On this day in 1981, Duran Duran played the Manchester Apollo on the Careless Memories tour and the set list was an absolute classic with some songs that would soon find a home on Rio to some deep cuts we all wish they’d bring back.
- Anyone Out There
- Planet Earth
- Friends of Mine
- To the Shore
- Late Bar
- Last Chance on the Stairway
- Night Boat
- Sound of Thunder
- Faster Than Light
- My Own Way
- Careless Memories
- Girls on Film
- Planet Earth(Night Version)
The fact that I could so easily find that setlist by typing in “Duran Duran 1981” to Google and following a link was really too much information. Technology has improved our lives in countless ways but I am not sure that live concerts is one of them. The mystique of rock-n-roll can so easily come undone by too much information.
Think back to your first concerts and try to remember if you knew the setlist beforehand. Unless you are really young, you didn’t. Information could not travel faster than a tour bus and the mystery of what a band might play was part of the experience. As much as I might try to avoid it (sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t), it would have been hard to see Duran Duran over the last few years without having a pretty good idea of what the set list would hold. Did that enrich the experience? Not at all.
This week, I have a list of presale codes and times for the 2020 Alanis Morrisette – Garbage – Liz Phair tour that seems to be happening solely so the 1990s version of me can die happy. Not only do I have to navigate a handful of apps, websites, and codes, the ticket prices remain hidden from view. LiveNationMasterHub (my term for the evil businesses that have turned music into an accounting statement) are shrewd. If you find out prices as tickets go on sale, you are more likely to panic and grab expensive seats. They know that passion often triggers impulse, especially with a credit card in hand.
At shows, the technology is often a rectangle piece of plastic that everyone holds up around me to film a show. We’ve touched on that enough here and it isn’t a debate I wish to have. As someone who has shot shows professionally for artists, I believe the “First Three Songs Only” rule should apply to everyone with pictures and video should never be allowed. Every band releases a DVD. Relax.
The technology on stage provides a more clear and present danger. Backing tracks and effects filters can turn any artist into a replica of their studio work. Duran Duran certainly doesn’t shy away from backing tracks but their best live moments are when Roger tosses the headphones (i.e. click track) and wails away at the skins. A computer can never reproduce the emotions of a truly live experience; I just read Blade Runner so I know this to be fact.
So, what can we do to save the live music experiences the feed our soul? Probably not too much. Capitalism always wins. However, look for little moments that we can win. Share the pre-sale passwords everywhere and dismantle the practice by making it irrelevant. And an easy one: do not buy tickets above face value from scalpers (and StubHub is a scalper). Drive away the secondary market and you’ll find plenty of tickets for every show. And most importantly, support live music, as in, actual LIVE music.
If a band is playing live, from the heart, support them if you like them. Buy physical product at the merch stand (it’s their gas money, trust me) and go to see them in other towns. Those bands will rise and the band’s that rely on deceit will find empty rooms. Duran Duran were on fire as a live band in 1981 and that turned into an unstoppable moment in music history. Help create that next moment and save us from the algorithm-generated “stars” of today that have turned art into crass product touring overpriced arenas so ticket agencies can create a secondary market (they basically own) to double their profits.
Speaking of overpriced arenas, buy a plastic flask and bring your own liquor to shows! If concessions go down, they might realize their prices are silly. So, if you see me at the Alanis Morrisette concert next summer, bring a few Diet Cokes over to me because I’ll have a bottle of rum stashed somewhere on my person!