Review: Duran Duran Performs on the TODAY Show

My fellow Duranie Stephanie and I entered the chance to win Fan Passes for the band’s Today Show performance on September 17 . We live in Western New York, so the travel time to New York City is at least 6 hours. Not to mention, we both have jobs with limited time off, so our attitude was if we get passes, we’ll just figure out how to go. We really didn’t expect to win them at all. But then Stephanie got the email a week before the show saying she won a Fan Pass (good for 2 people). Our conversation together went something like this:

“Holy cow!”

“Can we do it?”

“Would we be able to take the time off with such short notice?”

“Can we afford to go?”

“It doesn’t matter – we are going!!”

So after an abnormally long train ride, we finally get to NYC around 11 pm. We decided to go to a bar near Penn Station and the sign outside says “Welcome Madonna fans!” Wait – what??? Madonna was at Madison Square Garden that night? That was just a block away! How cool would that have been if we could have seen that show too?!

Back to Duran-land: The Fan Pass instructions said they would start letting people in at 5:30 am and no one would be let in after 6 am. We decided to get there around 5:00 and figured we’d be early enough. We knew that we couldn’t get front-row spots because there’s a VIP section between the stage and the Fan Pass section. But we would be closer than the general admission audience, so we’ll just see what we can get. We saw on Facebook that some fans were there around midnight. We decided that if we were going to stay up all night, we’d prefer to spend the time having a few pints and some food. (I know, I never said we were the most hardcore fans! Just hardcore enough to skip work and travel to NYC for a free show.)

So we got to the Fan Pass line around 5 am. We waited. And waited. I met some (of course) nice people in line and we all commiserated about how early it was.

Today_PreDawn

Today_Waiting

Finally we received our passes which certified that yes, we are now official FANS!

Today_FanPass

(*Before judging our appearance in the photo, please remember that we stayed up all night before the show!)

It was after 6 am and we still hadn’t been let into the plaza. Now we were starting to get a little angry – and you don’t want to anger Duranies at this hour of the morning. But shortly after 6, a couple black vehicles pull up to the plaza entrance and we heard some fans squealing. Clearly the band had finally arrived. I debated whether the delay was due to Nick’s primping, John getting his hair to defy gravity, or Simon squeezing into his pants. Whatever the reason, we were all glad they finally arrived! Having been at the last-minute-cancellation in Atlantic City in 2012, I was starting to feel like this show might not happen either. But the boys were here – and we were all eager to see them.

Having watched the Today Show concerts on the plaza, I had an idea of what the venue would be like. However, once I was actually there, I realized (spoiler alert) it was a lot smaller than it appeared on TV. But frankly my reaction was, “Well then, I’ll be even closer to the stage than I thought I would be!” As you can see from the sound check photo, it was still pretty dark out when we were let into the plaza. It was rather strange to watch a show that started in the dark and ended when it was light. But as weird as it was for me, it has to be much weirder for the band.

Today_Soundcheck

We get into the Fan Pass area and the band is already doing their sound check and rehearsal. To me, this was the coolest part of the experience. Maybe some of you have been at shows where you’ve seen the band do sound check. This was such a treat and a unique experience. I loved that we saw them in their street clothes. We heard their songs multiple times, starting and stopping mid-song. I was thrilled to see that Kiesza was going to perform with them because “Last Night in the City” is my (current) favorite track off Paper Gods. And every time they played it, I loved it even more.

Today_Soundcheck_Kiesza

It was hard to tell if the band was in “sound check mode” or if they were grumpy for having to play so early in the morning. Of course the fans were all excited and we had our second wind and were ready for the show! Simon was a little playful with the crowd but I was hoping for a little more. They finished up sound check and left the stage, so we didn’t know how long it would be until they played again. I think a producer from the Today Show gave us the times the band would be on, but we didn’t listen too closely. I was secretly hoping the band would play an entire concert, but knew that was a little too much to hope for. However I was thankful for whatever we could get.

Here’s the setlist as it happened in real-time:

Ordinary World – This was played/filmed first but actually aired in the last hour of the show. I thought it was a downer to start with, and I worried that Simon wouldn’t hit the high notes, but he killed it. In fact the vocals and sound were amazing all around. I saw some chatter online about how the sound on TV wasn’t great. I thought it was awesome in person.

Notorious (snippet) – The show bumped to commercial with this one. If you watched the show and felt like you got cheated out of the song, don’t worry – we did too. What you saw is all we got.

Last Night in the City (with Kiesza) –  If you watch the video you see around 2:52 Kiesza misses the start of her solo verse. She kept missing it in rehearsal too. Methinks Le Bon got Le Pissed.

Hungry Like the Wolf – Overplayed or not, the guys still sold it. And I think this was the one that the crowd was most enthusiastic about.

Pressure Off –  When introducing the band, Savannah Guthrie was a little flustered and called the new album “Paper Goods”. She was standing so close to JT I would have been flustered too.

Today_Savannah

Save a Prayer – This one they played just for us in the plaza. I’m not sure how others felt, but I was kind of bummed that this was the last song. I’m so used to them ending on an upbeat song that it felt pretty weird for that to be the final song.

I was convinced that they’d play Sunrise given that, well, we were all there together for the sunrise that day. And it’s definitely one that the crowd gets into. Next time guys, OK?

Watching the show back on my DVR, I really enjoyed seeing the little bits when the anchors talked to the audience and showed us arriving pre-dawn. Speaking of the anchors, (a) Carson Daly has piercing blue eyes! I wasn’t standing too close to him but man, those are some sparkly blue eyes! And (b) we saw Dylan Dreyer after the show and man, she is tiny!

I had a great time chatting with fans around us. One woman said it was her first time seeing the band ever. I told her it’s never too late! And to be able to see them that close for free, what a way to see your first show!

Having been to a handful of Duran shows now, I really try to not be stuck behind my camera or phone and fret about getting a great photo or the best video. I really wanted to soak in this unique opportunity and have no regrets. My only regret is that we didn’t show more enthusiasm because then we would have been picked to go down in front of the stage and dance. That would have been incredible, however I was a little camera-shy because I was sort of playing hooky from work, so I wasn’t anxious to be all over the TV screen. Next time Steph, OK?

Thanks to my friend and partner in crime for inviting me to be her +1. I had a wonderful adventure and can’t wait to see them on tour in 2016. If you ever have a chance to start your day with a Duran Duran show, I highly recommend it!

Story & videos from the Today Show

-PamG

4 thoughts on “Review: Duran Duran Performs on the TODAY Show”

  1. Love it! Thanks for sharing. I was also at the AC show they cancelled a few years ago although I did see them in DC too for the AYNIN tour. I entered for the fan passes thinking I wouldn’t get selected. So when I got the email I think I screamed. jumped up and dow, and took 10 years off my life. My hubby and I made the 4 hour trip from WV( he isn’t a huge fan, but went for me). The whole experience, in my opinion was, AMAZING. I got a wristband to go to the front and it was so exciting! Can’t wait for the US tour!

    1. That’s awesome Tammy! Seeing a unique show like that one makes it worth the trip! I’m jealous that you got to go up front – next time I hope to be up there with you!

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