I returned home last night after a long day of travel from the Washington DC area with Duran Duran and the weekend still on my mind. Throughout the day, I exchanged text messages with Rhonda about the show and weekend. I suggested that I provide today’s blog in order to review the New Year’s Day show while it was fresh in my mind.
After I emptied my suitcase and started the laundry, I glanced through social media and came across a post with a review from the show, which you can read here. What do I think of this review? Read on, people.
The author begins by going over band members and stating how they seemed excited to be there. I would agree. Their energy level was hundred times greater than the previous night. I’ll give a couple of examples. John Taylor bounced up and down a TON more during Wild Boys on the 1st versus the 31st and we got Sunrise/New Moon on Monday, which we did not have on the 31st, which I love. Anyway, unfortunately, then, she goes on to rave about the venue. The author writes:
“There are so many music venues across the country that were never really designed for concerts. This theatre was designed with concerts in mind and its apparent. Soon, I believe, The Theater at the MGM National Harbor will rank as one of the top concert venues on the East coast. So remember you read it here first! The modern style theater holds around 3,000 people but still manages to feel intimate, there isn’t a bad seat in the house helped out by two huge screens on either side of the stage.”
As I read that, I scratch my head. There isn’t a bad seat in the house??? Our last two posts, which you can read here and here, point out that there are seats that literally face walls. Yes, she is right that there are screens and I am sure that people in the back appreciated them. That said, some seats had such extreme angles that the only way to really see was to watch a screen. To me, when I go to a concert venue, I want to watch the actual band. On top of that, the barricade between the stage and the front row was HUGE, causing all others on the floor to be pushed back. The flat floor does not help attendees who are short see beyond taller people in front of them. Needless to say, I was not impressed. Now, in fairness, the author stated that the last time she saw Duran it was in a muddy field. This would be better than that.
The rest of the review focuses more on the performance with the standard ‘they haven’t aged at all’ comment. The author mentions the crowd and describes how they “lit up screaming”. I cannot disagree with this. The front center section appeared to be full and what I could tell they were up, off their feet, singing and dancing the entire time. The crowd felt more like genuine fans. I cannot help but to think that there is a correlation between the band’s energy level and the crowd. Better crowd equals more energy and vice versa. The two feed off of each other.
The author goes on to mention some specific songs, including Planet Earth with the David Bowie tribute, The Reflex and more. Interestingly enough, she called them “oldies.” Ouch. Yes, these songs that she referenced were released decades ago but to call them oldies hurts. She also compliments Simon’s voice as well as the backing vocals of Erin Stevenson and Anna Ross. I agree that Simon generally sounded strong and unlike the previous night, I didn’t notice any lyrical goofs.
The rest of the review discussed aspects of the casino itself from the parking to size of the casino and how she liked what she saw. Overall, I would say that the casino has potential but needs to iron out some details that detracted from the fun. First, I appreciated how friendly and helpful all of the staff were from coat check staff to cleaning staff and everyone in between. I liked the layout with the casino in the middle surrounded by restaurants on the outside perimeter. All that said, last call inside the bars was 1:30 even on New Year’s Eve. This particularly did not make sense to me as cocktail waitresses inside the casino itself still served beyond that. Some of the bar staff was super slow to deliver drinks. Restaurants also closed early, which was a problem when you want to hang out late into the evening and needed food.
I saw lots of people I have seen at previous shows, which was great! At one point over the weekend, I declared that there should be a Duranie yearbook with people’s names, pictures and a list of shows they attended as it is hard to remember everyone and when/where you met them. The Lobby Bar, which was an open (no door man monitoring who comes in and out unlike the other bars in the place), bar served as a decent meet up spot for Duranies both before and after the shows. As always, I saw people there whom I didn’t have a chance to talk with much but wanted to. Time flies when people are having fun.
That said, I felt a bit of a disconnect there. If I had to guess why, it was the hotel situation. The MGM hotel was far too expensive for the vast majority of us to stay in. Therefore, we sought out different places within a short distance. Some stayed there in Oxon Hill, others in Alexandria like myself and Nat, and some in DC proper. There wasn’t the same running into people during the day like you would find at a typical casino show. During the day, everyone scattered to do different activities only to meet up very briefly before or after. On top of that, the early closings of bars and restaurants did not make it easy to stay late and hang out. When I go to a casino show, I want to be able to hang out all night long.
Overall, I still feel as though I made the right decision to go. I loved being able to finish off a year with a Duran show and starting a new one the same way. One thing that Simon said at the New Year’s Day show that stuck with me was this theory that whatever you were doing on New Year’s Day is how your year will go. I would love for that to be the case. My year would be a great one if it was filled with Duranies, Duran music, and fun. I loved seeing many friends there and enjoyed getting to know my friend, Nat, more. She put up with me, which is always impressive! Just ask Rhonda! It also increased my excitement for the next shows in Agua Caliente in California in March. With a little over 10 weeks until that trip, I know that I’ll be ready to go!