Right now, as I type this, I am sitting in the passenger seat as Rhonda is driving. Clearly, we take this whole blogging thing seriously or else we are just that crazy!! Before we got into the car to drive back to Rhonda’s, we did do a little video to review the San Francisco Show. We talked about our experience about half way back in the floor as well as some changes in the show (different song!). One thing we forgot to mention was that the DJ also changed things up for the better, which we appreciated. Tomorrow we will try to summarize the Paper Gods album cycle and more since we have one more day together before I head back to the Midwest. Something to look forward to! Ha! Until then, here isn’t today’s video!
Quick little vlog capturing some of the highlights of last night’s Duran show at Agua Caliente. Some topics include the better crowd and energy, living in the moment, why these weekends are like reunions and why we don’t want to stop!
I apologize for the lateness of the blog today (as well as the lack of a question of the day). Wi-fi has not been super cooperative for us as we have been out by the pool most of the day, enjoying drinks and Duran trivia (let the record show that our friend, Lori, and I beat Rhonda and our friend, Suzie!!).
Today’s blog is a little vlog that captures the good, the bad and the ugly of last night’s show. Just kidding…it is more about the highlights, lowlights and hopes for tonight’s show.
Without further ado, here are our thoughts about last night’s show, the first Duran show of their Spring 2017 Paper Gods Tour. This show took place at the Agua Caliente casino and resort and definitely features some excitement (a new song!!) and some disappointment (have I mentioned that Planet Earth is my favorite Duran song of ALL TIME?!? and it wasn’t played!!!).
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
I love getting new Duran Duran merchandise and my most recent purchase, Duran Duran Unstaged on DVD, arrived in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago. I figured that I have had plenty of time to watch thoroughly (what I suffer through for this blog!) in order to provide a solid review.
The cover of the DVD is not what I was expecting. When Unstaged first happened in 2011 to when there were screenings here in the States, the image accompanying it was always this one:
This image isn’t a bad one. After all, it goes really well with the All You Need Is Now album cover. Yet, the DVD came with this image:
In some way, the fangirl in me like this one better as the guys are all featured. That said, I have to wonder about the inclusion of the lead singer of My Chemical Romance in the upper left. Anyway, I like seeing the band members in full on performance-mode. That said, will buyers be confused when they find out that it isn’t just a “regular” concert performance but a David Lynch production with various images combined with that concert performance. In that sense, the original cover might be more appropriate.
Now, I have seen Unstaged at a movie theater and I have seen it on my computer screen. Watching it on DVD was better than the computer screen (my monitor isn’t all that good!) but it wasn’t as fun as seeing it in the theater. Then again, all things Duran would be better in a theater. I have now been lucky enough to see Live from London, A Diamond in the Mind (at our Durandemonium convention in 2013) and Unstaged in theaters and all three were better in that format! Of course, though, I will take what I can get!
The Special Features
There are 10 of them:
In the Studio
First instrument, concert and song
This special feature is a compilation of individual interviews with the band members discussing the band’s reuniting. Nick and Simon focused on how they never left while John and Roger gave background info about when and where it took place. The other focus of these interviews was Mark Ronson and seeing him DJ. I remember having seen all of these interviews before when Unstaged was about to happen.
This clip has no talking to it but shows the band backstage, getting ready, warming up before showing a bit of them performing. This feature was new to me. I only wished there was more to it!
In the Studio
This is the EPK that was released prior to the actual release date for All You Need Is Now. I still love this and love that it reminds me of how much I adore the album, All You Need Is Now.
First instrument, concert and song
This part goes back to those individual interviews in which each band member is asked about their first musical instrument, first concert and the first song that made them cry. Again, these were not new interviews.
More individual interviews followed in this one. In this case, the band discussed when and who first made them starstruck. While these interview clips were like the rest, I don’t remember having seen these before. To me, anything I haven’t seen makes it worth the price of purchase!
This was the strange Q&A that David Lynch led before the show. He spoke in a weird “language” and read questions that people sent in (where? how? I don’t remember! Does anyone?). Some questions were were all members and others specified certain band members. I remember having seen this before as well.
This one was new to me! In this one, Nick discussed his dream, which he concludes was due to being tired and jet-lagged causing people and things to be out of sync! Good thinking!
Unlike Nick’s dream, Simon retelling his dream wasn’t new to me. I did appreciate that at the end Simon did not have any idea what his dream meant. That made me laugh the first time and this time as well!
Like Nick’s dream, this one was unfamiliar to me! In this one, Nick is sitting in a darkened room. It is unclear if he is talking about a dream or a story. It sounds like he can definitely be a dream but he claims it happened. Hmm…
Last but not least is the trailer to Unstaged. As I watched it one more time for this review, I decided that I have seen the trailer a bunch of times.
Most of the special features were ones that I have seen before and are available on YouTube. That said, there were a couple of clips that were brand new to me. I always love seeing new Duran footage. I also really appreciate having all of these clips together in a format that doesn’t require me searching online, then having to make sure that they are what I was looking for, etc. No, they are all together here, adding up to a nice extra 25 minutes. Not bad. Would I have liked more new parts? Of course, but I am glad to have what is here for my Duran collection.
Anyone see any good videos lately? Anyone?? Anyone?? Bueller? Obviously, we might have taken some time to watch a certain little video for Duran Duran’s Pressure Off a time or two thousand. Then, of course, we took some more time to bring you all another of our ridiculous, why-don’t-we-ever-stop-talking video reviews of it! While we could go on and on here in writing, we won’t. We’ll just let the video speak for itself…after all, we talk enough for the video AND a written blog. (Yes, it seems we are always very wordy!) Enjoy! snort
Now, you probably want to watch something much more…fun so we thought you might enjoy seeing Pressure Off again for the 38,456th time and then the 38,457th time and the 38,458th time…You get our point!
We have often threatened to do video blogs. Today, we decided to make that threat a reality. Why today? Simple. A certain song by a certain band was made available. Yes, that’s right. We finally could hear Duran Duran’s Pressure Off in its entirety. Therefore, Rhonda and I took the time to listen to the song for the first time together and then did a video of our brief review. How did the band do? How did Nile Rodgers do? What about Janelle Monae? Do we think it could be a hit? Will be a hit? Should be?
In case you have not heard it yet, here are a couple of places to check it out yourself:
It is Amanda’s turn to review The Seventh Stranger, the final track on the album, Seven and the Ragged Tiger. Of course, we still have b-sides to do!
Musicality/Instrumentation: This song has such a delicate beginning with the sounds of something like ice falling into a glass that you know that it is going to be more of a ballad. It even seems to take a few seconds longer than most of the songs on this album do to really get started. The instrumentation on this song definitely takes more of a back seat. While those cool effects are heard when you listen for them along with the regular instruments, they aren’t what draw your attention. No, it is all about the vocals and lyrics here even when the song becomes more of an anthem type at about one minute in. At that point, the song feels very full, but not as overwhelming as many of the other tracks on this album. You can tell that it fits right in with the other tracks, but isn’t a carbon copy. One of the things I do really like about the track is how it feels like it varies from quieter to louder and back. It creates more emotion that way, I think. This, of course, is really noticed in the bridge in which Andy’s guitar shines through. This isn’t your heavy metal guitar–no, it is prettier, softer. Strangely, though, the end is filled with a lot more instrumentation than the rest of the song. I wish that it didn’t. If the song was going to focus on the vocals and lyrics, let it. That said, I do adore the very quiet ending.
Vocals: I love Simon’s vocals here. They are definitely in a range that highlights his abilities and allows him to do more than just sing the words. No, in this case, he can sing and display an emotion, a feeling. He does really well with both the quieter, more controlled parts of this song as well as the more dramatic, more intensity filled moments. Perhaps, this is why the vocals seem to me to be front and center. It probably also helps that the lyrics fit with the vocals and with the instrumentation.
Lyrics: As a kid, I didn’t pay any attention to this song. I was all about the upbeat, dance numbers. I never paid one bit of attention to the lyrics. Now, as an adult, the lyrics definitely do interest me. Do these lyrics fit with the rest of the album? I think they do. The rest of the album seems to be focused on fame and dealing with that fame. This song could be referencing one night stands (look through the eyes of a stranger), or at least how they would face a lot of strangers every day. That could certainly be in reference to their lives in 1983. Then, of course, “chasing after rainbows” like going after fame. Even more importantly, how could people not notice the line about “lonely crowds”. It sure seems to me that this song is really talking about the loneliness that can and does happen even when surrounded by people. If you really look at the lyrics to this album, as a whole, they don’t present fame and fortune as the best things ever. Yet, of course, like Simon is able to do so well, he doesn’t just come right out and say that. He lets us think critically about what the words are about.
Overall: As I think about this song as a whole, I can’t help but to think about the fact that it started out as a song called, “Seven and the Ragged Tiger.” I have seen bootlegs out there that have this original demo that John Taylor has stated are completely false. Yet, I so understand the desire to want to hear this original track. I also wish I could have been a fly on the wall when this song morphed. How did that happen? Why did that happen? So, what was the result of this change? It is a song filled with fabulous lyrics and solid vocals, both of which are highlighted. The music is placed in the background and, generally, isn’t overwhelming despite still having some layering and many of the signature elements of this album. I do like that this song varies from the quieter to the more dramatic. Still, I wish that the instrumentation was more noticeable. I think it would have have taken a song with strong lyrics and vocals to the next level.
We begin our big finish of Seven and the Ragged Tiger with Rhonda’s review of The Seventh Stranger this week.
Musicality/Instrumentation: I will say one thing about the music on this album – it flows extremely well from one song to the next. The same basic elements and sound are found on virtually every track, and this last track is no exception. The song is not especially fast in tempo, and the song tends to have more of a lead-in (intro) than many others on this album, beckoning the listener in for one last round. While the amount of track layering on other songs was bothersome for me – there’s just too much texture to sort out – on this song, I found the layering and mixing to be just the right amount, with the exception from about 4:30 to about 5:00, where it tends to end up sounding a bit more like cacophony. There is a really clean guitar solo that reminds me the tiniest bit of Andy’s work to come much later on the Astronaut album, and the signature call and response between keyboards and guitars is very much present as well. What I don’t hear a lot of on this particular song is bass. I’m sure it’s there, but it’s not the driving rhythm we’re used to hearing along with drums. Those instruments are far more subtle, with a lot more percussion used as background. Overall, the music is interesting without being obtrusive – it’s a good sound for a closing track, letting the listener down easy as opposed to dropping them flat.
Vocals: One thing I really like about this song is that Simon’s vocals are in the lower part of his range, highlighting his versatility. After hearing song after song with soaring, stacked harmonies that range to the upper part of his vocal range, it’s a welcome change to have something a tinge darker and more mellow. It is apparent when I hear songs like this that Simon has had classic training – I can almost hear him dropping his jar as he tackles some of the lower notes to create a fuller sound. If there’s ever a question of his abilities, one does not have to go far to find the answer, that is for sure.
Lyrics: So many of the lyrics on this album seem to follow in the same theme : learning how to deal with fame. This makes sense to me because during this time – Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world, and to the band, it probably very much felt like it all happened overnight. To me, this song seems to express Simon’s desire to find someone to trust in a crowd. Different faces, every single night – who to turn to? It certainly describes a feeling of complete loneliness in a crowd of thousands, which seems to be incredibly daunting. As a fan, I can’t imagine what international fame must have felt like back then – all five went from being “regular guys” to being on the cover of every magazine, on our TV’s, radios…and pursued in every corner on the planet. In some ways, it almost seems as though Simon is commenting on the fact that he is one of the most recognizable people on the planet (at the time), almost no one really knows him, and yet I get the sense from the song that he is searching for that comfort of knowing and being known. Great lyrics.
Overall: Admittedly, I spent much of my youth skipping this one…or at least only half paying attention when the song would finally play on the turntable…fading into silence after it ended. There is a lot right with this song: the lyrics are great, Simon’s vocals are among the best on the album, and the music isn’t at all overpowering. But, I still feel as though some of the best parts of the band: bass, drums – are nearly completely overlooked on this one. Balance is what this entire album left behind, and I think that they never quite find it again until much later in their career.
Today, it is my turn to review a little instrumental called Tiger Tiger. Rhonda did hers last week. On one hand, I have to admit that I’m glad to be doing an instrumental as I won’t have to deal with two major components of vocals and lyrics. It isn’t that I don’t love those elements of Duran’s music. I do. I’m just super tired as I type this!
Musicality/Instrumentation: Wow. We have often talked about how there are some Duran songs that start and you can’t really tell what it is and then there are others that you know instantly. This song is definitely an instant one. The opening notes are almost haunting, creating almost a spiritual feeling. Now, in fairness, I’m sure that is partly what it has come to represent in my mind–that 1984 tour, Duran on top of the world, etc. It reminds each and every one of us of watching that tour documentary, Sing Blue Silver. Anyway, after hearing those first couple of notes, you are hooked whether that is from memories or not. The beauty of these opening notes is truly how fitting, musically, they were with that opening title images of Sing Blue Silver. The song is played with trucks loading equipment, doors opening and closing. The music almost sounds like that. You can hear the squeak of the door hinges and the door being shut or again it is just that those images have been so burned into my brain! As the song continues, the additional keyboard notes in the beginning enhance that haunting sense. It reminds me of Nightboat in that way. All of this before the song really kicks in. Of course, the majority of the song features not only Nick’s keyboards, John’s bass and Roger’s drums that Roger fans all love live as he typically stands up for, but the song also places saxophone, front and center. What?! The saxophone player isn’t even a full member! Yet, I don’t think that anyone complained about Andy Hamilton’s role for this one. The thing I always loved about this song is that how it just feels so peaceful, in a way. It feels calm despite the changes from the eeriness and slowness of the beginning to the more up tempo middle and end. It is almost like you are riding a wave.
Vocals: No vocals. I have to say that I can’t imagine this song having vocals, can you???
Lyrics: Again, I can’t image lyrics!
Overall: Perhaps, one of the reasons that this song doesn’t feel so overwhelming is that it doesn’t feel TOO full. In many of the songs off Seven and the Ragged Tiger, it feels like there was effort to fill up every little bit of musical space with sound and often layers upon layers of sound. Now, this song still has strong instrumentation but the music is just allowed to breathe. It isn’t like one instrument takes the center stage and pushes the rest to the side like other songs on Seven and the Ragged Tiger can. They all can coexist equally. It is one song that I have truly grown to appreciate both for the memories it always brings up but also for the beauty of the song.
Cocktail Rating: Four and a half cocktails!
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!