Tag Archives: Agua Caliente

Blog Pick 2016-2017: Turnabout is Fair Play

This is my final blog pick to round out the seven years we’ve blogged. I could have picked something poignant, or something that maybe encompassed my thoughts….there were plenty to choose from.

Nope. I went with funny. 

I chose this blog because, when it comes right down to it – Amanda and I do two things: 1. We study fandom.  2. WE HAVE FUN.  This post is about having fun, in all it’s glory. For the most part, we started this blog in order to have more fun. Amanda and I laugh a lot when we’re together. Through all of the hard times, the stress, the anxiety, and the rejections – the one thing we’ve worked tirelessly to remind ourselves is that this is supposed to be FUN.  If it stops being fun, it’s time to stop. 

I’m happy to report that it hasn’t stopped being fun. No, we don’t leave ourselves quite as vulnerable as we once did, and yeah – there have certainly been moments when we’ve needed (and given) ourselves a time-out, but I think the number one thing we’ve learned is how to blog on our own terms. When it comes to our love and willingness to give this band a rough time, we don’t mind putting it out there, and the blog below is a great example. 

I still chuckle when I read it, and therefore, it’s worthy of a repost.

I’ll just close by saying that a couple of things haven’t changed in the seven years we’ve blogged: we are still fans, and somehow – Amanda and I have always managed to put our friendship first. That is how we’ve gotten through it all. We still have a blast when we are together, and we still love our own brand of antics. We’re delighted that none of that has turned our readers off yet.  I don’t think either of us ever considered that we’d still be blogging seven years later, and keeping with that attitude – I have no idea what the future will bring. Two things I do know for certain: 1. We will still be fans in seven years. and 2. Amanda and I will still be friends and putting that friendship first. Anything else is a bonus.  -R

Originally posted March 22, 2017

Sorry I’m so late with today’s post. Our morning was wild here, and the afternoon is not faring much easier, as far as time goes!

I think I’m still coming to terms with my weekend, which was amazing. Anytime I can spend the day out by the pool and see my favorite band at night is great, but there were some additional “happenings” that make this particular weekend even better than normal. Those are the things that make me smile when my day might be going rougher than I’d hoped, and help me sleep at night. Or not sleep, I guess.  I’m just gonna leave that thought right there.

In any case, one of the funnier themes of the weekend was that Amanda had no interest in following rules. I probably need to be more clear about that.  For example, I would never dream of, say, telling the band what to play.

Ok, that’s a flat-out lie. The one thing we didn’t do this weekend was tweet out our own super-special set lists! Normally I’m all about telling the band what I think and what to play. This weekend though, I really didn’t care. They could have gotten up there and played just about anything. I believe my expectations for the weekend were summed up like this, “All they have to do is show up, Amanda.”

So when they broke into Only in Dreams on the first night, it took me WAY longer than I care to admit for my brain to sort out what it was I was hearing. Then they followed up with Is There Something I Should Know.

OH MY GOD.

That is my favorite. My all-time favorite song. Ever. I nearly had kittens. It’s not as though I have never heard it before, but to have them play it without expecting it was even better.  But then I knew something was missing. I kept waiting, and no, Planet Earth never showed. I can remember standing there beside Amanda thinking “Holy shit. She really IS going to have kittens!! And she blogs tomorrow, too!!”

So, she was really disappointed. No, the band can’t play their entire catalog, but Planet Earth has been a staple. I can’t remember the last time they didn’t play it, actually. I know she loves it, but I also recognize that sometimes, they have to do something to mix it up. Even so, I didn’t know what Amanda would do.

Fast forward to the following evening. We had a friend at the front and were talking to her during the show when Amanda saw a list taped down at Simon’s spot. Appropriately titled, “Palm Springs Agua Caliente”,  she could read the set list from where she was standing, and I could see she wasn’t happy about what it said. On the other hand, I won’t look at the set lists before the show.  I like being surprised, and I don’t want to know when it’s going to be over.

I liken this to Christmas presents. My sister used to go on a full-on hunt for the gifts when we were little. She would find everything and either be satisfied, or annoyed and disappointment at  what “Santa” was going to bring. One Christmas, I succumbed to her urging.  Using a swivel desk-chair to reach the door to our attic, I tried to find a set of skis I had almost NO chance of getting (and didn’t!) only to fall and sprain my arm because A. I am klutzy and B. I was using a stupid SWIVEL CHAIR. Not my smartest or proudest moment. Robin STILL teases me about that Christmas present hunt to this day. (I love younger siblings.) I learned my lesson. I prefer to be surprised.

Amanda looks up at me and says “It hasn’t changed.”  I wasn’t surprised. This band (sorry guys), hasn’t necessarily been the greatest about changing up the set list from night-to-night lately.  I didn’t know what to say, but Amanda was already digging through her purse, mumbling something about leaving a note.

A note?

WHAT? “Noooooo Amanda, you can’t!” I exclaim, half laughing.  “What if they see it?!?”

The trouble is, I know when Amanda is determined, and she was. My protests weren’t going to stop the inevitable. She was going to leave that note, and there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do about it except laugh along with her. She found an envelope (our ticket envelope, no less) and wrote out “PLANET EARTH!!!” in big letters with a Sharpie.  Great, but where to leave it? I figured she’d throw it up there, and within two seconds of the band getting on stage we’d never see the likes of it again. Easy.

Oh, Amanda had that figured out already. She was going to tuck it in with the existing set list. Amanda kind of climbed up and halfway laid on the stage so that she was able to work the note in and secure it. She hopped down, and shared a laugh with us(mine was somewhat more of a nervous laugh), we knew we were on our way. To hell, I’m sure.

a harmless suggestion, right?? Photo courtesy of Janet McCabe

I felt the blood drain from my face, and went to my seat. Surely they wouldn’t know, because (thank goodness) they don’t know our handwriting!!

Of course, now that I’ve typed this, it’s not secret.

(GOOD THING THEY DON’T READ THE BLOG, RIGHT?!?)

The band comes out for the show. I’m not really sure if Simon ever saw the addition to the set list, but I won’t lie – I giggled at the thought. No, they didn’t play Planet Earth, but I could swear I saw him look down at the note, and then look down at the two of us (three if you count our friend Suzie!) and narrow his eyes more than once. I immediately mouthed “I didn’t do it!” and pointed at Amanda.

Hey, if you can’t throw your best friend under her own damn bus….

and then White Lines began. Now – I love this song and by then, I felt strongly that we were going to experience “The Spit Zone” more than ever before. I was going to enjoy that guitar solo no matter what (and I did, thanks to Dom), but I was worried. I knew we were in front, and from the amount of smack we’ve given that band and particularly Simon over the years, he could let us have it. Again.  Simon went back for his long drink of water, and came back with a mouthful – the kind of mouthful that was going to drench someone, really. I saw Nick smirking out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself, “Here we go!”  I just looked down and felt the fire-hose worth of water spray onto the back of my head and arm. GAH. I looked up and just laughed because at that point, what else could I do?

I have a feeling we had that coming.

Turnabout is fair play. Until next time, anyway. -R

Blog Post 2015-2016: I Don’t Want To Wake Up

I chose the blog below because for me, everything I describe holds up extremely well, even two years later. 

As you will hear and see in the video we are going to post later this week, I think there have been a lot of changes in the way Amanda and I see blogging these days. That said, the one thing that has not ever changed is the basic fact that we are still fans of this band. 

I hope I never forget that night at Agua Caliente for as long as I live. There are times when I am really feeling down, or flat-out stressed out, and the memory of that night makes me smile. I can remember just as they walked off stage, and I triumphantly looked at Amanda and exclaimed “I QUIT!” – loud enough for a certain guitar player to hear, turn around, and grin – because I knew I’d never have another show like that one.

Amanda and I have had a great ride since that night. Not everything has gone according to the plan we had in our heads, but then again – nothing ever does. In any case, if I had to sum up the Paper Gods era – nothing does it better for me than this post.   -R

Originally posted October 12, 2015

Has it really already been a week since I’ve been back home from this Duran Duran tour?!? I don’t even know where the time went. On one hand I feel as though I got back into the swing of things very quickly and feels very much as though I never left. On the other, I can’t believe a week has already gone by.

In many ways I let Amanda take the helm in describing the tour and how the shows were for us – she and I are typically on the same page when it comes to those things, and I knew she would convey exactly how I felt. On the other, I summed up my feelings about that 3-show “tour” with one tweet almost immediately after I walked out of the theatre at Agua Caliente.

“I may as well I may as well stop touring right now because I will never have a better show experience than tonight. Wow.”

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating here again that Amanda and I purchase our own tickets to the shows. We don’t ask the band for tickets.  I had a few people insinuate or flat-out ask, and while it’s a lovely thought that some people believe we matter, I think Amanda and I are well-aware that to 99.99% of the people involved with the band, we’re just a couple of fans who write a silly blog. We get it, and we don’t overstate or over-think our importance. In any case, that night at Agua Caliente, Amanda and I were in for a huge treat. We knew we had front row, but aside from that – we didn’t know much else. Neither of us had been to the venue and we were honestly more concerned with where our seats would be (meaning would we be in front of Simon, John, Nick, or Dom) than where the seats were in regards to the stage.

 As we walked down to our seats at Agua Caliente, we counted the chairs from the aisle and discovered we were right in front of Simon. I mean RIGHT in front. Then we realized there were no barricades between us and the stage. Finally, we quietly marveled that during the show, we could seriously lean our elbows ON the stage. I couldn’t believe it, and to be honest, I still can’t. As show time grew closer, our friends Krista and Sandy took their seats right next to us, and I knew before the band even took the stage that it was going to be the show experience of a lifetime.

It very much was – including being in the “spit zone” (Thank you Krista for taking the brunt of it…willingly…as I ducked behind you.  Yes, I did see you chuckling at our antics, Nicholas. I’m going to continue pretending that Simon did NOT veer ever so slightly in the direction of Amanda and I…We sort of had it coming though, didn’t we?)  There were so many moments during that show for me. Seeing Nick smile during Hungry Like the Wolf (I was a very good sport, thankyouverymuch…epitome of a well-behaved fan!!), watching Simon walking to the front of the stage like a man on a mission with a mouth-full of water as I thought to myself, “Oh boy…here we go…DUCK!”, having John and Dom flank either side of Amanda and I during Planet Earth, watching Roger twirl his drumstick during Sunrise…having Dom come over directly in front of me to play several times throughout the show, and shaking some of their hands at the end of the set.

Can I take a minute to write about the end of their set?? After the finale, they walked to the front of the stage as they typically do to say goodbye. I’m right there, basically becoming good friends with their feet, and examining their shoes and socks. (Nice striped socks, Dom…liked them with the leather pants!) I wish I could properly explain how I felt in that moment, but the words don’t really match the feeling. It was as though electricity was running through my body. I mean, I was inches from these men that I have adored since I was ten years old. I turn 45 next month. That’s a very, very long time. It was as though I couldn’t quite believe what my eyes and ears were telling me as I stood there, frozen to the floor. I didn’t even reach up to shake hands with them, because I couldn’t. I just smiled at them, tried to clap, mostly just stood there in shock (and awe!).

Nick stood in front of me for what felt like a long time, but I couldn’t even move my hand to shake his. It wasn’t out of disrespect, just the opposite really. I meant it when I said that my head couldn’t quite make sense of it at the time. I’m still not sure if I can. I did notice a faint, very quick glimmer of, well…what…recognition maybe??…in their faces as they would smile down at us and make eye contact. I couldn’t even let myself think about that at the time. I had difficulty just getting past the notion that I was standing there right directly in front of them. Yes, I’ve been writing this blog for five years now, and yes, I suppose that by a lot of accounts, I’ve had far more “experiences” with the band than many fans out there. However, I’ve never been right in front of them like this. Not in this way. It felt incredibly surreal. Daily Duranie or not, no matter how many readers we have, or the size of our real audience, or our post-reach on Facebook – I am still a fan. That’s exactly how I felt that night. I am still a fan like anyone else. I needed that.

Do you know what I was thinking about in that moment as they were all standing at the front of the stage?  I was remembering how I would sit on the edge of my bed, in my “Summertime Green” painted bedroom (Nasty, horrid bright green color, with orange carpeting no less.). I would stare at the biggest poster of them I had, which happened to be on my door, and wonder what it would be like to be right in front of them. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d write about them someday, or be in the front row at one of their shows (much less two or three), or actually KNOW what it felt like to be in front of them. Never.  How do you soak up the answers to 35-years worth of daydreams in less than two hours?

As they were leaving, Dom reached down and grabbed my hand and it was only in that second I kind of came back into present long enough to realize that he had my hand – only for a split second – but again, I’m trying to describe how I felt at the time. I’m pretty sure I shook Roger’s hand too, but I can’t remember now.

I don’t think I will ever have a show quite like that again. That thought both exhilarates me and makes me wistful all at once. I know what it’s like to be center “elbows on the stage” front row. I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to experience those feelings. Even if my time never comes again – which likely not – I won’t let the memory slip my mind. I really can’t see what could possibly top those seats, and so when I jokingly yelled out, “I QUIT!!” after the last of the hand squeezes from the band took place and they all left the stage area, it was with the thought that I’d reached the pinnacle of what a fan could really experience.  There isn’t much more to “want”, aside from more of the same, maybe.

Almost oddly, I sit here today typing this thinking to myself that it’s a good thing that Amanda and I have had the chance to do so much, at least from the standpoint of writing and understanding ourselves as fans. I’ve sat in the very LAST row at a show (my very first one), and now I’ve sat in the very front row. I’ve been to the UK, seen Birmingham, walked Cheapside (If you do not know what Cheapside is, we need to talk. Seriously…email me!), had Simon stand directly in front of me, eye-to-eye and explain why the shows cannot go on as planned. I’ve lived through Twitter, Facebook, and message boards. I have had canceled gigs, various guitarists, and favorite band members leaving only to return 20-some years later. I have watched MTV, read magazines like Star Hits and Tiger Beat, as well as rely on getting news solely from the radio and other fans. I’ve completely missed tours, been disappointed with albums, and overjoyed by others. I don’t know if I’ve done it ALL (actually, I know for sure that I have not…), but I know that I’ve experienced a lot, and those adventures, moments, and nuggets of knowledge come in very handy when you’re writing a fan blog.

I know what it is like to be a fan, and I continue to walk the fine line between writing about it, running a blog, and experiencing it as anyone else might. Amanda and I always say we know what fans want because we ARE fans…and that’s the truth. I only hope we continue to cover the things that matter with the same amount of love, affection and excitement as we do right in this moment. I’m looking forward to planning the next set of Duran Duran tour dates, meet-ups, parties, and hopefully a reasonable road trip as we witness the upcoming UK dates from afar.

-R

Palm Springs and Lost80s Live

As I mentioned yesterday, I spent the weekend in Palm Springs. The Lost80s Live concert was at Agua Caliente Resort and Casino again, but this time, I decided to stay off property. My husband and I stayed at a tiny little boutique hotel close to downtown Palm Springs called La Maison. I’m giving them free advertising here because it is wonderful. It’s more of an inn and less of a hotel because it’s owned by a couple that treat their customers like actual guests in their home. There’s a pool, just twelve rooms, and it is QUIET (very unlike my home). In a word, it was heavenly, and I would suggest that anyone who is traveling to Palm Springs check it out.

On Saturday night, we had tickets to the Lost80s Live concert. Let me first acknowledge that any time I drive to Rancho Mirage, or better yet the Agua Caliente hotel, I immediately think about Duran Duran. So, when I drove past a billboard advertising the “Best Entertainment” in Palm Springs, it was no surprise to me that I recognized the people on stage in the background photo. (John, Simon & Dom) I didn’t grab a picture because I was driving and my co-pilot is not that quick. I’m glad I’m not the only one that recognizes what or who deserves the label of “best entertainment”.  After getting to the hotel, we went to will-call and grabbed our tickets. In full disclosure, I paid about $65 a seat, and as such, we were not in the front row. That said, we were still in orchestra, just off to the far left – or John’s side – of the stage.

(Will there ever be a time when I stop referring to the sides as “John’s” or “Dom’s”?  Probably not.)

Our seats were much better than I had even thought, even though we were back in row J and off to the extreme left as you look at the stage. The angle of the seats meant that our view was perfect. The people in front of us didn’t block, and there was AMPLE room for dancing without bothering the people behind us.  I have to say, out of the venues I’ve ever been to – this one has amazing seat layout. There just isn’t a bad seat in the place, even if you’re way up in third balcony.

The show started right on time with TransX taking the stage. The one thing I’ll say is that many of these “bands” really WERE bands back in the day, but nowadays, it’s only one person left playing with session musicians. The bands on the bill were primarily one-hit wonders, with a few bigger names thrown in. They weren’t really “KROQ” or alternative bands, a little more mainstream or top 40. TransX, The Flirts, Pretty Poison all played two songs each, and to be brutally honest – they were fine, just not that exciting to write about.

Now things were beginning to look up. Berlin took the stage next, and although I have seen Berlin about ten times over the years, Terri Nunn always puts on a good show. Tonight was no exception, although she forgot the words to (ha ha ha) “No More Words” about 2/3 of the way through. “I have been singing this song for THIRTY YEARS and I can’t remember the words!!” she said as she laughed. Her backup singer/guitarist kindly obliged, and guided her back on course. It wasn’t horrible, and a mistake easily forgiven.  Berlin was given the chance to do four songs: “No More Words”, “Take My Breath Away”, “Sex” and “Metro”.

The next band was one of the couple I was most excited to see, as  Cutting Crew took the stage.  I didn’t realize that I was going to need to serious research in order to blog about some of these groups – but in this case, I did.

I have never seen Cutting Crew live before, but I own Broadcast, and admittedly – I still know every word to every song on the album.  I have vague memories of playing the cassette over and over again in my (dating myself) Suzuki Samurai (yes, the vehicle that was known for tipping over back in the 80s. Mine never tipped, despite my best…and very stupid efforts…to drive it like a sports car. Someday I’m going to have to find pictures of it and post them here).  Apparently, Duran Duran was not the only band to grace the crappy, cheap stereo system I had for that poor vehicle!!  Once I knew for sure who it was on stage (I didn’t hear anyone announce them), I jumped up out of my seat. To the best of my knowledge at the time, the band onstage were all a part of Cutting Crew, but that was not the case.

Nick Van Eede, the lead singer, said that they’d come all the way from the UK for 15 minutes, but that he hadn’t yet worked out how many miles per minute that meant. They played one new song – “Till the Money Runs Out”, and a precious two songs off of Broadcast: “I’ve Been in Love Before” and “I Just Died in your Arms”.  It has been a long time since I was driven to tears at a show (I lie. It was in San Francisco by the band I’m normally writing about here!), but I was. Sometimes I forget how much these songs shaped me as a person, and I thoroughly enjoyed their set. I hope Cutting Crew comes back to the US with more of what they’ve been writing – I’ll be there in a heartbeat. They could have easily played ALL of Broadcast and I would have happily stood there.

Naked Eyes took the stage next, and for me, the performance just lagged. I don’t know if it’s because it truly wasn’t as energetic or if it was because I wanted more from Cutting Crew…but that’s the way it goes.

Something strange happened next, as two of the guys who had performed with Cutting Crew came back on stage. I was very confused, because I didn’t know who they were – and I actually had hoped that maybe they’d sent Cutting Crew back out for more (keep dreaming, right?) Nope. This was Nick Feldman (the bassist) from Wang Chung, and Gareth Moulton, who is the guitarist (and a fine one at that) from Cutting Crew – moonlighting as the other half of Wang Chung. It’s getting to the point where I feel like a primer is needed before I go to these sorts of shows! They were truly the surprise of the night for me because they were awesome!  Whatever was lacking in certain artists and bands before, these guys made up for it in spades. They just had a spark that was contagious, and the entire audience was up on their feet. I loved their short set, as they treated us to “Dance Hall Days”, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, and “Let’s Go”.  Such fun.

The last band to take the stage was Tony Hadley, whom I reviewed yesterday.  The show was a lot of fun, and I wasn’t the least bit disappointed I went. Going to see these bands reminds me of just how much a part of my heart belongs to music. Yeah, some of it is schmaltzy and uncool – definitely not as edgy as Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Guns and Roses – but they are songs that I’ve attached to certain memories, and it was fun to revisit part of my past that didn’t necessarily include Duran Duran for a little while that night. Lost80s Live was a lot of fun, if you have the opportunity, I recommend the show!

-R

 

 

Happy Birthday Dom!

Any day is a good day when I can wish one of my favorites a very happy birthday!  At 45, he’s still a kid compared to many…but we’ll let that go for now.

I’ve had a special affinity for Dom from almost the moment he started playing with Duran Duran. While it is absolutely true that I idolize Duran Duran – it is hard not to when they are the people in the posters I still have hung on my walls – Dom is a little different.  Let’s face it, for me, Roger Taylor is the fictional, “Knight in Shining Armor.” When I was young, I believed he could do no wrong. I suppose that at least to a certain extent, the same held true for the rest of the band.

After I grew up, my thoughts on that changed, at least somewhat. Even so, I still have their posters, and I think that I’m still a little starstruck. How could I not be? I still sometimes have to pinch myself when I’m at a concert, particularly when I’m near the front, to remind me that yes – this is all real.

Dom joined the band onstage after I was already an adult, and because I met him in person not long after, I don’t really idolize him. At least, not exactly in the same way….or so I keep telling myself.  I mean, there is still plenty of this atrocity going on:

I have to laugh.  I wore my Apple watch that night as a test because I wanted to see what the step meter would do at a concert. (It turns out that I get a week’s worth of steps in…) In other words, I am a total geek. Not that this picture proves otherwise, anyway.

Even though I scream at shows for him (obviously), he seems perfectly normal otherwise. (Yes, HE seems normal. Me? Read on)The thing is, I’ve met Dom before. He’s a nice guy. He’s even done a Q & A for this blog, and I lived to tell about it.

I remember when I emailed him to ask about doing the Q&A. I had to force myself to hit “send” and then nearly ran from the computer. It was a ridiculous display. Thankfully I was here at home and there is no video.

I was amazed by how quickly he responded.

Even so, I’m shy. Super shy.  Not sure if anybody is getting that…. One time, I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe table in Los Angeles at the Ace Hotel and he walked by, going into the hotel. I nearly choked. I didn’t say a single thing. I just watched him walk past. I felt paralyzed in my seat, very much the same way I used to feel when Ken Sears, the object of my middle school crush, would walk by the clarinet section on his way back to the drum section in band. I had it SO BAD for that guy. I think back on those awkward years (yes, years) and I cringe. It took me months to even work up the nerve to say hi to Ken, and by the time I finally got comfortable with him, he moved on to high school. I still had another year in middle school. It was horrible.

So there I was, in my forties and I still couldn’t speak, couldn’t say a thing when Dom walked past. I tweeted about it though…and I still laugh when I think of Amanda looking at me as though I’d grown a third head as I pointed out that Dom had just walked past. I think Amanda was ready to get out of her chair and go grab him herself, and I pleaded with her not to. Yet I tweeted him afterwards, and he responded – probably the only time he has ever responded to me, actually! Needless to say, I felt like an idiot and I’m sure he was amused that I even bothered to tell him how shy I was/am. Yep, I’m socially inept. Love to write, hate to speak in person.

Then there was the time, that same weekend, when I ran into him at a bar. I am pretty sure he went to hug me and I am also pretty sure I dodged it. I don’t even know why. I suppose at the time I was nervously trying to step out-of-the-way of people (it was crowded and that’s my excuse!), and I’m not really a hugger, or at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.  I wanted to fall into a hole in the ground after that, so yay for me!

I did make up for my idiocy about three years later, when I saw him at Agua Caliente in March. I actually got up off of my bar stool and walked through a crowd of people to say hi to him, and I say “actually” because that is not typical “Rhonda” behavior. I’d cower in a corner and maybe wave, but no way would I risk actually walking. (I’m clumsy and always at risk of falling, so no.)

I did wave. Then before my brain registered, I’d gotten up off of my chair, walked over and waited for him to finish taking pictures. It was an out-of-body thing, I’m pretty certain. I remember saying to him that I wasn’t there for pictures and I didn’t want anything signed. I didn’t even get the full sentence out.

He is a good hugger.

Ken Sears would be proud. Don’t google him, though. He’s just some poor man who likely has nightmares about some frizzy haired girl with a clarinet following him in middle school. I should probably apologize to him.

Moving on…he’s a really nice guy. I still say the band is lucky to have him. He’s down to earth, has an incredible work ethic, and is extremely talented. I’ve met him several times now, and I can’t really say we’re friends, but we’re friendly (or else he’s just really nice about humoring me), and I’m glad he’s a part of this crazy family.

I doubt you’re actually reading, Dom – but if so, happy birthday!! I hope you have a fantastic birthday with your beautiful family. I’ll see you in a few weeks!!

-R

Happy Birthday Nick!

Happy Birthday to Nick – our favorite keyboardist!

The word “rapid” comes to mind today.  “The years fly by, in rapid succession.”  I would swear I just wrote a birthday blog for him, and here I am, writing another!

Every year, I try to come up with some sort of personal anecdote when I’m writing a birthday message. It isn’t always easy because I don’t see the band every year (although it’s fantastic when I do!). This year though, I think I might have one!

My favorite “Nick” moment as of late has been at the shows. Since the most recent (for me) was the second show at Agua Caliente in March, I’ll go with that one. In the past few years, I’ve been lucky enough to get good seats at the shows. By “good” I mean that we’re in the first few rows, and I have a decent line of sight to the band. In March though, I was up front and center which afforded me the opportunity to really be able to see every band member and watch their expressions at various times during the show.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it, but “Hungry Like the Wolf” is not my favorite song.  I know, I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it….given that the band plays it at EVERY SINGLE SHOW.  Well, as the opening chords begin, I have a difficult time of not rolling my eyes. I can’t swear to it, but I think the band might know this, because there have been moments when I would swear upon a stack of bibles that some members look my way when it starts just to see my reaction. Typically, I hang my head in defeat for a brief second, then remember that – oh yes, they can see me (whether or not they really do isn’t the point) – and I try to get back in the program. I’ll look up, and invariably, Nick is peering down over his keyboards with the most amused expression on his face.

(I almost hate to let him down by not having a reaction….even though I think he knows that yes, of course I expect them to play it. And sometimes, they even play it TWICE because they have to start over. Really?? Is that even necessary????)

Truthfully, I don’t even know if he’s looking at me. It seems like he might be, but I don’t know. I’ve never asked!  So, I go about the business of singing and dancing along because really, what am I going to do, just stand there?!?

Then there’s later in the show, when “White Lines” comes on. Now this song has always been one of my favorites when they play it live. There’s just something about it, and that “something” is the hard-driving guitar. (and the guy playing it isn’t bad either…but that’s another story for another blog later in the month) In ANY case, over the past couple of years, and remarkably coinciding with the closer seating that Amanda and I have paid an outstanding amount of money to be in, the song has taken on a little different of a meaning.

Basically, it marks the point in the performance where I grow increasingly worried about how close my seats may or may not be to “the spit zone”.  Several years back, I’d rock out with out much care. I’d see Simon spit the water up into the audience and think “eww” glad I’m not up there. Well, lately, I have been up there, and I gotta tell you – I am semi-convinced that sometimes – there’s been a little bit more “aim” placed on the spitting!

However, this most recent time at Agua Caliente, we were right there. I didn’t give that much of a thought until “White Lines” began. All of the sudden, I realized what was about to happen. I couldn’t stop the look of shock and horror that went across my face, and again, I happened to look Nick’s way. I didn’t even know he could still smile that wide….

Even so, I tried to brush the thought aside while in my head I was thinking “Did Nick seriously just nearly CACKLE onstage while looking my way? Nahhhh….Couldn’t be.” Instead, I lost myself in the song and in a particular fangirl moment involving a guitar player.  Before I knew it, I was watching Simon head toward the drum riser to grab a bottle of water and take a drink. I knew what was coming, so I did what any sane person would have done and just looked down.

I felt the deluge hit the back of my head and run down my back as I winced and laughed. I mean, I didn’t see Simon spit, but he had to have aimed right for us. Come on now! I looked up, and Nick was laughing while looking right at the front. I laughed too, because it was FUNNY! I remember how horrified I was the first time – way back in Biloxi during the All You Need is Now tour, and how disgusted I was by the whole thing. I don’t know why, I don’t know how – but I don’t care so much anymore. After all, I’ve been “baptized” a few times now. The shock has worn off, but my reaction probably won’t change much. It’s still funny. And really weird. But whatever. It’s a thing, and while Amanda and I still hate it, I’ll admit I’m amused, and Nick’s reaction is priceless, whether or not he’s really looking my way or not.

All of this reminds me of a time not so long ago when Nick was missing from the shows. It’s true that MNDR did an outstanding job and musically, I didn’t notice much of a difference without Nick there. That said, to look up and see someone manning the keyboards during that time was just wrong – and I’m glad Nick is back touring with the band again. I can’t help but smile when I see his 10,000 watt grin. We don’t see it often enough.

Happy birthday, Nicholas. I hope you have a wonderful day, and I’ll see YOU in about a month!

-R

Turnabout is fair play when it comes to the set list

Sorry I’m so late with today’s post. Our morning was wild here, and the afternoon is not faring much easier, as far as time goes!

I think I’m still coming to terms with my weekend, which was amazing. Anytime I can spend the day out by the pool and see my favorite band at night is great, but there were some additional “happenings” that make this particular weekend even better than normal. Those are the things that make me smile when my day might be going rougher than I’d hoped, and help me sleep at night. Or not sleep, I guess.  I’m just gonna leave that thought right there.

In any case, one of the funnier themes of the weekend was that Amanda had no interest in following rules. I probably need to be more clear about that.  For example, I would never dream of, say, telling the band what to play.

Ok, that’s a flat-out lie. The one thing we didn’t do this weekend was tweet out our own super-special set lists! Normally I’m all about telling the band what I think and what to play. This weekend though, I really didn’t care. They could have gotten up there and played just about anything. I believe my expectations for the weekend were summed up like this, “All they have to do is show up, Amanda.”

So when they broke into Only in Dreams on the first night, it took me WAY longer than I care to admit for my brain to sort out what it was I was hearing. Then they followed up with Is There Something I Should Know.

OH MY GOD.

That is my favorite. My all-time favorite song. Ever. I nearly had kittens. It’s not as though I have never heard it before, but to have them play it without expecting it was even better.  But then I knew something was missing. I kept waiting, and no, Planet Earth never showed. I can remember standing there beside Amanda thinking “Holy shit. She really IS going to have kittens!! And she blogs tomorrow, too!!”

So, she was really disappointed. No, the band can’t play their entire catalog, but Planet Earth has been a staple. I can’t remember the last time they didn’t play it, actually. I know she loves it, but I also recognize that sometimes, they have to do something to mix it up. Even so, I didn’t know what Amanda would do.

Fast forward to the following evening. We had a friend at the front and were talking to her during the show when Amanda saw a list taped down at Simon’s spot. Appropriately titled, “Palm Springs Agua Caliente”,  she could read the set list from where she was standing, and I could see she wasn’t happy about what it said. On the other hand, I won’t look at the set lists before the show.  I like being surprised, and I don’t want to know when it’s going to be over.

I liken this to Christmas presents. My sister used to go on a full-on hunt for the gifts when we were little. She would find everything and either be satisfied, or annoyed and disappointment at  what “Santa” was going to bring. One Christmas, I succumbed to her urging.  Using a swivel desk-chair to reach the door to our attic, I tried to find a set of skis I had almost NO chance of getting (and didn’t!) only to fall and sprain my arm because A. I am klutzy and B. I was using a stupid SWIVEL CHAIR. Not my smartest or proudest moment. Robin STILL teases me about that Christmas present hunt to this day. (I love younger siblings.) I learned my lesson. I prefer to be surprised.

Amanda looks up at me and says “It hasn’t changed.”  I wasn’t surprised. This band (sorry guys), hasn’t necessarily been the greatest about changing up the set list from night-to-night lately.  I didn’t know what to say, but Amanda was already digging through her purse, mumbling something about leaving a note.

A note?

WHAT? “Noooooo Amanda, you can’t!” I exclaim, half laughing.  “What if they see it?!?”

The trouble is, I know when Amanda is determined, and she was. My protests weren’t going to stop the inevitable. She was going to leave that note, and there wasn’t a thing I was going to be able to do about it except laugh along with her. She found an envelope (our ticket envelope, no less) and wrote out “PLANET EARTH!!!” in big letters with a Sharpie.  Great, but where to leave it? I figured she’d throw it up there, and within two seconds of the band getting on stage we’d never see the likes of it again. Easy.

Oh, Amanda had that figured out already. She was going to tuck it in with the existing set list. Amanda kind of climbed up and halfway laid on the stage so that she was able to work the note in and secure it. She hopped down, and shared a laugh with us(mine was somewhat more of a nervous laugh), we knew we were on our way. To hell, I’m sure.

a harmless suggestion, right?? Photo courtesy of Janet McCabe

I felt the blood drain from my face, and went to my seat. Surely they wouldn’t know, because (thank goodness) they don’t know our handwriting!!

Of course, now that I’ve typed this, it’s not secret.

(GOOD THING THEY DON’T READ THE BLOG, RIGHT?!?)

The band comes out for the show. I’m not really sure if Simon ever saw the addition to the set list, but I won’t lie – I giggled at the thought. No, they didn’t play Planet Earth, but I could swear I saw him look down at the note, and then look down at the two of us (three if you count our friend Suzie!) and narrow his eyes more than once. I immediately mouthed “I didn’t do it!” and pointed at Amanda.

Hey, if you can’t throw your best friend under her own damn bus….

and then White Lines began. Now – I love this song and by then, I felt strongly that we were going to experience “The Spit Zone” more than ever before. I was going to enjoy that guitar solo no matter what (and I did, thanks to Dom), but I was worried. I knew we were in front, and from the amount of smack we’ve given that band and particularly Simon over the years, he could let us have it. Again.  Simon went back for his long drink of water, and came back with a mouthful – the kind of mouthful that was going to drench someone, really. I saw Nick smirking out of the corner of my eye and thought to myself, “Here we go!”  I just looked down and felt the fire-hose worth of water spray onto the back of my head and arm. GAH. I looked up and just laughed because at that point, what else could I do?

I have a feeling we had that coming.

Turnabout is fair play. Until next time, anyway. -R

 

That’s why they’ve done it again. Presales again!

I realized at about 7:45 tonight that I hadn’t blogged for tomorrow, which is funny because tomorrow around 10am, this whole “tour planning” thing starts all over. Presales again.

I have a little story for you, my friends. It’s about the time I went to a show and before leaving the hotel on Sunday morning, I was already plotting for another tour.

Picture the end of a Duran show, the final chord from Rio hanging in the air, confetti still swirling it’s way to the floor of the stage. There’s that moment when you know in your head it’s over, but you take one last longing look at the stage and smile, because damn it – the band is good.

That was me on Saturday night. I had ZERO complaints about the show, other than it being over.  I turned, told Amanda that the vodka and empty barstools weren’t waiting, and made a run for the door (true story).  Typically, I hate that bittersweet feeling I get when my final show is over, because of course it’s a let down, and the night seems to drag on after that. I wasn’t about to let that happen this time, because as far as I knew, it was my last show for this year. I wanted to savor time with friends and, well – not think about tomorrow.

I hightailed it to the Waters Cafe bar in the hotel, and found our other friend who kindly saved us seats. It wasn’t long before most other fans I knew trickled in, and before I had even finished my first drink, a friend of ours (Amanda’s and mine) wandered over with an interesting bit of news.  Someone she knew had commented on one of her posts about a show. She even named a venue. In July?? WHAT?

All of us sat staring at one another. Was it possible? The band was coming back to California? Again?? SERIOUSLY? It was the kind of thing you had to just tuck away in the back of your mind for later and hope for the best.  As the night wore on, we heard this rumor swirling around some more, and the next morning I woke up to what seemed like a very alert Amanda.

“HOLY SHIT!” (Amanda has a mouth like a truck driver when not in front of her class, apparently.)

I sat up straight. I’m not gonna lie, it had been a long night, we had drank (and closed up) every bar in the hotel. I wasn’t ready for the morning ahead.  I didn’t know whether to start packing, or duck and cover.

“What?!?” I could feel my heart pounding. In my head.

“Those motherfuckers just announced more dates, Rhonda. What we heard last night was true!”  Amanda started reciting the information straight from the email. I could barely follow along and desperately needed caffeine. And Advil (Ibuprofen for those of you not from America. It is my friend.)

As always, I immediately began cursing and planning, almost simultaneously. Then, as is typical, the negative thoughts began swirling around. I had no money for a presale, much less a presale that was going to start in….48 HOURS??  Presales again?

This band. Let me count the ways in which they make me want to run screaming at times, and let’s not confuse this with the fan girling we discussed yesterday. Very, VERY different, indeed.

First off, why back in the US? Money. Of course it is money. And demand. And promoters and bookers. It is the business, and it is what drives the band. Yes, I’m aware they’ve played here a lot this year. I’m also aware that the rest of the world has had very little. I don’t work for Duran Duran, and I don’t know what to tell the rest of you. Don’t confuse my excitement with a lack of empathy for everyone else, though. It does seem thoroughly unfair, but this business is not fair.

Second, why summer? Why San Francisco and Oakland and Canada??  Who knooooooooooowwwwssss.  Surely not I.  But the presales again?

SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE. GET IT TOGETHER.

DDHQ – I’m looking at you.  If there was one thing you all could do to improve the relationship with all of us – the fans – it would be to figure the touring thing out. I just don’t believe that it is necessary to push fans to the brink every single time a tour announcement is made. I just don’t. The worst part of it is, no matter how I feel about it, we’ll still buy the tickets. And that’s why you keep doing it. 48 hours is not a lot of time to figure out how, when and where.  Joyful and thankful as I really am to have more shows to attend, I’m also keenly aware of the stress this kind of thing adds to everyday life.

Our ride home on Sunday was spent figuring it all out. I also spent a little time digesting Saturday night, both before and after the show. A lot goes down in a weekend when you’re at Duran shows, you know?  Crazy stuff. (there’s that word again!)  I also needed to reconnect with Amanda. The weekend had gone by very fast, and to be painfully honest, the past year has been rather tough on our friendship. We needed more time, and now it looks like we’ll get some in July. We need it.

So now I’m home, and like many, I become a silent observer to the rest of the shows.  Well, not quite that silent, but I think you get the point.  We’ll do the presales again tomorrow (today as you read this) and then wait for July to arrive. In the meantime, real life takes over.

-R

 

The fun begins TONIGHT: Daily Duranie goes to Agua Caliente!

I can barely stand it. I actually am expected to go to work and DO things, all day…be a mom, make dinner, chauffeur a small child to and from her own choir practice, and then go pick up Amanda tonight from the airport.

As an aside, I have to tell you, this whole “working” thing all day before collecting my best friend at the airport and having a weekend filled with activities that could likely land us both on the shuttle bus to hell someday? (I’ll save you a seat, Amanda!) FOR THE BIRDS.

What I really need is rest.  Don’t we all?  The trouble, of course, is that even if I had the time to rest up, I’m so excited I can’t! As I teach I’m thinking about what to pack. When I grocery shop, I throw a box of cocktail stirrers into the cart. As I’m driving to go to work, I’m thinking about how long it will take us to get to Rancho Mirage. AND…when I’m listening to Duran Duran, I’m wondering why I haven’t seen any tweets from any band members yet, or what songs they plan to do this weekend, or….whether or not the audience will be showered with confetti.

So, have pity for my boss, and my students today. While I’m not a teacher, I am the office lady/campus supervisor/nurse/surrogate mom. I love those kids and would easily lay down my own life to protect any one of them, but secretly (well, not-so-secretly now!) today I’m wondering if we couldn’t just skip the whole “school” thing and go right on to the weekend! That seems reasonable to me!

The next time you hear from me, it will likely be on social media.  There may or may not be alcohol involved. The band will DEFINITELY be involved, even if not in person at the time!  I cannot promise video blogging, but you never know.  Stay tuned!

-R

Four Days to go till Rancho Mirage!

In between sneezes, I am attempting to blog about Rancho Mirage. I think Spring has arrived in California. The outdoor thermometer is forecast to hit 85 degrees (Fahrenheit). Daylight Saving Time means that it is still dark at 6am. Lastly, my allergies indicate that yes, pollen is indeed in the air. Yay.

The good news is that it’s Monday. Not that I’m a fan of Mondays, but in this case, I only have four days until Thursday. This is important because Amanda arrives on Thursday, and that is when the fun begins! Rancho Mirage, here we come!

My weekend was spent doing the necessary prep work for this trip. Waxing, tweezing, coloring, exfoliating….you get the idea. These things take time! I picked out my wardrobe for the weekend, and today I need to take the time to figure out who needs to go where and when while I am gone. It is a crazy time of year for me to be taking off for a weekend, but I’m doing it anyway.  I spent some time trading messages with Amanda and our roomies for the weekend, too, as we made plans for stocking our own personal in-room bar, and deciding how to spend the daylight hours (likely near the bar at the pool).  I also downloaded Snapchat, figuring that since Amanda and I would be together this weekend, it might be fun to upload photos there (find us as dailyduranie). I can’t even imagine what might be posted by the end of the weekend!

It would appear that all that is left to do is to get through the week ahead. #Duranlive time came upon us so fast, as it usually does, I almost want time to slow down a bit now so that I make sure to enjoy myself. So often I get so focused on the driving from show to show and all of the extraneous stuff needing to happen so that we can get from place to place, I’ll forget to relax and have fun. This time, I really have no excuse. I want to slow down, take a deep breath and savor the time. This really isn’t just about seeing the band, it’s about seeing friends. Sure, I’m looking forward to seeing the band. I have a special place in my heart for John, Simon, Nick and Roger….and of course Dom, Anna and Simon W, too.  It’s just that I will spend about 4 hours (give or take) seeing them over the course of the weekend. The rest of the time is for friends.

Time will tell for sure, but I think my outlook for weekends like this has changed quite a bit since that first show in Chicago with Amanda back in 2005. I can remember how excited I was to see Duran Duran take the stage. We were in third row, pretty much right in front of John. I can remember when they all came out to the front of the stage, as we heard the loud heart beat begin a rhythm that continued throughout the show. I shook so badly and felt so incredulous that they were really right there in front of me as I stood in third row, I couldn’t even hold my camera straight. Having the band in front of me doesn’t give me quite the same sort of shock it once did (although the excitement is still there!). I can remember the two of us conspiring and planning to find the band. We were positively giddy, and stood outside of the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee just so we could get a glimpse of them leaving. Then raced back to our car so that we could follow them. (Yes, we were those fans and no, I don’t think we caught up to them on the highway…but we tried.) Ridiculous? Absolutely. We laughed the entire way back to Chicago.

Now, I’m not saying that I wouldn’t want to see them after the show, but I am saying that I think our days of driving at crazy speeds from Milwaukee back to Chicago might be done. I like living, first of all. Secondly? I’m weird. The last thing I want is for those guys to think I’ve been hanging out somewhere waiting for them all night. Well, unless I’ve been waiting in a GA line for their show. That’s different!  I’ve run into one or two of them (never all of them at one time, and some of them I’ve never run into at all) now to decide that the whole scene makes me feel weird, which is why unless they’re staying where I’m staying and it’s serendipitous, I doubt I’m gonna be seeing much of them. While at one point I might have been disappointed, this time, I’m really fine. Yep, I used to obsess about where they might be, and in hindsight, I think I ruined plenty of my own trips that way. Their job is to play a show, and my job is to have fun. Done.

That is of course, assuming I can get my work done by Friday so that I can leave this house and head to Rancho Mirage guilt-free, which cannot happen if I don’t get started, so off I go!

-R