Duran Duran Unstaged – The Daily Duranie (In Person) Review!

When I thought about writing this review this morning, I had to make a decision whether I was going to write it solely on my experience being there in person; or make an effort to see the youtube version of the show so that I could gain the full 360 degree perspective.  While I am hoping to see the show in it’s entirety through youtube at some point, this review is written purely from what I saw at the show, both beforehand and during the performance – I left the show promptly after it ended, rather than sticking around to try and see friends and chat, which I will explain later.  I’m sorry to those I missed!

My date for the evening was my husband Walt – whom I am deeply indebted to at this point. (as if I weren’t before this show….) You’ll see why in a minute!   We arrived, no thanks to my GPS system in my car, at about 2:15pm.  There was already quite a line that had about 75 people ahead of us, but no matter – I’m not one for wanting to be in the front row anyway.  I like being back a bit so that I can really see the whole stage without craning my neck. (although I had to do that last night anyway)  Anyway, we got in line just as it started to sprinkle.  Thankfully though, there were awnings over parts of the building, and we simply stood under one and watched it first sprinkle, then rain.  I am getting over a cold, and in a fit of stupidity on my part, I did not bring a jacket with me (but managed to remember an umbrella!).  I started to shiver, but I was insistent that I would be fine.  Cold is fine.  Wet and cold, very bad.    So, off my dear husband went – I didn’t know where he was going, but he gave me his jacket and said he’d be back.  A while later he came back complete with a zip up hoodie, scarf and gloves for me.  Thank goodness for the Mayan being in the garment district of LA!!  I really think that is what kept me from having pneumonia this morning, so thank you dear.  During this time someone from the venue came out and explained the rules, told us what time the doors would open, how “paperless” ticketing works, etc.  We had been told doors would open at 5:30, but alas – 6:00 came and went before the line even began to move.  Then suddenly, just as the line really started moving someone came running back and said that if you were in the fan club you had to go to the will call booth and get your tickets, then go to the BACK of the line again.  Oh no way was I having that!  I ran and got the tickets as Walt stayed in line, then I got back in line with him in time to get to the front.  At this point, there was scuffle not in our line – but what I thought was the VIP entrance (it was).  Apparently a couple of fans got their tickets and then wanted to jump the line because like us, they’d waited all day (and in full disclosure they had been quite a bit ahead of us – but because she had to go get their tickets they’d lost their place).  The security people screamed, and I mean SCREAMED very crudely at them – using language that wasn’t really necessary, basically telling to F off.  I don’t know what happened but I did see them in the venue prior to the show so I have to think it all ended fine (although I don’t know where they ended up standing in proximity to the stage).  

I have to say that this “organization” was anything but.  In their usual sense of decorum, there was absolutely NO organization.  How hard would it have been to have one of the security people go down the line telling everyone that if you bought tickets through DDM fan club that you’d need to get them at the Will Call tent before the line started moving?  Better yet – how difficult would it have been to actually keep the event as “paperless”, especially since DDM had made sure to tell us all that was the way the event was going to be ran to begin with??  Once again, the fault here lies directly with the hamsters that run DDM – it’s not necessary for that type of disorganization to take place, and ultimately it makes the band look ridiculous to the very people (fans) that quite frankly – pay their damn salary.  It took me no more than 30 seconds to retrieve my tickets, and I had no problem with having to pick up my tickets – it’s that first we’re told it’s ticketless, then suddenly, without warning, we need a ticket to enter.  That just seems like a shoddy and poor way to run a business.  I don’t know – call me crazy but if I were running DDM, I would want to be respected.  Respect is earned.

With that nonsense behind us, we entered the Mayan.  The venue was gorgeous.  It looks nothing like the art deco architecture outside would indicate (and truth be told – I came to this club at some point during college, about 20 years ago – give or take, and it looked NOTHING like it does on the inside now!).  The interior design is all done in a Mayan theme, obviously.  Lots of fake rock, stone design work – almost like Indiana Jones in the Temple of Doom, so to speak.  As we entered the showroom, people were running, and I mean RUNNING, for the stage.  (how old are we again??)  I refused to do that, mainly because I didn’t see the point.  The front row was completely taken – and I like being back a bit from the stage anyway just so that I can see everything.  I also am a bit claustrophobic, and I don’t like being pressed at the stage.  We calmly walked over to an area between Simon and Dom (although as the evening wore on we were closer to Simon that I would have preferred.), and I think we were about 5 “rows” back.  I was in front of Walt to begin with, but people were pushing from behind so much that I felt very uncomfortable, so I moved back behind Walt – giving myself a little room in front of him.  I really wish I could have stood in front of him because he’s taller than I am so I had to peek around him constantly – but directly in front of him there was a woman with a Hello Kitty backpack that seemed to be using it as a weapon – so I was better off staying right where I was.  😀

I excused myself to find the Ladies Room, as almost immediately upon finding our spots I was getting tweets that the Mayan had a whopping 4 stalls – TOTAL – for women to use, and that concerned me!  I went up to find the bathroom, which was on the second level along with another bar and stairs up to the balcony (that was roped off for VIP).   The bathrooms weren’t horrible, just old and not spacious.  When I do a review – you get the whole deal!!

Back to the floor, the crowd had grown a bit, but it seemed that once you were about 10 rows out from the stage, the crowd thinned, and many had found a great standing place right by the railing (there was a floor section, then some stairs up to a pretty large secondary floor by the main bar).  It wasn’t long before David Lynch came out to tell us what to expect.  Basically for us, it would be a concert like any other.  He made sure to tell us that we would be able to view the ENTIRE show online for the next month or so, starting today.  I was excited by that because that way I could see what my friends were seeing at home.  Not too long after that, the lights went down and the show began.

To be honest, the beginning of the show is a blur.  It always is for me – I think it’s because I’m just too darn excited to process much at the time!  They opened with All You Need Is Now though, and that was fantastic.  I have to say that for me, the only way to describe seeing the band again was like finding water in the desert after like 3 days; just as you think you’re dying real water is found, and you are having trouble slowing yourself down – you want to drink the entire aquifer, but obviously you can’t take it all in and you know that if you don’t slow down you’re going to be sick.  That’s how the entire show felt to me, so as you’re reading this review – keep that in mind.

I can’t possibly describe every single song, so I will stick to the highlights.  The band sounded very strong overall.  It’s funny to me because as I was there watching I couldn’t help but feel like this was one of the best shows I’d seen from the band, performance wise.  They all looked very into it – lots of energy, lots of power, and Simon’s voice was top notch.  When I got home last night, and this morning though, the reviews I’ve seen from other fans weren’t that great.  A lot of people commented on the “many missteps” of the band – and yet I was there.  I didn’t see missteps.  A few things here or there yes – but in my opinion, those things kind of make the show!  Did I notice that Nick kind of slipped up on Girls on Film with the camera noise at the beginning?  Yes.  I also saw him sharing grins with the rest of the band, and I reveled in the fact that yes, Nick Rhodes actually made an error onstage and LIVED.    That kind of thing doesn’t hurt them, it makes them human.  If I wanted to see errorless – I’d go watch a robot, or better yet, I’d see Nick hit the “start” button and stand there (which he did LITTLE of last night!).

I was less than excited by the prospect of Gerard Way coming out and shining Simon’s shoes, much less singing with the band – but I have to give the boy props – he didn’t do a bad job.  I felt that he tried to overtake Simon’s singing a little bit and upstage him, but rest assured, nobody upstages Simon.  😉  Naturally seeing Mark Ronson play guitar with the Dom and the rest of the band thrilled me to pieces.  Mark is so unassuming up there.  He didn’t even look out at the audience and he barely held any kind of a gaze with the band.  I kind of think he was completely weirded out by the idea of playing with his idols – and that just endears him to me even more because he’s still “just a fan” in his own way.  I was very much less-than-impressed with Beth Ditto from Gossip; but I have to be fair, it wasn’t her singing that I wasn’t impressed with, it was the overall performance of Notorious.  I think she was far more than just a little nervous (she alluded to it several times before and after the song – you could see just how star struck she was to be onstage with Duran Duran and I can’t really blame her there), so I ended up just feeling a little sorry for her because I know I would have been very much the same. (my dream is to play the sax part for Rio with them!)   I was surprised to hear that they were playing Safe without Ana Matronic.  In my opinion, Ana is who makes the song.  The way she delivers her lines *makes* the song funky – and while I don’t feel the song is amongst the strongest on the album, I was hoping that live, the raw sound would make up for what I feel it loses in the recorded version.  Well, they played the song with Anna Ross doing Ana’s part, and I must say – she just doesn’t BRING it.  She sounds like a back-up singer, not like someone who has a vital part of the song.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Anna well enough, but she just doesn’t have the chops or the onstage persona to do this one any sort of justice.  I watched Anna throughout the evening, and this is one of the first times where I felt like she just phoned her performance in.  She was great with doing the high parts on All You Need Is Now, but other than that – she had to compete with the other female voices on stage, and I think that wore on her to a degree.  Even my husband commented on her seemingly lack of interest in the show, and that’s a shame.  I hope that changes as she grows more comfortable with the new material and her own place on stage.  I was more than amused with some of Simon’s new dance moves…going dead like a robot at the end of Blame the Machines…his swagger (for lack of a better descriptive term) during Leopard…and at more than one point I was concerned he was about to have a seizure, but that’s Simon.  Those moments make each show unique.

There were many “best parts” of this show for me, but one of them was seeing The Man Who Stole a Leopard played live with Kelis.  I really didn’t get her costume much – I figured she dressed like that because that’s who she is – only later did I understand the gold chains that went from her ears to her nose ring to be whiskers!  Regardless, I thought her performance was absolutely stunning and sent shivers down my spine.  I felt it was every bit as good as the album itself, if not better because it had that unrefined edge to it that made the song that much more sexy, with just the right amount of wrong – as I like to say!   I told my husband after it was over that I needed a cigarette.  He wasn’t amused for some reason.  😀  Another fantastic highlight, one that as a Duranie sent me as close to “the edge” as anything – was the performance of Friends Of Mine.  First of all, I love that they turned up Dom’s guitar.  Secondly, many are saying that his guitar playing wasn’t up to snuff and that he was coming in early and chopping up the music.  I was there, directly in front of him, and I didn’t hear any of that.  I thought it sounded great, but I am really hoping to get video of that song at some point because I’m more than willing to admit that I was so into the song and the band as a whole, that perhaps I missed it.  Regardless, for me it was the best they’d played that song in a long time and I’m glad they dusted it off for the show.  Another fantastic moment was Sunrise.  We Duranies know our parts, and know them well.  There were very few who didn’t reach up for the sunrise as if on cue during that song – I dare say that even my daughter’s dance team couldn’t have timed the moves better.  It’s rare when I feel like the fan base is completely in sync (whether it’s figuratively or otherwise), but during that song – we really were one.  Sunrise is a song that has become somewhat of an anthem for the band and the fans.  It’s good to see them play it, it feels good to live it, and it’s almost somewhat of a surprise that a song written so “late” in their career has become that much of an icon to all of us.  Makes me wonder if All You Need Is Now will become another one of those anthemic moments.  Even this morning, I still feel as though this show was one of the best I’d seen.

As the show continued, I took moments to look around the audience, especially during the newer songs.  It quickly became clear to me that not many actually KNEW the new material, which really surprised me. I hope that as the tour goes on, this will change so that there’s a little more energy during songs like Blame the Machines and Being Followed.  Girl Panic! was received extremely well by the audience though, so I expect to see that continued in the setlist for a long, long time.

After the show, I immediately turned to my husband and said “Let’s get out of here.”  I had a great time, but my body was completely spent.  It was hurting for me to take deep breaths, and I knew I’d be in for it this morning.  I wish I’d gotten the opportunity to stand around and see people I haven’t seen in 3 and 4 years now, but I have to believe good times are still ahead for both the fans and this fantastic band!! – R

8 thoughts on “Duran Duran Unstaged – The Daily Duranie (In Person) Review!”

  1. been looking forward to your review, Rhonda. no surprise that i agree with most of it. here is where we differ though:
    1. i thought Simon's vocals were VERY weak during Leopard. Kelis carried that song and sounded amazing. i enjoyed it, but thought it could have been better. that was what i found to be LeBon's only real stumble of the evening (unfortunately??).
    2. something was “off” with the guitar during Sunrise (at least to my ears). it just felt, i don't know, heavy? still love the song, but that wasn't my favorite performance of it.

    i want to end by emphasizing how Friends of Mine Blew.My.Mind. for me, it was the highlight of the night with Girl Panic! 2nd. can't wait for the UK.

  2. Awesome all points review Rhonda! How I wish I could have been there. I'm watching the show on Youtube tonight. I've heard a few negatives on the show itself in some of it's creative attempts but I want to go in with an open mind ..I'll let you know what I think!
    3 weeks til Coachella! And then UK :)AHHH.

  3. I won't go into too much detail about my review of the show since I will do that tomorrow but I did want to say that I appreciated all of the details! While we were in communication throughout the day, this completed it for me. 🙂


  4. TG – you're going to Coachella?? Oh wow…can you share your reactions with us for that?!? I know you guys have your own blog to do – but we'd love it here to get a fan's perspective on that show since I plan to never set foot in a festival again. ;D

    I can't believe the UK is coming so fast….I have planning to do!!! 😀 – R

  5. I have a question. from what I've read, you arrived several hours before the start of the show, and still did not get to the front? The reason I ask is because I am seeing them at warehouse live in Houston. My first time at a general admission show. I am tempted to arrive early, but am not eager to wait outside in the Texas heat, only to be stuck far back anyway.

    Thanks for the review. I just found your site and enjoy it!


  6. Hi Amanda! I arrived around 2:15 or so and yes, there were probably already somewhere around 50-75 people in line at that time. The doors opened around 6ish and the show began promptly at 7. You'd think I still would have been within the first couple of rows, but a lot of those people in front of me had friends that showed up conveniently just before the doors opened….and the line multiplied. End result is that I was about 5 people back from the stage. I was happy with that, but the reality is that I probably didn't have to get there so early to get that spot. We had to beat traffic (leaving from my house later would have meant spending at least 2 hours in solid traffic and not getting there until after the doors opened though). Hope that helps and have a great time at the show!! – R

  7. Thank you that does help. I think I have decided to concentrate more on just having fun that being up front. If I have to arrive and stand for 4 hours in the heat before the show I will be useless. I am an absolute crazed long-time fan, which means I am not 20 anymore. Also the girls I am going with are not as into them as I am; want them to have fun too.


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