I leave tomorrow. After what has felt like years to me, tomorrow is the day. To say I’m excited doesn’t really cover it. This isn’t just about seeing Duran Duran, but it’s also about catching up with everyone else, too. Weirdly, for me it is almost like seeing everyone will prove to me that yep – I made it through. I’m still here, I’m living, and more importantly, I’m happy. Not expecting that most people will get what I’m saying, and that’s OK. You know that song, “The Valley”? Yep. That x 1000.
Welcome to the Beautiful Fillmore
Before I can think about tomorrow too much, I need to blog for today. The band played their first of two shows at The Fillmore in New Orleans last night, going back to the setlist they did in Miami. I can only imagine the thunder coming from the crowd as they took the stage to “New Religion”, continuing on with hits representing as many of their 14 albums as they could include in a 15-song set.
Therein lies the problem, though…and that problem is two-fold. Let’s discuss show length first. According to Keith Spera, a reviewer for The Advocate, the band only played for 80 minutes. Simon remarked twice that their set was going by quickly. Once towards the end of their regular set, and another time during the encore. “We’ll try stretching it out.”
Now, I wasn’t there, and I don’t know how accurate the reviewer was about the show length. I do know, however, that the band didn’t take the stage until 9:30 and just about every venue wants bands off the stage before 11pm. That’s the norm. In the recent past during the Paper Gods tour, their shows were running a bit longer, somewhere around the 90-95 minute mark (give or take).
This is going quickly
Some feel that’s a pretty short set for a band whose tickets are selling for a couple hundred dollars. Others believe that Duran Duran is doing no different than any other band these days – that the longer shows that bands like The Cure, or artists such as Elton John or even Paul McCartney tend to do are unusual.
Here’s where the slope gets slippery for me. At first thought, 15 songs seems a bit…”scant”…to use the same word from the review this morning. Have they really been doing fewer songs lately?
So let’s just address that first elephant in the room. In 2017, Duran Duran played 17 songs at the Fox theater in Oakland (according to setlist.fm). Earlier that same year, they played only 16 songs at Agua Caliente. In 2016, also during the Paper Gods tour, they played 18 songs at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater, but then earlier that year they played 19 songs at The Belasco. At the SSE Hydro in Glasgow 2015, they played a whopping 21 songs. In 2012 at the Pacific Amphitheater during the AYNIN tour, they played 20 songs. I can go back farther, but the truth is, there is a significant difference in the amount of songs they play depending upon the venue and the type of show.
Somebody slow it down
Just by looking at the shows I mentioned, it would appear that they might have cut a song, maybe two from their tour set lists. Shows that they do as a one-off, or even as they’re doing now, where they’re playing six shows here in the states, are quite different. Those run the gamut in length. For example, I looked up Madison Square Garden Theater back in 2015, and they played eleven songs. On the other hand, they played 21 songs for the fan community concert at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City back in 2007. I have to admit, my memory of that show doesn’t feel like it was 21 songs.
So is a 15-song set list really too short? Well, if Simon is mentioning how quickly the set seems to be going, then yes, I suppose it might be. I would defer to him, because it’s his voice taking the beating…but even without that, this isn’t a band that just stays static on stage. They are moving and dancing. They work it.
14 studio albums
On the flip side of this issue is the set list itself. As a friendly aptly pointed out this morning on Twitter, this band has a catalog of 14 studio albums at this point. We fans make a big show of begging for less of the well-known hits in favor of throwing us a proverbial “bone” or two of the songs that only a minuscule percentage of any crowd might know. When a reviewer is complaining about not only the length of the set, but also that they didn’t even play all of their hits, what is the band to do? The same reviewer openly suggested that they stop playing songs like “Pressure Off”, “Tempted” or “Friends of Mine” in favor of “Union of the Snake”, “The Reflex”, “New Moon on Monday”, “Is There Something I Should Know”, or “Planet Earth”, suggesting that fans wouldn’t have known the difference.
Yes, this is a fantastic problem to have…but a slight entanglement nonetheless. Should the band cater to fair-weather, concert going fans that make up 99% of their concert audience, or do they play songs that the diehards might appreciate. Yes, I go to multiple shows, as do many of you. That’s wonderful, but we don’t fill arenas alone. It takes thousands of fans who might ONLY know “Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf”, “A View to a Kill” and all of the other songs mentioned in The Advocate this morning. They go to ONE show, and they want to hear the songs they know.
High maintenance expectations
I am aware there is likely someone reading who wants desperately to remind me that the band plays the US often, and that there are any number of ignored countries in the world that would cheer no matter what the band plays, or for however long – point taken. My post this morning isn’t a complaint. I’m thankful that I’m seeing them again, and whether they play 15 songs for 80 minutes or 20 songs for closer to two hours, I’m going to love it all the same.
The bottom line is that there’s no pleasing everyone. It’s a rough road to nowhere. Sure, the band could play 20 songs, throw in a few extras for the diehards, and I am betting somebody would still be pissed. Maybe they’d be angry that the starting time was 9 instead of 9:30 and DDHQ didn’t send out a show agenda. Perhaps someone would be mad that that the encore was too short, or that dang it, they still didn’t play “Late Bar”. There is simply no meeting the expectations of everyone. In my “vast” experience with this particular fan community – we are the toughest of all to please. We are high maintenance with expectations to match. We’re a bit too quick on the admonishments, and quite a bit short on the thank you’s. Isn’t the band and DDHQ lucky??
If you want to read the article in The Advocate for yourself, check it out!