Yesterday’s winner: Serious
Which video do you like better: Ordinary World or Come Undone?
Yesterday’s winner: Serious
Which video do you like better: Ordinary World or Come Undone?
Well, my spring break has come and gone, and this week it is about getting back into the normal groove. I’m being shaken (with a vengeance) back into reality this week at work because I will be the only admin in the building, which means my downtime will be non-existent. Amanda will be proud, I haven’t even looked at my email yet!! From now until the end of May, which is when my job goes on hiatus (until Septemberish), work and life is jam-packed. In between teaching lessons, I am taking a last few cleansing breaths before it all begins in the morning.
It’s almost a good thing the band seems quiet right now, I guess…although rest assured I’d much rather be thinking, talking, and planning Duran Duran things. I’m anxious for school to end and summer to begin on one hand, and on the other, I guess I’m coming to terms with the idea that my son Gavin will be graduating and I will no longer be teaching him. In some ways that feels liberating, and in others, I’m sad.
Things are definitely changing here at Casa Rivera. Over my spring break, I had a full list of things to do, many of which didn’t happen—but one thing I did actually finish was moving my youngest upstairs. My oldest is in an apartment near her school, and so I attempted to clear out her bedroom completely (not an easy feat – my home is her storage unit, apparently!) and then move the little one up there. Up until this weekend, we’d converted our den into a tiny bedroom for her rather than force the girls to share. They are 11 years apart (yes, we plan wonderfully!) so sharing didn’t seem like the best option for anyone. Last night, as I finished sweeping out the downstairs room (which is soon to become my office, yay!), I commented that it’s weird, first we worked to fill the rooms, and now I’m working to empty them. Gavin’s room is next, I suppose, as he’ll be moving to his college in September. Where does the time go?
That sort of fits the theme going forward for the next few years. Where does the time really go?? I suspect the band is going to be a bit more nostalgic than maybe we’re used to, as they celebrate their 40th anniversary. In the podcast interview with Joss Paterson (I believe you can find it on iTunes) John mentioned that they plan to start celebrating that next year, and then kind of rolling it over for the next three years because the genesis (to use John’s words) of the band was in 1978, but it went through changes initially, and then Simon joined in 1980. I don’t really know what the band has planned as far as celebrating goes, but I am sure we’ll all enjoy a look back. As fans of this band, we have a collective history that each of us have had some small part in shaping to get where we are.
With that in mind, I’m here to remind you that on this date in 1993, Come Undone peaked at #7 in the US. Feels like yesterday!
It’s March 1st! Did you say “White rabbits, white rabbits, white rabbits” upon waking this morning? Apparently, there is some sort of tradition (England? Scotland? Australia??) that if you wake up in the morning of a new month and say white rabbits three times before saying anything else, you’ll have good luck for the entire month. I’d never heard of this until Richard Blade started reminding people to do it on Facebook.
No, I didn’t remember to do it either. I never even thought of it until I was in the shower, the potential for the month running down the drain as quickly as I mumbled “good morning” to my husband…and dog. That’s how most “first of the month mornings” go for me. I remind myself as my head hits the pillow the night before, and by the morning thereof, I’ve forgotten everything except for where I need to be rushing off to, and what time I need to leave. I did remember one time last year, but the joke of it all is since I don’t know what kind of luck I might have had normally – I suppose anything can be considered “good luck”. It is all in how you look at it!
Of course, this month is already going to be fantastic because I have people coming to visit! Well, maybe not just for me, but there are favorite people of mine coming to California, nonetheless. I have 15 days until Amanda arrives, and 16 until we go to Rancho Mirage. I’m excited to see our roommates, I’m anxious to see people I haven’t seen since last August, and yes – I’m really looking forward to seeing Duran Duran, too.
Speaking of Duran Duran, did you know that they filmed the video for “Come Undone” on this date in 1993? Twenty-four years later and I still feel uncomfortable when I watch some of the scenes, which in my opinion – is intended, and I suppose it is also a sign of very good art. When I first saw the video, I can remember the wheels turning in my head due to the emotional depth. There was a lot of discomfort going on for me, and yeah, it made me think.
At the time, I was still operating on the belief that videos should be made, derived, imagined…from the lyrics of the song. That didn’t mean that the video needed to recreate the lyrics word for word in picture form, but I felt that the video needed to give a new view for the song, I guess. I think if I’m being honest, I still prefer videos that do that – but I also like when the video completely re-imagines the song, too. The naivety of my youth (we’re talking back when in the days of Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf, here) led me to think the band drove the ideas for their videos. Naturally in the decades since, I’ve learned otherwise. In some ways, I suppose I gave the band a lot of credit. I very much believed they were completely in the driver’s seat and created all the images they wanted their adoring public to see and feel. When I saw “Come Undone”, I was struck by the stories within. It bothered me to see the child hiding from the supposed abusive relationship of her parents, or to see the girl in shackles under water. Truthfully, to some extent, it still bothers me, enough to where the song took on different meaning (to me) than it did originally. Perhaps it is because on some level, I identified with some of what I saw on-screen. That’s what art is supposed to do, even if it causes some discomfort along the way.
Oddly enough, I always liked the song. I know that it is not Amanda’s favorite song – and she says it’s boring live, but I really like it. I’ve learned to enjoy the torment and tension the song has curled up within, and in my opinion, the song has aged extremely well… or maybe it is just that the song has grown to mean much more to me now as a 40-something than it did when I was just beginning to experience life in my 20s.
My first thought as I sat down to write this blog was that I graduated from college in 1993. Today, that feels like a million years ago. I don’t know quite what it is about those mid-90s for me, but the years and memories all blend together. Not quite a black hole, but not quite distinct vivid memories, either. Unfortunately for me, that includes The Wedding Album.
Sure, I remember hearing “Ordinary World” on the radio. Who wouldn’t? It was the first time in many years that Duran Duran seemed to be on heavy rotation. I also remember blasting “Too Much Information” in my car as I would drive home from school. So, I know I must have bought the CD at some point. I can remember wondering why on earth they (the band) went with the album being self-titled again, because it seemed so confusing. As it was, I always called their first album, well…their first album, as opposed to Duran Duran by Duran Duran. Why not just give it a name? Turns out, we did it for them anyway. Everyone I know calls it The Wedding Album. I even capitalize and italicize it as though that’s the way it’s meant to be!
Where was I? Oh yes, very few memories of this album when it came out. It is true. I suppose in some way, my experience is indicative of where I was in my life at the time. I was months away from graduating from college. I was trying to find a job, dating my boyfriend (who eventually became my husband), commuting a ridiculous distance back and forth to school each day, and I guess I really wasn’t paying as much attention to Duran Duran as I once did…or would again in the future.
I can tell you a few things about my own feelings about that album from day one, though. To begin with, I really liked “Ordinary World”. My husband even learned the guitar part well after we were married and moved back to California because he knew how much I loved it. However, my favorite song on the album, both then and now, is “Too Much Information”. I also liked “Come Undone”…and for me, those were really the only songs that hit me off the album. I played it all the time in my car, but I found myself hitting repeat on those songs and skipping much of the rest. All I can say is that we all have our favorites. I’m glad the album propelled Duran Duran onward, because they’re still with us today as result.
From what I’ve read over the years, I wasn’t the only fan that was consumed by real life during this period. I wish I had more memories. One thing I do remember – very vaguely – is going to see Duran Duran play at Irvine Meadows later that year. I went in August, and I sat…wait for it…on the LAWN. My friend had bought tickets for the two of us to go see Duran Duran together as a graduation gift. I was excited to see the band – I think it was only the second time I ever saw them, actually. I knew we’d be way back from the stage but it didn’t matter much to me, at first. However, even back then going to shows wasn’t without some sort of drama. My boyfriend was more than a little annoyed that he wasn’t invited, and so he went and got his own tickets – much closer to the front – and went with one of his friends. This, my friends, was the one and only time that Walt has ever had a better seat at a Duran show than I’ve had, and HE WILL NEVER LET ME FORGET IT. Good times!
That’s probably why I barely remember the show or much from this era – I blocked it from memory. 😀
Yesterday’s choice: Hungry like the Wolf
Which song would you rather have LEFT OFF the setlist: Come Undone or Last Night in the City?
Last week, I gave a list of what I am excited about when it comes to touring. The list included: Our meet-ups, meeting new people, seeing old friends, having late nights at clubs and bars, following tour traditions, getting out of town, seeing new places, laughing with Rhonda and more. If you want to read all of the details, go here. That said, I promised a part 2 that would focus on what I’m looking forward to when it comes to the shows themselves.
Hearing new songs on the setlist (HA!)
Aww…I couldn’t resist. I’m a hopeless optimist. I will continue to hope until the very last song at my very last show that they will mix up the setlist some. Adding in one new song a night, maybe? Anything? Please. If you are reading this, Duran Duran, Rhonda and I will help you out. We will tweet out some suggested set lists soon!
Confetti in Pressure Off
One aspect of this current tour and set list that I do love is the confetti during Pressure Off.
You all knew that this was going to be on the list, right? The DoJo (Dom and John for those not in the know!) brings together my favorite and Rhonda’s favorite. It is so good that it actually makes a song like Hungry like the Wolf one to almost look forward to!
Laughing at John’s dancing in Danceophobia
Much like DoJo helps with HLTW, John’s dancing is what makes Danceophobia work for me live! I am so very entertained by all of his moves!
Laughing at Simon’s dancing during the whole show
While John really only makes me laugh during Danceophobia, Simon’s dancing provides much laughter during the whole show. Aww…you all know that I only tease because I love!
As much as I like to tease and I do, I also really, really appreciate any and all moments of JoSi. Perhaps, in fact, John and Simon might want to increase the JoSi during this summer leg of the Paper Gods tour. Just sayin’.
Hoping for something extra to entertain
Every show has a chance for a little extra moment of entertainment, of fun. For example, just recently in Italy, Simon lost the microphone. While that is funny enough, I love that someone not only recorded the moment but enhanced the moment with this little video!
Hoping that we have perfected the ability to avoid
There are a couple of moments during the show that we don’t necessarily look forward to. For example, I like to avoid the finger licking during Come Undone if that is even still being done. I’ve gotten pretty good at recognizing when it is coming so that I can look away. Likewise, Rhonda and I know exactly when Simon is going to spray the crowd in the “spit zone” during the song, White Lines. Now, we just have to hope that we know exactly how to ensure that we don’t get sprayed!
Singing, dancing, clapping with the band and the rest of the crowd
Of course, one of the aspects of Duran Duran concerts that I love is that so much of any crowd not only knows the songs but can and do participate. When it really works, it is magical.
Experiencing that concert high
Duran Duran concerts give the concert high like no other. During the show, real life, problems, concerns all wash away, at least for a little while. At the end, most people want more. Another encore. Another show. Another tour. I’m sure these shows will continue the pattern.
Yesterday’s winner: Too Much Information
Which song would you rather be LEFT OFF the setlist: Come Undone or White Lines?
On Thursday April 7, I attended my 16th Duran Duran show. Although I’m a lifelong American fan dating back to Rio, I had never seen the band until 1997. In fact, nearly all of my Duran concerts occurred between the Medazzaland and Red Carpet Massacre tours (14 shows between 1997-2008, evenly split between the 90’s era and reunited lineups). As I sat with my wife and one of my sisters the other night, waiting for the show to start and chatting with other Duranies, these thoughts ran through my mind. How was it that I was only seeing my 2nd show in the last 8 years? Of course, starting a family, buying a house, and job demands all get in the way, as does “Durantime” and the band’s lack of touring. Regardless, I made up my mind to go into the show completely open. I was going to enjoy it, even if they played “Hungry Like the Wolf” for two hours straight! (Well, maybe that would be a bit much…but you get my point.)
A little over 24 hours later, as I write this, I am still processing what was an amazing live performance of songs old and new. Rather than go song by song, here are some general observations:
Chic’s set was awesome. Nile and the gang played all of their hits—“Le Freak,” “I Want Your Love,” and “Good Times”—in addition to a medley of other songs that he’d written for other artists. The highlight was a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.” I won’t lie, I have always loved disco (before Duran Duran, my favorite artists included Andy Gibb and the Bee Gees…I was born in the early 70’s and that’s what I grew up with!) and seeing Nile perform these songs live was a dream come true. He has an energy and enthusiasm for life that comes through in his music. Nile introduced “Get Lucky,” a song he wrote with Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams several years ago, as the response to his cancer diagnosis (and he is now cancer free!). I had never heard “Get Lucky” but it resonated with me—musically and lyrically—as Nile, Duran, and all of us fans have truly “come too far to give up who we are.” Nile Rodgers and Chic perfectly set the stage for Duran with their funky, high energy performance.
That line—from “What are the Chances”—is one of my favorites in the entirety of the Duran catalogue. As with any lyric, its interpretation depends on the listener. Last night, I wondered if it might refer to the relationship between Dom Brown and the band. Dom has been a loyal part of the Duran family for over a decade now, not just as a “touring” guitarist but co-writer on the last two (amazing) albums. Much has been made in the Duran fandom of his status (or lack thereof) as an “official” member of the band. All I know is what I saw and heard last night: an amazing show, with great chemistry, much of it involving Dom. Gone is the tension that marked the later Warren years and the initial reunion involving Andy (where something about the “Fab 5” just felt off). Now, they seem as relaxed and sure of themselves as they were in the early 80’s, and surely Dom deserves some measure of credit for that. “What are the Chances” was amazing, emotional, and a standout from last night’s show. I have been on the fence on the track for months now, but last night put me over the edge. Dom was also great on “I Don’t Want Your Love.” While I’ve seen different lineups perform that song, the Mohegan Sun show marked two firsts: The first time I’ve ever heard Dom play it, and the first time I’ve ever heard the guitar solo played properly, like Chester Kamen played it on Big Thing. Even the dreaded “Hungry Like the Wolf” sounded livelier and refreshed (my wife noticed that as well and she is no Duranie!). “Ordinary World,” another song I know some feel should be dropped (more on that in a moment) also sounded great, thanks to Dom’s faithful rendition. While I don’t fully understand the relationship between Dom and the band, and the fact that he seems to be kept at arm’s length at times, I only know what I saw last night. I hope to continue to see him playing with Duran for years to come.
So when it comes down to it, there isn’t much I would change in last night’s set. “Last Night in the City” was far better live than I ever would have imagined, with Anna Ross doing a great job. As noted above, so too was “What are the Chances.” “Paper Gods” was the perfect opener. Complimented by the visuals of the band (minus Nick, unless I missed him) singing the Mr. Hudson backing vocal on the big screen, the band took the stage. Roger’s percussion and Nick’s synth line followed Simon’s vocal, and then the crowd went nuts as John’s bass kicked in. Putting “Wild Boys” earlier in the set (rather than toward the end, where it usually is if they play it) was a great decision. It got the crowd rocking early and followed the momentum of their entrance and “Paper Gods.” Perhaps the highlight of the night were two of the tracks that Nile Rodgers cowrote—“Notorious” and “Pressure Off”—played with the hit maker himself, who returned to the stage. His chemistry with John, Dom and Simon reinforced the fact that Duran truly is like a second band for him. Even “Hungry Like the Wolf” and “Ordinary World”—two hits that seem far overplayed and I could do without—sounded great last night and I would not have removed them.
That being said, I would make a few changes. While it seemed well received, I would have eliminated “Come Undone.” I understand the band’s attachment to their few 90’s hits. However, we’re nearly a quarter century removed from The Wedding Album. If an 80’s hit like “Union of the Snake” or “The Reflex” can be omitted from the set, surely “Come Undone” can as well. Why not replace that spot in the set with something from the first three albums? “Last Chance on the Stairway” could easily function as an early mid-tempo number that would give the guys a breather while offering the fans (even the casual ones) a song they likely know.
Likewise, “Danceophobia” is a misstep that need not be repeated live. I understand from reading interviews how much the band worked on the track, and of course there is the celebrity connection with Lindsay Lohan performing on the studio version. If the goal is to get the casual Duranies to buy Paper Gods, why not replace “Danceophobia” with “Face for Today” or “Butterfly Girl”?
Finally, the band should either play the guitar-driven, 1993 version of “Too Much Information,” or go all-in and swap it out with “Drowning Man” and strip the guitar from that track (if they are so bent on playing something more from The Wedding Album). The sped-up, electro “Too Much Information” completely ruins one of their best songs.
Those quibbles aside, it was a great show for both long time Duranies and casual fans. The past may very well be “another country” but last night, for a few hours, Duran Duran, Nile Rodgers, and Chic successfully blended past and present songs for an amazing show.
HIGHLIGHTS: I Don’t Want Your Love, Paper Gods, Notorious, Pressure Off, What are the Chances, Planet Earth/Space Oddity, Save a Prayer, Sunrise/New Moon on Monday medley.
LEAST FAVORITE: Danceophobia, Too Much Information, Come Undone
MOST SURPRISING: White Lines continues to be a song that people go nuts for, even though most Duranies would probably like to see it replaced in the set. Yes, Rhonda, he still spit the water, although we were a section too far back to feel it.
BIGGEST OMISSION: I understand the need to promote Paper Gods, but would it have killed the band to include something from All You Need Is Now? All they need do is look at how Sunrise has become such a huge fan favorite, even with casual fans. The same could be true of the song All You Need is Now if given the chance. It has the same anthemic quality.
BY THE NUMBERS: Paper Gods (5), Rio (3), The Wedding Album (3), Duran Duran (2), SATR (1), Arena (1), Notorious (1), Big Thing (1), Thank You (1), Astronaut (1), & AVTAK.
Yesterday’s winner and the winner of the favorite song off of Paper Gods: Only in Dreams
Today, then, we take the favorite songs off of each studio album, which had been voted on previously, and ask which song do you like best?
Yesterday’s winner: Serious
Which single do you like better?