Tag Archives: Arena

The Heart, The Mind, The Albums

a dialogue between the ego and the alter-ego

As a music writer who recently lost his primary publishing outlet, the kind offer from Daily Duranie to be their intern and write once a week really softened the disappointment. Over the last few weeks, I have dove back into every corner of my Duran Duran memories and music to establish a mental base of operations for future writing. I’ve listened to every album again and watched some DVDs that I had missed. In the end, I realized one thing about myself. I am a divided self. At least, I am with Duran Duran albums. 

When I think about Duran Duran albums, there is a friction between my critical mind (which reviews an album or two each week) and my nostalgic heart. If you asked either piece of me to rank the albums, the lists would look quite different. So, I had to make a list. It’s a guy thing. We like making lists and arranging our taste in some sort of hierarchy that proves how smart we are. We are aware of this issue and we are working on it. 

The Best Duran Duran Albums

Heart/(Mind)

1. (1.) Rio

Rio is never a debate. From the artwork to the videos to every single song, the album captured a moment in popular culture and convinced us the our lives could be a James Bond film in some way. The bass lines are the stuff of legend and the band never again found such a perfect balance between Andy’s aggressive guitars and Nick’s carefully arranged melodies. Every band has “that” album where they are in the zone but sometimes you get tired of it. Not with Rio

(What he said.)

2. (2.) Duran Duran

A formidable debut album. From the Buzzcocks’ 1977 Spiral Scratch EP to this sounds like an eternity but it was only four years from punk to post-punk to Duran Duran. The musical maturity is already there in the arrangements and the band still sounds young and hungry. If this and Rio were all they ever released, Duran Duran would be revered like Joy Division. 

(OK, not Joy Division. But this debut rocks harder than people remember. The later addition of “Is There Something I Should Know?” in 1983 actually disrupts the album with Alex Sadkin’s production sounding too bright and colorful amongst the Colin Thurston tracks. Rarely talked about by critics, this is one of the strongest debuts of the decade.)

3. (5.) Big Thing

Experimental with purpose and the proper dose of Warren on guitar has aged this album extremely well. “All She Wants Is” still sounds pristine with a low-end that can shake the room. From moody ballads to driving dance tracks, Duran Duran colorfully (those outfits…) flaunt the ease with which they juggle pop and art. 

(Your neon colored eyes were at this show in 1989 and the band was fading in popularity. This album’s lukewarm success further pushed the band asunder of popular culture so how grand could it all be? Well, it is pretty grand but “Drug (It’s Just A State of Mind)” sounds completely out of place and is a total duff. If only there was an incredible B-side that should have replaced it. Hmm.)

4. (14.) Arena

The opening drums of “Is There Something I Should Know”. Is anybody hungry? Switch-it off. Was I chasing after rainbows? So many lines ignite the memory of listening to and watching this concert. Hearing “Seventh Stranger” on the last tour with the footage from 1984 playing above the stage was truly special. 

(How many live albums are really not that “live”? Probably most. How many of those also “live albums” include a studio recording mid-set? “Wild Boys” drops out of the sky into the middle of a concert and nobody thinks this is weird? When you can actually hear John’s bass, the songs sound better but the original version of Arena sounds like it was mixed in a soup can.)

5. (7.) Seven & the Ragged Tiger

As a kid, the build-up to the video premier of “Union Of the Snake” felt as exciting as watching the Space Shuttle launch. Lizard people in a desert. An underground society of freaks. The song and video ushered in the band’s most saturated time in popular culture. Soon after, “The Reflex” brought Duran their first US #1. As good as the singles are, the desolate “Seventh Stranger” remains the masterpiece here.

(Nile Rodgers saved this album by fixing “The Reflex”. There are three songs in the middle of the album that I have always confused. As I try to hear them in my head, “(I’m Looking For) Cracks In the Pavement” is the one I like best and the one that isn’t about dice is the one I like least (at a loss for what it is called right now and I listened to this cassette every day for a year when it came out). This album is inconsistent and the band sounds stressed that the fans might catch on.)

6. (4.) Notorious 

I wasn’t ready for it when it arrived but this and Big Thing really stand-out in the band’s career. The band really fought themselves out of a corner with Notorious and established themselves as musicians, not teenage heart throbs. The musical talent was always there but the band sounds more focused and precise.

(Notorious was when Duran Duran stopped trying to be James Bond and took a deeper interest in the relationships of our beloved 007. “Skin Trade” is as sexy as Duran has ever been. Even with Andy gone, the guitars are still keeping Mr. Rhodes’ more pretentious proclivities in balance yielding a mature and confident Duran Duran. Song for song, there is a consistent quality to the album where every song serves a purpose.)

7. (3.) All You Need Is Now

Without a doubt, my favorite Duran album post-80s. Mark Ronson keeps it simple by focusing on what works best. They might not be hits in a commercial sense but fans of a band know when a song is a “hit”. The title track and “Girl Panic!” were top-shelf singles in any decade. An unfair criticism but the fact that we don’t listen to albums on repeat day after day anymore probably makes this slightly under-appreciated by me. 

(Slightly under-appreciated?! Song for song, this belongs in their top three. The artwork, the analogue synths, the stellar guitar work of Dom Brown, and an arsenal of hooks makes this an unforgettable Duran Duran album. What is harder than following up a massive debut album with an even bigger one that conquers the world? Recording an album two decades later that holds its own with the first two.)

8. (6.) Medazzaland

Mid-period Duran Duran without a Taylor was a little uncertain but Medazzaland remains an experimental delight. The video for “Electric Barbarella” might stir debate but the song sounds futuristic and kitsch. They even erupt like Tesla on the chorus of “Who Do You Think You Are?”. A few anonymous tracks drift-by but the album never loses its grip on you. 

(Not releasing it in the UK was a tragedy. The UK audience would have appreciated the cold electronics. While not exactly Bowie’s Low, the band’s experiment pays off with a strong collection of songs. Warren colors between the lines when he needs to and enhances Nick’s digital landscapes. Best experienced as a whole, Medazzaland sounds like a place we should visit.)

9. (11.) Red Carpet Massacre

The follow-up to Reportage (apparently), suffers from a case of uncertainty but there are some genuinely killer dance tracks on here. Hearing “Tempted” live sent me back to this album and I found more than I remembered. Simon’s voice on “Box full o’ Honey” sounds exquisite, for one. “Dirty Great Monster” sounds like a lost Cheap Trick gem and “Last Man Standing” is the sort of album track that can carry an album beyond the singles. 

(Parting ways with Andy should have ignited a spark of swagger from the band but they sound content to the let the high-priced producers do the driving. Timberlake really brings little to the party besides being popular at the time. He is a once-in-a-generation talent but the collaboration was stale. Chasing a more “authentic” club sound only reminds us how important Roger Taylor on real drums is to the Duran Duran formula.)

10. (8.) Liberty

Unfairly maligned for some misteps like “Hothead”, there is some really great material on Liberty. Every critic said the lead single was a terrible choice but I actually dig “Violence”. The second side of the album definitely loses some focus but the first half proves worthy of frequent listens and “My Antartica” is nothing short of beautiful. 

(The modern-pop of “Serious” and the fierce “First Impression” showcase a band considering future paths. At the time, it was easy to call this indecision but I think it was borne from curiosity the more I listen to the album. The myth that Wedding Album “saved” the band implies that Liberty was a catastrophe. Nothing is further from the truth.)

11. (12.) Wedding Album

The first time I heard “Ordinary World”, I was crossing the railroad tracks near Dixie Highway in West Palm Beach, FL. I remember it that vividly. Duran Duran was back! Three classic singles and some interesting filler made for a respectable but overrated album. 

(No matter how successful “Ordinary World” was to the band, it still doesn’t sound like a classic Duran Duran song. While the liquid grace of “Come Undone” and the attitude of “Too Much Information” were dynamite, the rest of the album is far less coherent than Liberty.)

12. (9.) Astronaut

Andy Taylor’s guitar tone has a unique frequency that just soothes my soul. His style is a breath of fresh air after Warren’s antics on the fretboard (and in the bedroom). Even if there was only the reunion tour, it was worth it but the band took the time to deliver new material that often reminds you of their best work while not quite getting there.

(I would have liked to see them hit the studio after a reunion tour while the juices were flowing but “What Happens Tomorrow” and “Nice” will always make my Duran playlist. Rest of it is somewhat forgettable but I enjoy it when I listen to it.)

13. (10.) Paper Gods

Living in Vegas, you build up an instant distain for anything that smells like EDM. So, “Last Night In the City” will always be an album killer for me. The ballads lack the necessary hooks and the best songs from this period were relegated to b-side status. Paper Gods took too long to record and there were too many cooks in the kitchen. 

(Not nearly as bad as I think. “Sunset Garage” could almost slip into a Motown playlist while “Danceophobia” is a legendary band having a laugh. The bold title song shows confidence at the front of the album and the band sounds ready to keep the party going for at least another decade.)

14. (13.) Thank You

What they should have covered.

(The critics were savages when this came out but the production is quite good. “Perfect Day” is full of grace and “White Lines” captures the paranoia of the original. Still, it could have been much better than it is. )

15. (15.) Pop Trash

This was mostly trash.

(Yep.)

Awaken All Those Whispers

Dusty shadow of a passing favour

Last weekend, I sat down and listened to my vinyl copy of As The Lights Go Down. Without pretense and drama, I’ll just say that I really enjoyed it.

I can’t pretend that I’m an expert with regard to mastering or sound engineering, or any of that. I’m just a listener, period. While I’ve always been interested in the technical side of album production, I really don’t know a lot about it. I just know what I enjoy, and that’s what I’m going to share.

From the conversations I’ve seen on both Twitter and Facebook, there seems to be some confusion about what and where this album is from. Is it the same as Arena? What about the video/dvd/broadcast As The Lights Go Down? Are they all the same? How about the digital version of ATLGD – is it the same as the vinyl?

The answers are no, sort of, and yes. Let me try and sort this out for those who are confused (I was one of them). I’m going to be very, very clear here: in order to try and decipher all of this, I had to research online and take notes. I didn’t automatically “know” any of this. Thank goodness for the internet today. There’s no way I could have kept it all straight otherwise. I missed out on the special “gift” of being that detail oriented!

Arena (Album)

Arena – the vinyl/CD/etc is a live album that was “recorded around the world” in 1984 that also included the studio recording of “Wild Boys”. I’m pretty sure at least most of us are familiar, right? The complaints about Arena range from the audience sounds being muted to the sound being rather flat. It’s “live”….but not really. Clearly somebody tinkered with the sound, and probably because it was needed, but I really don’t know. Like I said, I’m no expert. Owning Arena was the most exciting thing to happen to me in 1984. I hadn’t ever seen the band live at that point, and listening to that album, at the time,””

Arena (An Absurd Notion)

Arena also has a slightly more exciting, and possibly evil conjoined twin named Arena (An Absurd Notion). This is a concert film…but as a twist, there’s also a plot! This was filmed in Oakland, California in 1984. The film was released on videotape and broadcast on MTV. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend finding a copy. It’s pretty wild and makes for a great party/drinking game if you’re so inclined.

As the Lights Go Down (film)

Then there’s the film version of As The Lights Go Down. Essentially, this is similar to Arena (An Absurd Notion), but with all of the plot elements cut. However, even the live footage is edited differently in spots so it doesn’t seem like it’s exactly the same thing as Arena. So, it’s basically a concert video that is about an hour in length. This too was broadcast – first on Cinemax and later on MTV. I’m reading that there are at least two versions of this film that exist (but I really don’t know the differences). If you have a DVD of this film that you found on an auction site – or something that is a “stand-alone” copy, chances are, if you had it prior to 2010, you own a bootlegged copy. That year, there was an official, bonus disc of it included in the special re-issue of Seven and the Ragged Tiger.

As the Lights Go Down – Digital

So that leaves the digital version, found on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, etc. Is it the same as the vinyl released for Record Store Day? Yes, but it is mp3 because it is digital, and was released in 2010. I’ll let your own ears decide if it’s the same.

As the Lights Go Down – RSD vinyl 2019

So what about this vinyl, then? Again, I’m no audiophile. I don’t have the same expectations as someone who is a DJ, or works in the industry. I’m your average listener. I put the needle on the record, and sat down with a glass of wine. While I would say that there still isn’t a lot of difference between the lows and highs (the dynamic ranges), I definitely hear a difference between the vinyl and the mp3 – although it is subtle. Unless you’re listening with quality headphones, it is likely most wouldn’t notice. If you want to compare this album to say, Arena – the differences are night and day in many respects. What I enjoyed most about this album though, was that I could hear many notes, arpeggios, and loops that I couldn’t quite discern before. I loved hearing all of those extra layers that felt very compressed before. Again, I’m not an expert – I just know what I like. It sounds great, and I’m not sorry I bought it.

I know others were disappointed by the track order, but this is where my lack of attention to detail wins every time. It didn’t even occur to me to notice! I just enjoyed each track for what it provided, and didn’t expend a lot of brain waves thinking about why. Taking a trip back through 1984 without being forced to relive my frizzy hair, awkward body, and drama-filled school days worked for me. Listening to the songs I fell in love with at 12 and 13, with my 48-year old ears still fairly intact gave me a chance to fully appreciate the relationship I still have with this band. (however one-sided it may be!)

Overall, I believe many fans truly expect perfection in every single way, 100% of the time. I’m not sure if I reside in that group. I know that at one time, I probably did – but at this moment in my life, I’m willing to give grace and forgive an awful lot just to have a bit of joy. This album delivered, and that’s more than enough for me, in my mostly non-expert, “just a listener”, opinion.

-R




Duran Duran Record Store Day 2019 Press Release: Fluff or Fake News?

By, @duranimaljeff(Twitter)

Did you read the exciting news released by Duran Duran this week?  In case you missed it, Warner is releasing a double LP of live music from “As The Lights Go Down” for Record Store Day 2019.  The special was a TV concert filmed in Oakland, CA for the Sing Blue Silver tour in 1984.  As a collector, this news excites me as I have long yearned for the band/management/record label to release more physical music items.  However, there are a few items in the press release that didn’t sound right to me.  In this era of “Fake News”, I had to wonder how much of this info is “fluff”, and how much is fact.

First, the press release claims that “Duran Duran played three incredible shows to over 150k people at the Oakland Coliseum”.  We all know they were incredible, that’s for sure!  However, I have done some research over the years and I believe the biggest non-festival shows that Duran Duran have played in the United States were at Madison Square Garden in 1984 and the Staples Center in 2005 with both venues having a capacity of 20,000 people for concerts.  Naturally, it seemed incorrect that they played to 150,000 people over three shows in Oakland. 

Some quick research (and the fact that I’m a sports fan) indicates that there are two neighboring properties as part of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum complex, both commonly referred to “Oakland Coliseum”.  First, there is the football and baseball stadium that can hold 50,000 people for concerts.  Second, there is the basketball arena (now called Oracle Arena) that can hold 16,000 for concerts.  Duran Duran played in the arena, as seen in the As The Lights Go Down video, so it is not possible that they played to 150,000 people over those three days.

Second, the press release states that “no official products were ever released”.  Again, I take issue with this statement.  The actual video for “As The Lights Go Down” was released on DVD as part of the 2010 Special Edition CD/DVD box set for “Seven And The Ragged Tiger”.  Also, the live tracks were released as part of an iTunes audio album in 2010.  Even though Itunes is a digital format, it is still considered a product in my book since I had to pay for it!! 

Furthermore, for those that do not know, the live tracks presented on “As The Lights Go Down” are the same live tracks released on the live album “Arena”.  The audio is mixed and edited a bit differently, and the “As The Lights Go Down” version has some of the sound effects from the video incorporated, but the base live tracks are the same recording.  Therefore, I have a hard time believing that “no official products were ever released” with regards to “As The Lights Go Down”.

Third, the last line of the press release states that the release “is available from 13 April 2019 (Record Store Day) in records stores across the country”.  I am not a card-carrying member of the grammar and spelling police, but shouldn’t it read record stores?  Also, which country is being referred to here?  I’m guessing it is referring to the United States, but then why use the European date format?  Fans outside the United States may take offense to this wording.  I believe the record is being released in the U.S. and U.K. 

Finally, all wording issues and “fluff” aside from the press release, am I excited for this release, or am I just a bit triggered about all this?  I’m absolutely very happy!!!  Duran Duran has not participated in Record Store Day every year.  The fact that we have something to buy on this special day in April for the second straight year is step in the right direction! 

The two pink and blue colored vinyls match the gatefold  cover perfectly and also gives a nice nod to the recent Paper Gods era/branding.  The package will also feature photos from Denis O’Regan.  As an audio collector, it will be fantastic to have this recording on a physical format.  There has also been some debate online if Duran Duran are still signed to Warner.  This RSD release confirms there is still some relationship, even though Duran Duran is not currently on the artist roster at warnerbrosrecords.com.

I would like to give Amanda and Rhonda a special thank you for allowing me to write a short piece concerning this press release.  I don’t write a lot, but I think it’s a great outlet to organize and communicate your thoughts, and sometimes it just feels better to “get the words out”!!  Happy Record Store Day 2019 to everyone!

Jeff Bistline has been a dedicated Duranie since 1984. His passions in life are his Duran Duran collection, college basketball, and his boxer dog, Vivi. He is an accountant and lives in Nebraska.


I Have a Problem with Tribute Bands

On Saturday night, we took a break from the whirlwind of constant activity so that we could spend time seeing a few tribute bands at the Anaheim House of Blues. My sister-in-law invited my husband and I to go see The Cured with them, and while we had no business taking any time away to do much of anything, we said yes anyway.

Rule #1 – buy the concert tickets.  In this case, they were free, so why not, right??

I was thrilled to get away from this house, to be honest. Selling a house is stressful, and we’ve been working on this place for months now. Any deep desire to stay here and not move has long since been squelched. I’m ready to bid farewell to Rancho Santa Margarita and welcome what comes next.

Turns out, not only was The Cured playing, but Planet Earth (which ended up being Arena, because Planet Earth suddenly retired) was also on the bill that night, along with Substance, a New Order tribute. I was in luck!

This show was at the new Anaheim House of Blues. On the inside, the venue is big, clean and beautiful, but I dislike the way you enter. It used to be that if a concert-goer dines at the restaurant, entrance would be granted through the dining hall, and there wouldn’t be a wait at the door. No more. Customers may certainly eat at the HOB, but afterward, you exit the restaurant and still wait in the long line. Not the end of the world, but definitely an inconvenience and a hassle. Fine for tribute band shows, particularly this one since we had free tickets, but for a well-known band? No way. Why would anyone want to eat dinner at the House of Blues, particularly when their once-ample menu has now been paired down to less-than-a single-page of offerings, and then be forced to stand at the end of the very long GA line for a band like Duran Duran, for instance? The wise decision would be to forgo the dinner and just wait in line, or be happy hearing the concert from one of the side bar areas that offer an obstructed view.

The venue itself is big and airy like a warehouse conversion, along with dark and intimate feeling inside the actual concert hall. It is a nice, ample space for GA shows, similar to most other HOB locations I’ve been in. Believe it or not, the space filled very quickly. When the first band took the stage around 8pm, the house was packed.

And what was that first band, you ask?  Arena!

I’ve learned a few things about tribute bands over the years. They tend to use the tribute thing as a bit of a gimmick. Some create as real of an experience as you can get without seeing the actual band live. They strive for authenticity, and that means if you’re playing Simon Le Bon, you’d better BE as close to Simon as possible. There’s no taking “artistic license” with his vocals OR with the lyrics. The costuming has to be accurate. “Simon’s” wig cannot look like it once belonged to Donald Trump, for instance. The music has to sound as close to the band as possible without it being karaoke or merely a lip sync performance. Sure, there might be some smoke and some mirrors, after all, even the real bands use backing tracks and a zillion other effects. However, the goal is for it all to feel genuine. Other bands use the tribute as shtick. It’s comedic, and it’s not really meant to be authentic, although it might still get audiences in the door. That said, there’s good comedy, and there’s really bad comedy, right? The same can be said for tribute bands. Some might be hilariously funny, but the musicianship is top-notch. Others might be funny because they’re trying to hide the fact that they can’t really play. Still others are a blend of all of it.

The whole tribute band scene is rather incestuous, so to speak. While you might see a band like Arena, or even The Cured—later on that same night, you might see people from those same bands performing in other tributes. While I can understand the economic issues in doing so, it all feels a little awkward to someone like me who might be paying attention.  What band are they actually IN, and why is everyone trading members? Those things bug me. Even so, if the guy (or girl) can play it all, so be it.

Lastly, there’s me, obsessed Duran Duran fan. I am probably not the best audience for any DD tribute band, because A. I’m a huge fan. I know every single Duran Duran song down to the tiniest chord and glottal stop. and B. I own a blog.

The reality is, I’m a great audience member for any other tribute band besides Duran Duran. I don’t know anyone’s music the way I do DD’s, and I’m happy just to hear Blue Monday, Love Will Tear Us Apart or even Love Cats. I know the hits pretty well, but not obsessively so, and it’s all great fun. So, when I tell you that I was not entirely taken by Arena, understand that my standards are unapologetically high. They were good, but not great.

All of that aside, the band was fun. I definitely spent time bobbing my head and instinctively doing all the same things I might do at a Duran show—except for maybe screaming at the guitar player and rolling my eyes when they played HLTW—I’ve got to save something for the real deal, you know. I can’t review Arena the way I initially thought I might, because it would be unfair. I did have fun that night, and maybe that’s the takeaway for me – I can’t and shouldn’t intensively review a DD-tribute band.

I’ve come to the realization that I am the nightmare audience member for a DD tribute band, outside of maybe any actual, real, band member. I’m the person you can and should call in for a quality control assessment, because I’m brutally honest. However, no one needs me in their audience, particularly if I’m writing a review.

On the other hand, I loved Substance – the New Order tribute, because I’m a casual fan of New Order. I have their albums, I know their songs, but I don’t know them in the same way. The vocals weren’t exactly the right tone, but the music was good, and I heard songs I hadn’t heard in years. The same holds true for The Cured. The vocals were fairly close, and musically the band was fabulous. They have a professional quality about them that I very much admire, and I’d go see them again.

The escape, even for just a few hours, was a welcome respite.

-R

Arena Anniversary and Live Albums

On this date in 1984, Duran Duran’s live album, Arena, was released.        This, of course, makes me think of my connection to the album and the other live albums of theirs.  I also give my little fantasy for live albums in the future.

Arena

This album was the first live album for Duran.  It captured the Sing Blue Silver Tour of 1984 and included the sentence, “recorded live around the world” on the sleeve.  This is unlike most live albums, which are recorded at one specific show.  Of course, we also know that the album featured one new track, Wild Boys.  Around the same time, Arena, An Absurd Notion, DVD was released along with Into the Arena board game.  Indeed, fans had a lot of material to watch, listen, and buy in late 1984!

I remember receiving this album for Christmas in 1984.  That year also marked the first walkman for me.  From what I recall, all of the kids in my family got walkmans that year.  For me, this meant that I could use the headphones while I listened to my brand new copy of Arena.  The family’s record player was located in the dining room portion of our living room/dining room combo.  I have distinct memories of sitting on a dining room chair, listening and pouring over the lyrics.  While I knew all of the songs (except for Wild Boys), I was fascinated by what changes took place, lyrically, from the original recording to these live versions.  Even as a kid, I analyzed everything Duran!

Looking back on Arena, I can now acknowledge both the positive and negative aspects of the live album.  It obviously featured a lot of the band’s hits, including Is There Something I Should Know, Planet Earth, Hungry like the Wolf, and Save a Prayer.  Yet, it wasn’t until the reissue of 2004 that Girls on Film and Rio were included.  It also included some fan favorites that weren’t hits, but were well loved like New Religion and Careless Memories.  Still, many other songs seemed to be missing.  I recall being surprised that the Reflex was left off since it was such a huge hit in 1984.  It is a rather short album in comparison to the 90 minute sets that they commonly then.  The main criticism about the album, though, is that it was simply too polished.  It lacked the feel of a live album.  I cannot disagree, which is, perhaps, why I don’t tend to play this one much.  I have heard far better bootlegs of that tour, which seem to capture the feeling of that era more.

Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind

Since Arena was released, fans have enjoyed two other live albums, Live from London and A Diamond in the Mind.  Live from London focused on the reunion of the Fab Five and came out 20 years after Arena.  During that time, I loved to listen to this one as it had all the great hits and really made me feel as if I was there at the concert.  Of course, it didn’t hurt that it also came with a tremendous live show DVD and a lengthy documentary about the band’s history and the reunion.  What more could a fan want?!  It didn’t hurt that I also got to see the concert in a movie theater with lots of other Duranies.  While it wasn’t a live show, it wasn’t the next best thing!

Truly, I didn’t think it could get any better until A Diamond in the Mind came out.  This one, released in 2012, focused on the All You Need Is Now era.  In 2004 and 2005, I couldn’t imagine a better time in Duranland, but by 2011 and 2012, I knew that the AYNIN era made me even happier.  During Astronaut, I went to a bunch of shows and had an amazing time.  Yet, AYNIN came at a time that my fandom needed a shot of energy and pure Duran-ness.  That album and tour gave me more than a shot.  They gave me lots more as Rhonda and I started this blog and began to plan meet-ups.  It also featured a couple of trips to the UK, which will always be special.  Like Live from London, I was also able to see the DVD part in a movie theater with other Duranies as part of Durandemonium, our little Duranie convention in 2013.

Hopes for Future Live Albums/DVDs

Ideally, I would love a live album and DVD for each album cycle.  I know that the show at the Budokan in Japan will air in Japan on December 10th.  Hopefully, maybe, possibly, this will be made available elsewhere after that?!  I, for one, would love it.

Another idea that I would love if the band would consider would be to record all of their live shows.  They could either make them available for purchase or include them in VIP packages.  For me, I would love to have every show I have been to available to listen to after the fact.  They would bring back lots of good memories.

What about the rest of you?  What do you think of the Duran’s live albums?  What would you like them to do in the future?

-A

Back Into the Arena

It isn’t every day that I can sit and listen to an interview on BBC West Midlands featuring my favorite drummer in the entire world, hear Hungry Like the Wolf…and contemplate that on this date thirty-one years ago….Arena was released.

I know Duran Duran says they’re not nostalgic, and that may very well be the case;  but I don’t know how they can help but NOT but look back fondly from time to time.  When DDHQ pulls out the pictures of “Into the Arena” board game on top of it all, I just can’t help but remember 1984. I’d just turned 14, in fact, my mom and dad had put money into the card they gave me for my birthday so that I could go down to Wherehouse Records and get Arena on the day it was released. It was the height of Durandom in America, and I can remember getting so excited over every little mention of Duran Duran, which was often! At the time it seemed like I lived and breathed them.

Oddly, it wasn’t a whole lot different from the present… kind of funny, really. I mean, I take blogging seriously because it’s a responsibility I’ve chosen to take on, but I also am well-aware of how crazy it seems. I’m 45 and yes, I write a blog about being a Duran Duran fan. I’m glad life worked out this way.

On any given day, I make it part of my day to read any articles about the band, watch/listen to interviews, and try to keep up with whatever is going on in the fan community. I glean whatever I can, try to make sense of it, and post away.  In plenty of ways, this blog has allowed me to still BE a fan. I would have never seen that possibility at the age of 14. I just don’t think I had any kind of foresight of what would come next. My goodness, my dreams back then were to open the door and see Roger Taylor waiting to take me away, but not before I became a conductor for the LA Philharmonic. Because you know, those two life aspirations go together perfectly….right???  Yet, if I really think back on what I was like at 14 – I’m not all that much different. I used to journal quite often, particularly when something was bothering me. Some kids had sports, I had writing and music.  I still do.

Back then, I believed the 80s would last forever. It felt like a very long time before I would graduate from high school. I couldn’t imagine music being any different from it was on Seven and the Ragged Tiger, and even after I came out of Wherehouse on that fateful day in 1984, clutching a bag with my cassette tape and vinyl copies of Arena – I had not a single doubt that I would love Duran Duran forever.

Life was so innocent for me in 1984. I didn’t realize that Roger was about to leave the band, or that Andy would follow. I hadn’t even had a boyfriend yet, or had my heart completely broken. I didn’t know that a day would come where I wouldn’t practice my clarinet, or that I’d be a stay-at-home-mom.  I don’t remember worrying about wars, or bombings – although I do remember talking about the possibility of nuclear weapons. I hadn’t ever used a computer, phones still had cords (in fact our phone in the kitchen was still a rotary!), and I didn’t really even know what rap was. Facebook, Twitter and social media weren’t even twinkles in someone’s eye….in fact, I kind of giggle when I think of what Simon, John, Roger, and Nick might have said or done if someone had told them that at some point in the future, they’d actually have the opportunity to trade messages with Duranies. Even better? Dom would have only been twelve years old. Had he even learned to play guitar by then?!?  Who knew what the future would hold….

So there’s some 1984 for ya.  Happy Anniversary Arena!

-R