Life Moves Pretty Fast

This is an exciting time in Duranland.  A new album was released last week and we have TV performances and concerts to look forward to.  In fact, there isn’t a day that there isn’t something Duran related going on, in one way or another.  There may not be a concert or TV performance everyday but it seems that we get some piece of news or something.  Today, John and Simon were posting pictures of New York City where they traveled to and people are posting clips from their performance in Miami yesterday.  In the fan community, there are contests taking place and all that goes along with that.  Some of us are spending time getting ready for upcoming shows and concerts and others are on the ready for any show announcement that might work for them. It is kind of funny.  In Duranland, we have a term for how every project in Duran’s world seems to take longer than they should, which we lovingly or not-so-lovingly call “Durantime”.  What do we call times like this, though? What would the opposite of Durantime be?

I wish that I had a cool term to coin to describe times like this when the band is so busy and that there is so much going on with them, but I don’t.  I’m not very good with slogans.  (Anyone have a good idea?)  The point of this blog entry isn’t to name this time but to actually take some moments to appreciate it.  Where was the band a year ago?  I guess they were working on the new album.  Maybe they were getting ready to play a private gig or two, but most of us couldn’t appreciate either one of those things.  Yes, I realize that they need this “downtime” in order to make new music and to pay for these projects.  Nonetheless, I know that I appreciate times like this more as a fan.  Who doesn’t?  I know that I didn’t get a chance to see them live in 2010 but now have a number of chances to do so.  (I’m obviously feeling BEYOND lucky, too!)  I also realize that times like this don’t come around all that often so I better take a moment or two to appreciate it. 

I have a number of friends who follow different bands (shocking that all of my friends aren’t Duranies, isn’t it?).  These friends like bands who are smaller in scoop as they have had some success in their careers but nothing like Duran’s level of success.  On one hand, I’m jealous of them.  Their bands tend to tour much more frequently as this really is their main source of income.  (Yes, I realize that Duran makes a ton of money on touring but they aren’t living tour to tour the way a small band does.  Heck, Duran charters a private plane when they can on tour.)  Typically, their tours include smaller cities in the States, which allows fans to see a bunch of shows without traveling that far.  We don’t have that chance with Duran.  We have to be willing and able to travel to see, sometimes, even one show.  On the other hand, though, we get to watch Duran on the Tonight Show and on Ellen.  We get to read countless reviews. Duran gets a ton more press because of how big they truly have been over the course of their career. 

Today, I find myself just appreciating the time I’m living in, in terms of being a Duranie.  Is it a perfect time for all Duranies? No, personally, it isn’t, but as a FAN, it is pretty good right now.  I love the latest album as does most of the other fans.  There is not the division that existed during RCM times.  I get very excited by every TV performance and every piece of news from their concerts. I am SO looking forward to my shows.  However, I also want to be aware that these fabulous times won’t be around forever so I shouldn’t rush to see the next event take place but take the time to savor every event and every day. 

-A

Duran Duran Unstaged – The Daily Duranie (By Internet) Review!

I was not the lucky half of the Daily Duranie for Duran Duran Unstaged as I could not attend the show in person.  (During normal tour season, I would have considered it but must be at work to go to the UK later!)  Despite not attending in person, I was excited for the show!  I knew that this was going to be a unique one in that I would be able to see the concert as it took place and experience some extra visual effects courtesy of David Lynch.  On top of that, Rhonda kept in touch throughout the day and I was able to watch with a local Duranie friend.  It was all good in my world!

As 9pm, my time, rolled around, I was glad that I had turned the computer on when I did as I had to install some new flash update or something.  After I did that, I was able to sit back and wait for my friend as strange Duran interviews played on the screen.  These interviews were not typical ones as they answered questions that aren’t usually asked.  For example, each band member was asked what moment in their lives they would like to go back to in order to experience it again.  Simon said something about the night they wrote their first song together (Sound of Thunder).  Roger discussed how he wanted to experience the first time he heard Planet Earth on the radio.  John’s comments were about the first time the band landed in the States.  I can’t remember what Nick said because it was strange!  (Anyone remember???)  These interviews increased my excitement, especially since I thought they all looked so fabulous!

Once the show started, my friend, Deb, and I were both a little shocked by what we were seeing on the screen.  We kept switching cameras in order to find the camera that would show the clearest coverage of the band.  (I should note that there were 3 camera choices.  One was the Lynch version.  Another was a fishbowl camera of the crowd and the third was a fun cam, which also seemed to be mostly crowd.)  After switching a number of times, we ultimately landed back on the Lynch camera.  Then, we had to sit back and wait to get used to the visuals.  To be fair, I don’t think I really understood how the visuals were going to work.  I assumed that we would be able to see the band clearly and in color.  I thought there might be interesting backgrounds, which is a common experience at Duran shows.  I also thought there might be some flashes of different images but this was almost like there were layers of screens, figuratively.  The first screen showed the band.  Then, the second, turned the color image to black and white.  The last layer had some other images or images on top.  In some ways, it reminded me of the screens the band used during Dirty Great Monster for their Red Carpet Massacre Broadway run in 2007 where there were layers of screens lowered in front of the band in order to superimpose color patterns and to hide the band some.  I thought that was absolutely wonderful so I had hopes that I would think the same thing here. 

I didn’t.  While I did get used to the visuals and seeing little of the band and what I did was in black and white, it still didn’t feel right to me.  Yes, it was cool.  Yes, many of the images were well thought and fabulous, but it wasn’t what I expect from a Duran show. The Broadway thing worked for me because it was fitting for the song AND because it was only for one song.  In general, when I am at or watching a Duran show, I want to see them perform.  I want to see the interactions between the band members.  I want the little looks from Nick and John in the silent way they seem to assess the show.  I missed any of the musical battles with John and Dom.  A show doesn’t feel like a show unless I can see Simon’s silly dance moves.  Yes, when I’m at a show, I like the backgrounds they have, but only when they enhance their performance.  If they were to overpower their performance, then they no longer serve their purpose, in my opinion.  At some point I realized that I was no longer watching a Duran show but something different.  I began to think of it more as an opportunity to listen to a show live while watching what could have been videos.  Then, I was able to relax more and take in both the music and the visuals.

From my perspective, musically, they were on!  I believe this to be true because I felt like singing along and I had a bit of the post show “high” that I normally do after a good show.  (For the record here, like Rhonda, I have and will criticize the band if they do not perform well.)  The setlist was pretty solid with only a few exceptions.  I was not wild about the part of the set that went from Hungry to Safe to Leave a Light On to Ordinary World.  I can also openly admit that I’m sick of HLTW and OW and I wasn’t really looking forward to Safe.  Despite this part of the set, I was impressed that they played a number of new tracks and felt that the end was awesome, except for Come Undone (another song I’m sick of).  Speaking of impressed, there were a number of songs where I felt that they really hit a home run.  The first song that really got me excited was Friends of Mine.  I have only seen that song performed once and would love, love, love that one to be a given on this tour.  I feel the same about Careless Memories.  As far as the new songs go, I was completely impressed with Leave a Light On.  It isn’t my favorite on the album but it sounded beautiful.  I loved hearing Leopard.  I’m not sure that I would say that Leopard was solid, though.  It seemed to me that it took a little while for Simon to be comfortable with it, which I hope gets better because it is my favorite part of the song.  I felt the same about Blame the Machines.  He just didn’t seem sure of himself.  I also think that Anna struggled with the new material.  I wasn’t sure what to make of the spoken word part of BTM or the female part of Safe.  That said, I hope to hear all of these new tracks in person myself.  It will be interesting to see which tracks they continue to play live and which ones they don’t.  They could always bring out other news ones, too, like Before the Rain and Too Bad You’re So Beautiful (hint, hint!).

Some of the new songs also suffered from the worst of the visuals, in my opinion.  Leopard started out with this cool, dark fog moving across Simon and Kelis’s faces.  That made sense to me and could have even begun to enhance the music.  Then, out of nowhere, there were these heads.  They appeared to be Mayan like heads that moved up and down.  Huh?  I don’t understand and they definitely distracted me (and made me laugh!).  Of course, the Mayan like heads weren’t the only weird images.  Can someone please explain the Barbies with red thongs and eight balls on their breasts that had Ds instead of number 8 on them?  What about the hot dogs and mice during Come Undone?  Those images did nothing but make me laugh and they complete took my focus away from the music, which is exactly what they should not have done, in my opinion.  Other images just seemed obvious and silly like the Earth during Planet Earth or the sun during Sunrise.  Now, I did think that some of the images were cool.  I liked seeing the close ups of both the bass and guitar in the beginning of Being Followed.  It reminded of the song, Careless Memories, during the 1984 concert production As the Lights Go Down.  (Maybe I was expecting something more like that??)  Some other pieces made me think.  I didn’t understand the use of the fork, for example, during Friends of Mine, but I appreciate that it made me think.

Perhaps, I was supposed to be thinking throughout the show and was just trying to enjoy it.  Maybe that is what I was doing wrong.  Nonetheless, I was still disappointed by not being able to really see the band.  I could have been okay with the visuals if they enhanced the mood of the song but too many of them seemed random and silly.  I’m sure that there are many fans out there that absolutely loved what they saw.  I get that.  I think that for me, when it comes to Duran, I want more pure music out of their live performances.  Thus, my expectations were for something completely different than what I got.  Now, that I know this, maybe I could watch it again and see it in a totally different light…

-A

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

The Daily Duranie Review – All You Need Is Now DVD (included in US Deluxe versions)

Originally today we were going to review the CD packaging for the deluxe version – it’s the first time that we’ve been able to hold the final product in our hands and actually get a good view of the artwork and the overall package, so we were anxiously anticipating our review session.  Leave it to my husband to change my plans…he thought he was being sneaky this morning and stole my CD case off of the counter, assuming that the CD was inside and he could listen to it on the way to work this morning.  Well, he only had the DVD, and that my friends, is what he gets for trying to steal my new prized possession!   In any case, we have switched gears and will give the DVD a review today.

I know that for many of you, there hasn’t been the opportunity to view the DVD as of yet.  For reasons I don’t quite understand, the DVD wasn’t included in the UK deluxe versions.  Instead, they were given an extra CD of remixes.  I, on the other hand, have not heard the remixes – so if you’ve got them, drop Daily Duranie a line and let us know what you think of them!  Our intention here isn’t to be the big spoiler, we just want to share our thoughts of what was included on the DVD.

-R

Rhonda’s notes:

Interestingly enough, I immediately noticed that most of the footage on the DVD was things I’d already seen. The making of AYNIN for instance, was completely of things that had already been shown on dd.com, facebook, and probably even DDM.  That disappointed me somewhat because I would have thought there would more new footage.  Unfortunately because of the fact my darling husband has my CD package – I’m unable to recall ALL of the sections that were included. (mainly I can’t think of their titles.  Hopefully Amanda can help me out with that.  *note to self: smack Walt later*)  There was a very short section that was behind the scenes on the video (again, we’ve seen it) and a section on working with Mark Ronson that was really interesting (short – but how much more in depth can they get about Mark wanting to make the album they should have made after Rio??)….the reality for me was that none of that really mattered.  I mean, they were really nice tidbits, but the real “meat” of the DVD was the very last section, or item on the menu: Album commentary!  The band sat down and discussed what went into the making of each song.  I’d heard much of what went into the song All You Need Is Now, but I hadn’t heard much about the rest of them – the DVD did not disappoint.  The band really shared some of the more behind the scenes process that goes into the making of each song, which was very interesting.  I really hadn’t given much thought to the songwriting process over the years.  What struck me the most was just how creative Simon has to be with his lyric writing.  Ideas would strike him from the most ordinary things – I suppose that’s just how the mind of a writer works.  I’m not a poet (obviously), and I think calling myself a writer is really a stretch, so hearing this about Simon was really fascinating.  I guess that for me, I was just very interested in the process.  I’ve been a fan for 30 years now, and I’m ashamed to say that I really didn’t understand much of what goes on when they go in to write an album.  I’m one of those people who sits back in frustration when I hear of things they’ve “shelved” or given up on, as though I think they should be able to finish everything they start.  After watching the album commentary, I have to say I’ve changed my thinking quite a bit.  I also have a huge increase in appreciation for the songs on this album that I might have cast aside a day or so earlier.  From learning just how focused Mark Ronson was about making this follow up album that when they were working on Girl Panic!  he wanted Roger to play the same drum rhythm as Rio (as well as bass, synths, etc.) to Simon and Mark taking a field trip to the Tate Modern to get ideas for lyrics on Other Peoples Lives.   I can’t go on about the commentary enough.  I found myself saying how genius the writing of the album really was – over and over again – while watching!  The album commentary alone is something that I think every serious fan should watch and would absolutely enjoy; and I really hope the band does more of this in the future.   -R

Amanda’s notes:

To fill in for her partner’s lack of an actual DVD, the sections of the DVD are as follows:  The Making of All You Need Is Now, All You Need Is…Mark Ronson, The Art of Clunie Reid, On Set at the Photoshoot, All You Need Is Now-Official Video, Behind the Scenes-the Video Shoot, Track by Track-The Band Describe the Creative Process. 

My reaction to the DVD was very similar to Rhonda’s on the surface, in terms of what new footage it offered.  I was able to pop in the DVD for a few minutes at work during lunch just to see what was on it and was initially very disappointed that there didn’t seem to have much new on it.  For example, the making of All You Need Is Now was originally put online as the EPK.  We have all seen the official video for AYNIN, too.  When I got passed that reaction, I noticed that we have already commented on many of these elements.  Rhonda commented on the EPK on December 20, 2010, and can be found here:  Poptastic.  We have also commented on Mark Ronson, which can be seen here:  Thanking Ronson.  The art work created much discussion within the fandom and couldn’t be ignored.  We talked about it here:  So About that Artwork.  We definitely reviewed the video here:  AYNIN-The Daily Duranie Review.  We also reviewed all of the iTunes original nine songs as well during the month of December.  In fact, we covered everything so well that I was really hoping that the videoshoot and photoshoot behind the scenes stuff would make the DVD worthwhile.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  They are both terribly short.  Really short.  Of course, after watching the photoshoot footage, I was really left wondering where those pictures actually are because they looked fabulous!  At this moment, I put all of my hope into the part on Mark Ronson, Clunie Reid and the track by track commentary.

The Mark Ronson segment wasn’t much of a surprise really.  I know the story about how big of a fan he is and how he wanted to help them make new Duran “classics”.  I love that idea and very much feel that they were able to achieve that.  Most of the segment featured the different members of the band talking about why Mark is such a great guy and the “perfect producer” for Duran Duran.  Despite knowing all of this, I was able to pick out a couple of very interesting lines.  The first line that caught my attention is when Nick commented about how Mark was able to pick a gem from what is being played.  I would think that would be particularly important because of how Duran writes their material.  I would like to think that a good producer would need to be able to hear something really worthwhile in the middle of what might seem like a nonsense type jam.  Soon after Nick’s statement, Mark commented that he wondered where these songs were for the last 20 years?  I have to agree.  How come other producers couldn’t get Duran to make an album like this?!  Roger sheds a little light on that, perhaps.  He commented about how the band was so busy trying to “find new ground and be contemporary” that they forgot themselves.  Maybe the other producers just let them do that and Mark didn’t?  Thus, I appreciated this segment because it shed some light on why Mark Ronson was able to help Duran do what they did with this album.

The Clunie Reid piece was interesting to me as the artist gave some insight as to how her artwork is made.  As soon as she emphasized using the camera flash to make an effect, I understood completely why Nick was drawn to her, as a photographer himself.  I also thought it was interesting that while Nick provided the pictures to use, which she mentioned were a lot of girls at parties (go figure!), she was able to come up with something on her own.  She didn’t rely on them to direct the project but had freedom to do her own thing.  I respect the band for allowing her to have artistic freedom like that.

Speaking of respect, like Rhonda, my respect for the songwriting process increased after watching the track by track commentary.  I found it fascinating to hear the different stages the songs went through on their journey of becoming a finished product.  I have already found myself listening to certain songs differently after hearing what the band was thinking when they wrote them.  One of the thing that I thought was really cool about the album commentary was seeing all of the footage from the studio.  Clearly, the footage was recorded at different times as both Simon and Mark’s looks changed throughout.  It made me really want to be a part of their creative process.  Perhaps, that is one of the reasons I enjoy writing this blog and our book.  They have inspired us to do more than just be fans but to harness that energy into something productive.  I know that I really felt that way after seeing all of the little post it notes with titles and words on them.  I thought that was a pretty cool way of keeping inspiration as well as focus alive. 

All in all, I thought the DVD offered a serious glimpse into what making this whole project was like.  Duran Duran, as we all know, is more than just music.  They pride themselves on being a complete package and this DVD shows that.  Yes, the bulk of it was about the music, but there were segments on the video, photos and artwork.  The DVD definitely enhanced my appreciation of a project that I already love.

Release Day Much?

Happy March 22nd everyone – or as I like to call it “Thank goodness the countdown is freaking OVER!”  I’m going to quickly apologize for what you’re about to read, because I am sick.  Not sick “in the head”, but truly sick.  You know that “man-flu” that Simon and John had last week?  Well, I have something similar, but of course in ways that only my own gender can manage – it’s a bitch!  You’d think I would be in bed today, but alas – I’m female.  We carry on.  Besides, I had two children to get off to school and a Deluxe Best Buy exclusive CD to go purchase for this very blog today.   I’m sick, just a bit grouchy….and quite honestly…shivering as I type.  Is this dedication or stupidity??   Don’t answer.  I don’t wanna know.

Our plan was simple.  Get the CD and review the packaging today.  I started panicking a little yesterday because the pre-order didn’t get here – normally when I pre-order from Amazon, I get the CD the day before it comes out.  I love that about Amazon.  Well, this time I didn’t order from Amazon.  I ordered from a company that is sending me a signed copy of the deluxe version (we all know who that is, but because I’m not happy with said company at the moment – I’m not advertising for them.), and although they claim to have sent it – it’s not in my mailbox as of yet.  So, my backup plan was to go to Best Buy and pick up another deluxe copy because it has songs on it that my other copy won’t have.  Whose brilliant idea was that, anyway?  Show yourself and prepare to be flogged!    I called Best Buy last night, knowing a contact at a local store that would set one aside and hook me up.  Well, that contact told me that his store, as well as the other local store I frequent – sent their copies back.  Their stores have very limited shelf space, and in his words “Duran Duran just doesn’t sell.”  I was surprised mainly because this is a Best Buy exclusive.  You’d think that the store would at least carry a couple of copies, if for no other reason than to say they tried!  This morning I got up, promptly noted that I was A. Feverish  B. Probably dying or at the very least dizzy from an inner ear issue, oh and C. Realized that it was release day and I had nothing to look at, listen to, hold or even use as a coaster if it sucked.  (I’m kidding about that last part.  For THIS album, anyway.)   I got up, prayed a shower would warm me up and make me feel human…and got on with my morning.

At this point, I checked Facebook, cursed at the hundreds of others that had their CD (Because for today at least, this is the way I am.  I’m weak, annoyed, and damn it – everyone should love me.)  and posted my Best Buy debacle.  I then got several text messages and a phone call from Amanda letting me know that her Best Buy must be in the Duran Duran PRIDELANDS because there are 18 freaking copies at her store.  Of course there are.  She’s kind enough to pick me up one, (which is fair play because I have her signed one coming to my house – then I’ll be forwarding it on to her) but both of us agree that I really should make the 25 minute drive to Best Buy, preferably one that I didn’t check stock with last night, and see if they’ve got anything.  So off I go.

I get to Best Buy, wait outside for 5 minutes because they open at 10am (keep in mind that time is ticking away here – my youngest is in preschool for the morning.  I have approximately 2 and a half hours of “me” – HA don’t I wish!!! – time before I go pick her up.), and promptly at 10, go in with the half dozen other crazy people that needed to be there when the store opens.  I briefly considered that perhaps I wasn’t the only Duran Duran fan wanting their newly minted copy of All You Need Is Now, then I realized that my cold drugs were kicking in so obviously I wasn’t thinking clearly.   I went into the store, and on the way back to the CD section I was asked three separate times if I needed help.  Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t say yes – but I didn’t.  I figured it would be fairly easy to find a new release, especially of a band as auspicious as Duran Duran.  Of course I’d find it!  Amanda said there were like 18 copies at her store!  This is Orange County California – there should be at least that many!  Well, first I looked in the regular CD section.  They not only had nothing, they didn’t even have a nice little divider card with their name on it.  That’s when I started getting nervous.  Then I went to the New Release “showy” racks at the front of the department.  Let’s see – they had The Strokes, Kanye West, Taylor Swift (that damn album isn’t even NEW anymore!!!), and a whole bunch of others that I don’t care about.  No Duran Duran.  So then I start looking for someone to ask.  There isn’t a blue shirt to be found.  Where in the hell did they all go?!?  That’s when I started thinking it was a conspiracy.  Obviously.   So, I finally get pissed off and go up to Customer Service.  The woman behind the counter says “Oh yeah, I’ve seen it.  I remember looking at it and saying ‘Wow – I didn’t even know they were still together!'”  I take a deep breath, mainly so I don’t unleash on the poor girl.  She must sense my annoyance because she immediately goes on a hunt for it, stopping at three tables and then saying “Oh, you know what, it must still be in the back!”   She goes to the back, comes out and tells me they don’t have it.  I say “Yeah, see that’s fine except your little website says you do, so I wonder where it is?”  I even tell her all about how it’s a Best Buy exclusive,and that it’s got two songs on it that you can’t get anywhere else, and that I need to write a blog about it…TODAY.  Then she starts apologizing.  She finds two other guys to help her and at this point there are 3 blue shirts crawling around on the floor looking through every single shelving rack that was out, on the hunt for Duran Duran (I swear I could say a quote from Barbarella here….but I will refrain.)  Finally and triumphantly she shouts with glee “I found them!!”, and there in her hands are not one, but two copies of the album.  She then told me that they only got the Best Buy exclusive version, not the regular album – but the deluxe, and that I am going to be buying one of the two copies they will ever get in stock, because their store won’t re-order.  “Duran Duran just doesn’t sell.”, she tells me.

At this point, I’m leaning up against a shelf, trying to steady myself because I can tell my fever is back up and running again.  I go and buy the copy, being congratulated by the clerk for making them find the album, and I run out of the store – ready to listen to all of the songs to my hearts content.  FINALLY.

I’ve listened to most of the album at this point, and I’m looking over the packaging with a fine tooth comb.  Later as I am gripping a box of kleenex, my blankie (yes, I have a blankie – it’s an afghan that my grandma crocheted for me when I was about 4 and went into the hospital to have my tonsils out) and a pillow – I will watch the DVD.  Tomorrow, I will comment.

Until then, have fun finding the CD.  I do have plenty to say about this release and the various “exclusive deluxe copies that you can’t buy anywhere else!”, but I’ve decided that until I can think clearly – I’ll wait to comment.  I’m at least that kind….sometimes.

-R

It’s Katy Kafe time!!

I think my lucky stars must all be in alignment today…or this week/month, etc.  I probably shouldn’t waste the time to dwell on it too much, but I can’t help but feel like the winds of change have actually turned in MY direction for a brief moment.   It was just announced this morning that  Duran Duran will have special guests Kelis and Mark Ronson with them in LA for the show at The Mayan – and I read from Simon (at least I believe it was Simon – if it was John I sincerely apologize) on twitter that the show that night will be about 2 hours in length.  That is fantastic news for all of the fans!   I am so thrilled to be able to see Mark with the band, and of course knowing that Kelis is going to be there is extra exciting! (have to believe we’ll be seeing Leopard unveiled for the first time that night…)  It’s going to be a long wait until Wednesday evening!

If that all weren’t enough – which I believe it is – there was a Katy Kafe with John Taylor put up on DDM last night.  I just gave it a good listen, and I’m pretty tickled to be able to comment on one of it’s topics in the blog today.  Specifically I would like to focus on John’s thoughts regarding Twitter; primarily because he speaks directly about the connection that fans are making, both with the band (he and Simon) – and one another.

The one sentence that I found to be the most profound in everything that John mentioned on Katy Kafe was that Twitter is really giving the fans the opportunity to be more connected.  That connection gives the fans a sense of unity and power – he couldn’t have been more “right on” had he tried.  I believe that it’s the very reason that fan communities exist and thrive.  Fans strive for that connection.  They want to know they aren’t the only people on the planet that feel that certain way about whatever it is they are fans of.  The need for connection isn’t limited to only music fans – it’s everywhere.  It amplifies the enjoyment someone might receive from going and participating in shows, games, etc.  For example, I’ve always said that while shows were always fun before I really knew people in the community – the very best concerts I’ve been to (specifically in the case of Duran Duran) have been the ones that I’ve attended with friends.  I can’t imagine traveling to the UK alone to see the band, in fact, I don’t think the idea ever even entered my head until I really got involved in the community!   The interesting thing that I think John is missing, through no real fault of his own, is that this FAN connection existed before Twitter, and even before Facebook.  Message boards created that sense of community – and before that there were fanzines and even earlier – fan clubs, to a very limited extent, lit the fire in the bellies of the communities that exist today.  There is however, one real difference between the fan clubs and message boards and Twitter – and that is band involvement.  Sure, the band was somewhat involved with their fan club – they might have signed a welcome letter that was sent to new members.  They might have done an interview or two for a fanzine, or taken special photos that went out to the fan clubs, but all of that was purely static involvement.  Twitter and Facebook are entirely different animals.  They require time, although as John openly states – they shouldn’t be slaves to it.  (I hope they don’t feel as though they are, because that would completely change, if not ruin, the effect it’s having)  They require energy, and to some degree – I really believe they require some caring on the part of the band.  That emotion does make a difference.  Fans can tell when the band isn’t into it, and there’s no bigger turn off than seeing a band member look like he’s just “phoning it in” for the sake of being able to say he was there and did his duty.  When it gets to that point, they ought to just do themselves a favor and take a vacation.   I think the fans have been connected for quite a while now, but having the band take an active interest – seeing that they at least SEEM to want to connect with their fans in return, has made all of the difference.

I know that for me, and I’m just an average fan like anyone else, having the band involved has kind of taken the whole idea of being involved in the community up a notch.  Let’s be honest and fangirl-like for a second here: who amongst us ever thought in our once 12 year old heads that we’d EVER have a chance to really chat with John Taylor?  Who thought that Roger would comment about us BY NAME on his facebook wall or have Simon directly mention us in a tweet reply?   Granted, I’ve never had any of that happen yet – but that’s not really the point.  I’ve seen it happen with other fans.  I see that John takes an interest in what we think.  Simon seems to like getting some of the corniest jokes I’ve ever read from us…and Roger, well, Roger is just as sweet on Facebook as I’d hoped.  (Yeah, he’s still a favorite.  Old habits die hard.  Sue me.)  I don’t even think they have the time to read many of our replies, but the hope probably exists in all of us that at some point, they just might read what we have to say, and will comment back.  Three years ago, the best I could have hoped for was a chance meeting.  Now there are three of the four members actively seeking our involvement.  I don’t know what to say about Nick there, except that I hope at some point he feels comfortable enough to try it out.  Regardless, I have to think back to the days during Astronaut, or even Red Carpet Massacre, where it was clear that there was some discord in the masses (fans).  I think it was then that I started losing my way in the community.  I had friends, I was connected with the people I chose to be connected with, and after that, there just didn’t seem to be much left.  My friends were going to be my friends whether I loved the band and what they were doing or not.  I didn’t feel very attached to the band, and I certainly didn’t love the album enough to feel connected to that either.  The band, to me, felt very unattached to the fans.  It didn’t seem as though they really knew or cared as to what kept us together as a unified group.  It’s not just about the band and whether or not they keep going – it’s about the fans as well.  Personally, I felt so disconnected to the band, I really started questioning whether or not I still belonged in the fan community.  Perhaps I’d really outgrown my place.  I searched for that feeling, that connection – hoping that I’d feel something, ANYTHING.  As my group of friends started to dwindle – people went off in different directions as their lives moved on, I kept up hope.  It very much felt like the fan community was fading, and to be honest – I worried that time was up for the band.  Then the announcements and snippets from the new album started coming out, and then John and Simon got involved on Twitter, and at some point prior – Roger used his Facebook page more effectively.  I can’t say that the change was instant, but it’s obvious that for many fans, including myself, this has made all of the difference.

It’s not just about the music.  After 30 years of involvement with the band, they are a part of our everyday lives in many ways.  We fans feel like we know them (of course in reality we only know who they want us know!), and now it feels as though they are getting to know us in return.  The once “one-way” relationship is now “two-way”.  That, my friends, is the real difference.  What was once purely a connection between fans of a band is now a circle of relationships that includes the band.

It’s refreshing to hear that John has picked up on the importance of the one monumental benefit that Twitter provides, especially for celebrities and bands.  I know that when Twitter first started getting real press, I was very cautious about it’s purpose.  I just didn’t think it was necessary for a fan to know absolutely everything about the celebrity they were choosing to follow – nor did I feel it was that important for me to tweet about going to pick my kids up from school and so forth.  Who cares??  The trick is that it takes only but a tweet or two about things that DO matter in order to spur interest or to create a connection.  Sure, John could have chosen to tweet AT us, never bothering to reply or answer, but he really doesn’t do that.  He tries to bring us along for the ride, so to speak.  Simon, on the other hand – will sit up for hours, braving the Oscars just to tweet with fans.  Granted, he may have told us all to shut up, and he might have even fallen asleep at the computer or even tweeted that poor Kirk Douglas looked like he was talking out of his ears  (gotta love Simon’s tweets…), but he was at least trying.  Let’s face it – we fans are tough to handle at times.

I know plenty of people in the community that won’t agree with that statement.  They’ll say that the fans don’t matter, that we’re a dime a dozen, and that the band would keep going whether we’re here or not.  I call foul.  The fans DO matter, and while I’m not saying we call the shots (Not in the least, nor should we.) – my assertion is that without the fans, the band would have no real purpose, and without the band, well, there really wouldn’t be a fan base.  It’s a two way street, and in reality it’s really much more than that.  We need each other to thrive as a community.

-R

ITV’s One Night Special

I just got done watching the ITV One Night Special via my computer.  Before I comment about the show, I want to acknowledge how wonderful technology is.  When I was a kid, I would have killed to have a chance to watch specials airing in other parts of the world like this!  The format of the show was pretty typical with both live clips and interviews surrounding telling the history of the band.  There is nothing wrong with the format, but I have to admit that I want more.  I always want more.  Perhaps, I want something different because there are and have been so many shows like this one.  Maybe, it is a sign that I have been a fan for WAY too long.  LOL.  Nonetheless, I did enjoy the show immensely and really got me excited to see them live again!

There were many, many positives about this particular show.  First, I thought the band looked fabulous!!!  They looked great, both in the live clips and in the interviews.  They seem both happy and healthy as well as rested.  All good.  I noticed that the clothes they have been wearing aren’t like what they were doing for the last tour/album.  For RCM, they wore a kind of uniform in which everyone looked basically the same.  This time around they seem to be themselves more.  Everyone seemed to be wearing what they wanted to.  Yes, the clothes seem to be all dark and of a similar style but not so singular.  I appreciate this because it feels like they aren’t trying TOO much while still caring.  Another positive was their live performance for many of the tracks.  I thought they exhibited a lot of energy, especially for A View to a Kill and Notorious.  They performed the new tracks with some excitement, too, in my opinion.  Of course, there were some songs that they seemed to lack this energy or I lacked energy in hearing them.  Who knows?!  Nonetheless, I thought they sounded good, for the most part.  I enjoyed seeing some of the usual live moments like clapping at the end of Rio, Simon’s kick in the Reflex and punches during Notorious.  The strings were unexpected and a nice touch.  One thing that I thought was cool was having all of their different logos in the background during the song introductions.  It shows both their history and their focus on details.

Of course, I didn’t think that everything was perfect.  (Do I ever?!)  I loved the interviews and always do.  I consistently feel like I get something out of hearing and reading interviews from them.  It may just be a little glimpse of who they are and what they think but that’s enough for me.  These interviews seem to stay on the surface and suffered from what a lot of Duran specials seem to suffer from these days.  They try to hit a few big topics but don’t have the time to dive into any of the topics.  Yes, I realize that it must be incredibly difficult to decide what to cover and how to.  I just wish that it wasn’t always about how they band formed, how videos led to their success, and the price they paid from partying.  There was a little bit said about them currently.  I just wish that they would decide if it is a biography or a current events piece.  Then, I’m always left wondering why it is always a female interviewing them?  Why?  Does anyone have any idea?  Is this how the shows will get male viewers?  Is this because Duran has had more females than males fans?  Do they seem non-threatening?  What?  Then, of course, I had some criticism of the live footage.  Why can’t they acknowledge Dom, Anna and Saxy Simon?  Is that too hard to do?  Why they aren’t acknowledged, that always feels a little disrespectful to me.  Then, what the heck is with focusing on Dom during the one moment of JoSi during Sunrise?  Is it done to personally torture me?  I love Dom and want him to get the footage he deserves but not during JoSi!!!  Lastly, what is the deal with all of the fan shots?  Personally, I want to see as much as the band as possible.  Is that so wrong?! 

Yet, despite all of my criticism, I’m still left with a little smile on my face.  Why?  The last segment really touched me when they were talking about why they continue to do this.  I noticed that John referred to the band as “home” and Roger said something about being “accepted.”  Strangely or interestingly enough, I think the fans feel the same way.  We, too, feel at home with Duran and with other Duranies, if lucky.  We feel an acceptance when we join and participate in fandom, too.

-A 

Setlist Reactions…So Far

Next week, my writing partner will be seeing Duran perform live.  I should also be receiving my tickets for the Chicago show.  We have also heard that other people have begun to receive their tickets for the UK shows.  With all of these signs indicating that shows will be coming up quickly, I decided to take a really good look at their setlists so far.  Now, before I analyze what they have been like, I want to acknowledge how difficult this task must be for them.  I realize that they have a ton of material to choose from and I know that they have to balance pleasing us diehards who want to hear really obscure material with those people who only know the hits. 

It seems like Duran usually develops a pattern in their setlists with every tour.  While I know that there might be some changes here and there, some songs in a particular order seem to get locked into place.  This is the first thing I look for when examining the most recent setlists, which included the Superbowl Fan Jam, Milan, special London show, Austin and Oklahoma.  While I’m struggling to find much a pattern (perhaps due to the differences between playing at a festival vs. a solo show), I do see some.  First, all of the shows, except for last night’s in Thackerville, opened up with A View to a Kill or the Bond Medley.  Last night, they opened with All You Need Is Now.  I’m fascinated with this idea of a AVTAK first.  It seems to me that when they are introducing a new album, it is common for them to have the first single or the first track of the album be the opener.  For example, during the Astronaut tour, they opened with Sunrise.  During RCM, they opened with the Valley.  I wonder why they have avoided doing this until last night.  In my personal opinion, I think AYNIN would be a great opener.  The beginning part of the song is definitely jarring (in a good way, I think) and would grab people’s attention and increase energy and excitement.  Thus, I hope this change is how it stays.  That said, I also admit that I’m done with AVTAK.  Over it.  Sick of it.  Second, the second song in all of these shows has been Being Followed.  Clearly, this is one of the new tracks that they are feeling comfortable playing.  They have also played Girl Panic at every show but later in the show.  In fact, that song is being played before either Sunrise or Careless Memories, depending on if Careless Memories is in the setlist at all.  I think that is a solid set of songs.  I approve.  Third, the only other new songs that they have played are Runway Runaway for 3 shows, Safe for the last 3 shows, Leave a Light On for 2 shows, and Mediterranea for 2 shows.  Is anyone else surprised that they aren’t doing The Man Who Stole a Leopard?  Clearly, it is a fan favorite and I thought they would put it back-to-back with the Chauffeur.  I think they are missing something by leaving it out.  I don’t understand it, especially since I know that I saw a tweet from John saying that they were rehearsing it.  Also, what about Blame the Machines?  I would gladly take those two over LALO and Safe.  Am I the only one?  Fourth, the last song has been Girls on Film for these shows.  I’m okay with that but it might seem weird to have Rio before it.  Interestingly enough, they haven’t always played Rio-only 3 out of 5 shows, in fact.  The ending also seems to consistently have Sunrise in it.  I love that one live so that works for me.  Some shows have had Careless Memories and Wild Boys towards the end as well.  I’m a fan of that, too.  Lastly, the other thing I noticed is that they seem to be swapping more of the older songs, which is a great plan.  I would love to NOT know what I might be hearing next.  For example, they busted out with Ordinary World a couple of times, The Reflex a couple of times, Is There Something I Should Know once, Friends of Mine a few times, and The Chauffeur once.

My overall reaction to these setlists is probably like all of yours.  There are some things I like.  Some things I don’t like.  I’m surprised by some things and not by others.  I like that they are playing some of the new tracks but I would like to pick some different songs as mentioned above.  I like that they are mixing up some of the older songs but definitely would pick different ones there.  I could do away with Hungry Like the Wolf and Come Undone and I’m missing Planet Earth (my favorite) already. Am I the only one who would love a little Hold Back the Rain?  I find it interesting that the only song from the last two albums that they are playing is Sunrise.  There has been nothing from Red Carpet Massacre.  Perhaps, that is not surprising.  Although, I really do love Red Carpet Massacre, the song.  I also noticed that they aren’t playing Save a Prayer at all, either.  I’m okay with that.  What will be interesting from here is to see if the setlists change as they get further into the tour or when they go from the US to Mexico or from the US to the UK.  Now, I could always offer them my ideal setlist if they begin to struggle with this task!

-A

Past and Future

Some days in Duranland, I’m completely focused on what is currently happening with the band and there is a ton happening, including new leaked material, new shows, new interviews, etc.  I suspect that I will add some commentary about some of those things before this weekend finishes.  Today, however, I’m going to celebrate both my news of the week and an important show that took place six years ago on this very date!

As many of you have heard through both this blog and via social networking, I, finally, received approval from work to go on my trip to see the band in the UK in May.  I won’t get into the details here, but it was a long and painful month as I kept calling and checking and begging to be allowed to go.  This trip is more than just a tour for Rhonda and I as we both feel it is important to check in with the Duran fandom in their home country before we wrap up the book.  How can we truly talk about Duranies, if we are only covering American ones?  Yes, we realize that we are still not examining so many other places filled with Duranies, which sucks.  We would love to be able to get a flavor for all Duranies.  Unfortunately, our real lives do not allow for that.  Neither one of us has the time or the money to do that, especially within a few months. We both really want to finish the book as quickly as possible so we had to grab our opportunity when it presented itself.  Anyway, I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to go and am so looking forward to meeting so many people when we are over there!  Yeah, I’m excited about the shows, too!  One of the things that will be special for this tour is that Rhonda and I are actually doing VIP.  We aren’t doing VIP for every show (trips like this are SUPER expensive), but will enjoy what we can! 

Rhonda and I don’t typically VIP.  We have had good luck with regular presales, especially with how it used to be with those Tier 1 seats through DDM.  Thus, we always felt we had a good shot of getting decent seats so VIP wasn’t super necessary.  We have VIPed twice before, though, and the first time happened six years ago today.  We attended the Chicago show at the All-State Arena together in 2005.  It was a significant show for us for a variety of reasons.  Yes, it was memorable because we went VIP, but more importantly, it was our first show together.  There was a fairly large group of us who decided to VIP for that show, including a number of people who flew in for it.  Rhonda was one of those people.  We had only met a few months earlier at a Duran convention in New Orleans, but had hit it off pretty quickly over a few drinks on Bourbon Street and singing publically to Rio (that’s a story for a whole other blog!).  Therefore, it seemed perfectly normal to be planning to go to a show together.  After much discussion, the group decided on who was going to get the tickets and how many as there were too many of us to buy our tickets all together.  I volunteered to buy the tickets for Rhonda, myself and another friend of ours. 

The show was amazing.  I often wonder if the show was really that good or if the setting made it so good!  Obviously, we had good seats.  Third row in front of John Taylor, in fact.  The arena is a large one-probably seats about 20,000 or close to it and it was packed.  The energy of the crowd was awesome!  The band seemed playful and really into it despite missing Andy Taylor that night.  For me, it was also the first Duran show I had seen in awhile, which probably always enhances my enjoyment.  Yet, I also think my concert partners made a difference in what I thought about that show.  I will never forget singing “We are Family” with them when the band dived into that song from Notorious.  I will also never forget the look on Rhonda’s face during Tiger Tiger.  I remember laughing with thousands of my closest friends about the fact that Roger’s drums had a problem after Wild Boys.  I’m sure that Rhonda thinks fondly of how I threatened her life when she got in the way of my viewing of JoSi.  Overall, everything seemed to fit together.  The songs, the band, the crowd, and my people were all together creating an incredible experience.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the rest of that weekend was amazing as well with another show the following night, lots of late night conversation and laughter, drinks, and more. 

The next VIP experience I will have will be with the same people and a new addition in Birmingham.  While I doubt that anything can really compare to that night six years ago, I’m hoping that Brum has at least a little of that magic. 

-A

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

I don’t mind telling you all that today’s blog is going to be shorter than normal because I’m neck deep in UK planning.  🙂  That’s right – we’re back to planning!

Before I go further, I just want to take a moment and express my sorrow, concern and hope for those who are living in Japan.  My husband has co-workers and friends there, my daughter’s dance teacher is there right now, and we hope everyone is as well as can be expected.  I consider ourselves to be extremely lucky – he was in Japan exactly one week prior to the earthquake – a week earlier than he’d originally planned.  Unfortunately it seems as though the news gets more dire with each passing day.  I know that Americans can seem overly concerned about themselves and not really be aware of what is truly going on elsewhere in the world – and while I won’t argue that point (sadly it’s true) – my thoughts are with those in Japan.

Now for our daily dose of excitement!  Our big snag in the UK trip has been untangled, and I’m thrilled to be completely stressed about buying train tickets in advance, finding hotels and all of that good stuff.

If only I had the nerve to submit a question to the DD roundtable that Katy does with the band…my question would be “What is the fastest way to get from London Heathrow to Birmingham (New Street) the day of your show.  Is it better to take the train (even though I hate the idea of having to transfer in central London, which seems REALLY counter intuitive….), should we go ahead and pay a taxi, or better yet – can one of you pick us up on your way??

I’m kidding about that last part.                Mostly.

Driving ourselves is NOT an option.  First of all, I don’t want to kill anyone, including myself, and that whole driving on the left thing – forget that nonsense, especially with jet lag!  Secondly, if the first reason weren’t enough for you, I just don’t know what to say.

Oh, and if you have good suggestions, and if someone could explain the Oyster card to me – brilliant!  I understand the concept of the card, but I don’t know if it would really benefit to have one.  For much of our trip, we’ll be outside of London – going from Heathrow to Birmingham, then from Birmingham to Nottingham, next day would be Nottingham to Liverpool, then I think we’re going to back to Birmingham for a day, and then to London to finish out the trip.  What is the best way to do all of that??  Buy in advance?  Get a railcard of some sort?   To someone from the US who is used to just jumping in the car and sitting in traffic on the freeway, this tends to make my head swim.  Never mind what happens when I made the mistake of downloading a rail map….holy cow.

Well, I am off to find a hotel for Birmingham.  We already have the hotel for our first night, but Amanda and I are going back for an additional night before we head to London for the show at O2.  We’re not sure where to stay, but we do want to be near restaurants, shopping, nightlife and that sort of thing.  Any ideas? Send them to dailyduranie@gmail.com or post them here!  Thanks a bunch!!

-R