Tag Archives: Berlin

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

 

 

Today in Duran History – Berlin 1982

On this date, Duran Duran played at Sektor in Berlin, West Germany.  Was anyone there?  Did anyone see this show?

What makes this show significant in my mind is that it is the last show before Duran Duran had to cancel 6 shows.  Why did they have to cancel shows?  For those of you who read John Taylor’s autobiography, you know the story.  For the rest of you, I’ll try to summarize here quickly.  The band arrived in Munich, ready to continue their tour.  That night, the band went to a concert and later to a club.  The night took a turn for the worse as Roger was been involved in a fight.  If that wasn’t enough, John, in a fit of rage, punched the glass light fixture and cut his hand, badly.  The band, then, was forced to cancel the rest of the German dates.  For shows scheduled after Germany, they brought in a bass player to play John’s parts.  Obviously, this was a pretty significant lowlight for the band and John, in particular.  I, for one, am just glad that everyone, including John could bounce back.

-A

Book Club: Mad World (Kim Wilde, Howard Jones, and Berlin)

Welcome to the latest post in our most recent book club!  This time around we are discussing the book, Mad World.  We will be reading and discussing the chapters on Kim Wilde, Howard Jones and Berlin.  Hopefully, you, too, will read those chapters and dive into the discussion!

Kim Wilde:

Amanda:

I knew of Kim Wilde as a kid but I didn’t know her really well.  I definitely knew the song, “You Keep Me Hanging On,” and liked it, but I didn’t know enough to say that I was a fan.  I never thought about the songs or about the fact that she was a female singer.  Did this chapter make me see her and her position in the New Wave musical era differently than just a simple singer?  It made me think more about the status of women in the industry, then vs. now, for sure.

Before I get to gender roles, I was struck by her discussion of the lyrics to “Kids in America”.  She mentioned the idea that you don’t have to directly identify with the lyrics to be able to sing them or like them.  She says this, of course, because she isn’t American singing about kids in America.  I have to agree with her.  You don’t have to directly identify a lyric to sing it or like it.  Look at Duran’s lyrics.  I am sure that Simon can’t relate to every single thing he has sung about.  In fact, I might argue that a lot of Simon’s lyrics aren’t exactly autobiographical.

During this chapter, it seems clear to me that Kim just rode the waves of her experience.  She didn’t think about writing the songs herself, but was content to let her father and brother do it, at least at first.  Image wasn’t at the top of her list either.  Was that because she was young?  Was that because of her personality?  A combination thereof?  Possibly.  Yet, I think about how things went for her as a young female singer compared to the young female singers of present day.  Now, image is central to everyone’s career, I think, especially women.  This reminds me of last week’s discussion in the discussion about Yaz and how Alison Moyet pointed out the push for women to just act like sexual toys now.  Clearly, Kim felt sexy, at times, but didn’t feel sexualized, or objectified, in the way that Alison referred to many female performers today.

Rhonda: 

My knowledge of Kim Wilde pretty much starts and ends with “Kids in America”.  It was a song I heard on the radio and recognized, but I wouldn’t say I know her music beyond that one song.  It’s not that I didn’t care for her, it’s that my sights were focused elsewhere. 

I never really gave it much thought that Kim was singing a song about America and yet she wasn’t from here. It was just a song.  Personally I think that a good writer *does* always identify in some way with what they’ve written or sung about, but just as we say that Simon’s lyrics aren’t always as transparent as they may seem – I think the same can be said for nearly everyone.  That said, Kim Wilde didn’t even write the songs. Her father wrote them for her to sing and created an image for her from there. It’s not exactly the deepest story of someone climbing stardom from the rock bottom, gripping by their fingernails to get to the top, you know?  I mean, the song is fine – but let’s be realistic about what it was.  Was she talented? Sure. Talented enough to get by without her father doing the writing? Not immediately. I think even Kim acknowledges that her part was played elsewhere, with more to come later on.  Everyone gets their start somehow.

I agree with Amanda that Kim seemed to just ride the wave of her career. It seemed to me as though she knew her place, played her part but had no ambition for more. She was happy with what she had, and perhaps that was a sign (to her) that her real love was elsewhere. I see that she’s still recording and signed to a label, but I also see that she has had other interests in her life. Some people are not necessarily designed to do only one thing in their life, and maybe Kim Wilde is among them.  

Howard Jones:

Amanda:

I love that Howard Jones thought about what message he wanted to send with his first single.  I love the message about going after your number one dream, too.  Obviously, if he had the chance to write, perform and release a single, then he would be showing the world that dreams do come true.  I like the idea of that.  Of course, if he wasn’t successful, would the message still ring true?  As he points out, this was part of his own struggle to feel like he was in control of his own future.  It also puts him against the grain of the time since he was optimistic about the future when many others were not.

As the authors pointed out in the introduction, there were other elements of Howard Jones that didn’t fit into the usual New Wave scene.  Two things that he mentioned that shows this include the discussion on image and the discussion on his lyrics.  First, while he did have some spiky hair, he didn’t feel it super necessary to dress in a crazy sort of way.  He felt that if people wanted to wear jeans and a t-shirt, that’s cool.  Likewise, if people wanted to be more “flamboyant”, that would be fine, too.  Clearly, he wasn’t as focused on image in comparison to so many other artists of the time.  Second, he mentioned that the importance that the song lyrics be such that people could relate to them.  His lyrics were grounded in reality versus lyrics like David Bowie’s that he called “meaningless”.

In many ways, Howard Jones and Kim Wilde provide an interesting contrast to each other.  On one hand, neither one let image dictate.  On the other hand, Kim was more open to lyrics she didn’t directly relate to.  Perhaps, this has everything to do with Howard being a songwriter and Kim being initially just a singer.  That said, I see both of their points and, as a listener, I appreciate both–lyrics that I can relate to and lyrics that I don’t.  To me, quality lyrics is more important.

Rhonda:

Howard Jones has always been a favorite of mine, and it’s because of those lyrics. He writes songs that make me think, and I like that. I also liked that for Howard, he was more interested in writing quality songs than he was with being cool in order to attract attention.  I think I sensed that immediately – and it drew me in. He didn’t fit in, *I* certainly didn’t fit in much in high school, and I just liked his music. Easy.

I was completely struck by what Howard shared about David Bowie…particularly because it is exactly, without question, what I feel when I hear his music.  I like David Bowie’s music. I cannot stand the lyrics most of the time. I don’t get any meaning from them. I don’t feel lighthearted. I don’t feel anything.  As Howard says “Art for art’s own sake is just not me. I like being able to relate to what people are saying.”  That’s  exactly it. I know that this is practically blasphemy coming from a Duran fan – but it’s the truth for me. I’m really not a Bowie fan because I just never quite got it.  Hey, we all have our faults. 

Howard Jones has to be one of the most grounded musicians I’ve ever really read about. Perhaps for a lot of people that makes his story boring – it certainly isn’t ever going to hit headlines, but I like that about him.  He’s married, he has children, and he writes amazing music.  It’s as though he hasn’t allowed that one portion of his life – his career – to BE his life or to transcend all else.  I applaud that. 

Berlin:

Amanda:

Unlike Kim Wilde or Howard Jones, Terri Nunn of Berlin, right away in this chapter, discussed image and their focus on it.  The image she wanted the band to have was “elegant but sexy”.  She wanted to seem grown up and classy with dresses and martinis.  The band should be able to fit in with bands like Roxy Music.  I can appreciate that aesthetic as Duran portrayed that image, too, at times with their cool suits and fancy drinks.  Like Duran, they also went for a bit of controversy to get attention.  I can understand the motive for doing something like doing a song like “Sex (I’m a…)” even if it didn’t go exactly as planned.

It seems to me that Berlin’s story is like so many others.  Once a hit happened, the ego exploded like it did with Terri Nunn’s demands about how playing “Take My Breath Away” at the Academy Awards should be.  Of course, the fame also means that there is a cycle of life from studio to road to studio to road with little real interactions and few, if any, real relationships.  In the case of Berlin, they fell apart, which seems pretty normal to me.  I would think that kind of lifestyle would be exhausting and would cause tension and irritation for most people, no matter how great the relationship was to begin with.  Thus, the bigger question to me isn’t why Berlin couldn’t survive but how come some bands do survive.  What do those bands have that most bands do not?

Rhonda:

It is funny to see how image really mattered to some bands and not to others – although to be fair I think that most bands cared about image in the 80s, even if it was about making sure that they were completely different from anything else out there. (conversely nowadays I think image is about making sure you’re exactly like everyone else, oddly enough…) 

Being a child of the 80s, I grew up watching “The Metro” on Video One or MV3. (But I had no idea that Richard Blade and Terri Nunn were almost married!) I would look at Terri Nunn and immediately sense that there was no way on this God’s green earth that I’d ever be as cool.  That alone made me respect her and love her music…and that voice?  She was amazing then, and she’s amazing now. I will say this though: just as many people say that Duran Duran would be nothing without Simon LeBon because he is the “voice” (a stance I do not agree with, personally)….I think that is why Terri has been able to continue on as Berlin.  She’s the voice and the image. I didn’t ever even acknowledge that other people might have been in that band, because to me it just didn’t matter. Now whether that is something to applaud or something to fuss over probably depends on whether you’re Terri Nunn or one of those other guys in the band. 

Oddly, I was never a fan of Take My Breath Away. It’s a great song. Terri sings it beautifully. I also heard it about ten million times over the course of a single summer – and while it’s a beautifully sultry piece, I’m still a much bigger fan of “The Metro”.  I think it might be due to what Jonathan Bernstein said – it’s much more European-sounding than American.  

I live in Orange County (CA) and as a result I see ads for Berlin playing all over the place. I’ve seen them several times, and they put on a great show. Terri Nunn does an excellent job, and while sometimes you’ll go see a band that was big in the 80s and they’ll kind of seem like they’re just there to pick up their paycheck….that has never been the case with Terri. She still looks HAPPY to be there, happy to connect with the crowd.  I believe that is why her shows sell so well, because it’s impossible to come away without feeling just a little fired up, and who doesn’t want that?? 

Next week we’ll be discussing Flock of Seagulls, Modern English and Soft Cell, so do some reading at the beach or poolside and join in!!