All Things Duran Are Worth It?

Today is travel day for us at the Daily Duranie.  It feels like we have been talking and planning about this trip for years when it has only been months!  Yet, we are now down to less than a day before we arrive in the UK after a long day and night of traveling.  The travel plan makes me question the motto Rhonda and I have, which is the title of this blog.  I am working today–teaching the young people of my city.  Then, I drive a few hours down to Chicago where I will then take a lengthy overnight flight to London.  Once meeting up at Rhonda’s terminal, we hop into a car to take us to Birmingham.  It already sounds exhausting and I haven’t even begun to think about the jet lag!  This day will be the beginning of our 9 day tour/trip.  This trip is an extremely ambitious one and definitely the biggest one I have ever done in the name of Duran Duran.  In fact, I know that I have done many, many, many things for them and because of them but this trip takes the cake.  In many ways, I still can’t believe that I’m doing this!  Yet, I have fought long and hard to make this trip happen and nothing is going to stand in my way.

When the rumors of these UK dates came out, thanks to some radio interview with Mr. LeBon, Rhonda and I discussed it as we often do with any sort of tour rumor.  It was clear that we both wanted to go to these shows but I wasn’t sure whether or not I could leave work.  I, initially, thought I could make it into a long weekend and a few shows, depending on when they were as I am in a job that isn’t super flexible, to say the least, when it comes to time away.  At that point, I began my investigation of how I could do this trip with work.  It sounded super easy from the people I spoke with and I felt confident that we could do this tour.  Then, the dates were announced and immediately people discussed their desire to go for the Birmingham show and the London show.  This meant that I would be away from work for a week, which is unheard of!!!!  As most Duranies know, we had about 17 hours from that announcement to the presale.  It was hardly enough time to get work sorted out completely, but I was confident.  Thus, I purchased tickets 17 hours later.  I filled out the necessary paperwork at work and talked with my supervisor.  I believed myself good to go.  Then, on February 11th, bombs of sorts was dropped.

I was denied my request on February 11th.  Not only was I denied but I was denied without a reason.  Crushed, yet determined, I grieved a little and regrouped with a plan to appeal, which would have been challenging enough but…the rest of the world invaded.  I live in a state whose governor decided to go after me and others like me.  Like hundreds of thousands of others, I felt like I had to fight.  Yet, I felt like I was fighting on two fronts.  For a long time, I felt like I was winning with the state government and losing at work.  Then, it would switch and switch again.  I was an emotional roller coaster, experiencing almost every emotion possible within a 18 hour day.  Yet, I continued to fight.  I felt like I had no choice.  After almost two months, both situations calmed down, but with different results.  I, finally, got word from work that my 118th appeal (joke but not by much) for a week’s leave was finally approved.  I thought that I would be overjoyed.  Instead, I just felt relief and exhaustion.  I think Rhonda felt the same way as her trip was on the line in many ways, too.  On the other front, I lost and many others lost, too.  Voted were taken (perhaps illegally) and new contracts were signed.  Rights were taken away and a significant pay cut is in my future.  In many ways, these events broke me.  Politically, I tried to give a little more energy but feeling completely burned out on that front.  Hopeless, really, which upsets me more than almost anything else.  My governor and his allies took away more than my rights and my salary but sucked the life out of my fighting spirit, which means so much more than I can express.  It has everything to do with who I am and with what I do.

This trip is a strange one for me.  On many occasions, reality has threatened this trip from work to politics to finances.  All of those elements of reality have said to me that I shouldn’t be doing this trip.  It isn’t logical.  Yet, I desperately need some fun and escape and there is nothing better for me than Duran and a tour.  Of course, it is also about fulfilling a dream–to see them in Birmingham and to increase the motivation and more to finish our book.  Now, of course, we need to deal with the LeBon factor.  This is when I start to think about our motto about how everything Duran is worth it.  I wonder.  Are they worth the stress that comes with traveling and traveling to such a distance?  Are they worth the cost, especially when facing an uncertain financial future?  I’m forced to say that they are.  Why?  For me, I’m hoping that this trip reminds me that there still is something good in the world.  I’m hoping that I experience nothing but fun.  I’m hoping that I meet wonderful people who are filled with life.  I know that my friendships will be renewed and feel strongly that my motivation to finish the book will be high.  I’m also really hoping that it can renew my energy and my spirit.

-A

Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool & London…

This is your warning.  I leave US soil in just over 24 hours.  Are you ready?

I’m frantically posting something witty (well, I’m trying!) before I run quick like a bunny to pick up my youngest from preschool, convince her that no, we really don’t have to play at the park today for an hour before coming back home for lunch, and then getting myself back here so that I can ferociously clean at least the downstairs area of our house before I finish packing tonight.  Then there’s the little matter of actually spending some time with my family, and my husband, before I leave tomorrow.

There’s simply no way I’ll get it all done.  I took a precious 90 minutes out of my day today to go and have a pedicure – something I almost NEVER do these days (funny how having a preschooler will do that to you), and then I was talked in to a manicure while I was there.  I have pretty hands and toes now.  🙂  It was wonderful until I realized that I have to bake a batch of cupcakes at home this afternoon on top of everything else I still have to finish….*sigh*

Still no news on “our fearless leader”  (as an aside – are we really sure Simon isn’t afraid of us?  I’m kinda thinking maybe he should be.  I’ve SEEN the way some of us act in front of them.  Quite honestly, I’m afraid FOR him.  Hmm….maybe it’s different in the UK….)  I’m coming for ya, Simon.  4th row Birmingham.  Still praying to whatever gods are out there that the show goes on.  You’ll recognize me and my group because  and I would bet money that if you go on stage as planned – at least 3 out of the 4 of us in my group will be crying at some point throughout the show.   Why the tears?  Are you kidding?  First of all, it’s a dream come true to see them on their own home soil.  Can’t get better than Birmingham for that.  Secondly, it’s been one HELL of a long road to get there.  Thirdly, jet lag.  It does crazy things to the emotions.   I’ll wave to you if you catch my eye.  😀

So, I hope you all understand that I’m in need of making a very hasty good-bye here.  I’d love to stay longer and chat, really I would – but I have a preschooler to tame into submission, a house to clean and a plane to catch.  (yes, in that order!)  I can’t tell you all how excited I am for this day to finally be here, and for those of you who are coming to any of the meetups in any of the towns we’re visiting – I am SO looking forward to meeting you.  I promise to do my best to keep you all updated on what we’re doing, whom we’re hanging with, etc!  Love to you all, and the next time I blog – it’ll be from the UK!   (oh and BTW – we *will* have WiFi and access to Twitter and Facebook while we’re there.  No worries!)

Cheers!  -R

The LeBon Factor!

I put off writing this blog this morning until I could find a way to write it with humor.  That’s how I tend to deal with the most stressful of situations, with humor.  Otherwise, well…I’d cry.  Or rock in a corner.  Or bite my nails off.  (the last two I’ve already kind of done this morning….)

So by now every Duranie around knows that Simon has laryngitis.  Not fun.  I’ve lost my voice more than once over the years, and nothing pisses me off more than opening my mouth to yell at my kids and not having anything come out.  Conversely, I’ve never seen children have such joy as I did the first time that happened.  Oh how I love being a parent sometimes.  Brings you right back down to Planet Earth every time, doesn’t it?  I digress… So far the band has canceled Newcastle, and today they canceled Glasgow.  (I should mention here that they plan to reschedule both of those dates, and an announcement should be made for them in the next day or two)  The question now becomes: how long will Simon be out?

That IS the question, isn’t it?

Before I go into the insanity that took place here this morning as Amanda and I moved through the 7 stages of grief during ONE phone call, I’d like to give a brief commentary on the fan community at large and how they handled the news.  As is typical, there seems to be at least two factions of Duranies.  Those that believe the news for what it is, and those that do not.  The first group believes that Simon really is sick.  Those within that group recognize that this kind of thing does happen, and that it’s not really his fault.  They might be disappointed about the loss of shows, but ever the optimists and positive thinkers – they remind everyone of what is really important here.  The second group thinks that the band and their management are completely full of it, to be honest.  This is all about ticket sales or the lack thereof.  Some within that group are able to pull ticket sale numbers out of what I believe to be complete and total THIN AIR.  It’s really amazing! (unless you are willing to tell me on a message board how you know exactly how many tickets are left for a venue, I don’t wanna hear it.  Give me a BREAK people.)  It’s not that I don’t doubt that shows are canceled due to lack of sales – I know for sure that there are.  During my short stint working for a couple of local bands, I learned a lot about what goes on behind the stage curtain, and a lot of it isn’t pretty at all.  A lot of it IS business, and it sucks – and yes, a band member will do whatever management TELLS them to do.  It’s life, and it’s what they signed on for and get paid the “big bucks” (HA!) to do.  I just think it’s pretty chicken s**t to go around spouting senseless numbers, and then when someone asks for the source of the information, it’s a big secret and the question is politely ignored. It’s not that I don’t believe the numbers exist, it’s that I want to know where they can be found!  Regardless of where one sides on the issue, there’s no argument that a lot of fans out there have had better weeks lately.

As for Daily Duranie, let’s just say this tour has presented more than it’s fair share of issues and obstacles.  One might even say that there’s been enough roadblocks that should have completely deterred us by now.  We motor on.  Stupid?  Nah.  Insane?  Probably.  I’ve done a lot of rocking back and forth today, that is for sure.  It’s only 10:20 am my time, but I’m really thinking it’s time for a stiff drink.  We’re no different than any other fan though.  We planned for these shows, and hell yeah – we’re disappointed that shows are being canceled.  In our case, they aren’t OUR shows.  Yet.  We arrive on Saturday for Birmingham.  We have 4th row center seats.  I’m hoping to be screaming for Dom and Roger (and John and Nick of course!) …and maybe even that LeBon guy if he smiles the right way.  I still have great hope.

There was talk this morning about canceling the whole thing.  My writing partner has quite a bit more on the line for this than I do – I don’t work, my time off is *always* unpaid (as is my time ON, for that matter), and I have a husband to back me up.  That’s not the case with her, and as such she has to consider her options.  We started off with shock and denial “there’s no WAY they’d cancel shows, are you kidding?”, moved on to pain & guilt: “why did we do this to ourselves – we could have just waited for them to come here!”, next came anger “Those BASTARDS.  Don’t they know they owe it to us to do the damn shows after everything we’ve been through!” (yes, we really do call them bastards at times.  Sorry.  Imagine what I must call my husband sometimes through my bared teeth and under my breath!!),  then the depression sunk in more, “You know, this was our only real chance to see them in the homeland.  We probably won’t have another opportunity.  It’s never going to happen for us.” Then suddenly we started to think about just going to the UK and making the best of it.  After all, without shows, should that happen, we’d have some extra time on our hands to explore.  That’s called “the upturn”.  With that, Amanda and I started thinking about what alternatives we could come up with – including throwing out ideas of how they could reschedule the shows so that we could make them, or devising a plan to head to Berlin (assuming Simon is well by then)!  It’s reconstruction and creativity at it’s finest.  Finally, we came to acceptance and hope.  We both realize there’s a good chance Simon will not be well by Saturday, and if that happens – we’re taking a field trip to John Taylor’s manor.  We’ll hang with the peacocks.  (Yes I’m kidding.  There’s no reason to call the guards, John.  We’d get very, VERY lost before we’d ever even make it, so no worries. 😀  However, if you see two slightly disheveled, seemingly American girls wandering a road somewhere in England….)  We’re hoping Simon gets better very soon though, because let’s be honest – the whole reason we planned this trip was to see the band and meet fellow fans.  We could still meet (and WILL still meet) fellow fans, but without the band it wouldn’t be the same.  We need some shows!  🙂   Yes my friends, this occurred all in one simple phone call.  Amanda and I rock that way.

So, we have hope.  We accept the fact that this trip is a gamble.  We also believe that we’re going to do whatever needs to be done in order to insure that we’re going to have a good time.

We also hope that Simon is on some fabulous meds, that Cecil continues to take good care of him (what dog tweets at what must be 3 and 4am UK time???), that John doesn’t let my bad attempt at humor stop him from tweeting, that Dom sees us in the audience at these upcoming shows, and we all have a great time at our meet ups!

Two more days.  BTW – I’m almost packed!  I fit everything into a suitcase much smaller than I’d thought, and I’m under the weight limit by about 20 pounds right now. (that will change as I remember more of what I have to take!)

-R

COCKNBULLKID

Oh, the things I could say, and the puns that are just dying to escape from my fingers onto this blog…. 🙂

What I will say, er…type…is that John tweeted the big news yesterday, and Duran Duran followed up with their own announcement a short while later.  And, true to form – Duran fans everywhere had no trouble coming up with quick opinions regarding the announcement, this Duranie included.

To begin with, I shouldn’t think it was a surprise to many that this name was one we hadn’t heard before.  First of all, in my case I’m not from the UK anyway, and this artist hasn’t made any headway into the US as of yet.  It’s a tough nut to crack (the US), and I don’t hold that against her at all. It is what it is.  In addition, I think the point with an opening act (for DD anyway), is to expose their audience to something new and different.  (I’ll get back to the “different” part later…)  They tend to choose support acts that don’t have airplay, that don’t seem to have much of a fan base, and in the case of previous opening acts – don’t mind not getting paid.

I think it’s fair to say that Cocknbullkid is relatively new.  As I perused her website yesterday, I saw that her first album is due out on May 23, so this tour with Duran Duran is timely.  She’s a fledgling act, and she’s just beginning to form her chops – which is made clear when you see her video for Asthma Attack.  If the name of the song isn’t enough, give it a good listen.  Her voice is clear and sweet, but there’s not a ton of substance there yet.

Many within the community immediately began complaining that the opener is a no-name act. I have to laugh because it was just this past weekend when we were complaining that Take That had the audacity to ask Duran Duran to open for them.  Now we want a bigger name opening for Duran Duran.  (No, we are never happy.  Is that really a surprise??)   The reasons for the band not wanting a big name are solid though, and worth considering.  First of all, bigger names require a bigger budget.  Our band is a touring band.  They make a decent living doing shows.  The same probably cannot be said for selling records at the moment.  (and in all fairness, I think it’s a select few within the industry that CAN say they make a great amount of money selling records right now!)  If they went with a larger name as a support, that would cost the band significantly in many ways.  First of all, monetarily speaking, their profits would go down.  Secondly, there’s always the problem of competing with the opening band for the fans.  I myself have gone to shows and been more interested in seeing the opening band than I have the headliner – and Duran Duran doesn’t strike me as the type of band that is necessarily comfortable with the possibility of that scenario taking place.  I can’t really blame them, either.  Lastly, and perhaps least in priority to some extent, I do believe the band really does want to expose their audience to new music.

All of that taken into account, I really have to wonder what made them choose Cocknbullkid.  In the past, we’ve gotten bands like Clear Static, Goldfrapp, Scissor Sisters, along with a host of others.  They haven’t always been bands that their audiences would have chosen, but they’ve usually been very unique, and very complimentary to the band.  In this case, I’m not finding that with Cocknbullkid.  Her style is very different from the band, embracing much more of a top 40 pop type feel than even a remote hint of anything alternative or experimental…and with that top 40 style there’s zero feel for uniqueness.  Maybe UK audiences prefer that style, though.  I must remember that I’m not seeing the band in the US this time around, and maybe the UK likes their pop more than I like my alternative.  That said, the very vanilla style is evident throughout what I’ve seen and heard from her so far. Take her song and video for Asthma Attack for example. The lyrics are juvenile, and the video is anything but original and/or thought provoking.   All of that taken into account, she’s not horrible.  She’s not controversial, and she won’t piss people off.  She also won’t convince me to get to a venue early.  Judging from the comments on the boards yesterday – I’m not in the minority.  There’s nothing about her that grabs me and makes me want to listen. In the past, they’ve had some mild success with choosing openers that convince the audience to grab their seats early – and I’m sure a lot of this just has to do with luck.   Sometimes they’ll pick someone that is well liked, and sometimes, not so much.  As most fans say: we’re there for the headliner, not the opener.  All is not lost.  

Then again, perhaps Cocknbullkid will surprise me. It wouldn’t be the first time.

-R

Holy **** I’m leaving in 4 days!!!

What a title, huh?

I think I waiver between outright denial that I’m going anywhere so soon, and complete panic.  So far, I’ve gotten everyone else’s laundry done for the week (god help them next week when none of them have clothes and I’m on another continent….), and I’m realizing that I have to print out everything needed for the kids while I’m gone. (maps to their activities, their schedules, that sort of thing)  I also have to print out MY things…you know, my airline confirmations, the hotel info…just those slightly important details.  I still need to call the credit card company so they know I’m going over there, I need to make sure the preschool knows I’m going to be gone so not only will my little one likely not be herself, it’ll be my mom taking her and picking her up.  Then there’s my son, who has a major school project to be working on while I’m gone.  He’s not exactly what you would call “a self-starter” or “self-motivator”.  (I’m silently saying “GOOD LUCK MOM” on that one, as it will be my mom having to deal with him while my husband is at work.  Finally, my oldest.  Wow.  She could use an entire blog all of her own.  I can’t decide if she is the one who needs therapy, or if it’s really me… regardless, she’s 14.  That’s probably enough said right there.  It’s certainly part of the reason why I need a vacation!!!

All of these details are amplified by the fact that my husband received some very bad news late last week – a close family member on his side of the family passed away unexpectedly last week in an accident, and he’s needing to make a trip for the funeral this week.  He’ll probably be gone until Thursday, which leaves precious little time of my own to get ready for the trip, AND I wish that I were able to go with him to the funeral since it’s for someone that I too am fond of.  It’s everyday life I suppose.

On a side note, there was a link on facebook today for the ad that is running on UK TV for the tour.  Normally I might not have even watched the ad – or I would have watched with a wistful view, but this time – I squealed in delight over the idea that I would actually BE at 4 of those shows!  Yes, the days leading up to leaving are proving to be quite a challenge, but once I’m there – it’s going to be the tour of a lifetime!  🙂

-R

In Awe of and Jealous of…

As many of you might guess, the Daily Duranie is busy, busy, busy to get ready for our trip!  Can you believe that it is this Friday, as in 5 days?!  Part of me feels like we have been talking about it forever and ever and ever and ever (I’m sure many of you feel the same way!!  LOL).  The other part of me feels like it came out of nowhere.  Thus, part of me wants to go NOW and other part of me wants another week!  No matter how I feel, though, it is coming whether I’m ready or not.  Anyway, the details seem to multiplying as I type.  It seems like we get things planned and then something else comes up or new information is found which changes things.  Right now, I think we are pretty well lined up with our agenda, especially on the days with shows.  There are meetups planned in all cities and we are hoping to find some fun after show activities as well!  We know where our hotels are, how to get to the venues and how to get to the meetups.  Train schedules have been analyzed and tickets have been purchased.  As for the days without shows, we have many possibilities to choose from and on most days will just do what we feel like.  Of course, beyond the planning for the trip itself is the planning for what we leave behind. 

Rhonda is busy making sure that her household will remain in one piece and that everyone will be well when she is gone.  I’m worried about work.  I had hoped to have all of my reports done before I leave but that won’t happen.  I may have them all written but I doubt that I will have all of the necessary meetings.  Beyond the regular work, I also have to plan to be gone for 5 days.  This means that I will need to leave extensive plans about my kids, the classes and more.  It takes a number of hours for me to prepare this for a one day absence.  I shudder to think about how much time I will need for 5!  Tomorrow, I will attempt to balance doing my regular work and getting my plans ready.  It will make for some busy days at work, that’s for sure!

This all leads me to think about what it must be like to be the band.  They travel a ton.  A TON!  How do they do it?  Yes, first, obviously, they do not have jobs beside this one.  While Rhonda and I might consider being a Duranie a career as we do write this blog and are working on a book, we have other ones that demands our attention as well.  I suspect that their days are not just completely empty either as they prepare to be on the road.  I’m sure that they have interviews to do, discussions to have, setlists to ponder, songs to rehearse and more.  Nonetheless, they are able to focus a great deal of attention to get ready for a tour.  We can’t focus that much, as much as we would like to.  Obviously, all of us have families to worry about.  The band does as well.  Yet, I’m sure that they don’t have to worry as much as Rhonda does, for example.  They have more people to help them with that.

This weekend I have spent quite a bit of time deciding on exactly what I’m going to be bringing, clothes wise and more.  I have rearranged outfits and actually packed the suitcase to make sure that everything fits into it.  I have discussed with my fellow travelers about how many outfits to bring, what kind of shoes, etc.  Do I feel prepared?  I feel only slightly better than I did last week.  It doesn’t seem ideal to me.  I would like to bring less stuff but when I consider which items to get rid of, I can’t see getting rid of anything more.  I want to have choices there, to some extent.  I always do when traveling, especially when on tour.  I have also come to decide that I’m the world’s worst packer.  It takes me such a long time to do it.  I’m not even sure why.  How do the guys do it?  Yes, yes, they are guys so they might bring less stuff but still.  They like their products, too.  Okay, they have someone to deal with their clothes, right?  Does that person take care of their day-to-day clothing, too, or just the clothes for when they are on stage?  If that person does it all, I want to have one of those people, too!

Does the band have to worry about an agenda?  Probably not.  I’m sure that there is someone to make sure that they get to where they need to be, when they need to get there.  Thus, while I’m in awe over the apparent ease with which they travel to far away places for long periods of time, I’m also extremely jealous.  They have so many things that we fans don’t have.  I wonder if they are aware of everything it takes for fans to go to their shows.  Do they know about how much work it is?  Yes, you could argue that we don’t have to do this and you are right.  It is absolutely what we suffer through to get to the good stuff.  It is the price we pay.  Nonetheless, I wish that we had all the perks that the band does.  It would make our lives easier, that’s for sure!

-A

Should Duran be a Support Act for Take That?

A couple of days ago, an interview with John Taylor appeared on the Metro.co.uk site.  Normally, this is not such a big deal but there was one question on there which seemed to stir the pot among Duranies.  (You can read the article here:  John interview)  Now, since the title of the article was how John is lucky to be alive, you would think that the controversy was over his past lifestyle of alcohol and drugs.  Nope.  No, what caught people’s attention was the question about whether or not the band, Take That, asked Duran to support them on tour.  As an American who is unfamiliar with that band, I didn’t think much of it.  In fact, I should have noticed that it would have Duran SUPPORTING another band and not the other way around, but I didn’t.  Too self-absorbed with my list of what I get to get done for our UK trip, I guess.  Then, I started noticing discussion on twitter and on message boards about it.

Apparently, Take That is a pretty popular band in the UK when it comes to commercial success and tour sell outs.  Okay.  According to many, they are also your standard manufactured boy band (I’m guessing that they are similar to Backstreet Boys here).  Anyway, the debate is about whether or not Duran should have supported this band when asked or not.  The people who think that they should have believe that Duran would have had a great deal of exposure to a new audience because Take That has large, sell out crowds, most of who have never heard of Duran.  It would mean a great deal of exposure and a chance at new fans and more copies of All You Need Is Now sold.  Okay.  The other side says that Duran deserves to be the headliner.  They have been around for 30 years and have proven their worth.  They should not be working for anyone.  They also feel strongly that Take That isn’t worthy of Duran because they are a commercial, manufactured band.  The idea here, I guess, is that Take That isn’t really in it for art but to make a profit and Duran, while enjoys making a profit, also believes that they are in for art sake.  John, by the way, in the interview said that they turned them down.  He did not elaborate as to the reason they did.

I’m completely fascinated by this debate.  It really shows, in my opinion, the two camps in Duranland between those who need/want Duran to be a commercial success no matter what and those who need/want Duran to be more of an art form.  For the first group, it seems to be about quantity and the other group seems to focus on quality, to simplify it.  Of course, the first group might say that the commercial part is needed for the art part to exist, which is fair enough.  The other side, of course, would argue that having integrity and dignity is worth more than any paycheck.  I wonder if other fanbases struggle with this issue.  Do bands like the Cure face this debate?  While the Cure sold albums and had big tours, they were never the commercial success that Duran Duran was.  Likewise, do Madonna fans have this need for her to demonstrate a level of integrity or are they fine with her always pursuing the largest sum of money possible?  Does this happen in Duranland more because they were SO huge at one point and are not anymore?  Is it so unacceptable to some fans because this drop from the top of the charts seems to mean that the band is a failure?  Others seems to believe that Duran’s commercial success was more of luck and that Duran must not have “sold their souls” to be commercially successful in the 1980s.  Another possibility is that they were concerned about it at first but as they have gotten older, they are more concerned with the art. 

I think that the reality is somewhere in between.  Yes, I do believe that Duran actually considers what they do an art form.  Yet, I also believe that they want to be commercially successful.  I think this is similar to artists like Andy Warhol who definitely created works of art but ones that were meant to be popular.  That said, does Duran have a limit to what they would do to be successful in this arena?  That seems to be the case now.  Debates like this have me thinking back to the days before and after Red Carpet Massacre came out.  Some fans loved it and loved that they took a risk working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in order to reach the charts again.  Others were completely horrified by this.  Many thought that they had sold their souls a little bit, especially when reading statements about how Timbaland didn’t know what a bass was.  To many, it felt disrespectful to John, in particular, to the band as a whole and, frankly, to a fanbase that liked the formula of strong instrumentation. 

So, how do I feel about this controversy?  I would probably be more passionate about it if I knew more about Take That and their music.  Based on what I have read, I’m glad that they made this decision.  To me, it does seem like Duran aren’t willing to do anything to sell their music, which I do believe is a good thing.  I have a lot more respect for them if they demonstrate their need for self-respect.  I don’t think that Duran should be supporting anyone after their long career unless it was someone at the same level.  This band clearly isn’t at their same level, both longevity or quality music wise.  Yes, this might mean that they won’t pick up new fans and won’t sell as many albums.  I think that is okay.  I don’t know that these people would have been willing to give Duran a fair chance, anyway.  If they did, would they stick around?  Probably not if they aren’t played on the radio 50,000 times a day.  These new fans would not be worth the loss of dignity.  They also wouldn’t worth the loss of diehard fans as I believe that many Duranies would be so ashamed of this decision that they might walk away.  It happened with RCM, after all.  More money, more album sales and different fans are not worth being a support act for Take That.

-A

Networker Nation – The Daily Duranie Review

With this review of the final song on what I believe is EVERY version of All You Need Is Now, we will be completely finished reviewing the album, and just in time too – because we leave for the UK tour next week!  We apologize for not getting this posted yesterday, but blogger was not cooperating at all!

I’d love to say something like “Now that we’re about done, the band can go ahead and start writing the next one”….but I’d be crazy…this one is just getting started!!  Amanda and I look forward to a few UK shows, and then with any luck, a few more US shows in the fall and beyond.

Thanks to all of our readers for their patience and their sincere efforts not to throw too many tomatoes at us for simply stating our undereducated and completely (*cough, cough*) unbiased opinions of the songs on this album!  Now on to the review….

Rhonda’s take:

Instrumentation/Musicality: The first thing I’m going to admit here is that for about the first ten times I listened to the song, I didn’t know what in the hell the Speak and Spell was actually spelling at the beginning of the song.  I rock that way, don’t I?  That should probably give you a real clue as to just how “in tune” my hearing is at times.  Even funnier is that I recognized the voice as the Speak and Spell I myself had as a child, but I somehow missed the spelling of Duran Duran.  Bartender, send another drink down my way, please!   Instrumentally, this song very much reminds me of more recent years for Duran Duran – I think this song could have easily been included on Astronaut without much of a stretch.  While the melody line is good, it is SO electronic.  Where’s the rest of the band?  I do hear guitar occasionally – but the song is heavily synthesized – too much so, in my opinion.  The guitar is lost and relegated to short riffs that are understated behind the overpowering synthesizer.  While that might be fine on some songs, this one perhaps included, the trouble with Duran Duran (and it always HAS been the trouble since SATRT) is their particular “brand” of instrumentation – where the synth is king, is overused.  They really seem to have trouble recognizing the self-worth of the guitar, and rather than having guitar as the driving force behind the melody – it’s a support player to the keyboards – and many times, the songs just call for more than a chord here and a chord there on guitar.  It’s the one issue that drives fans crazy to this very day, this fan included – because I can almost guarantee that when the time comes that the song is played live, not only will I hear guitar – but the song will rock.  Why water that down for the album??? In addition, I think the rhythm section is completely lost in the shuffle on this song as well, and it’s a shame.  John is SUCH a good bassist – he doesn’t settle for just playing one or two notes over and over again – he actually has the musical integrity and chops to play a full bass “melody” so to speak.  Use him, don’t bury him!   That said, I must reiterate that I do love the melody – I do.  I just yearn for some really gritty, crunchy guitar and some bass groove to bring some more depth to the song.

Vocals:  Admittedly, all I think of when I hear this song is that it sounds every bit like a Duran Duran song should sound.  Simon is at his best here – and I can completely picture him singing it on stage.  Lately I’ve been listening to AYNIN (the album) in between several of their older albums (first album, Rio and SATRT).  I purposely put AYNIN in the middle of them to see how much Simon’s voice had changed (as well as the music) – and the one thing I can say about Simon is that his voice has lost some of it’s timbre (pronounced “tamber”) over the years.  There’s a certain fullness and depth that I think time (along with wear and tear) has taken from his vocal quality – but there’s no mistaking Simon’s voice.  While I wouldn’t ever agree that all it takes is Simon singing to make a song a Duran Duran song, he is an integral part of the band that I wouldn’t want to do without.  His vocal quality is as much a part of what makes this band Duran Duran as say, Nick’s keyboards or even John’s bass line.  There’s no whining here, only a powerfully “Duran Duran” song.

Lyrics: Talk about a timely piece of writing.  Naturally this song is all about our online lives.  Yours, mine, theirs.  There are more than a few lines of this song that completely relate to me…and I suspect everyone else out there who is reading this review, which makes the song interesting.  No, it’s probably not the most obscure piece of lyric written – but it didn’t need to be in order to get us listening, and thinking, did it?  From the moment Amanda and I knew the song title – we wondered what Simon would say.  Quite honestly, I wondered if he’d rip us all apart for relying on our computer screens…and to be fair, I think he made his point rather well. The very first verse: You can call me wrong, you can put me straight.  Say the very thing that I love or hate.”  Isn’t that the truth?  We have so much less of a problem being forward, confrontational and even overly aggressive online – yet I’ve met some of the same people in real life and they can’t even look me in the eye.   Simon gets it.  You lose your inhibition online.  I know I do – I can write a book or a blog here and tell you all what I really think, but in person?  I can be pretty quiet until I’m comfortable.  A few verses later is even better, mainly because if I didn’t know better – I’d think that Simon was reading our blog!!  “We’re writing a book, it’s a piece of cake.  We could change the world, if we could stay awake.”   (No, writing the book is NOT a piece of cake…and he’s absolutely right about staying awake.  I can’t! :D)  It will be very interesting in another 10 years to look back at this song, it’s lyric and see just how far we’ve gone.  I like it.

Production: Here’s the reality – the pieces for this song were all there, and the production is what has made it what it is.  For me, the production and the mix have watered down the very parts of the song that I feel would have made it a standout.  Too many producers today are set to lower the volume of the real instruments in the band and they want to rely on the keyboards – probably because so many bands/artists/what-have-you on the top 40 don’t even HAVE instruments.  They’re personalities that stand onstage and gyrate to whatever sound is coming out of the speakers – and occasionally they might sing along for effect. (whether that effect is good or bad depends on how loudly their mic’s are turned up.)  I think that producers have generally forgotten how to steer the ship for a REAL BAND.  It’s annoying and I won’t ever stop hoping that somehow, someway, the pendulum begins to swing the other way once again and we start having real musicians, with real talent, come to the forefront of the music industry once again.  Until then, I think we’re going to continue hearing this sort of production, and I’ll just keep complaining.  I suppose my complaint goes much farther than just through production – but in this case, I’ll just stick to the facts: NICK IS TOO LOUD and nothing else really comes through much.  There, I said it.  Yes, I’m picky, and yes – I’m a little judgmental.  Still love you Nick, but honestly – where is the rest of the band?

Overall: As much as I’ve hammered the band here with regard to instrumentation and production – I really do like the song.  I sing along, I bop my head along with the music. What more can I really ask for?  More Dom please.  More John please.  My guess is that I’ll get my wish should they ever play it live.  This band, despite their faults in production, or allowing their music to be produced in the matter it tends to get produced and mixed – is very much a LIVE BAND.  I have found that by and large, even songs I dislike on an album are songs that more than rate when played live – and for me, that’s really the true test.  I’ve been to far too many concerts where I’ve loved the music on an album, but yet none of it can be recreated live, and that’s disappointing.  As far as Duran Duran goes, it’s exactly the opposite.  Their live shows far far far exceed anything they’ve ever done on an album – and perhaps that’s why so many of their fans cry so loudly for shows.  It’s because we know what they can achieve onstage.

Rating:

Amanda’s turn:

Instrumentation/Musicality:  Obviously, the very first thing to jump out at you when listening to this song is the spelling of Duran Duran.  This completely threw me when I first heard it.  Clearly, the spelling is to indicate that this is about computers or technology.  Yet, what I find fascinating about it is that this is not a modern day sounding computer or other augmentative communication device.  Then, I have to wonder if it is talking about 2011 computers or computers of the past.  Did they really feel it necessary to include some sort of something to show us the topic?  We couldn’t just get it with the lyrics or the song title?  Then, why spell Duran?  Weird.  From there, the song jumps into a massive sounding electronic piece.  It seems to me that the song has three different main parts:  Verse, Chorus, Tap-Tap-Tap part with an additional little piece about 2:30 minutes into it.  All of these parts are extremely electronic.  When I listen with headphones, I have a sense that there are instruments there but they are not obvious at all.  I couldn’t pick out the drums to save my life.  Nonetheless, the song is full of energy and definitely gets me moving!

Vocals:  This is the Simon I know and love.  Even better, this is the Simon that I enjoy singing with…when I’m in the car, by myself!  He is singing at a range that works for him and really helps to create that fun, danceable mood.  You know that whatever Simon is singing about isn’t necessarily the most important or most serious topic.  It is all in good fun, which is fitting for the topic at hand, and the lyrics, in particular since I think that’s the point.  It seems all fun to be online but there is a current of concern that people should have.

Lyrics:  The song is trying to give a little commentary about the online world.  Clearly, he is trying to say that people live a lot of their lives these days online.  They live there so much that much of their social interaction takes place there, “elegant times for no conversation”.  Yet, no one really questions this.  I don’t…much.  Is this a healthy way to live our lives?  Is it good not to be able to be away from your online world?  It seems that to many of us (and I’m guilty here, too) that we all just seem to feel that this is a good way to have fun and it is, but I think the point is that it shouldn’t be our only way.  Of course, there is the added idea that you can be whomever you want to be online.  I could change everything about me and create a whole new identity.  No one would need to find out.  Thus, while the online world is fun, it is also one that can be deceptive.  I appreciate this questioning.  I like that it makes me think.  I wish that he didn’t include lines about “youtube” or “facebook”.  I always worry that those sites will become out of fashion and make the lyrics look dated.  I think the online world is here to stay but the sites may change. 

Production:  This is a song that is one that you can’t escape and I’m sure that it was intentionally done by the production.  There are many songs that I could just have on in the background and enjoy.  This isn’t one of them.  I would always notice when this song comes on.  I’m forced to pay attention to it because it is just filled with sound.  I wonder if there isn’t too much sound.  Although, I suppose that is fitting as well.  There is too much to see and do online and the music does represent this sort of over-stimulation.  In terms of song quality, though, and Duran level quality, I wish that I heard more instrumentation besides the heavy electronic.  I always want to hear John and Roger.  Would the song have been more powerful if those instruments came through but the electronic pieces answered them? Could that have been symbolic to how the online world always seems to break through the regular daily existence? 

Overall:  I enjoy the song.  I immediately found myself singing along to it, including those tap-tap-tap parts.  I always wonder if parts like that would sound silly but they don’t in classics like Planet Earth.  I think the electronic all-encompassing feel was intentional, but do wonder if it couldn’t be an even stronger song with more organic instrumentation pushing through.  The lyrics make me think but I do wonder if they will hold up in the long run.

Overall Rating:

10 days to go….

I think I might have crossed over from distant excitement to panic mode.  I don’t know what made it hit – perhaps it was realizing that I still don’t know what shoes I’m taking.  Maybe it was Amanda’s list of 15…or is it 22 now…Duran “themed” places that we’re going to be visiting, walking past, etc. in Birmingham.  It might have been my mom’s phone call to remind me that she still hasn’t gotten my daily schedule yet (she’s handling the kids during the day while my husband is at work), and it might have also been that I realized I don’t know what I’m going to wear to the Only After Dark club that we’re going to after the Duran Duran show in Birmingham.  I don’t even know what people dress like in the UK for this stuff!  So, if you see someone wearing clothes that you wouldn’t be caught dead in a club at, or someone that very much looks like she’s from California – it’s probably me.  *sigh*  I’m really nice (especially after a drink or two to ease my nerves!), just probably very uninformed about fashion.  Scratch that.  I’m the farthest thing from a fashionista you’re going to get, and I don’t do the whole punk thing either. Oh well.  I’m there to have fun.  And be laughed at, most likely.  😀

Don’t know about Only After Dark?  Well, let me educate you.  (ha!)  From what I gather, it’s a sort of club, you can actually become a member although it’s not required for admission – they seem to have regularly scheduled events, and on the night in question it’s their 2nd anniversary, and the first night in their new “home”, the Air VIP Lounge.  Here’s the address:

The VIP Lounge – Air Nightclub 49 Heath Mill Lane, Digbeth, Birmingham B9 4AL


The best part about this night (May 21st), is that they are doing a theme that is directly related to Duran Duran.  Some might say (read:ME) that it’s ALL about Duran Duran.  The theme of the evening is “A Night at the Rum Runner”.  Forgive me for saying this – but if you aren’t aware of what the Rum Runner is or why it relates to Duran Duran, you’ve got some studying to do.  Quickly!  As they say: it’s where it all began.

According to the invite I saw on Facebook, the DJ set for that night will be inspired entirely by the tracks played by Nick Rhodes at The Rum Runner back when he was a DJ for the club, with a few Duran Duran tracks thrown in for good measure.   OAD is even offering a special deal for those of us going to the Brum gig – if we present our tickets or e-ticket confirmation, we’ll get in for 2 GBP.  (about $3.65 USD today)  Let me just say, I can’t remember a time when I got into ANY club for less than $5.00 USD….and that was *cough, cough* over 20 years ago now.

For my friends and I, this is the epitome of going to Birmingham.  It’s about soaking up the history of the band.  It’s like a trip to Mecca for me, and if any of you are as *cough, cough* absorbed by the band as I am…you get it.  If not, then you’re probably shaking your head and wondering when the men and white coats are coming for me.  Don’t worry, my husband wonders that every single day.   So yes, we’re attending, and I may be the only person in there  that looks like she’s from the US….but I’ll be smiling, laughing and having fun anyway!

It looks like things are being planned at a fever pitch now.  I think we’ve got plans after every show – although to be honest, I don’t know where we’re going or when.  I plan to pretty much float through the week with the guidance of the Blue Tour Binder.  (Yes Amanda, you may laugh now.)  I know Amanda and I are making a trip back to Birmingham the day after the Liverpool show just so that we can try out the walking tour she’s devised to see all of the Duran related sites. (and I do mean WALKING – I’m actually living in a little bit of fear about how far we’re going to be walking that day.  I wasn’t planning on bringing my tennis shoes with me – athletic trainers for those of you who don’t understand what I’m talking about – but due to this day, I am SO bringing them.)  I think we’ve got tentative plans to meet people after every single show aside from London – but in that case we’re throwing the Club Reflex party the day before with Gimme A Wristband!  (and I can’t wait!)  I’m sure the week is going to fly by, but I’m very excited!  I’m also thankful that we have a few days in between Liverpool and London.  We’ll need them to recuperate!!

As an aside regarding the Club Reflex party – if you can’t attend that party and are going to any of the other shows we’re attending – Birmingham, Nottingham, Liverpool or even London – let us know if you want to get together.  We do plan to go out after the shows if at all possible, and we are HAPPY to add more people to whatever we’re doing.  This is not a closed “club”, and for Amanda and I, half of the reason we’re so excited about the trip is getting to meet new friends, so don’t feel left out.  We want everyone to get together, get to know one another, and celebrate this fantastic band doing a proper UK tour!

Now on to the band themselves.  Sometimes I forget this blog actually has something to do with the band!  I saw on Twitter yesterday that they are rehearsing for the UK tour, and that they have some new music, never before played stuff as JT says, for the shows.  What on earth could they be planning?!?   I’m sure they’ll be playing new songs from the album – but I wonder which ones.  Will they play anything from the back catalog?  (oh if only….I know it’s a ridiculous request, but I would love for them to play some old stuff.  Late Bar, Secret Oktober, gosh…I’d be thrilled with anything like that!)  I almost don’t want to see the set lists from the next several shows just to surprise me when I get to Birmingham….

As I’m typing I’m remembering things that need to be added to my ever-growing “to do” list that must be done before I leave next Friday, which tells me that it’s time I get going and start tackling what I can!  Until tomorrow….

-R

LONDON MEETUP!

Happy Tuesday everyone!

I have exciting and fantastic news to share today!  We’ve gotten the details for the London Meetup squared away – and I can share all of the details!  Gimme a Wristband has teamed up with Daily Duranie to bring you what we hope to be the biggest meetup of the UK tour at Club Reflex in London on Friday, May 27!  Details can be found in the lovely poster that Miss Kitty from Gimme a Wristband has ever so artfully designed below:

We are SO excited for this night – so please, swipe the artwork and post it EVERYWHERE, then get yourselves and your friends to Club Reflex that Friday night!  Admission is free before 9pm, so come early and plan to Reach Up for the Sunrise with Gimme a Wristband and Daily Duranie!  (or until 3 am, when the club closes!)

Questions, comments, concerns?  Post away – we’ll be happy to help however we can!

-R