DDHQ asked their typical Question of the Week today – wondering what show we would attend if we had a time machine.
At first, I gasped at the enormity of the question. Forty years of gigs seems like quite a few to wade through before settling on an answer. Do I go to the biggest one? Was there one show that I regret not being able to attend more than any other? Hell if I know!!
Suddenly, the answer became clear, which I’ll admit —is strange. I mean, we’re talking about an answer coming to me over the course of composing a single tweet, but it did. As easily as flipping a switch to turn on a light bulb, I knew exactly what I would choose.
In 2005, I did something that was so far beyond anything I could have ever dreamed for myself – I still think about it from time to time. I boarded a plane headed for Chicago. Once I got there (late night on St. Patrick’s Day, no less), I took a shuttle bus to a nearby hotel (The Doubletree near O’Hare) that was christened the Duranie Dorm. Inside, I was immediately greeted by people I hadn’t seen in six months. I don’t think I can properly describe the warmth, happiness and pure joy that spread like a bright light – going from the pit of my belly through to the ends of each of my fingers and toes. In that moment, I felt every bit of the Duranie magic that I have longed for in the years since. I was a part of the crowd: wanted, welcomed and included.
The following night, Amanda, my friend Jessica and I went to the All State Arena. First, we attended the VIP cocktail party – which by the way, was much nicer than they are today. I don’t mean that the food was better or that the drinks were fancy – it wasn’t that. It was the energy of the room. This was before the days of a fan hierarchy, before we were all aware of ourselves, so to speak. We were all there as fans from the 80s, looking to make good on a promise to ourselves to see this band play new music live. It didn’t matter who knew them, who had met them, or who had photos with them as much as it did that we were all there together in that room. Rather than listen with jealous ears over the tales of previous chance band encounters, most of us listened with thoughts of “could that really happen to me?” Our hearts and souls may have even answered that question with “Maybe. You never know.”
Once we heard the beginning sounds from Clear Static, the opening band – we raced down to our seats in the third row, right in front of where John would later stand. I still can’t quite believe I was there. Nearly fifteen years later, it feels like it was all a dream. We stood, danced and cheered for Clear Static. and then—we heard the heartbeats indicating that the band, the one we came to see, was in front of us.
I can distinctly remember being so nervous—I mean, John AND Roger were directly in front of us, smiling away—I couldn’t make my camera work. I fumbled with it, my hands shaking. Third row was so freaking close!! The rest of the show comes back to mind in teeny bits and pieces, so fragmented in my memory now that I can never be sure if it was something that happened that night or one evening later in Milwaukee. John grinning at us, Roger twirling his stick, and some guy playing guitar over in the far corner of the other side of the stage – trying to hide in the wings and not draw attention to himself (This was one of the shows when Dom stepped in for Andy while he was gone).
Afterwards, we squealed, talked, celebrated and basked in the afterglow. I’ll never forget it.
For me, my fandom isn’t defined by the things I didn’t have the chance to do (oh sure, I still think about that 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour from time to time), but by the experiences I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy. That night, and really – the entire weekend – was magical.
In many ways, I think that in the fifteen years since that show, I have continually tried to recreate that experience. It was the first concert I went to with not just one friend, but many. I had never traveled to see Duran Duran, or any band for that matter, so that was a first for me. The fan community felt far more like a warm hug than the rabid, cannibalized mob it tends to morph into whenever the band has been present in the years since. I can’t say times were so much better, but my own experience as a fan was shaped by that gig. I’d gladly do it all again.