of Dom as Duran’s guitarist. This energy and chemistry continues through Pressure Off. The best part of Pressure Off is that confetti is released towards the end. At the Bowl, one side of the confetti didn’t work well. The Greek made up for this and then this. The confetti went off right by us and sent off a billion pieces of paper into the air. The band was covered. The audience was covered. In fact, the confetti lasted well into the beginning of Planet Earth, combining with the purple-ish space image on the screen. It was amazing to witness for sure and created a magical feel. Then, of course, Planet Earth is my favorite and will always remain my favorite as it has it all–John solo, DoJo and JoSi. On top of it, it has audience participation with the clapping during John’s solo and yelling “switch it off”. Again, though, I have to comment that it was SO much better at the Greek last night. At the Bowl, John and Simon were separated a lot and had less chances to sing together. Also, John was great last night, when he said, “What do you say?” (or something like that) before the “switch it off” moment. Then, after the crowd yelled it, he responded with, “That’s right!” You trained us well, John.
Ordinary World, Sunrise:
Just a couple of comments on these. Last night, Sunrise featured DoJo for the first time that I can remember. My response, “Yes, please.” There was also a lot more JoSi last night. Then, I really appreciated Simon’s introduction of Ordinary World last night. He mentioned about how they have to let the songs speak for themselves and that our love for the songs enhances their love for the songs and it becomes a cycle of love or something like that. Rhonda and I have mentioned this very thing many times. The happier fans are, the more love they send to the band, which sends more love to fans and back.
Danceophobia, TMI, GOF:
Sigh. I’m trying. We are trying with Danceophobia. During the show at the Bowl, both Rhonda and myself just sort of stood there in a bit of shock. We weren’t sure what was going on really. Last night, we tried to get into more. What helped me was seeing how into Danceophobia John is. He seemed to have a whole dance routine going on, which was both dorky and cute, at the same time. Likewise, Too Much Information was such that we were in a bit of a state of shock at the Bowl as the song’s was made into a much faster, more disco-y than what we are used to. We did much better and really appreciated it more after getting used to it, last night. The same thing goes with Girls on Film, which starts out differently than it used to. Both nights lacked intros beyond just instrument and name, which saddens me as I always enjoy them. That said, I LOVED that Simon mentioned that John plays the fucking bass last night. It wasn’t the chant, but it was something.
WL/SAP and Rio:
The Bowl show had White Lines and they gave a real solid performance of it. That said, Simon did decide to spray the center with his lovely water/spit routine at the end of the song. I can’t say that I appreciated that as we bent over to avoid it as much as we could. Alas. Last night, we had Save a Prayer and while I do really like the song and am glad it is in the set, I wonder about it as an encore number. I generally prefer more upbeat songs at the end. Rio, as usual, did its thing to pump the crowd up and make us all wish for more. The one bummer is that we knew at both nights that they had to hurry to get done before curfew.
While both shows were good, the show last night at the Greek was SO much better! The energy was higher. John, in particular, danced around a ton! The increased interaction also made a big difference and I look forward to more of that tonight! I truly do believe that they were more relaxed and themselves more last night. The pressure was off, so to speak.