Last night wrapped up a brief two-date stay for the band in Austin, Texas as they played a gig at Dell World, headlining with none other than Weezer. I don’t keep up with the day to day travel plans of the band (Yes, you all can heave a great sigh of relief because I still have my feet firmly planted in reality), but I would imagine they must be headed back to…well…where ever it is that they’re going next. I’m hoping that means back to the studio to finish up #DD14 (not even going to mention that they still haven’t even told us it’s name yet…if it has one…I hope it’s got one…) and that we will hear that the album is FINISHED SOON. (too emphatic??)
What I would like to use this post to comment on is not how well the band did last night – I hear it was a great gig, by the way – but instead on a review for the show at ACL on Saturday night. The review, as Dom tweeted, was mostly glowing, which is always nice to read. The pictures that accompany the article, taken by Suzanne Cordeiro, are simply outstanding – and if you haven’t taken a gander yet, you really should.
The article makes a point though, that I, as one of those “rabid fans” the writer mentions – must take issue. The article quotes, “Also laudable was the absence of backing tracks which the synth-heavy act could have easily employed without complaint from their rabid fan base.” I’m certainly not going to argue over backing tracks, but I am *definitely* going to say that the large portion of THIS particular fan base would (and does) absolutely know. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really dislike it when critics assume we’re stupid. I’m a fan. I’m not deaf, blind, crazy…or really even very rabid. I certainly don’t bite. At least not hard.
The truth is that we do know when backing tracks are used – we can hear it even if we don’t acknowledge. It is really difficult to stop yourself and say “Hey, is Nick REALLY playing synths here?” when you’re busy screaming for John Taylor to marry you or you’re too busy staring into Nick’s gorgeous eyes or watching Simon’s infamous dance skills, but we still notice in the back of our minds. We might excuse it, but let’s face it – in the very same way that we know when Simon skips a line or fumbles lyrics, we know when something is up with the sound, and to assume otherwise is just really discounting our intelligence, whether or not we choose to comment on it one way or another.
Secondly, and perhaps just the slightest bit more important to me for reasons that are about to be crystal clear, the article says something else that I (and plenty of others) keyed in on.
“…with core members Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Roger Taylor and Simon LeBon along with touring guitarist, now full-time member, Dom Brown the band has soldiered on…..”
Yes, I did see that “full-time member” comment, as did many other readers and fans. On one hand, the fact remains that even when asked directly, John said that Dom is a permanent member of the band for as long as he wishes to remain. What he is not; however, is a “founding member”…which apparently is the sticking point for many fans out there who still insist on calling him everything from the “stand-in guitarist” and “touring guitarist” to the less-kind comments such as, “not-Andy(or Warren)”, and “the hired-gun”. Any time the mere mention of Dom being a “full-member” of the band comes up, another fan is quick to say that he’s not a member of the band and that he never will be. The band themselves drive this point home entirely when they post press picture after press picture of Simon, John, Nick and Roger without any sign of Dom. In doing so, they make the point that he’s “just” a touring musician without even needing say the words. (Albeit a touring musician that has writing credit on more than one of their albums at this time…but apparently that’s different.) For me personally, it makes Dom’s situation with the band seem slightly precarious, because it never really FEELS like he’s permanent. I spent the better part of a year wondering if he was even going to be on this next album because the band never mentioned him, and Dom himself was fairly quiet and didn’t say much about working with Duran – instead focusing on his own studio and production work. Then of course we were slammed with the big news of John Frusciante working with DD, which wasn’t necessarily comforting if you like Dom’s work with the band. (The band did come out with AMAZING quickness to say that Dom was still going to be touring with the band, though…which my heart appreciated.)
On the other hand though, is it possible that the band is finally beginning to see the light? I must admit that seeing the number of people reacting to that short one line comment and asking Dom directly if it’s true startles me. When I read the review, I immediately assumed that the comment was made purely because Dom has been around now for the better part of the last ten years. It’s pretty difficult to call him temporary after that length of time. I assumed that like me, the writer considered him part of the group, even though the band has never once officially communicated his permanence, which is well overdue and would settle a lot of the chatter. It is very difficult to even begin to accept a new guitarist when we’re constantly being shown that there isn’t one, at least not one that the band values enough to include in their press material, merchandise or otherwise. We take our cues from the band, and in this case – if the band doesn’t appear to value Dom, it is no wonder that many fans still think of him as another stand-in or less.
While I have my own doubts as to whether this was a subtle way to really solidify Dom’s position in the band or if it was really just a carelessly made comment by someone who is relatively unaware of the real situation – there is no doubt that other fans saw it and are wondering for themselves if this really means something….and the chances of getting real answers from the band at the moment seem slim.