Tag Archives: Chicago

Sometimes I’m caught in a landslide: Memories of Sears Centre 2006

I remember going to the Sears Center in 2006. It was the grand opening for the arena, and Duran Duran was playing. I arrived at Chicago’s Midway airport in the middle of a rainstorm. Traffic was horrendous. It took Amanda and I, along with my sister and another friend, what seemed like forever to make the trip from the airport to the Marriott nearby the arena that would serve as our hotel room for the night.

We were late getting to the hotel and even later to get ready. We had to grab dinner pretty quickly. If I remember right – we were rushing our poor waitress at the hotel’s restaurant to “please hurry, we have tickets to Duran Duran!” In our haste to get from the car into the venue, Amanda and I both left our cameras behind. At the time, we thought this was a travesty.

The show was outstanding. Amanda and I danced like crazy from our what – 9th row? – seats. The arena was beautiful, and the band was on fire. Just days prior, like perhaps two or less, the band had put out a statement announcing that Andy would no longer be working with the band. It was a tough time for all Duranies, regardless of where one sat on the issue. Questions swirled throughout the community, “Who would be the guitar player?”, “Could the band still go on?”, “Whose fault was it that Andy quit?”, “What would happen next?” The band seemed to answer many of them that night. It was a strong show, and this was not a band that was going to just lie down and die.

Amanda and I were enthusiastic, even through sadness as the Fab Five came to a resounding halt. Again. While our cameras were useless to us in our car, my memories of this show are so clear. It remains one of the best shows I’ve seen. Likely, this is because I didn’t view a single second of the show from a viewfinder or phone screen.

Along with my sister and another friend, Amanda and I truly plotted like crazy for this trip to happen. Originally we were just going to go to the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans, and had the entire trip planned.  My husband had even given me his blessing to go! Somewhere along the way, Duran Duran announced this show at the Sears Centre. Sure, I could have skipped the show and gone straight to New Orleans, but that is pretty much the same thing as telling an alcoholic they should skip the vodka and just drink the mixer.  (My apologies to the teetotalers and members of AA out there…but you get my point, don’t you?)

Emails flew fast and furious between the four of us in the weeks leading up to this date in Chicago. Tickets were secured for the Sears Centre even though rearranging my travel plans without more pain to my wallet seemed impossible. I begged, borrowed, and pleaded with my husband to just let the trip be my birthday gift (a regular tactic of mine). Finally, between the genius of my sister and Amanda, plans came together. As a result, there we were, sitting in traffic on the I-90, screaming at cars to let us pass because we were on our way to see Duran Duran. Good times.

The next day proved to be crazier than the day before in Chicago traffic, but that’s pretty much how traveling to see this crazy band goes. I only regret the shows I haven’t gone to, not the ones I spent following this insanity.

…And you all wonder why I continue to bring up vodka on this blog. Gee, I don’t know!?!

Good memories of the Sears Centre.

-R

The Music is Still Between Us: Durandemonium 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this date in 2013, Duranies descended upon the fine city of Chicago for Durandemonium.

Held at a small, efficient-yet-boutiquey hotel (that no longer exists under the same name or brand) in downtown Chicago, fans from as far as Canada and the UK came together to celebrate Duran Duran over the course of a weekend. Activities ranged from a first night out at Howl at the Moon, where Duranies were invited onstage for their own rendition of none other than “Hungry Like the Wolf” (If the whole “writing about fandom” thing doesn’t work out – there’s absolutely no future in singing onstage for me), to an author panel and a private screening of Diamond in the Mind in a local Chicago theatre. The celebration culminated with a themed-banquet and after party at what has to be one of the best named alternative-music neighborhood clubs in the country – Late Bar.

It wasn’t just the activities that made the weekend special. It is the friendships that were created. Amanda and I love getting notes from people who went to the convention and still talk about how much fun it was. That’s how Amanda and I feel about the convention we attended in New Orleans in 2003. The activities were great, but the times we remember most were the talking and laughing in small groups. If I could bottle that part of what it takes to make a convention successful, I’d carry it with me forever.

Amanda and I have been approached countless times since that weekend about doing another. In the past we’ve even started the planning, only to be railroaded by one thing or another and forced to put the idea aside. Money is always an issue. Conventions are not cheap. Even our convention in Chicago required several thousands of dollars up front, and as one might imagine – blogging does not pay those kinds of bills. Time is another sticky problem. Planning a convention can take hundreds of man-hours, which are not always readily available. We’ve considered doing an event at a club one evening, and then suggesting a hotel to stay at to make a weekend out of it, so it’s more of a get together than actual convention, but because the two of us live a few states apart, the logistics are a problem. We’re in Duran downtime now though, so perhaps it is time to give it all more consideration.  Personally I think it would be a blast to pick a city, meet up at a hotel, and do a Duranie slumber party!  There’s still our dream of paying the band to come and perform a private gig, too (Who does not dream of that? Right after I win the lottery – I’m on it!)

I’ve had the chance to not only attend, but plan two enjoyable, cathartic events as a fan. Three if you count that one time I flew to Chicago on a whim for a weekend so that I could go to March MaDDness (a one night fan get together) with Amanda in the Foundation Room at the House of Blues. I’ve marveled over this fan community before, but going to a fan event like a convention changed my entire life. I want nothing more than to recreate the same safe space for other fans. So many of us are judged by the t-shirts we wear, music we play and concerts we attend. For me, it was a relief to finally be in a place where I could just be myself with others who understood. That’s what I mean by “safe space”. We’re never all going to agree on the minutia, and we’re not all going to be best friends, or even friendly in some cases. We’re all different. Our fan community is complex. We each have our own favorite memories, band members, songs, albums, or tours. When it all boils down, the music is still between us. The music is the common thread that connects us as fans. I feel like we should celebrate that as often as possible.

-R

 

 

 

Remember when Roger used to DJ?

On this date in 2013, I was in Chicago…and so was Roger Taylor! I was there visiting Amanda, and we had the good fortune to be able to see Roger DJ at SpyBar in the city. He called his set “Do It In Heels”.  I purposefully ignored that directive, because let’s face it – I am really bad at following directions anyway.  However, we did call ahead to get a table!

Amanda loves this picture…as do I.  I look positively angelic compared to Miss Grey Goose next to me!  I’m not even sure if you can see Roger in this photo…but I don’t think so. Clearly we didn’t care at the time. WOW.  Good thing we don’t still behave like that, right Amanda?

Right???

Moving on…

I will openly admit that had Roger not been the DJ that night, there is about a 0% probability that I would have gone to that club. While I spent a fair amount of my time at clubs in college, I had kind of given up on them. I’m not really down with most of the club music, although some of it is fine (particularly when being played by Roger. I’ll just own up and say that here).  In hindsight, it was a fun night. I hung out with friends, I danced, and yes – we drank. Surprise!

The one memory that stands out from that night is that we tried to hand Roger a wristband. Ah yes, one of our infamous Daily Duranie wristbands. The platform/table that he was at was quite a bit higher than the ground, so we had to kind of toss it up there. Amanda couldn’t quite get Roger’s attention, and so she asked the guard who was standing there to tell him it was for him. Roger saw it and kind of  tossed it aside. Not the best reception we’ve ever gotten for one of our wristbands (hey, we’ve even given one to Nile Rodgers and he wore it!), but in fairness to Roger – he probably had no idea who we were or what we were doing. Maybe next time!

I haven’t heard too much about Roger doing many DJ gigs in the years since. I suppose it might be one of those things that is difficult to concentrate on or do when you’re touring the world and recording albums.  It is also a very different kind of lifestyle, and I suspect that Roger has changed some since then.  Overall, it was a fun night, and I’m glad I took the opportunity to see him do something different.

Were you at SpyBar Chicago that night?

-R

…And We’ll Remember

Twelve years ago today I drove to Chicago to join my new Duranie friends for a weekend of fun and Duran Duran.  While I had met many of these new friends months prior in New Orleans, the weekend in 2005 was the first time I would attending a Duran show with any of them.  When those Astronaut tour dates were posted, we made plans quickly, including deciding to gather in Chicago to not only see the show, but to buy those more expensive VIP tickets.  I purchased those tickets for myself, Rhonda and another friend of ours.  In reality, I had no real idea if I could trust them to pay me back, but they did.  I had no clue if I could really hang out with them for an entire weekend or whether or not Rhonda and I would share a hotel room without a problem.  I took a leap of faith.

By 5 am on March 20th, 2005, I knew that it Rhonda and I were able to not only go to shows together but could travel “on tour” well together.  During that weekend, I laughed more than I had for an entire year, I swear.  I had so much fun that I wondered if it shouldn’t be illegal.  I almost questioned my grip on reality because it exceeded every expectation I had.  The joy I felt was pure and fulfilled me in a way that I wasn’t even aware that I lacked.  To say that the weekend changed my life would be an understatement.  Everything changed after that.

When I look back at the 12 years that have transpired between then and now, I almost cannot believe it and I certainly wouldn’t have believed it then.  Rhonda and I have shared so much.  We have traveled to the UK twice together.  We have seen shows ranging from Glasgow, Scotland, to Toronto, Canada, to New York City, New York to Biloxi, Mississippi, to Chicago, Illinois, to San Diego, California and more.  Beyond those shows, we started this blog here.  The Daily Duranie became way more than just a simple, little blog about Duran Duran.  It became about fandom and about us and about our fan community.  The blog has become a part of us and who are are, both as individuals and as a pair.  I think ending the blog would feel like cutting off an arm or at least a finger.  I would miss it.

Beyond the shows and the blogging, we also organized many fan meet-ups and a weekend long convention.  We have written two full manuscripts and have come up with many more ideas.  The love that we had and have for a band blossomed, bloomed into real action on our parts.  We have criticized widely for our approach, our questioning, our criticism.  We have also been praised by our dedication (or insanity).  We have been accused of being too negative by some and thanked for keeping the fandom going.

Rhonda and I met in New Orleans in September of 2004.  While that weekend included some amazingly fun activities as well as an acknowledgement that we were kindred spirits when it comes to Duran Duran, it didn’t create the domino affect like that the weekend in Chicago in March of 2005 did.  A convention is a one weekend off event.  It is not something that can be easily replicated.  Shows, though?  They happen more often.  Tours provide us the opportunity to relive that first weekend over and over, at least to some extent.  That first touring weekend started a snowball of fandom that has grown even as it has changed.  It solidified the beginnings of a friendship that has meant the world to me.

Now, on the anniversary of that date, I wonder what will come next.  Will the snowball of fandom continue to get bigger?  Will it stay the same in size while totally changing shape?  What about Rhonda and myself?  In many ways, our friendship has been tested a lot.  We have faced rejection, been ignored, the receivers of some insulting and hateful comments over the years.  Beyond that, we recognize that our “real” lives are often pulling us in opposite directions while we continue to work together and to be friends.  I don’t know exactly how we will navigate the next twelve years, I just know that I hope we can continue to do it together.  After all, we aren’t done with Duran Duran yet.

-A

Duran Does It Better!

Over the years, Rhonda and I have written many, many blogs covering Duran Duran presales, concert tickets and VIP packages.  In some (okay..maybe…many cases), these posts have been critical of some aspect of Duran Duran concert buying details.  Likewise, many fans have also expressed frustration over the process during the last ten years or so.  I remember a LOT of complaining (with good reason) about the use of Ticketmaster, for example.  Ticket prices have also been a big discussion over the years as have VIP packages and what they include.  Many Duranies express frustration that meet and greets are no longer a part of any VIP package.  Others wish that they got more for the money, in terms of either merchandise or parties or whatnot.

Usually, when the topic of fan clubs and presales happen in the world of social media, I hear fans discuss how this band or that band does it better because…These fans offer alternative methods to how Duran sells their concert tickets.  As time has gone by and ticket prices continued to increase, I had to wonder if these fans weren’t right.  Maybe Duran Duran needs to learn from other bands?!  Then, this week forced me to rethink this.

Rhonda blogged earlier this week about Depeche Mode’s method of presales where fans chose their city to buy tickets for and move up in line based on how many albums they purchase, how often they post on social media, etc.  She expressed extremely valid concerns about this system.  I agreed with many of her points but still planned on participating in the presale.  Depeche is one of my favorite bands and I always try to see them when I can.  That said, I don’t travel to see them so the idea of picking one city worked for me.  I did not do much else to improve my spot in line.  I purchased one album and that was it.  My schedule did not allow for more, even if I had wanted to do more.

Soon enough, the presale date rolled around and I found out that I was in the second group.  Okay.  I could live with that.  The presale time came around and I was prepared to buy ticket for a few friends and myself.  I asked for the 4 tickets and I got somewhere around the 20th row.  The ticket price?  With fees, they ran about $175.  Uh.  No thanks.  I do not mind spending money for concert tickets (that’s pretty obvious with Duran, right?).  I do have a problem of spending a lot of money for not great seats.  I thought I could do better.  Later in the day, when I had a bit more time, I decided to search on the map to see what was still available for the fan presale and for how much.

I’m posting the map here to explain what I discovered:

First, let me tell that I have seen Depeche Mode here (Chicago) many times.  Most recently, I had row M in section 104 back in 2013.  Those seats cost $119.  This time, I found that row M in section 103 was a VIP seat.  In fact, row MM in section 204 was also considered VIP.  How much are those VIP tickets and what do fans get for them?

***FRONT ROW PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Front Row reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***HOSPITALITY PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Priority check-in and entrance 
– Pre-show hospitality with specially selected hot/cold appetizers, dessert, complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks 
– Hospitality room featuring themed décor, photo backdrop and playing your favorite Depeche Mode music 
– Crowd-free merchandise shopping (where available) 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 
– Onsite check-in staff 

***GOLD HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) Premium reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening 

***SILVER HOT SEAT PACKAGE*** 
– One (1) premium Price Level 2 reserved ticket 
– Merchandise item designed and created exclusively for package purchasers 
– Collectible laminate to remember your evening

Right away, I noticed that none of these VIP packages include meet and greets.  I also realized that most of them do not describe what a premium seat means.  I think back to Duran’s VIP packages during this Paper Gods tour and I know that Ultimate had front row.  Gold packages included seats in rows 2 through 6.  DDHQ made it clear where the seats could be, at least in terms of rows.  Depeche doesn’t give any information.  Now, how much are these?  Some of the seats I found were:  Section 103 Row M for $585, Section 102 Row A for $950, Section 204 Row MM for $300.  Wow.  Yesterday, I saw prices for the Hollywood Bowl.  Prices for the front sections there ranged from $865 to $1495 through Ticketmaster.  These are not prices through a ticket broker.

Now, I’m sure that some of you are saying that Duran tickets are expensive.  Sure, they are.  The tickets for next weekend, for example, cost about $350 for second row center with some merchandise.  The Hollywood Bowl show cost $445 for us in October of 2015.  This price included second row center seats, merchandise and a party.  Depeche is clearly charging twice that for their packages there.

After seeing all of this, I have to admit that I’m glad that *my* favorite band is not Depeche Mode.  I couldn’t afford to go to many shows, especially VIP, that’s for sure.  The presale process would already limit where to get tickets and the price guarantees that it is just one city.  Perhaps, their team assumes that fans are only going to one show so maybe they will go all out for that one concert, in terms of tickets.  I don’t know.

Later this morning, I will attempt again to get tickets through the public sale.  I will not be buying VIP tickets, but I will try to get the best tickets I can for a price I can feel comfortable with.  Thankfully, I don’t feel the need to see Depeche up close.  This little experience taught me that Duran does the whole concert ticket thing pretty well, in comparison.  Yep, I’ve said it before and I’ll say.  Duran does it better.

-A

With you my friend: International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day.  Coincidentally, I’m at home today, and my youngest is sick – I think she’s got the flu. I am not planning to go on strike (I’m a mom and that just doesn’t really work), but I had planned to casually work in a little reading about some prominent female historical figures today. She’s sick though (and still sleeping!), so that will have to wait.  Meanwhile, the blog awaits…

So, here I am, eight days away from picking Amanda up at LAX, and, like before every other trip or weekend away I’ve taken, I’m beginning to worry that I shouldn’t go. Now, of course, I *am* going – so Amanda doesn’t need to be concerned about that, but I put myself through this torture every single time. I’ve been planning this weekend for a while now, and I carefully set the time aside, saying to myself that I wouldn’t let a single thing get in the way. I should have just started laughing as I thought that to myself, because inevitably, something does. In this case, it’s a few things – and now I have to leave those things to my husband while I go off and have fun.  (Truth: I will have fun.  Untruth he seems to assume: I won’t think about my family the entire time.) I’m already worried about missing a couple of things and I haven’t even left yet. Sometimes I really wonder why I plan these trips because of the amount of worrying I do before I go.

I’ve been majorly stressed out lately. Things are really crazy at work, and things are even more so here at home. My oldest is going through serious heartbreak, my son is waiting for college admissions decisions, my youngest is getting ready for Certificate of Merit testing for piano, amongst quite a few other things. As much as I worry about going, I know that I very much need to go, and this is really normal for me. Just ask Amanda.

Speaking of Amanda, I’ve gotten so caught up in work and stuff going on around here that I haven’t even really thought about the things I need to do to get ready for the weekend.  I don’t even think Amanda and I have really talked much about the trip at all, which is crazy! Normally by now we’ve carefully planned each minute of each day, and this time, I feel like we’re both just gonna show up and let the weekend unfold however it does. In a lot of ways, as much as it’s really different from what we’ve done in the past, where we’ve obsessed over most details, maybe we both need a little spontaneity.    The last six months have been so strange. I went from talking to Amanda nearly every week to talking with her only a few times since August. I don’t check-in nearly as much, although from time to time we still trade texts. Sometimes, I only know what is going on with her from what she writes here on the blog! I feel like I’ve been caught up in a vortex: homeschooling, working, eating, sleeping, cleaning house and repeat, without a lot of anything else.  On one hand, it has actually helped my blogging, because I don’t take it all so seriously.  I write what I want to write and I don’t think about much else.  On the other, I have no idea of what is going on outside of the little bits and pieces I catch in between what’s going on here with me.  I’m looking forward to a weekend where I don’t need to think, and I can just sit and gab with friends!

In 2005, I flew to Chicago on the 17th of March. I landed at O’Hare around 9 or 10pm, I think, and then took a shuttle to what was then the Doubletree near O’Hare. We called it the “Duranie-dorm” because it was the hotel that had a group rate for Duran Duran fans coming in for their show the following night at what was then called the All-State Arena. I walked in to the lobby and fell into a chorus of hugs and laughter from women that I had previously met in September at the Duran Duran Fan convention in New Orleans. I had never felt so welcomed in my life, and I mean that. I can remember standing there fighting back tears (I rarely cry), because I hadn’t felt that kind of acceptance, friendship or love in a long time. It was St. Patrick’s Day, and while I didn’t really think much about celebrating that night – I stayed up and practically reached for the Sunrise with this group of friends. Amanda was in that group of women that night, and we’ve stayed friends ever since.

I am so lucky.

Twelve years later, and this time, Amanda and I will be arriving at the Agua Caliente resort, ready to see Duran Duran on stage and mingle with friends. There will not be the same group of women waiting for us. Many, if not all of those women, have since moved on. While I think our exuberance for the band isn’t exactly the same now (for example, I’m probably not going to be sporting those same light-up horns I wore in Chicago and Milwaukee at the show in Rancho Mirage), our love for this band and their music is pretty damn strong.   Through thick and thin, we’ve managed to be Duran Duran fans, remain great friends, and even write a blog for six years. You want to talk about the strength of women today? How about that??

So, on this International Women’s Day – I am going to think about my friendships with other women, and how together we really are stronger. Yeah, sometimes the road to get to where I need to be is tough. However, I know that I need my friends, now more than ever, and I’m looking forward to revitalizing that bond….and how better than a weekend with Duran Duran??

-R

Happy Early Birthday Rhonda!

I like to believe that my timing is pretty good.  If I want to be on time, I can be.  This time, though, I’m even a little early.  What am I early for?  I’m early in wishing my partner-in-crime, my fellow blogger and Duranie a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!  Tomorrow is the actual day but Monday’s aren’t my day to blog, typically.  On top of that, I will also be at work for at least 12 hours as I put in a full day and hold four hours of parent-teacher conferences after.  Thus, I’m using my Sunday blogging opportunity to write a little blog, celebrating not only my best friend’s birthday but also to cheer the friendship that we have.

In looking back at a friendship that began in 2004, I recognize that we have shared quite a few emotions and a number of significant events together.  I believe that strong emotions and significant experiences help to solidify friendships so that they can endure the up and down nature of life and relationships.  This blog, then, will attempt to shed light on some of those feelings and events.
Excitement:
One thing is for sure—a lot of our friendship has been fueled by our shared excitement for Duran Duran happenings.  Looking back, this began in December of 2004 when a flurry of phone calls took place surrounding upcoming tour dates supporting the reunion album of Astronaut.  I still recall the feeling of pure joy in calling Rhonda mid-day later that week to report that I indeed was able to acquire VIP tickets for us for the Chicago show in March 2005.  Of course, this type of activity has been repeated countless times since.  The most recent being when the band released the video for Last Night in the City, inspiring repeated viewing and a little video review, which you can see here:

Joy:
In many cases, those feelings of excitement translate to pure joy when the anticipation becomes reality.  For us, over the years, generally, the joy has come from screaming, singing and dancing at a Duran Duran concert.  It might even come when we squee over DoJo.  The first one was in Chicago and the last one was in Chula Vista, California, with shows in between in various locations like  the Northeast, the Southeast and even the UK.
Chula Vista
Chula Vista
 Curiosity:
Of course, our fandom has been more than video releases and concerts.  A lot of our fandom has been about talking, thinking, discussing about all things Duran.  I think of countless examples of times that we have watched or listened to something together.  Last year, for example, we exchanged a series of text messages as the lyrics to different songs on Paper Gods sunk in.  When we really paid attention to the lyrics of Last Night in the City and realized that the words described how we feel on tour, then the album began to take hold.  Years earlier, we viewed the brand new video for All You Need Is Now together, squeed in delight and picked apart the images we loved the most.  Sometimes, our need to discuss take place at strange times like when the video for Girl Panic came out.  I couldn’t wait to talk to Rhonda about how smart the video is so I called her from my classroom during my brief lunch hour.

Worry:
While our friendship has often surrounded fun and good times, we have also experienced moments of extreme worry.  We grieved when Andy left for the second time, for example.  Another instance was when we felt for that we were facing the end of Duran Duran when Simon lost his voice in 2011 and the UK spring tour had to be canceled.  There we were in the UK, having flown for four shows and getting none.  Instead of staying away from all things Duran, we ventured out to the band’s studio where we witnessed Simon explain that he didn’t think he was going to be able to sing followed by John’s look of devastation.  Like others there, we put on a brave face.  Rhonda and I did what was logical.  We went for ice cream to drown our sorrows in dairy and sugar.
Ice Cream makes it all better
We did what any heartbroken American would do. We had ice cream.
 Hard Work:
Unlike almost all of my other friendships, Rhonda and I took a very brave, but risky step to do more than just be friends.  We decided that we would work together.  Sometimes, this decision brought us closer together when we faced challenges and bonded over a shared realized that only we could understand what we experienced.  Other times, we pushed and pulled against each other, wanting to dig in our heels about something or another while at the same time reaching for compromise.  I look back at some of those moments and realize that the push and pull always brought out the best in us even if it wasn’t always easy.  Yet, we weren’t afraid to have those little disagreements, knowing that our foundation as friends was strong.  Clearly, we have worked well together on this blog, with fan events, with a convention and even with writing, despite any and all setback.  Truly, I didn’t just gain a friend but someone that helps me bring out the best in me.
Very proud
Very proud
Fun:
The thing is that a lot of friendship surrounds fun.  Sometimes, our hard work has led us to celebrate.  At other times, it is simply being together that brings fun, whether in person, on the phone or via Skype.  Luckily, many of our in person good times have been at Duran shows.  I won’t lie.  We have held many “all night parties” and enjoyed many “cocktail bars”.  At the end of day, there isn’t much better than having a vodka tonic or two and laughing over some ridiculous quote that one of us had uttered.
Durham drunk
Appreciate:
Looking at all of these emotions that we have experienced together, I also have to appreciate the little moments.  I look back at all the times we were in a car driving to or from a show.  Those moments were filled with listening to Duran while creating what we thought would make a great setlist.  Other little moments that I have enjoyed include going to art museums together, dancing to 80s music at a club, or simply talking or exchanging emails.
Our Paso Robles Setlist
Our Paso Robles Setlist
On this day then I celebrate our friendship and the person, the friend who puts up with me and who has shared all of these emotions with me.  My world would be a lot smaller, a lot less fun and a lot less happy.  On that note, then,  I wish her the happiest of birthdays and many more to follow!  I also hope that all of you wish her a HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!
-A

I Made a Break: Fun Memories

Things are pretty serious in my life right now.  My time is generally spent on teaching related tasks or on campaigning for this year’s presidential election (and my state’s senate election).  Right now, my students, at work, are finishing up a tough unit on Reconstruction, or the time after the Civil War.  We discuss some tough issues, including lynching, segregation, and sharecropping.  On top of that, we connect the past to the present with issues surrounding the criminal justice system.  The unit is heavy with its seriousness and emotionality.  When my teaching day is done, I turn to politics, filled with issues surrounding democracy, sexual assault, etc.

I generally embrace intensity.  As many have pointed out to me, I’m a pretty serious person.  Sometimes, I’m so serious that people can’t ever imagine me having fun or being silly.  Yet, as I point out to my students, there are times for both.  Now is the time to be focused on big issues.  That said, this doesn’t mean that I’m not looking forward to fun times ahead.  I always do.  This week, though, reminds me of fun times in the past.  I need those reminders.  They boost my energy, my will to see things through.

What fun memories popped up this week?  The first one surrounds a little convention that was held in Chicago three years ago now.  I can’t believe that Durandemonium was three years ago.  It certainly doesn’t feel that long ago.  Where the heck is time going?  Is it on fast forward???  For those not in the know, Durandemonium was a convention that Rhonda and I planned with some friends.  The event went from Friday to Sunday and featured various activities, including watching A Diamond in the Mind at a movie theater, a banquet/dance, Duran games, dancing at an 80s club, author panel and more.  Want to know more?  You can find out about it on our convention page here!

Maybe the convention memories make me smile because the event marked something that we spent a lot of time planning and organizing that went off without any major problems.  It was a success, in our eyes.  I appreciate those moments when you plan and plan and plan for something and then it works out.  It is one of the things that I treasure about political campaigns.  All the work comes down to one day and one result.  When it goes well and your side wins, there is no greater feeling.  The goal is obvious with campaigning and the result is clear.  This is the opposite of what teaching is like.  There I have no real end goal besides all of the little steps of progress, which happen at different times for different kids. Teaching requires a lot of work over ten months instead of just a few with most campaigns.

Plus, there is the obvious.  Durandemonium like other Duran conventions was filled with Duranies and non-stop focusing on Duran Duran.  Being at a convention means that my laser focus becomes about the band.  I don’t have to multi-task.  I can push aside the rest of the world.  The same is true with Duran shows and tours.  Five years ago today, Rhonda and I saw the band play in Chicago.  The weekend went by way too quickly and the show was a little strange for us because we weren’t sitting together but it provided us that escape from our regular day-to-day existence.  If you want to read our review of that show, you can go here.

In thinking about my current life along with Duran tours and conventions, I realize that I do truly live with intensity.  I like having events that suck up all of my thoughts, time and effort.  Perhaps, this gives some insight to why touring really works for me.  Yes, I do need significant breaks from my real life in order to continue to do my job and fight in the political arena and touring does provide those breaks.  In reality, though, it gives me something else just as intense, something all consuming.  When I’m on tour, I don’t pay as much attention to education issues or to politics or even to other popular culture I like.  It becomes all day, everyday Duran.

My conclusion is pretty simple then.  I have a few more weeks of serious, real life, big issues.  After that, I could use some intensity of the other sort.  You know something surrounding Duran Duran and fun…

-A

Chicago Show #2 Review!

I wanted to think of a catchy title but nothing is hitting me this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I guess I could have named it the weird but wonderful Chicago show number 2.

The Smoke/Fog Machine:

Within the first few minutes, we knew that the show was going to be super entertaining.  The band came out to play Paper Gods with the smoke/fog machine enveloping the stage, creating a very cool atmosphere.  Yet, last night the smoke machine didn’t turn off when it was supposed to.  It kept going and going.  Poor Dom Brown couldn’t even be seen.  I was impressed that he could continue to play in the midst of it!  As soon as we all realized that the fog machine had a mind of its own, we started laughing.  Soon enough, Simon and John were laughing, too.  Thus, right away, we knew that this show was going to be a funny one!

Clothing changes!

I’m not going to lie.  My friends and I have spent quite a bit of time the last few days discussing John’s…pants, you know the ones he has been wearing most of the time at the shows.  They look like track pants with an orange stripe up the side and a length that is questionable at best.  Clearly, we do not love these pants.  Thus, as the pants came up in conversation, we began pondering whether or not we should offer to take him shopping or if we shouldn’t buy pants ourselves and toss them on stage for him to wear.  Yet, last night, the man wore different pants!  Text messages expressing our delight were quickly exchanged.  We all approved of these other pants!!!

Simon also appeared in a new white jacket, which also met our approval.  That said, the man wore a new hat during White Lines that we had to wonder about as you can see below.IMG_2747

Again, seeing Simon in this sparkly pink hat alerted us that this show was something to behold!  Perhaps, there is a connection between this moment and another Simon moment that happened on this exact date in 2009.

We have to wonder when is the madness going to end??????

Those Damn Beach Balls:

Speaking of madness, again, giant beach balls appeared during Rio.  Many of them found their way to the stage where the band would gleefully punch, throw, or kick them back out to the crowd.  At one point, John’s microphone stand almost fell over from one while he was singing into it.  Then, just a couple of minutes later, he sent a beach ball into the audience, knocking the stand completely over.  It was all distracting.  Where do I watch?  Am I watching the band?  Watching the balls to ensure that I don’t get hit on the head with one?  Even after the song ended, the crowd and band continued to toss them back and forth.  Craziness.

Holy JoSi, Batman!!!

Oh my.  I’m still reeling from all of the fabulous JoSi moments last night.  Honestly, there were SO many that I wondered if I had taken a time machine and it was 2005 all over again.  On top of the frequency of those John and Simon moments, they were also longer and…dare I say…more quality.  Longer eye contact, for example.  At one point, Simon walked over and kissed John’s shirt, which was the mouth from Rio.  Well, then.  Simon even grabbed at John’s collar to pull him closer.  Let this pattern continue for the rest of the tour.  Please.  I beg the Duranie gods!

Song Highlights:

Both Rhonda and I are REALLY loving New Moon on Monday.  For both shows, it just adds something to the show.  I love how it connects Duran’s history with more recent Duran.  I also thought Pressure Off was great, but I missed the confetti terribly.  Wild Boys was great fun!  I have also liked I Don’t Want Your Love both nights.  Last night, though, I noticed that while Simon introduced the song, John and Dom were mouthing the words that Simon was saying.  Clearly, they have heard it a time or two.

There were a couple of moments that reminded me of times past.  First, during Planet Earth, I had heard that the crowds had not been shouting “switch it off” anymore.  Well, we proudly did.  Last night, John saw us yell and responded by saying, “That’s right!”  On top of that, Simon ventured off the stage to encourage the crowd to sing the “ta na na” part of the Reflex.  If that wasn’t enough, Simon also messed up the lyrics to not one song but two (Hungry Like the Wolf and Save a Prayer).  Again, we wondered if we didn’t go in a time machine?!

Ravinia and the Crowd:

While these two shows were great fun, I’m for one glad to be moving on to different venues.  While last night’s crowd was way better, there were still so many people there who were NOT there to see Duran Duran.  It is hard to remain excited when you hear people say things like, “Who’s Nick Rhodes?”  On top of that, the venue is far from the city, from downtown and a serious pain in the ass to get to and from.

Overall:

I would have to say that Friday’s show was probably a better performance but last night’s show was way high on the entertaining side.  They seemed more relaxed and that they were having fun.  We look forward to seeing how things go for the next couple of shows in Detroit and Toronto.

-A

 

Sympathy Eye Liner: Chicago Show Review #1

Wow.  It is hard to know where to start with today’s blog as I have much to say!  Last night marked the second Duran Duran show of this leg of the Paper Gods tour and the first show for us.  What an incredibly fun night!

Pre-show Meet-up:

Our night started fairly early as we had planned a meet up there at Ravinia before the show started.  Since we had not been to Ravinia before, we didn’t know much about where to meet, how to tell people where to find us, etc.  Even though, we arrived shortly after gates opened, the lawn was mobbed with people ready to spend the late afternoon/evening there, enjoying food, drink and the company of family and friends.  Luckily, we were able to pick a spot right behind some concession stands near the walk way separating the pavilion from the lawn.  People were able to find us and much conversation and laughter ensued.  Our raffle went well and many were able to pick up a new Daily Duranie wristband or two!  Based on the success of yesterday’s meet up, we look forward to tonight’s!

Our meet up!
Our meet up!

Nick’s Absence:

By 6:30, our group separated as we were all more than ready for the show!  Of course, we wondered how the show was going to go since Nick was absent but had nothing but we had confidence in both the band and MNDR.  We were not wrong.  I’m not going to lie.  It was weird to look up and not see Nick Rhodes standing behind the keyboards.  There were times during the show that his presence was especially felt, such as during the Reflex when Nick normally answers the question of “why don’t you use it” or at the end of Notorious.  It goes without saying that we continue to keep him and his family in our thoughts and hopes that he is able to return soon.  That said, MNDR had good energy and seemed to have fun, which I appreciated.  I liked how John went up to the keyboard riser a couple of times to check in with her.  I’m sure that she appreciated his support and the support from the fans.

Song Highlights:

Overall, it was a good show!  As with any Duran show, there are moments during the set that stand out.  Interestingly enough, I felt like the real stand out song last night was Last Night in the City.  Good energy throughout the entire song.  The other song that worked really well last night was Notorious.  The band was all front and center and seemed to be having serious fun, which I adore!  Plus, who doesn’t love the addition of Nile Rodgers!  I managed to capture a moment with the photo below.

Having fun during Notorious!
Having fun during Notorious!

Beyond those song highlights, there were good JoSi moments and fabulous DoJo, which I appreciated immensely.  I have to also say that the band did a really good job moving across the entire stage.  While I’m always really happy to have John play right in front of where I am, I recognize that he has to play to everyone and I thought John, Simon and Dom did a nice job moving to every area of the stage.  They also did a good job trying to get the crowd to join in with the usual singing, clapping, shining cell phone lights during Save a Prayer (which was dedicated to Nick Rhodes, by the way).  That said, they had their work cut out for them as the crowd was tough.

The Crowd:

I truly believe that the crowd makes a big difference in how any show will go.  If the audience has a lot of energy, that energy is fed to the band who then feeds it back to the crowd.  If the crowd isn’t into it, the band has to work that much harder.  I truly do feel like that was the case yesterday.  While I saw many fans totally into the show, dancing and singing to every note and every word, I saw empty seats, even up front.  I saw many people come and go like watching the band was just an afterthought.  Many people just sat down.  I think the cause of this is simple.  Ravinia is one of those venues who have subscribers, people who buy tickets for the season and then pick and choose which shows to go to.  Thus, not everyone in the audience is a serious Duran Duran fan.  Many people could be casual fans who just know a few of the band’s hits.  For those people, they sat when they got tired or didn’t know the new tracks.  This type of set up means that the band really had their work cut out for them and they performed well despite the extra challenge.

Nile Rodgers is my new hero:

After Nile and Chic performed a solid set, Nile took time to shake hands with fans before exiting the stage.  I used that moment to slide on up to the very front.  He reached his hand down to me to shake it. Instead of shaking his hand, I asked him to take one of our brand new Daily Duranie wristbands.  He took the wristband and immediately placed it on his arm causing me to have a super big smile on my face.

After Nile took the wristband
After Nile took the wristband

While I found that moment to be pretty awesome (as I did when John and Dom got and wore their wristbands!), the even better moment was when Nile came back on stage to join the band for Notorious and Pressure Off.  As soon as he came on, I saw that he was still wearing the wristband.  I appreciated that he took the wristband but wearing meant more.

Nile wearing the wristband
Nile wearing the wristband

Other random thoughts:

I must comment on a few other things that caught my attention, in some way.  First, I must comment on Simon’s look last night.  As you all know, Simon isn’t my “favorite” band member but he was looking good.  Not only is the hair looking good, he was sporting an earring and eyeliner!  My friend, Julie, joked that he was wearing eyeliner out of sympathy for Nick.  It’s an idea that stuck with me.  Hence, the name of the blog post!

Second, I missed a couple of elements from the fall shows.  I missed the confetti during Pressure Off and, believe it or not, I missed Danceophobia.  I had been looking forward to watching John dance during that song and had to make do with his little punches during Girls on Film.

The band also had an addition at the end of the show with having giant beach balls during Rio.  While it was fun to see people in the audience hit them or seeing a band member or two hit/kick them back out into crowd, I found them distracting.  I was watching the balls more than I was focused on the song.  Rio deserves my undivided attention.

Overall, the band did well and I had a ton of fun at our meet up, during the show, and hanging with some friends after the show.  It was a really fun night, which reminded me of why I love touring and going to Duran show SO much.  Now, I can’t wait for tonight!!!

-A