Tag Archives: Andy Taylor

For Rumours in the Wake of Such a Lonely Crowd

About those rumors

Wild tales of tour dates, returning band members, and new albums have surfaced from the dank, dark depths of the internet.  I’m already exhausted, and I’ve been back from my own vacation for less than a week.

The new album thing came up today in my twitter feed, actually. Based purely on my past experience as a Duran Duran fan, I feel pretty certain that there’s no “new album” coming next month.  No, I don’t have an official word – are you kidding me? I just know that in all the years I’ve been a fan of this band, they’ve never been on tour and written/recorded an album at the same time and put it out while still technically ON tour. (They’re just taking a break and still have dates to do!) I kind of think that’s almost humanly impossible, and while I have admittedly had high expectations in the past, this is even over my limit. I think it’s really obvious that the original poster is confused with Paper Gods, which by the way, was already released. TWO YEARS AGO.

Amanda already addressed one of the other more rampant rumors – the return of Andy Taylor for the 40th Anniversary.  Everybody loves chatting about Andy and Warren, and about what guitar player is their personal favorite.  That debate will never go away, and as someone reminded me the other day – you know you’ve made your mark on the world when you can be out of a band for a decade and still be the talk of the fan community.  I’m not sure if that’s a win, but I suppose if you’re in the PR industry, maybe so!

The one thing that boggles my mind, is that no one seems to pay any attention to the fact that the guitar player we already DO have can and does read social media, as can the other two. Sure, say what you will about his being a hired gun, or that the other two don’t care and it comes with the territory. The brunt of rumor and discussion doesn’t just affect fans. These guitar players are real people, and this “job” is their career.  Sometimes, I think we fans forget that. I know that I do. Many fans feel that the band should have a thick skin by now, and it’s not a problem if they read that you think they suck, or that they completely destroy a guitar solo, or that you think there is only one guitar player for Duran Duran and that’s Andy….or even that the only guy we want onstage is Dom, or that we can’t stand Warren’s ego and refuse to have him back. I’m just not sure that any of that is right or fair to be saying, even when I’ve been the one to say it. So I’m trying my best to be fair. It isn’t easy. I have opinions and a favorite person like everyone else, but I also have to respect those that came before. It took all three: Andy, Warren and Dom, to keep Duran Duran afloat. I’m going to try not to forget that as we move forward. I don’t mind the discussion because we’re a blog and it is what we do, but I’m also a little surprised that the rumors (and that’s all they are at this point) have taken off so quickly. Out of all the debates in the community, this is truly the firestorm. I’m kind of glad I’m not one of the past or present guitar players for this band, that’s all I’m saying.

About that post-tour depression thing

I saw the band last on July 8th. On one hand, It feels like it could have been last week, and on another it feels like it has already been six months. Amanda and I have been tweeting with another friend of ours saying that this post-Duran Duran tour depression (it is a real thing!) has been much harder than normal. I’m in a funk, and naturally it’s because I don’t know that any other dates or new music or anything like that is coming….soon.  Sure, the 40th anniversary is coming up, but we don’t know when/how/why/what, and that makes it all sort of enigmatic and ambiguous rather than having a certain something to calendar and look forward to. I’m not suggesting the band fix that by making announcements they’re not ready to make, but life as a fan is just hard sometimes. The waiting is not always fun. Social media helps to make me feel a little less disconnected. I’ve enjoyed being around more to tweet and be a general pain in the ass when necessary. You’re welcome. Bet you all are wondering when I go back to my real job… (the answer is soon)

I suppose on another hand…or foot…that a deep post-Duran tour depression is a sign of a very successful tour. I can’t disagree. I had a blast from start to finish. I’m still thinking about how it started for me at the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood and how it ended at the Masonic in San Francisco for me, and I still smile.  I still feel so damn lucky. I mean, I wasn’t even supposed to GO to shows this year. (At least, that is what my husband keeps saying. I don’t really understand his words. Obviously.)  I went to four with my best friend. I saw my favorite person several times. I hung out with dear friends. We went to nightclubs. We drank enough vodka to wake up with Russian accents. We teased Simon and John pretty relentlessly. I heard fantastic music. I cried at least once during a show.  I fell more in love with the band. AND…I was only spit on three out of the four times I was at a show this year. That’s success!!

Simon spitting in SF, the one time he didn't quite douse me.
Can’t hit me, Simon!!! You’re gonna have to really bring it next time!

I’m gonna miss teasing him until they come back….although I will try my best through social media whenever possible, because you know…it’s what I do. Besides, something has to stave off the sadness, dammit!

I’ve really enjoyed seeing pictures from John, Roger, and Simon on the band’s Instagram and Twitter. Simon never ceases to make me laugh, and I smile whenever I see something from John and Roger, too. Even Dom tweets sometimes. I almost think they’ve found a way to engage, and they may have hit on something that just might work for them, which is great. It makes sense too, because Duran Duran has always enjoyed creating a visual experience.  Why not engage through pictures?

So yeah, those rumors drive me crazy sometimes, and other times get me thinking about how I respond. They can be a double-edged sword. The depression, on the other hand, makes me realize that I’m still not “cured” of this fandom. I still care, which is good since Daily Duranie turns seven next month.

Seriously, we’ve been doing this for seven years now? What??? We really are certifiable, Amanda!

-R

My Head is Cool and Quiet: The Possible Return of AT

Sometimes, I know that blog posts are going to get little attention.  Others, I know might get a lot of attention.  Some of those, I suspect could potentially get a lot of negative attention or criticism.  This post will be one of those.

As I mentioned on Friday, I promised that I would give my thoughts about the various ideas John Taylor has bantered about in regards to the upcoming 40th anniversary celebration.  Some of his ideas are not very controversial.  Most fans, if all, might like the release of previously unreleased material like Reportage.  The idea of having 40 happenings sounds interesting.  Of course, I’m not sure what would entail a “happening” but it sounds good in theory.  Thus, this blog won’t focus on those ideas.  No, I’m going to do it.  I’m going to rip the band-aid off and talk about the white elephant in the room, so to speak.  I’m going to give my thoughts about Andy Taylor being involved in the anniversary.

Before I dive into present day Duran, let me acknowledge that I am one of those original Duranies.  I became a fan as a kid in the 1980s.  To me, Duran was the Fab Five with John, Simon, Roger, Nick AND Andy.  In listening to those first couple of albums, I can hear the musical tension between guitars and keyboards, which often created the best songs.  In many cases, it is almost like they were having a dialogue through the music.  I felt strongly that this is what makes Duran Duran music so amazing.  It is the blending of different genres, ones that often seem opposite of each other.  As a kid, I was crushed when Roger and Andy left and struggled to love the band in the same way.

As an adult, I embraced the reunion like so many fans did.  It felt like a dream come true.  The Fab Five returns!  It took me until the spring of 2005 to see the original band perform live together and treasured every minute of it.  Likewise, I was crushed when Andy left in the fall of 2006 and wondered once again if my love for the band could last through this trial.

Based on all of that, you might assume that I would be all for Andy’s return in some way, shape or form for the anniversary.  Yet, I’m not.  There are a couple big reasons that this idea makes me very nervous, including my worry about how this would affect all involved, and the acknowledgement of the band’s history .

In case I have not made myself clear, I consider myself an Andy fan and a Duran fan.  Despite that, I like how things are with Duran now.  In my opinion, things with the band have been going relatively well.  When I see the band perform live, I see lots of interactions between the band members and the supporting players.  I see camaraderie.  I see lots of smiles and joking between members.  They seem to be having fun with each other and enjoying their jobs.  More importantly, I see a really tight show.  Just recently, I have had the opportunity to watch some older shows and it is clear that the live performance was not as tight and as solid as it is now.  I cannot imagine that the show would be as fabulous if the band wasn’t happy with how things are right now.  While I can appreciate wanting to acknowledge the past, I worry that Andy’s presence in some way, shape or form would disrupt things with the band.  I also worry that it would disrupt things for Andy.  Would this be good for him?  Yes, I know that some might say that it would.  I don’t know.  Yes, I can imagine that he might make some money through appearing but would that make him happy?  Would it bring up negative emotions?  I worry.

This leads me to the second reason, which is history.  Again, as an Andy fan, I have to acknowledge that it hasn’t worked with him in the band.  Sure, it worked between 1980-1985.  They were young.  There was FAR less water under the bridge.  They had strong managers.  A lot was different then.  It didn’t work when he came back for the reunion.  We all wanted it to be great.  Yet, he left again and I say that not knowing the exact course of action that led to his leaving.  Was it him?  Was it the band?  Was a combination?  I don’t know and I don’t know if it even matters.  I know that it didn’t work.  Why would they want to go through something like that again?  Then, I think of the fans.  Even if Andy came back for ONE concert or to write just a few songs, fans would get their hopes up.  They would start to believe that this temporary-ness would lead to something more permanent, even if that wasn’t the case.  I, for one, do not want to go through that kind of pain and heartache again and I certainly don’t want that for other fans, for the band or for Andy.  The fact of the matter is that I wouldn’t want that for Dom, either.  After all, he came to fill in a huge void and has done it with grace and professionalism.  I don’t think this would be fair to him, either.

I know that my thoughts here are going to be unpopular.  Andy is the sentimental favorite for a LOT of fans.  I know that there are Warren fans out there, too, but Andy represents early Duran.  He was the guitarist when the band broke through and became popular.  A lot of fans haven’t gotten over that loss.  Maybe a lot of fans think that the music was better with him.  I cannot argue against any of all that.  All I can do is express my concern and my thoughts.  I know that this post won’t change anyone’s mind or anyone’s wishes and that’s okay.  I have to say what I think and what I feel.  I needed to express my concern, my fear and those feelings come from nothing but love for Andy and the others as well as for the fans.

-A

What WON’T the band do for their 40th anniversary?

I’ve noticed a lot of people working on surveys and things, putting together a wish list for Duran Duran’s 40th anniversary. I suspect the intention is that if fans work together to come up with a cohesive list, then perhaps the band will take a look and perhaps see their way clear to incorporating some of the ideas into their celebration plans. Maybe.

Amanda and I haven’t really done much of that here on the blog. I suspect part of the reason is that we’ve been around for six years, and during that time – while we’ve gotten support from DDHQ – I think we’ve come to realize they’re not going to take us seriously when it comes to the business of the band, and quite frankly – they’re probably smarter that way.  That doesn’t stop either of us from looking side-eyed at some of the things that have been done over the years, but you know, it’s much easier to quarterback from the sidelines than it is to actually be in the game. I don’t think we were always quite that accepting, but you know, Amanda and I have changed a little bit over the years.  Now we’re just having fun with it all.

That doesn’t mean we don’t throw some ideas out there every once in a while for fun though, and today will be no exception as I put together a short list of things the band will (probably) NOT do during #DD40!

Play a cruise!

I dearly love every human being who has suggested that Duran Duran basically put themselves on a cruise ship with what, 3-4,000 of their most rabid fans. How could that possibly go wrong??

Let’s just think about that for a minute: sun, water, several bars, thousands of fans who may or may not have partaken in said alcohol….and nowhere the band can really go to hide. Or run. Outstanding!

Yeah, I think it’s safe to say that won’t be happening. Again, love the enthusiasm, but probably not for their 40th anniversary.

Play shows with Dom, Andy and Warren…at the same time!

Again, love the enthusiasm for their 40th anniversary.  Honestly, I think about the possibility of this purely for the entertainment value.  Can you imagine all three of them on stage? Together? Two of them have enormous egos…the third might be trampled in the process. All together onstage for the same shows, same songs?  My money is on a firm “no”.

For that matter, why don’t we bring back everyone who has ever played with the band to play onstage? Andy Hamilton, all of the backup singers, Sterling, Steve Ferrone, Joe Travers…is there a stage large enough???

More travel packages!

This is one idea that I could see the band instituting in part, but I’m going to gamble and say they won’t do it again, even for their 40th anniversary. Back before Astronaut was released, the band did a few very special travel packages that were in extremely limited quantity. Fans paid a tidy sum for a ticket to a specific show, accommodations, special merchandise, concierge service, and a cocktail party with all five band members in attendance. I have a good friend that bought a travel package, and by her account it was extremely well-organized and thought out, and I think it’s fair to say it was a very positive experience for her. The travel packages went from these extravagant luxuries down to a ticket and a quick meet and greet, and then they morphed into meet and greets given at random to VIP ticket buyers, and now none of the VIP packages come with anything other than the ticket, merchandise and possible cocktail parties in some cities (without the band in attendance).

I know the demand for these travel packages (and meet and greets) still exists, but I think the band hated them for the most part.  I can imagine the thought of going into a room filled with Duranies can be a bit overwhelming. I can’t blame them even if I might wish I’d been able to take advantage when meet and greets or travel packages were offered.

Play individual albums in their entirety!

The one suggestion I’ve seen over and over again is to play Rio, or any of their albums – entirely live for their 40th anniversary. It’s the one suggestion that I am positive most Duran fans want (even if there is discussion over which album they’d most like to see done that way), and it is the one suggestion that the band just doesn’t seem to get.

Just last week, Lori Majewski had John Taylor call in on her radio show, and she mentioned playing Rio live. John thinks we’d be bored (sometimes, I really don’t think they know their fans) because we’d already know the set list.

Ok, John. I get you. I’d just invite you to take a good look at your set list for the past few years as you’ve been touring Paper Gods, and then tell me again that fans get bored when they know the set list. The fact is, to have an entire album played live is a completely different experience than many of us have had before – Red Carpet Massacre aside.  For that matter, you could mix it up and that way, you’re not playing the same album over and over, and if fans like me want to see them all—they’re gonna have to take a leave of absence from their lives and travel to different shows to do it.

Even so, I think it’s safe to assume the band isn’t going to listen to reason on this one. They’re gonna play the hits, and we’re going to like it.

My heart is still hoping for Late Bar…but my head knows we’re getting Hungry Like the Wolf.

Intimate shows of 3,000 or less!

Let’s be real. Again, this one is a gamble, but I’m thinking money-wise, touring the 40th anniversary would be a cash cow. Why on earth would they only want to play in small venues when they can play arenas and bring in more money?

Personally, I’d love to see them play in smaller theaters so that long time fans have the opportunity to get up close and celebrate with this band. I’d like to see fans acknowledged for the time and energy we’ve given over the years. Who wouldn’t? That said, the lure for a huge “comeback” anniversary tour (no, they never left but the rest of the country, world, so forth probably doesn’t know that) is ever looming.

I’m just hoping they don’t decide to do that “Verified Fan” thing through Ticketmaster…

There are a lot of things I’d like to see the band do for their 40th anniversary. Mostly, I’m at a point where I’m just happy to see they’re still around fighting the good fight.  I’m looking forward to reading what they’ve got planned, and I’m hoping that I can take an active part in some of it along the way!

-R

What’s Your Favorite Live Recording of a DD song?

DDHQ asked for our favorite live recording of a Duran Duran song this morning. At first, I stumbled over the words. It’s Monday, I’m already tired (not really a great sign for the week ahead) and I can’t seem to make much sense out of anything yet. Live songs? Do they record anything? Seriously – it’s been that sort of morning so far.

But then, as I went about my normal tasks of feeding the animals and complaining about dishes being left in the sink, I remembered a show!  Costa Mesa, 2003. The entire show was recorded and I ordered the CD.  The Encore Series was the name.

Granted, I am pretty sure I’ve seen better shows since then. Or maybe it’s just that my seats have improved significantly in the years since, I don’t know. The fact remains that when I think about all of the shows I’ve seen over the years – that one is a definite standout, and not because it positively ticks off all of the boxes on Amanda’s Concert Rubric. Simply put, it was the very first time I’d ever seen Duran Duran – all FIVE original members of Duran Duran – on the same stage.

I don’t even remember a lot from that show, to be honest. I got there, winced at how far back our seats were from the stage (I went with my husband and I think we were about 23 rows back and off to John’s side), and once the band took the stage, I stood there pinching myself to make sure that what I was seeing really wasn’t just my overactive imagination working overtime. I remember watching as someone decided to jump up onto the stage and nearly tackle Simon as he sidestepped and allowed Dave, the band’s security, to grab her. (I won’t give away her name, but I’m pretty sure I’m friends with this woman to this day. I nearly died the day I found out she was the culprit!) I also remember Roger stepping away from his drums at the end of their set, tongue wagging as though he’d run a marathon or two. But mostly, I just remember standing there thinking about how lucky I was to be there, and how thankful I was to still be a fan so that I could finally see them all together on stage.

I am one of those people who cannot stand it when we ask a “This or That” question here on the blog and people vote by saying “both!” It’s freaking annoying (to me).  I usually grit my teeth and say “make a choice, dammit!” Probably not the nicest thing to cross my mind, but I’m being honest here.  Now it’s my turn to choose. This show, which is definitely my favorite live recording of them, wasn’t about what they played or how long they were on stage or even about how many songs they played. It was that they were there in front of me. They showed up. They were together, and I had this feeling I was at the beginning of a wild, new ride. Even so, for the sake of participation, my favorite from that set has to be Virus.  No, not a song from their back catalog, not New Religion (which is a very close second), but Virus, because I loved it.  The song had the hard edge I was looking for, I could hear all five members working together, and to this day I’m giddy when it comes up on my phone.

Thanks to DDHQ for that question today – it gave me a chance to think about that fantastic show!

-R

 

 

35 Years and Counting: RIO!

Can you believe it? Thirty-five wild and crazy years ago today, Rio came into our world.

I bought Rio when it came out, and for a brief time thought it was Duran Duran’s first album. I was very confused, apparently. The thing is – I’d heard Planet Earth, and I had a K-Tel record with Girls on Film, but I hadn’t heard those songs on the radio much. But Rio? Please.

Truth be told, Rio was released a full year before I believe it really took off here in America. It’s first release here fell flat, not doing particularly well. Capitol Records hired David Kershenbaum to do a dance-remix of several songs off the album (released as Carnival).  Those remixes are a little more guitar-heavy, a little less synth, a little more bass in sound. Eventually, Capitol had Kershenbaum go back and remix most of the rest of the album and then re-released it in America, promoting it as a dance album. That’s when sales started to pick up steam and the band began to climb the charts.

Suddenly Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf were everywhere, and Is There Something I Should Know wasn’t far behind…which is why I thought it was the next album, rather than being the first.  But then again, my UK friends will remind me that it was NOT the first, because on their version of the first album – ITSISK is nowhere to be found, and they are correct.  It’s just on our altered US versions that there’s no To The Shore, with ITSISK instead. (my head is spinning even as I recall this from memory)

Honestly, if you want my most vivid memories from Rio, they would be my realizing that I had the order of their albums wrong….and that champagne stuff Simon drank while in the ocean.  To this very day, every single time I think of Rio, that vision comes to mind. Not the fake crab on Roger, not pallid-looking Nick in the galley, definitely not a daydreamy John Taylor on the sand or even Andy being thrown overboard…but Simon, drinking out of a champagne glass in the ocean.

I just don’t know.

Despite testing the waters with Planet Earth and even Girls on Film before the Rio album – it was truly this album that set my world on fire. I think that the band continues to be judged for Rio, without a lot of regard for anything else they’ve done (perhaps with a few exceptions), and many believe it to be the pinnacle of their career.

I love Rio. I also appreciate and love everything Duran Duran has done (yes, even RCM. Ok?!?), because at this point, nearly forty years into our journey – it really IS about the whole journey. It has been a crazy, wicked, wild, ride, and I’m ready for more.

I am writing this and I haven’t had any time yet this morning to actually listen to the oral history. I’m hoping to get a chance later today….but I might just have to let Amanda be the one to comment on it due to a lack of time on my part. Or else, I’ll comment later. I am really looking forward to hearing it though, because it’s not that often we get the opportunity to look back at something with the band and get their point of view.

It’s a special day in Duranland, and I’m thankful to be able to be here and experience it with everyone else. Happy 35th Birthday, Rio!

-R

Notorious & Wild Boys by Steve Malins

Do you like to read books about Duran Duran?  It is probably not shocking that I do and always have.  Looking back at my childhood, I remember reading and rereading and rereading paperbacks about Duran, such as Bop Magazine’s 700+ facts.  These days, the books and magazines surrounding the band are a little more sophisticated.  Obviously, fans who like to read have been lucky enough to enjoy both Andy and John’s autobiographies in recent years.  On top of that, in 2005, an unauthorized biography called Notorious by Steve Malins was published.

As I’m sure you are not surprised, I read that book as soon as I purchased it and have even read it more than once since then.  Rhonda and I have had a few conversations about the book.  In general, I think the book is stronger in the beginning, about the band members’ childhoods and the early days of the band.  As the book moved closer to current day, the sources were clearly all secondary sources, meaning that the information came from published articles, etc. as opposed to any real life individual.  This, of course, is common with unauthorized biographies.  The band did not share or get interviewed for the project.  I would say that in many cases the information in the book is common knowledge for many Duranies.

That said, when I saw that there was an updated version out, I had to pick it up.  The updated version, called Wild Boys, contains an additional chapter, surrounding both the Red Carpet Massacre era and the All You Need Is Now cycle.  What did I hope to learn from this additional chapter?  I won’t lie.  I hoped to gain some insight about Andy’s departure as well as behind the scenes for Red Carpet Massacre as I suspect that there is a lot more that went on that fans have been in the dark about.  What did I find out?

Andy’s Departure:

Interestingly enough, the book dedicated about two paragraphs to Andy’s departure.  Literally, it mentioned that the album, Reportage (the one Duran wrote and recorded after Astronaut but shelved), was stalled by “legal issues with Taylor”.  I’m not sure what the source of that was.  The author describes reports about the album that claim that the album was “edgy and contemporary”  (Malins 283).

Then, in the next paragraph, Andy’s departure was summarized by describing the official press release on the band’s website as well as how Andy described it in his book.  According to this book, the band claimed that there was ‘an unworkable gulf’ and Andy suggested that there was tension between him and management.  Clearly, I was hoping for a lot more as I knew both of those statements already.  I read the official announcement when it was posted in 2006 and read Andy’s book as quickly as it came out as well.  Now, I realize that an unauthorized biography will not have as much insight as an authorized one where the author is getting the scoop from the celebrity him/herself.  That said, I am surprised that there was not even any speculation on the author’s part on how this major personnel change would affect the band.  Instead, there was no analysis, just those statements.

Despite the lack of analysis on Andy, the author does mention Dom Brown a number of times.  The first time was right after talking about Andy’s departure.  Here the author says, “Duran Duran soldiered on by installing Dom Brown, who had toured with them before, as their new guitarist.  He has remained with them ever since, playing an increasingly valuable role”  (Malins 283).  Later in the chapter, Dom’s contribution is described during the writing and recording for All You Need Is Now, stating how he co-write most of the songs on that album.  What I found fascinating by this is that if I didn’t know better, I would read this chapter and assume that Dom is a permanent band member.  Yet, that is not the case.  He is in some weird limbo between a touring guitarist and a band member.  Malins does not explain that at all.  Likewise, there is no explanation of when and why Dom toured with the band before RCM.

Red Carpet Massacre:

As for the album created following Andy’s departure, Malins chose to focus on an article/interview from The Quietus that came out, not during the RCM cycle but afterwards during AYNIN.  According to that interview, Nick stated how they knew that RCM would be a risk with the fans.  Simon followed by stating that the fans left “no doubt” about how they felt about the album (Malins 293).  Again, though, outside of the quotes from the band, there is little explanation about why the fans might not like RCM.  On top of that, as someone in the fandom at the time, those brief statements don’t really explain what was really going on with the fans at that time.  It is and was far more complicated than that as many fans actually liked it, creating a wide division within the fan base.

All You Need Is Now:

The focus of the All You Need Is Now discussion surrounded Mark Ronson’s vision for the album and the Girl Panic video.  On one hand, I always appreciate reading and hearing about how Mark is a fan and pushed the band to really try to embrace their true selves and to occupy their rightful place in the music industry.  On the other hand, I am not really sure why there was so much focus on the Girl Panic video.  While I get that they used models who were pretending to be the band, I still found the discussion about it superficial.  Why did they use models?  I don’t know.  Why did they show fame in the way they did with luxury hotel living, fans surrounding them, bottles of champagne, etc?  I don’t know.

This, of course, is the argument I make about the entire project.  I want more of an in-depth, behind the scenes sort of analysis.  Perhaps, my frustration is unfounded.  I already know a lot about the band so I didn’t learn anything.  Others reading this book might learn a lot.  For them, maybe, the book serves the perfect function.  It does give a rough outline about the band’s history from formation through All You Need Is Now.

Has anyone else read this book?  What did you think about it?

-A

Malins, Steve.  Notorious.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2005.

Malins, Steve.  Wild Boys.  London:  Andre Deutsch, 2013.

Totally 80’s with Rio!

I was thoroughly spoiled on Friday night, as I stood less than 30 feet away from Simon Le Bon as he sang Is There Something I Should Know AND Late Bar in a single set in a small, intimate bar in Fullerton, California. Of course, John, Roger, Andy and Nick were there too, and Duran Duran was on fire…playing everything from Sound of Thunder to Notorious, deep cuts to big hits. Duranies lined the stage, and while I only saw one pair of panties thrown…it was a good night.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t really Simon. Or John, Roger, Andy and Nick for that matter. Particularly given the fact that they were in Argentina that night, and oh yes – Andy is no longer with the band – I kind of knew it was going to be tough to sell anyone on that story.  So who was the band and where was I? The band was of course Rio: the Duran Duran tribute band, and the venue was the Totally 80’s Bar and Grille.

Here’s the thing – as far as bars go, the Totally 80’s Bar is every 80s cliché wrapped up into one building. Neon, black lights, TV monitors on the wall playing completely different videos from the music pouring out of the speaker, even the same really gross, dank, but not entirely off putting, “ick” oozing from its walls. As I stood at the bar, nursing one of the worst vodka tonics I’ve ever had, I watched a guy dancing and spinning alone in the corner of the dance floor. I almost had to pinch myself, because I’d swear I saw that same dude thirty years ago at Fashions on the Redondo Beach pier.  Yeah, for me, Totally 80’s was nearly like stepping back in time….and falling flat on my face in a sea of neon paint with Apollonia 6 serenading me like carnival music in a fun house.  In a word: weird.  Fun, but weird.

I think that in order to appreciate the sights and sounds, you must have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Some do, as they come dressed proudly in 80s garb with a side ponytail and enough neon lighting bolts to power their own homes. Others, like me, are little more apprehensive and less likely to fully embrace 1980-something coming back to life. We come to see bands we think we know play music we rarely get to hear live.

As showtime neared, I was once again flabbergast to see Duranies – and yes, you can tell they’re Duranies because some even wear their Paper Gods touring t-shirts, which is both appropriate and cute in this setting – grabbing the front and center spots. They were ready to do battle if necessary to defend their territory from the few women (oh yes, even here) that feel they should always be awarded a spot directly in front of the singer, even if they drunkenly arrive mid-set. Truthfully, I can’t find fault with the Duranies in front, even if I chose not to join them in favor or standing back to watch the scene unfold. The die-hard in me screamed to go to the front, while the more reasonable side constantly reminded me that this was not really Duran Duran. The dance floor filled nicely for Rio, and once the band took the stage, even people from the back of the bar came to check the band out.

I hadn’t seen Rio perform live for about a year, and it might have been longer than that, now that I think about it. I can’t always make it to their shows (this is a tribute band that plays regularly so that Duranies can always get their fix, should the need arise!), but I go when I can.  Since my last trip to 1985 (with Rio, of course), they’ve had a personnel change. Not to be confused with the real Duran Duran (although they will tell you that they are in fact the real Duran Duran), in this case it is their keyboardist who has recently changed. Not sure if the sub “Nick” will stick around, but he was good.

I know a lot of people wince at the idea of a tribute band. I was one of those, once. Two things make Rio different: 1. They take the music seriously, even though sure – the “act” is a schtick of sorts. They’re not making fun of Duran Duran, they’re emulating them as they tell the crowd that we’ve all been taken back to 1985 in a time machine and that it’s going to be a party. These guys are fans – and I know this because I’ve hung out with them after Duran Duran shows! In turn, they make their own show fun, and do the music all kinds of justice. I’m picky about my Is There Something I Should Know, and they play it true to form….every time. EVERY TIME.  2. They don’t just play the hits. They also play the deep cuts only Duranies know. That’s the one thing I have to say, even when they’re playing Late Bar, everyone is dancing on that floor. I wish Duran Duran (the real band) could see it, because it’s a sight to behold. John Taylor may say that only die-hard fans in the first row or two know the song at his shows – but at these shows? Everybody knows it, or it’s so damn good they dance anyway.

So while Duran Duran may never play Late Bar or Sound of Thunder, Rio does…and they do it brilliantly. If you haven’t had a chance to see them, you should make the time. I’ll even save you space on the dance floor.

-R

So Red The Rose: Arcadia or Power Station?

I don’t think I’ve spent much time writing about Arcadia or Power Station. I suppose to begin with, this site is dedicated to being a Duran Duran fan, so there is that. On the other hand though, Arcadia, Power Station, et al, have all been stops along my way. On this date in 2010, So Red the Rose was remastered and released. So, it seems appropriate to write a little about Arcadia today.

On the purely frivolous side, I loved Simon’s look during this period. Nick’s hair, longer than mine has probably ever been, was beautiful too.  It was as though they took whatever they’d done in Duran Duran and turned it up a notch with just a tinge more darkness. I loved it.  Their style was part of their branding, and I loved the whole package. The videos? I still watch them whenever I get a chance.

For me, Power Station was all about the music. It’s not that I wasn’t a John-fan or an Andy-fan, but I don’t know that I would say style was as much the focus as the music.  Many people describe Arcadia as an art project. Well, Power Station was a rock band. I embraced that.

This is the point where the discussion gets trickier (for me). Arcadia checked all the same boxes for me as Duran Duran. I loved the feel of the music, it was unique and different and nothing like anything else I heard on the radio. It was recognizable and comfortable to me because of Simon’s voice, but I cannot lie – I dearly missed John and Andy.

On the same token, I enjoyed Power Station. In the same way that I dearly loved AC/DC…Led Zeppelin….and just about any hard rock band of that era, hearing Andy and John lay it all out on the line in a way that Duran’s music did not allow was fantastic. But I missed the keyboards.

It was as though Power Station and Arcadia were the results of a very involved surgery to separate conjoined twins. Each could survive without the other, but should they? They weren’t quite the same on their own. Both bands were great, don’t get me wrong. I loved them both for their individuality, but if I could have smooshed them together to create one band, I think it might have been perfect.

Oh wait.

I see the debate anytime the subject of one or another comes up.  It always starts out by asking, “Which was your favorite?” For me, it depended on my mood and it still does. Yes, Roger was my favorite, and so you’d think I would have given the edge to Arcadia. Some days, I did. On other days though, I longed for that seemingly reckless guitar and deep bass groove. I never really had a favorite between the two of them. Sure, I loved the video for Election Day (who doesn’t?!?), but I also really liked Some Like it Hot. That guitar solo? Yes, please!  Invariably the discussion dissolves into who “left” the band and why, as though those facts alone should determine allegiance. It is just music.

In a nutshell, the Arcadia/Power Station debate is a very good metaphor for my own musical tastes, even today. On one hand, there is nothing like a great Duran Duran concert.  On the other, I really just want to stand in front of Dom while he’s playing his own music. I love Duran Duran. I also like Metallica. It’s not necessarily this OR that, but both…and why not?

So let’s watch some videos!

 

 

Enjoy!

-R

 

 

 

Happy 56th Birthday Andy Taylor!

Today is Andy Taylor’s birthday.

I remember the last time I saw a show with Andy – I believe it was in Las Vegas at the Andre Agassi Grand Slam for Charity show. October 1, 2005.

That was just over eleven years ago. I don’t know where the time goes, but somehow, it went. Andy is 56 today, and I am hoping he is happily enjoying his life somewhere, with his family, and feeling at peace.

I can remember chatting with him during a tweet marathon a few years ago – I liked him.  I never had the chance to really know him as anyone but “Andy Taylor from Duran Duran”, but on that one day, at that time, it didn’t matter.  I was a fan, and that experience will stay with me forever.

Many may not know this, but I wrote blogs for Andy’s (now defunct) website – andytaylor.tv for a while. I don’t want to over-characterize it, I didn’t work for him, and the blogs weren’t paid submissions, but I cared.  Andy felt strongly that it was time for fans to get more involved, to have more of a voice, and I championed that cause. I still do, in many ways. I also see that once you’ve been branded with the title of “fan” it is engraved upon you forever. No matter who I really am, or what I really try to do, that name supersedes.  People from the industry – whether band, management, or something else entirely – meet me, and the initial assumption is always that I must be one of those “crazy fans”.  It can sometimes feel like a very high hurdle to get past, and it’s not just ME – it’s any and all fans.  Andy understood that, partially because he was faced with a slightly similar dilemma. No matter who he is or what he tries to do, he will always be “Andy Taylor from Duran Duran”.  That ghost seems to be very difficult to live with, or live without.

I may not have always wanted to agree with his assessment of certain situations, and perhaps I’ve learned to accept his absence and move on – I still miss him.  I hope he is enjoying life out of the spotlight, and has a wonderful birthday.  Fifty-six years and counting!!

-R

 

Remember DD performing What Happens Tomorrow on GMA?

I’m sick. Not horribly so, but enough to where I’m having trouble staying awake and I’m fighting the urge to crawl back into bed. (although I’ll be honest: that last part is pretty normal for midweek!) As such, I’m keeping this post short and sweet.

On this date in 2005 – which was a very good year for Duranies, I might add – Duran Duran performed What Happens Tomorrow on GMA (Good Morning America), along with Save a Prayer.

I know from looking at our own “Day in Duran History” spreadsheet that there are a number of things that DD has done on the 1st of February throughout the years. Selfishly, I continue to keep picking THIS item because I remember that time period so well. It was exciting to be a fan. The original lineup was back together (as is evidenced by this video – fun seeing Andy on stage with them again), they had released a new album, and they were back on TV. It was like the 80s, without acne and frizzy hair!

So, forgive me as I spend another day thinking back to a really fun time in my life – and likely yours as well as I take another gander at Duran Duran performing What Happens Tomorrow on GMA!

-R