If you look at Duran’s tour history, you might see that during this time in early August in 1982, they were opening up for Blondie. In fact, during the tour, they played such places as Rockford, Illinois, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. That makes me laugh. Neither one of those places are super exciting. I suspect that they might have been the only times they played in these very small cities. This makes me think, though. What did Duran Duran think of those places? Did this tour help Duran win any fans? What about the bands and artists who have opened for Duran? Have they earned any new fans that way?
So, in thinking about these shows in Rockford and Cedar Rapids, I have to laugh. I’m pretty familiar with both places after having grown up in Illinois and visiting Iowa a number of times when my siblings attended college or graduate school there. I don’t think it would be wrong of me to say that they are not super hip. Rockford has less than 150,000 people and Cedar Rapids has about 130,000. They are not know to be musical meccas now and probably not even in 1982. Yet, Blondie decided to go to these places. Okay. Interesting choices considering that Chicago isn’t that far away, neither is Milwaukee or even Des Moines. Both of these cities are surrounded by farmland and a heck of a lot of corn. I seriously wish that I was a fly on the wall in Duran’s tour bus at the time. What did they think? This makes me wonder about other weird places Duran has played over the years. What is the weirdest place you know that Duran played? I would like to know what could possibly beat or equal these Midwestern “cities”.
More importantly, I suppose, then the locations is whether or not this tour really did any good for Duran, in terms of winning over fans. Now, I know that a lot of books and documentaries have covered the rise of the band and how they became successful. Many times, this tour is mentioned but did it really do its job for them? I think many Duran historians and music historians, for that matter, believe that the introduction of MTV and the use of video did a lot to get Duran fans. Some might claim that opening for Hazel O’Connor was super important as that is where record labels first heard and saw them. It is where they got signed to EMI. Still, others might mention meeting the Berrow brothers at the Rum Runner as being super important to Duran’s future success but the Blondie tour? I’m not sure. Of course, I doubt there are statistics out there that can directly measure the number of fans before and after opening for Blondie. I also recognize that there aren’t direct lines between events. The Blondie tour might have opened up some doors which led to even more doors, which eventually brought commercial success. What do you all think? Did this tour matter to the band’s success?
Then, I flip it around to ponder whether or not Duran helped other bands reach success by having them as an opener. In 2005, if anyone would have asked me, I would have said that the band’s opener then, Clear Static, would definitely find success. Years later, obviously, that isn’t true. Of course, they have also had bands who are already successful themselves like Chic. This makes me think of the fans. While I think it is cool to see a new band with a lot of potential play, I love seeing a fabulous opener that is already known to me like Chic. What about the rest of you? Who have you seen as an opener who you thought would really make it? Who did make it? Who have been some great openers for shows you have attended?
I swore I wouldn’t talk about the set list again…but then I did. As I’m asking myself “When will you EVER learn, Rhonda”, I figure I may as well write about it.
This past weekend, I saw a post on Facebook regarding the band’s set list. I read through the comments because, well, of course I did. A question came up about whether or not the band plays a lot of their B-sides. Not deep album cuts, not bonus tracks, but B-sides. I felt like I could answer the question without getting myself into a huge discussion or trouble.
I responded by saying that as a rule, they really stick to the songs most people know. Not a controversial statement by any means, and I know well enough to stay away from the emotional side of that. How I may have felt about whether or not they played Late Bar or Secret Oktober, for instance, was immaterial to that conversation. Best to stay matter of fact and move on. I answered pretty offhandedly, without a lot of flowery words, and moved on to the rest of my day.
Later that night, I picked up my phone again, only to see that more comments had in fact been made. The conversation went from discussing the actual set list, to a sideways chat about who should be blamed (meaning band member). There was a time when I might have joined in, joking along. The KEY word in that sentence is “joking”, but even back then, some people would take us seriously.
Nowadays? Oh hell no, I’m not looking for that kind of fight, because when I say something, it’s seen and broadcasted as Daily Duranie is saying something. I get it, and I’m not even going to step one little toe into all of that. The last thing I need, is to have the word get out that Rhonda from Daily Duranie is blaming Roger (purely for example and no, I don’t blame anyone!) for the set list. Ah, no. No I am not. Have fun fellow Duranies, and I’ll see myself out.
I did eventually go back and clarify my comment because I am a sucker for punishment and couldn’t just let it go. As I said last night, the band has a fantastic problem. They have a large catalog of great songs to choose from, and there’s no way to please everyone. They also continue to attract an audience of NOT just die-hard fans, but a wide variety of people. Many of those only know Duran’s hits, and while that might bother some – the band would be foolish to ignore that there are people in that audience that only know songs like “Rio” and “Hungry Like the Wolf”. It’s just not all that simple. I think it’s pretty obvious I’d go to the shows no matter whether they play the same set list ten times, or they switch it up.
I’ve been to shows where the band left of “The Reflex”, for example. I would go home feeling great about the gig, and there would be people on Facebook complaining about how their favorite song was left out. People would say they’d never been to a show before and that their only wish was to hear that song, and since it wasn’t played the entire concert was ruined for them. I don’t know if the band ever reads or hears about that kind of thing, but it would send me straight over the edge if I were them. I’d get to the point where I’d probably play all of the hits, fearing more comments like that if I didn’t. Particular so, if I were the least bit sensitive.
Huh. Maybe there is something to that set list thing, after all.
And, while I’m at it – they’re not the only band to stick to the same set for an entire tour or more. I saw Chic when they played on the bill with DD quite a bit during the Paper Gods tour. Every night, they played the same set list, right down to Nile’s speech about getting cancer. I was amazed that every single night, Nile was able to keep up the energy and excitement, even when he spoke – because it was the same show. Yet I danced and felt energized. Every single night, without fail, I’d tell Amanda that I wasn’t going to dance (out of being tired), and yet there I’d go, up and at ’em before the first song was even over. Those shows were among some of the best I’ve ever seen, too.
On the same token, I’ve been to shows where a band has decided to showcase their deepest cuts, songs that only the most ardent of fans would know – and I’ve been bored stiff. I saw The Cure many years ago, and they didn’t play a single hit. I left early out of boredom, and I’m not sorry. I’m not a huge fan of The Cure, and while I appreciated that they wanted to play for their fans, this was at a festival. Judging by the amount of people who were leaving with me, I wasn’t alone in my boredom.
Actually, Duran Duran had gone on right before The Cure that night, and they played songs everyone knew. I was way the hell back on the lawn, and even back there, the crowd was wild, dancing away throughout their set. So, I can’t really find the words to complain when Duran Duran decides to play what people know.
No, the band is never going to get it perfect for every single person. I know plenty of fans who stopped going to shows during the Paper Gods tour because as they put it, “The shows are all the same and I’m not going to pay $400 or more to see the band play the same set over and over again.” I can’t argue with them either. They certainly have a point. Maybe Duran Duran isn’t expecting their fans to go to ten or fifteen shows on every tour. I would venture to guess most people don’t. Those that do, well, we should expect to hear the same basic set list at least most of the time and not complain.
The band really can’t win, though. It took me a while to see that and really get it. After all, I complained about the set list for many years – something that I can’t pretend didn’t happen. That said, I can’t keep finding fault with a band who is trying to entertain their audience as best they can. Sure, I’d love to hear a B-side or bonus track thrown in for good measure, and every now and then, it HAS happened. As a rule, the band does stick to the songs most people know or have at least heard before. But every now and then, they shock the heck out of me and play something I never thought I’d hear. I’m not going to complain about those moments.
This is why I’m not going to keep writing about the set list. I’m not going to complain about specific songs anymore, either. Sure, Nick might peer down from his “Great Keyboard Rig on the Stage” and watch my reaction during the first few notes of “Hungry Like the Wolf”, but I don’t need to write about that.
All any of you need to know is that yes, even after fifty shows, I’m still going back for more. It obviously doesn’t matter what they play, I’m still on board, and I still love it every single time.
If that’s not an endorsement to convince others to go see a band, I don’t know what is.
Every once in a while, I’ll come across something that reminds me that our time here on this planet is short. It might be reading something about a friend that passed, or hearing that someone I know is ill, or maybe it’s news of a freak accident that claimed innocent lives. As I’ve grown older, I think I must pay more attention to those types of news items on social media. I think about them a little more in passing, too. In some ways, I miss the times when I believe that I, and the people around me, would live forever. I never thought much about death or dying. Nowadays, I’ve got a brother-in-law who is getting a bone marrow transplant as I type, and a dear friend who is getting chemotherapy as she battles another type of cancer. It is sometimes hard to focus on living.
Yesterday, I was an all-day, off-site staff meeting for my company. I work for a non-profit education company that owns several charter schools in my state. This is only my second year working for the company, and I was hired just after school started last year so this is the first time I’ve seen the entire company at an event (normally we divide up by charter school, if that makes any sense). We spent the entire day in mBIT, or mBrain training. (multiple Brain Integration Techniques) Rather than bore you with the details, I spent much of the day learning how to breathe in much the same way one breathes during yoga. (I slept better last night than I’ve slept in MONTHS, oddly enough, which was something the instructor told us might happen.)
During our training, we spent a lot of the time in gratitude – giving thanks for what we have, or what our brain(s) are telling us about various problems we have. I spent a lot of that time not thinking about school problems (after all, children haven’t even graced our door yet!), but being thankful for the wonderful things I do have in my life. While a lot of the training was exhausting, I actually liked the breathing. I’m going to use it more often during my day to center myself, however I can.
When I got out to my car, I briefly looked at twitter and my phone since I had it off for most of the day. I saw that Nile Rodgers was in the hospital and had to miss a gig for an undisclosed illness. Naturally, I thought about him and hoped for the best. Life is short, and I’m thankful to have not only grown up with his music, but also with the life lessons he’s inadvertently taught me along the way through his own health struggles.
Nile was released from the hospital today, and I have to assume that he’s doing well. My feelings are likely the same as everyone else’s today – glad to hear he’s well enough to leave the hospital, can’t help but think about the music – his own silver lining, that he will undoubtedly leave behind someday. Extraordinary.
As we’ve all discovered in recent years, our idols don’t live forever. For many of them, life with them here on this planet was far shorter than any of us bargained. I don’t think I’m alone when I say that I try to spend a lot more time being thankful for the gifts they’ve given us along the way. For me, the members of Duran Duran are as much people I look up to and highly respect as they are responsible for the soundtrack of my life. I don’t want to think about the time when one or more of them may not be here – I want to focus on enjoying them right now. Life is short, but it is certainly bright and melodic, with their presence in it.
One comment I’ve heard over and over about the band is that they probably laugh all the way to the bank. Yeah, some of us feel as though the shows are of good value at $300-400 (and sometimes more) for those great VIP seats, but I see plenty of comments otherwise, too. Even I’ve had my “OK seriously guys, how much more cash do you need??” moments.
It’s hard. I love Duran Duran. YOU love Duran Duran. We want shows. We want to have great seats. We also need to eat, pay bills, send children to college, drive cars, and so on. While I know that there are plenty of other acts out there wanting $400 just to get in the door to the venue, much less sit near the front, I also know that it’s painful to buy more than a show at a time to see Duran Duran unless I don’t care where I sit.
Let me be clear: I CARE. I care too much, as my husband might say.
It’s easy to throw an “off the cuff” comment out on Twitter or Facebook about how we’re paying for their retirement, or that we’ve paid for their kids’ boarding school. Naturally, most of those comments are made in jest. For instance, I realize it takes more than my dollars to buy a Picasso or an Aston Martin. I often wondered what kind of mansions they all must own or the lives they must lead when they’re not on stage. Even as an adult, I didn’t start really considering their costs to actually operate until around the All You Need is Now tour.
It can’t be cheap. Think about all of the people they’ve had work with the band. Those people don’t work for free. Timbaland, Mark Ronson, even Nile….all of them are in or have been in demand over the years. Collaborations, even with Janelle Monae or Lindsey Lohan, couldn’t have been for free. All of that studio time, the mixing, the engineering, mastering, etc… it all costs.
Then there’s the touring. Ah yes, the touring. When I was in England, I was surprised by how austere the touring was there compared to here. Many times, the band could (and did) travel from their home to where ever they were going to be. Here in the states, they use a private jet. That isn’t cheap at all even if the band gets a good deal. Here, they stay in pretty nice hotels, even if they put the crew up somewhere less expensive. Speaking of the crew – they pay all of those people, right? Everyone from the guy who has to take care of all that cabling (my worst freaking nightmare!) to the techs and beyond gets paid. Lighting, sound, audio/visual, and everyone in between get a pay check. There’s also Dom, Anna, Erin and Simon W. to consider…. I’m fairly certain none of them donate their appearances for free!
Those things I’ve mentioned are merely a drop in the bucket. The minutia of touring, right down to the copying and printing that needs to be done, all takes money. Every last paper clip, button to be sewn, guitar string and costume, all takes money.
So, when I see that last year’s Paper Gods tour (2016 in case you’re unsure) grossed 16.1 million here in the states .I’m surprised, for a few reasons, actually.
First of all, according to Pollstar, who compiled a list of last year’s 200 top grossing tours (Duran Duran ranks at 74), the average ticket price to a DD show was $68. I don’t know about the rest of you, but my average ticket price was “slightly higher”…like about $300 a show, give or take. As I said earlier on Twitter, the average ticket price for someone who doesn’t know much more than Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf was probably $68. For a die-hard fan? $300 if you want near the front. I alternatively laugh and then cry…
Secondly, the band played 44 shows in 40 cities. That’s a lot. They grossed (that means before their costs), on average about $400,000 a show. Not as much as I might have thought, really. (The band should not see this as an invitation to raise prices!) When you consider that figure is before anything else is paid – it becomes clear that no, this band isn’t really laughing all the way to the bank after all.
While I still feel fleeced from time to time – in a kind of a “Hey, congratulations Big Fan – you love us so much that you’re going to pay way more than others on average to sit near us” sort of way, it’s kind of the way things go. Demand. Demand, demand, demand. We want them, we’re going to pay for them. Welcome to Economics 101. I can’t blame them for making a living, particularly when I do the math myself and realize they’re not making as much off of these shows as we might think. 16.2 million before paying all of the bills for things we know, and then the stuff we don’t even realize might not leave a lot….and I am sure they had to share some of that with Chic, too!! Sure, they’re making money. It’s their job in the same way that wrangling children and making copies is mine. I just happen to enjoy the fruits of labor an awful lot!
How important is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame anyway?
As I read through this year’s list of nominees, this question swirled in my head. Sure, Chic is on the list. Again. For the 11th time, they appear on the list. Then there’s Depeche Mode, Yes, Janet Jackson, The Cars…..Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Chaka Khan, ELO (Electric Light Orchestra), Journey, The Zombies, Bad Brains, J. Geils Band, Joan Baez, Kraftwerk, MC5, Joe Tex, and Steppenwolf. I think I’ve gotten them all.
It seems like every single year I write something about the Hall of Fame. Quite frankly, I detest it. I dislike it to the point where it really isn’t worth my time—yet here I am, writing about it again.
It seems to me that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the one accolade everyone loves to hate. The process, in my mind, is absurd. The nominating committee of the RRHOF Foundation gets together and comes up with a list of nominees. The list is publicized, and then some 600-historians and members of the music industry vote upon the all-powerful although in the past few years (since 2012) they’ve bestowed that same glorious right to vote upon the public, so our collective opinion is also taken into account. The top five vote- getters are then inducted.
First of all, the nominees, or at least a reasonable percentage of them—are questionable. I could sit and name names, but the reality is, those that I may find odd are the same bands and artists that someone else probably sees as shoe-ins. So, I’m just going to leave it that I find a lot of the nominees to be questionable, and the inductees typically make me roll my eyes.
Secondly, Chic has been nominated ELEVEN DAMN TIMES. Come on now. That alone tells me something is screwy about the process. Yes, Chic is disco. Yes, Americans (in particular) have forgotten just how much disco-elements we use in our music even today. Even so, eleven times? Unbelievable.
Thirdly, I’d argue that outside of the US, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame means nothing. Just yesterday, one of my friends commented that they never hear about the RRHOF, and they live in the UK. I have no doubt that’s true. Many (including myself) say that the heart of the music industry is here in America, which is probably why the Hall of Fame works here – but the rest of the world doesn’t care. I can’t blame them, because really, is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame that important anyway?
I doubt it. Each year when Nile, as the sole surviving member of Chic is nominated, he graciously tweets something about being happy to be on that list, but he also mentions how many times he’s been on it. In my head, it’s becoming a terrible joke. What makes him any less deserving than Green Day—a band that has been around for a fraction of the time—but was inducted in 2015, the very FIRST year they were even eligible? Absolutely nothing but votes.
Who votes? Who decides? The RRHOF description of their voters is remarkably vague. “some 600 historians and members of the music industry, including those who have previously been inducted.” Then there’s the public, of course. Fans are going to vote for their favorites regardless of whether they’re the most deserving. In the same way I voted umpteen times for Duran Duran to win the MTV EMA this year or “Best World Stage” without watching the other nominees to see if their performance really was the best, fans are going to get out the vote for their favorite, and I can’t blame them. But, that does not equate (in my mind) to being deserving of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Ultimately what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame comes down to is a glorified popularity contest. The only people I ever see commenting on its importance are those who make a living commenting on such things (the aforementioned music historians), those who have been inducted, or perhaps fans. As many Duranies mention, in any interview where the band has been asked, they carefully word their answer about the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The band recognizes that the process is entirely political and not at all indicative of any success the band may have had, their continued relevance, or inspiration they may have given to other bands along the way. It is difficult for me to argue the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in any other light, because I too, see the nominating process and the joke it has become.
Each year I read the list of names, and while of course, there are several on there that should and deserve to be there, there are just as many that I seriously question. Even bands I adore, like Depeche Mode or The Cars, I really have to wonder about. What makes them any more deserving?
Most awards come down to popularity. I’m well-aware that the MTV EMA’s are also awarded based on vote. Is it any different? In some respects, yes I think it is. The EMA’s are not trying to decide the most important acts of our time based on the previous twenty-five years (or more) of work. They reflect a single year, and in many aspects they reflect a single song and how it was received by the public.
Ultimately, this post isn’t going to convince anyone of anything. It’s simply a conversation starter in the same way that morning talk shows might spark discussion. Speaking of which, in case you haven’t heard, Lori Majewski (author of Mad World and fellow Duranie who once was the editor of her own fanzine named Too Much Information: the Definitive Duranzine ) along with co-host Nik Carter have their own brand new music talk show called Feedback on Sirius Channel VOLUME. It airs 7-10 AM EST live in all time zones and then repeats as soon as it ends, and is also available on demand. We wish Lori the very best!
I apologize for the lateness of the blog today. I promised myself that I would get some of that pesky school work done before I completed the more fun task of listening to September’s Katy Kafe and blogging about it. As always with I’m only going to be sharing what I think the highlights were and my thoughts about them. If you want the complete deal, I suggest getting that membership to DuranDuranMusic and listening for yourself. This is one Kafe that is worth it!
End of the Tour:
John commented about how they are on the verge of finishing this tour, which really began for them last year. He said that the end allows them to look back at the accomplishment while looking forward to the break and the next steps. I have to admit that I have always wondered what the end of the tour must be for them. I know what it is like for me. It is usually one of mixed emotions. While I’m glad to return home and get some sleep, I’m also terribly sad in that I don’t know when I will see the next Duran show or the next time that I will see my friends, especially Rhonda. It also usually motivates me to do more work about the blog, our writing or fan events. I guess it is safe to say that tours usually inspire me.
This Kafe brought the good stuff right away with Katy asking about next steps. While there wasn’t a major scoop, there was a few details that I focused in on. First, the return to the States (probably that East Coast show that DDHQ has hinted about) will be around New Year’s. (I don’t mind that. I do have a winter vacation then. Just for the record.) Second, 2017 will hopefully include some “special shows”. That has me wondering what that means! Of course, he did also mention the idea of continuing the tour to Australia, Asia and South America. Interesting to note there was no mention of the Broadway musical or ballet that he and Nick have been working on.
When Katy brought up the topic of Chic, I have to admit that I wondered what else could be said since most critics, fans, etc. have all talked about how having Chic on tour with Duran was awesome because they fit together well. Well, JT talked about how Simon was more “emotional” and “open” on this tour, which showed when he talked about the band’s love for Nile each night. He also mentioned the hope to get Chic to join them for an Australia tour.
The topic of festivals came up in relation to the question of whether or not the band would return to North America. John was open by saying that it wasn’t his decision but that he thinks the best way to keep trying to get the album heard is by playing live dates and that festivals mean that people who wouldn’t have heard Paper Gods get to hear it. Katy then wondered if they might come back to the States next summer for some festivals. John said that many people would agree with that thinking. Of course, while understanding this thinking, festivals make me cringe. I’m too old to enjoy them with all the discomforts that they bring.
John talked about how amazing it was to be at the festival in Aspen with Stevie Wonder. (I, too, thought it was amazing when I got to see Stevie Wonder play at the 2013 Inaugural Ball!) I smiled throughout his description of watching Stevie perform then meeting him and getting a picture taken with him. He sounded like many of us do when describing meeting him!
Yes, they talked about the new iPhone design that is coming out that features the cordless headphones. Apparently, the phone will also be waterproof, which could be important to people who have had incidents with their phone and water. (coughRhondacough)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of John’s side project, Neurotic Outsiders. John shared the story about how the project came together, which is interesting story about they started playing one gig together for a fundraiser before being offered a residency at the Viper Room in LA. More interesting than that, John discussed where his head was at the time, since the side project began right before he left the band. He talked about how his ideas with Duran had run out and that he was interested in sticking to LA more. As someone who is self-described as old school, he also liked (and still does) the idea of a residency. He described this project as the opposite of Duran. While Duran is complex, this band was simple. While they made an album of new material, John felt that the album should have been them live.
Overall, this Kafe was a joy to listen to. John sounded very upbeat and positive. His openness and positivity showed with each topic that came up. As someone wondering what will be next for Duran Duran, the Kafe provided me with a sense that whatever it will be will be good.
It is the final week of this part of Duran Duran’s Paper Gods Tour. Tour time moves so fast. I feel like Paper Gods was released just a few weeks ago rather than a year ago (anniversary is a week from tomorrow!) and that they just start playing shows. As this part of the tour comes to a close, I wanted to take a few minutes to summarize some of the latest news, info, reactions regarding this tour.
Saying Good-bye to Chic
This past week, Chic played their final show with Duran. Social media marked the moment with photos and videos. The photos started a few days before including this photo posted on Duran Duran’s social media:
Clearly, the touring family is a large, happy one based on this photo! Then, Nile tweeted about how he is going to miss being on tour with Duran. I think most people who saw the two bands together would say that they, too, will miss him being on tour. There were many, many, many times that I read and heard about how perfect of a bill this was. Usually, fans ignore the “opening band”. In this case, that was impossible. Instead, the shows often felt like there were two genuine headliners. On a personal note, I definitely believe Nile’s appearance on stage with Duran during Notorious breathed new life into that song!
Anyone who has seen Chic live or watch videos of their performances knows that during their final song, Good Times, they bring people on stage with them. This creates a real party atmosphere! Well, apparently, for their final show, a few special guests appeared.
Here is a longer video of this song:
Clearly, there is a lot of love between both bands and I’m sure that Chic will be missed by both Duran and their fans.
Duran Duran is playing in Cancun, Mexico, on December 29th. Earlier this week, the pre-sale information appeared on the DuranDuranMusic website for those fans hoping to get tickets before the general public sale. Today, though, the tickets went on sale through Ticketmaster for everyone. This is a show that would be fun to attend, especially since it is taking place somewhere warm in December when I will likely be driving through snow and wearing a winter coat. Unfortunately, the costs for this show are out of my budget, but I’m sure that everyone who is able to go will have a blast!
Awaiting More Dates
Fans all over the world are anxiously watching and waiting for more tour dates. There are many areas of the world that hasn’t seen a Duran show for many years. Then, there are some areas like South America that has seen/heard touring rumors for 2017 but nothing official has been said. Of course, Duran also stated previously and repeated with the Cancun pre-sale that they are hoping to have one more show on the East Coast of North America before the end of this year. Many fans are hoping for word on that show, sooner rather than later! I know that I’m anxious to see where and when while hoping that it is such that I might be able to squeeze a trip in somewhere.
Until more dates are announced, I am going to focus on appreciating the last few dates in North America for this leg of the Paper Gods Tour by watching videos, looking at photos and reading stories from those in attendance. I hope those fans scream loud enough for me!!
Ed note: We’re always looking for willing bloggers to share their concert experiences! Today we have a guest blogger from the UK sharing a tale of his adventure to the US for a recent gig!
When DD hit the scene I was in my early twenties. I bought their first two albums , I still think the first album is their best, followed now by Paper Gods. Through the nineties, DD were on my radar, with songs like “Ordinary World” striking a chord. I also remember a small TV concert with Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) while I sat on a sofa. I don’t remember hearing of reunion gigs in the early nineties, but I do remember “Sunrise” being released.
Then in mid-2015, I saw A Diamond in the Mind on TV. I was impressed with their fantastic live show. Dom and Anna on stage enhanced the whole performance. Songs like “The Reflex” with its longer intro sounded even better than the original . After a few plays of the classics I slowly began to enjoy the new songs like “Girl Panic”, etc. This led me to see if any other new material was about.
The timing was perfect because Paper Gods was to be released in September, followed by a world tour. I decided on going to my first DD concert and set about learning all the songs on Paper Gods.
My first DD gig was to take place on December 10th in Bournemouth, only 80 miles from my current home, and also my second home town having spent all my childhood holidays in my parents caravan nearby (Simon said at the concert that he had been nearby in Canford Heath in his early years, maybe we met on the beach 50 years earlier?).
As I arrived at the concert I was aware that the audience was still mainly female, but there were also couples and some mums and daughters etc. Being a straight male at my first DD concert on my own, I felt at ease with the crowd around me, as I was about to sing every word to all the songs. I have to say the atmosphere from ten thousand middle age women screaming was quite exciting!! I was hooked. (Why had it taken me thirty years to see this, I wondered?) The concert was amazing! In my opinion, Duran are still at the top of their game due to their fans, their songwriting, and their performances
After the show, I met some great Duranies at Bar So, just opposite the concert venue. Whilst chatting to some lovely ladies from Southampton, we were joined by a guy from the US (Boston, actually), dressed in a green superman cape. He joined in with our conversation and appeared to be known to most people in the bar. I had a spare ticket to see another great British band the following night in Bournemouth. (Status Quo) I offered the ticket to my new friend in the cape. The following night was a real laugh with an American who had never heard of Status Quo. (they opened Live Aid). At some point, he suggested that I should come to the US when DD tour next year. I thought to myself, what a great idea for a holiday!!
After an email from my new friend in USA, I decided that Austin, Texas would be ideal for my next DD concert. With Chic supporting it meant that my two favourite bands ever would be on the same bill! I bought two tickets, and my best mate Stuart agrees to join me for a lads week away in Austin. Time to party!!
We arrived in Austin two days before the concert and partied on sixth street. We went to Buffalo Billiards, along with a very posh bar at the JW Marriott.
Friday marked the day of the show. We took a taxi for $50.00 to the 360 Amphitheatre, and we weren’t sure if we could get a taxi back. Our British phones weren’t working, so we had some residual fear in the backs of our minds that maybe we would be stuck there all night.
Before the show we had a drink. Two ladies from Tulsa ask if they could join us as we had spare seats. I answer, “Of course!!” The conversation began about DD. They asked, “Are you from England? That is a long way to come!!” After some great banter, friendships were made with Dannette and Petra. Petra is a JT fan and told me that JT’s middle name is Nigel. I corrected her by explaining it was his real first name, which amused her friend Dannette greatly!
We then convinced them to give us Brits a lift back into Austin after the show . They were going to search the hotels to find DD. I told them about my other new friend in the green cape and said that if he was at the show, he would probably be in the right hotel with DD !!
The concert began and Chic took the stage. Nile sang “Get Lucky” as well as all the classics, which was fantastic! The last song was “Rappers Delight”, and people from the audience were also on the stage. I looked up and there was my man (the caped crusader from Bournemouth) in a high visibility jacket. (He owed me a favour for that free ticket in Bournemouth!) During the intermission before DD took the stage, I tracked him down in the crowd. We spoke and I was able to get some “after show information ” from him.
I realize it was going to be a great night, worth traveling 9,000 miles! The DD concert is even better on a hot Texas night, with a full moon over the stage during “Hungry Like The (were) Wolf!!” Tributes were paid to Prince (Simon’s first to him) as well.
After the show, we met our new lady friends from Tulsa. Petra was trying to get backstage with the wrong pass, and Dannette phoned to tell her I had good information from the caped crusader!!
We left the venue for the hotel in Austin. In our best English accents we attempted to teach two girls from Tulsa how to say “Bon, Simon Le Bon”, with no American accent!! We were all having such a great time!!
As we arrived at the hotel, security was tight, but I was ready. There was only Valet parking, and so after one lap of the car park, I hop out (of the car). With my English accent in a Texas hotel, it was “obvious” I was with DD, right? The car was parked for us, and we walked to the bar, closely followed by the caped crusader, (now known as high visibility man !! ) And….. ooh yeah…. SLB along with the rest of the DD entourage, etc. Our two new lady friends were in heaven, and admittedly I was feeling pretty good too !! My mate Stuart is not a Duranie, mind you, and found it all to be a bit funny.
The caped crusader joins us for a drink and SLB is on the next table.
What a night! We lived life to the fullest!! Good times on a DD adventure!!!
Nigel was born in 1961 in Swindon Wilts Uk. (Swindon is about 20 miles away from Salisbury. He thinks he read somewhere that JT has a house near Salisbury but he’s never seen him shopping…and he wonders why did he change his stage name to John??) His musical tastes through the seventies were probably similar to DD. Bowie, Queen, and T. Rex to name a few. His first concerts were quite heavy metal: Deep Purple, Judas Priest. In the later seventies he also liked Disco: Chic and Earth Wind and Fire (who he saw in concert early in the eighties).
Wow, I haven’t blogged in forever! Months, even! I planned to write a little blog post reflecting my thoughts, feelings and reflections regarding being gone from the blog, writing (or in our case, re-writing) the book, etc. Fortunately for all of you, John Taylor pushed that blog aside by doing a little video Kafe (or 3!) in the members only section of DuranDuranMusic. I suffered through (ha!) the videos and will share my thoughts about a few of the highlights here. As always, I’m sure you all want to watch all of the videos yourself so make sure you are a member and head on over to DDM to see them. I should also point out that most of this Kafe consists of John answering questions sent via Twitter.
Book and CD for Summer: John recommended the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which he describes as a “techno adventure story” with a “history of video games” and a bit of 80s culture. Simon is now reading it as well. Personally, this book has popped up a lot for me on recommended lists. Maybe now is the time to check it out. As for CD, he recommends d angelo.
Inspiration: John broke this question down into musical inspiration and personal inspiration. For musical inspiration, he looks to other musicians like Miles Davis. Personal inspiration, he turns to his family, especially his parents to remind him to “do the right thing” and “be kind”.
Birthday Memory: For John, he remembers understanding what a birthday is around 4 or 5 when people came over for a party in their backyard (or back garden in the UK). He got a yellow truck and had cake! Aww….
10 People at a Dinner Party: He hates questions like this and calls it loaded, which I can understand why. What if he doesn’t include someone? What if he includes someone people don’t like? He went with his family, the band and their significant others. Katy forced him to remove the band, since he sees them all the time. He said he would like to have his grandparents as he only knew one. I can relate to that as I only really knew one grandparent (my mother’s mother) and have only vague memories of my grandpa (my mother’s father). Yet, I never knew my dad’s parents at all and really wish I did being that they were immigrants from Poland and would have fascinating stories to share.
Go back in time to change something: In general, he really wouldn’t as everything in his life led him to today as he is now very happy. That said, he wished that he played more sports as a kid and didn’t skip school so much. He doesn’t understand why he hated being in the classroom so much since he loves learning now. As a teacher, I wished that he knew and could it explain it to me! Maybe then I could figure out how to hook my kids who don’t want to come to class.
Now, before I move on to the band related questions, I wanted to just comment on how much I enjoyed his responses on these questions. I smiled a lot and found myself agreeing quite a bit. I didn’t as much when it came to the second type of questions. (Hint: This is a little foreshadowing.)
Band Related Questions:
Working with Nile and Bernard: John reiterated statements about working with the two guys from Chic. He called Nile “enthusiastic” and “supportive”. Bernard was more “reserved” but “put him at ease”.
The Chauffeur (album version) or The Chauffeur (acoustic demo): He likes the bass on the acoustic but the album version is a “masterpiece”.
Fondest video memory: John talked about filming in the videos in Sri Lanka, stating that they had an amazing time. He mentioned a “beautifully lit” scene at night as they rode an elephant through a city street. Now, tell me that I’m not the only one seriously wishing that there was a DVD with deleted scenes from their videos?!
After the tour: He plans for the Paper Gods Tour to last until next year as he hopes to take the tour to South America, Asia and the rest of Europe. I, of course, am glad to hear that as there are many fans who haven’t had a chance to see them yet and would really like to! He also said that he hoped the musical that he is working on with Nick gets to the next level. Exciting!!!!
Most challenging new song: Most of them he has got down by now, but he probably makes a few wrong notes a night on Last Night in the City since he is playing a synth and Paper Gods and Pressure Off are both “tricky”. That said, he described What Are the Chances as a “deeply fucking felt emotional song” that he loves playing and loves to hear Simon sing. Aww…Then, he states that they would love to add more but they are actually cutting the setlist some as the shows will be 90 minutes for this next leg since they will be playing with Chic and Tokimonsta. Okay. Here is where I wished he said more and explained it so that I could understand. Why is there a time limit exactly? If the venue requires a cut off time, why not move up the start time to play more? Will they play longer at shows that Tokimonsta isn’t playing at? Why have three artists on the bill? Speaking only for myself, I am going to shows to hear Duran Duran play. I want them to play as long as possible and I don’t think I’m alone in that. As a customer, I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth. I know that is already a lot of grumbling within the fan community about the shorter sets, lack of variety and the expensive tickets. This statement doesn’t help.
Would you let the fans decide the setlist: One of the things about the job that he really loves is building a show and trying to figure out what song works where, next to what, etc. and that he wouldn’t want to let that go. I can understand that. I wouldn’t want to let go of a lot of the things we do here, if readers asked to take over. I get control freaks. 😀 Then, he goes on to say that it would be a lot of work to get songs ready to be played for a fan made list. Speaking again for myself, while I get that, I also think the pay off would be great! People would come out in droves for fan created set lists! Heck, maybe, they don’t want to do an entire set that way, but would about having fans pick out five or six songs that can be rotated in? I just think it would build committed fans’ enthusiasm, make for better shows and probably sell more tickets.
As someone who has tickets to a lot of shows and who was using the summer tour to reward hard work we did on writing our book, I want to be excited for the shows. Yet, it is hard to after hearing about the shorter setlist or the lack of variety in songs. The thing is that I know myself. I know that if I go into a show being a little less excited, it affects how much fun I have and how good the show is. Past experience has taught me that. I want to go in being as excited as possible. It will help me but it will help those around me be excited, too. The optimist in me hopes that they rethink these decisions between now and the start of the US date.
We are overjoyed to have another review to share with you – this time coming from Canada!! Send your own reviews to our gmail, and we’ll be happy to publish them! – A & R
I was just off the heels of my great California adventure when Duran Duran announced their 2016 North American tour. My credit card had barely recovered and with Christmas quickly approaching, I sat back in utter dismay as the fan community plotted and planned which shows they would attend. Presale day came and went and I felt neither the thrill nor frustration of purchasing my tickets. I’d later learn, that the predominant feeling was frustration, as the Ticketmaster presale didn’t ensure priority for Fan Club members. I could at least sit back and think, “I would have gotten crappy seats, anyway.” Sour grapes. Sad fan indeed.
But, as many of you are well aware, there is a certain magic that threads some of us Duranies together. I got a twitter DM from Janice (she wrote the blog for the Niagara shows), whom I had met briefly in Palm Springs, wondering if I wanted to buy a pair of tickets off her. And even better, she didn’t need the money right away. And as if the Paper Gods had not already smiled in my favor, I would later find a ticket for the Toronto show under my Christmas tree a few days later. From disappointment to fangirl excitement in a matter of weeks!
Before I get into the actual review, there is something else that you need to know about me. I’m a small town girl with a big city attitude. Yeah, I have the attitude, but none of the actual experience to go along with it. My husband currently lives out of province for work, so travelling to this show, meant travelling alone. Also worth mentioning, is that my husband is a native of Montreal. We’ve been there many times over the years, and of course, he drives, knowing the city like the back of his hand. I am always the passenger who watches the scenery pass by. (He’s “The Chauffeur”, perhaps?) So this truly would be an adventure. A Duranie with a terrible sense of direction, driving in downtown Montreal—alone. Amanda once told me, “you do what must be done”, when it comes to all things Duran. This was clearly one of those occasions.
In the weeks leading up to the show, I booked my hotel, chatted with other fans in anticipation, and trained myself how to follow a GPS while driving. (Honestly, I had no idea what 800 m really meant, until a few weeks ago.) I connected with a twitter friend who tipped me off about another show the night before the big event. So, I purchased tickets to see the Dandy Warhols, marvelling at how easy and stress-free that ticket-buying experience was.
Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and finally, it was time. A week before the show, my 18-year-old son and I drove to a truck-stop not far from our home. Imagine it, in film-noir black and white: It’s just past midnight, in the pouring rain, and an 18-wheeler pulls off the highway. Janice’s husband, who had been travelling most of the night, hopped out of his rig to hand deliver me my tickets. I couldn’t imagine a better scenario in which to begin this adventure!
The night before my trip, I tossed and turned in what was a mixed bag of excitement to see the band again and utter terror of having to negotiate a labyrinthine set of directions to get to my downtown destination. In the dark of the early morning, I began the long, eight-hour drive. But with every pit stop, there was a flurry of twitter chatter as other fans sent me their well-wishes and shared in my excitement. By the time I arrived in Montreal, I was just too tired to even care about being nervous. The Paper Gods smiled upon me again. I arrived at my boutique hotel without incident. I had just enough time to fit in a disco nap and I was off to the first of my shows.
It never ceases to amaze me how well you can get to know someone on twitter. No sooner had I stepped inside the venue for the Dandy Warhol’s, did I hear someone excitedly call out my name. This was my first time meeting Tammy, who also travelled all the way from Newfoundland, yet, it was like we’d known each other for years. Still excited to see Duran Duran, I took in the show, quickly losing myself in the crowd and in the post-punk psychedelic music. I might add a quick mention of the Seratones, the opening act, who completely blew me away. This band should go places!
The next day, of course, was show day! It couldn’t have been a crappier morning—a fresh layer of snow had fallen overnight which by daybreak had turned into freezing drizzle. However, nothing could dampen my spirits. I found my way to a Quebec-style breakfast café and fuelled up for what would become an adrenaline (and alcohol-soaked) day. Even though I was alone, my virtual friends were a constant source of entertainment. By the time my husband arrived in the city, it was time to get my show on the road!
This was my first time at the Bell Centre, home of the Montreal Canadiens. My husband had attended many shows at the old forum, and was curious about the venue as well. Friends who had seen shows there before, mentioned the great acoustics. We arrived on scene and entered La Cage aux Sports, the adjacent sports bar. We ordered drinks and then entered the venue from there. I have to say, that I was quite surprised how organized everything was when we finally passed through security. This is no longer the Sing Blue Silver days!
How many of us have “dragged” our spouses to shows? This was the first time for mine, and judging by the texts he had been sending me in the days leading up to the show, I could tell he was excited as well. As a child of the late 70s and early 80s, I knew he would also be in for a pleasant surprise with Chic. As we made our way into the heart of the venue and to our seats, my husband looked around and remarked how at the old forum there would be a thick haze of smoke hovering just over our heads. Some things do change. I stood in front of my 12th row centre seat and immediately started sending messages on twitter with earnest. One of my high school girlfriends, one of my original Duranies, was at the venue. It’s amazing how easy social media can make finding someone in a packed stadium. Within seconds, we were waving to one another, and arranged a quick meeting. Because of this, I missed out on the opening act, Shamir. In retrospect, his act seemed rather short, and that is all I can say about that.
Having Chic on tour with Duran Duran is such a treat. I boogied to Le Freak, long before I was even aware of Duran Duran. And music-wise, this is about the only thing that my husband and I have in common. (Let’s just say he sported a mullet and head banged to Iron Maiden in the 80s.) Chic’s show never disappoints. From Nile Rodger’s touching speech about his cancer diagnosis to his high-octane medley featuring the artists he’s produced, you can’t not dance! Luckily, some of the girls beside us opted to miss the act (fools!) so we had plenty of room to boogie. I had the pleasure of seeing this show in California, and what differed, was of course, Bowie. Instead of being woven into the medley, Bowie’s Let’s Dance was presented in a place of honour, and Nile’s introduction was as gracious as only he can be.
I admit that I snuck out during the last song to purchase more alcohol. I was more than ready for Duran Duran!
After more excited tweets to other fans, I downed my drink just in time for the house lights to dim. This was it. I have to say, that the song Paper Gods, now sits in the top three of my all-time favorite Duran Duran songs. It’s the perfect opener, the slow, almost dirge-like quality that eventually crescendos into a crashing dance-track. I’ll always be happy to be greeted by the band through the dry-ice mist with this song. One thing I noticed, was that there were some definite improvements to the light show and to the staging. Now the tiers are all synchronized with the light show, which reflects the animations projected on the backdrop. The entire set started like a racing train, building energy and steam with each song, until they slowed things down with Come Undone. (Yes, I see that look, Amanda!)
I was glad for the change in tempo, as I was totally rocking the 12th row. I had a pretty decent view of Simon, Nick, Dom and Roger, though I could catch occasional glimpses of John if I craned my neck just so. However, the frenetic momentum quickly recovered with Last Night in the City. Anna Ross’s vocals are incredible and it never feels that the song is missing Kiesza’s touch. The one interesting thing I did notice, was John playing the synth bass on this song. I don’t think this happened in California? Is this new? (Yes, he played it during Danceophobia, but this one?) No matter, it afforded me an even better view of the bass-god, though I wasn’t about to slow down and admire the scenery (tempting as it was.) It’s always a treat to see What are the Chances—Dom’s playing is positively sublime. Pressure Off, I think marks the top of the roller coaster, and my secret worries were put to rest when my husband and I found ourselves in the middle of a pink and white blizzard. The piles of confetti that blanketed the floors and seats provided me with unending amusement as I grabbed it by the fistful and continued to toss it in the air throughout the rest of the show. Yes, I was that annoying fan.
And then the part of the show that I was really looking forward to—the Planet Earth/Space Oddity medley. (Incidentally, the “switch it off!” part could have been stronger on the audience’s part). You could hear it in Simon’s vocals—it was pure heart and soul, honouring both the song and the artist. Space Oddity, also draws attention to Dom’s powerful guitar licks. It was completely unexpected, but boy did he own parts of that song.
If there was an equivalent to a saggy diaper within the set, I’d have to say that it was I Don’t Want Your Love. Maybe it was a combination of it being one of the lesser known songs, and not a particular favorite of mine, but it seemed to suck the energy right out of the room. No matter, and moving right along, it’s back to the fan favorite White Lines, and my husband doing the jazz-hands along with the rest of the audience. If I Don’t Want Your Love was my least favorite, then, I can balance that out with the Sunrise/New Moon medley. What a treat to see New Moon on Monday live!
Shall we discuss Danceophobia, the song that threatens to divide an entire fan community? While it’s not in my top five, it’s certainly not among my most loathed. (In case you are curious, All She Wants Is, might find itself on that list, not that I have to worry about it suddenly appearing on the set list anytime soon.) It’s the complete antithesis to Simon’s more cryptic and obtuse lyrics and I am okay with that. There is nothing wrong with being shallow and superficial every once in a while. In fact, I always get a bit of a chuckle when I hear Lindsay Lohan as the voice of reason during the song. Regardless of Lohan’s merits, it’s such a treat to see live, as I completely adore Jessie Wagner and how she has completely made this performance her own. So, let’s just say, I looked around and forgot the crowd.
My evening was quickly coming to a grinding halt. When introducing Save a Prayer, Simon said some lovely things about music being a force for good, in his story about the Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan during that horrible day in Paris last fall. We all lit our cell phones and swayed in a crashing wave of feels. I knew Rio would probably be the last of the set. And even thought I love the visuals from the album projected two stories high, it’s a bittersweet moment. It’s almost over. Nevertheless, I do love how the show ends on such an upbeat and positive note. BUT! Montreal shall never be outdone by Toronto. This is a Canadian fact. No sooner had the band completed their final bows, did the crowd begin to chant in earnest: Reflex! Reflex! Reflex! Now I know there is some debate whether this song should remain in circulation, but hell, if it means one more song out of the band, I’m going to scream it from the top of my lungs. (I’d even scream for an acoustic version of Shotgun, for that matter!) And there is nothing quite like the reverberation of 20,000 chanting people. I hope at the very least, that the band appreciated this little bit of magic from us. I certainly did.
Nick did his very best sound-effects and the show, all too soon, came to an end.
It was over and I was sad. Did I have a good time? No. Not really. I had the best time.
After the magic, comes the driving. Eight more hours of it. There’s not much more to say about that. Except this…
See you in Toronto!
Heather Todd is a Duranie from New Brunswick, Canada. She saw
her first Duran Duran show (with none other than Amanda and Rhonda) in October 2015. A self-described weirdo, Heather is a writer, video game enthusiast and beta reader (and wields a mighty red pen!!) for Amanda and Rhonda’s manuscript!!
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!