Bet you didn’t think we were gonna cover it, did ya??? Well…obviously Amanda and I couldn’t cover the MoMA event, as neither of us were there…but we had a couple “Special Daily Duranie Contributers” at the event that were more than happy to share their experiences with us, and the first of which appears just below. Enjoy! (and go ahead and be envious…we certainly are!!) – R
First, thank you to Rhonda and Amanda for giving me the opportunity to write this blog.
Over the past several years, I’ve had the opportunity to attend several exclusive Duran Duran fan events- I purchased VIP tickets, won radio contests, and was invited to be a guest for a Meet & Greet. Like many other Duran Duran fans, I’ve learned that having high expectations for these special occasions can lead to disappointment. How many times have we heard fans complain that a band member wasn’t in a good mood during a meet and greet or that the events started late, fans were rushed, and in general, things never measured up to what was advertised? Well, I’m ecstatic to report that last night, the American Express VIP Reception exceeded every expectation! From start to finish, the night was pure perfection.
I know there was controversy over this event from the time the band posted the links for it on their social media pages. Links for the ticket sales didn’t work and emails from DDM announcing the sale were received hours after the near instant sell out. Some fans voiced concerns that “real” Duranies weren’t able to get tickets. However, I saw plenty of familiar faces on Monday night. There were probably no more than seventy five fans at the event and people came from everywhere – California, Washington State, Texas, and up and down the East Coast. It’s no wonder this event sold out instantly, at only fifty dollars a ticket and no other concerts or shows the past year, hard-core Duranies had tour money to burn.
The night began at the serendipitously named Il Gattopardo restaurant. Gattopardo means Leopard in Italian. Not only was the restaurant perfectly named, but it was also located almost across the street from the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). Nick himself couldn’t have planned it better. As soon as we checked in, we knew this event was in a different stratosphere from past official Duran Duran fan events. Once receiving our requisite wristbands, we were immediately ushered into a private function room. The space, which was in the basement of the restaurant, featured a mix of high tables and low tables, some of which had reserved signs (more on those later). As you approached the tables, you looked up and discovered that the basement room opened and you were actually standing in a majestic skylight enclosed area between two tall buildings. Throughout the room, white jacketed waiters offered glasses of wine and champagne. If that wasn’t to your liking, there were two full bars with staff ready to mix whatever drink you’d like. Other white jacketed waiters circulated the room with a variety of canapés, some meat, some vegetarian, and even a mushroom risotto, all of the dishes I tried were delicious and filling. By the way, I did mention the open bar, right?
As I said, my friends and I have been to VIP events before and like most Duran Duran fans, we’re used to the concept of Durantime. The reception was to be held from 5:30-7:15 pm. I had taken bets with my friends on what time we thought the band would show. We guessed times ranging from 6:25-6:45 pm and we expected that they would stay for about twenty minutes, line us up for group pictures, then be on their way. I‘ve never been happier to be completely wrong! Around 5:45, Wendy Laister, the band’s manager and of course, Nick’s cousin (you all knew that already) announced that the band would be arriving shortly. She asked that we remained where we were so that they could come to us. There were four professional photographers in the room who would take photos. There would also be members of the Duran team that could take photos with our own cameras. She requested that we not ask the band to sign autographs or to monopolize them by taking multiple pictures with our own cameras.
Rumbles that John had arrived began around 6 pm. I spotted him shortly after that and soon we saw Nick, resplendent in his tuxedo with black feathered bowtie making his way around the room. Roger and Simon were also present. Each band member had a member of the Duran team nearby but there wasn’t a security person like Dave Casillas. What happened next was pure magic. The band spent the next hour and a half working the room. They began in different corners and spoke with every fan, posing for pictures with anyone who wanted them. This was what fans have wanted for years. Fans’ faces reflected the joy of the moment. This was the type of true VIP experience that Duranies have dreamed about. While there were definitely waves of people centering around the band members, I don’t think anyone overstepped their boundaries. Fans were respectful and waited for their turn because we knew it would happen. There wasn’t that desperate feeling that if we don’t get up there, we’ll miss our chance. Yes, they were moving around the room, but you just had to say their names, and they would turn to you, smile and suddenly, you had your moment. The Duran support team were there in case a little more organization was needed, letting fans know “o.k. you’re next to get a picture with Simon.” but it was never chaotic and fans felt they were being helped, not hindered by Duran’s staff.
As for the band members, they were truly rock stars. All were gracious. They smiled and they were happy to answer questions. As the night wore on, they continued to greet fans and make sure that the entire room was covered. While they made their fans happy, Nick’s girlfriend, Nefer, and John’s family including his wife Gela and daughter Atlanta watched this all unfold from those reserved tables. Some fans did approach the tables and all those asked kindly posed for pictures as well. This was remarkably different from the stories I’ve heard in the past when John and Gela tried to dance at a club after one of the Las Vegas shows and fans were overwhelming. This time, while fans were ecstatic, they were never too intrusive. I think in part, it’s because we knew the band was being open and inclusive and we never felt that fear of missing out that often surrounds those moments when fans and band are in the same space.
I asked more than one person in attendance and they all agreed this was the best fan event they’d ever attended. Fans spoke of how they’d waited thirty years to have that special moment with their favorite band members and how this was a night they’d never forget. Smiles beamed in every direction. My own face hurt from smiling so much.
Now for the good stuff: info about album #14.
During the Q&A, someone had asked about the album and Simon quipped that it would be done when it was finished.
Well earlier, I was there when a friend asked Nick and he believes the album will be out by the end of May, that’s what they’re aiming for.
As for what this next project will sound like, Nick said this album is different from AYNIN.
It’s more dance oriented, and while there is guitar, it’s less prominent than on the previous record.
The band does intend to tour once the album is released, which they’ve stated several times recently.
Hopefully there’ll be a tour to look forward to this time next year!
I have no idea if the AMEX
VIP Reception will be a blueprint for future events, but its success last night proves that the band can do these type of events and that they can be affordable for fans.
No, we didn’t get a tee-shirt or a laminate but we got something so much more important.
I have no idea if the band enjoyed the experience but it was clear in the faces and words of every fan
there last night, that it would be remembered as one of the best nights in these fans’ lives.
MichDuran’s history as a Duran Duran fan can be summed up as follows: Duranie since ’83, John Girl, DDM’s Michduran, COTBG #171, Duran Trivia Snob, and New England Leopard Lady. She is lucky to have met the best group of fans and friends in the world and she is so glad most of them were with her on Monday night. Her ultimate Duranie dream is to see the band live in their hometown of Birmingham. If she ever wins the lottery, there will be a private concert in her new beach front back yard, admittance depends on knowing the correct name of the instrument Simon plays during The Chauffeur. This blog is dedicated to Susan Grace, our Duranie angel up above.