The next leg of Duran Duran’s Paper Gods Tour begins in less than two weeks. I know a lot of people hold tickets to various shows but there has been a lot more grumbling for this tour. Many people aren’t very happy about shorter shows as the band used to play for a solid two hours and now…they are more likely to play for 90 minutes. On top of that, many people are really not excited by the lack of variety in the set lists. In fact, I know a bunch of people who opted NOT to get tickets for this leg because of these complaints. Others have stated that they won’t be buying tickets for the next tour unless they play longer and mix it up a bit more. Trust me, when I say that I can totally see people’s points. After all, people want to know that they are getting their money’s worth. I am no different and part of me wonders if I should not have bought as many tickets for summer shows as I did. So, I did what I often do in these situations, I turned to other Duranies. In this case, I asked a couple of my European friends who attended a bunch of shows about why they did.
I met Anu and Rie in the UK in 2011 and am grateful that they were willing to share their thoughts about the current state of Duran Duran live and their fandom. Here is what I asked of them along with their responses.
1. Can you give a little background in your Duran Duran fandom? When did you become a fan? How long have you been a fan? What did you like about them? What do you like about them now?
Rie: “I became a fan in late 1984, when I was 10 years old. I have been a fan ever since. I love the music and I also like the personalities (and looks) of the band members. That was what I liked back then and still is.
Anu: “I’ve been fan since May 1982. Hungry Like The Wolf was the song that caught my attention during school’s music class – teacher had requested us to bring fav music to be played to others and HLTW was choice of my classmate. Went to record shop that afternoon and came back with Rio and Duran Duran. ? I like their dedication to music including art and visuals. The looks, graphics, designs and music – the combination has been well thought during the years. Also the dedication of making music. A long process to create new music since that includes lot of jamming and finding right tunes. Naturally themselves as persons. In the beginning it was the music & looks. Now it’s grown into respect of a long career and appreciation of them as musicians.”
(I could totally relate to these reasons and I bet many of you reading can, too!)
2. How many shows have you seen on the Paper Gods Tour?
Rie: “6 in the UK in December 2015, 2 in Italy in June 2016 and one festival show in Denmark June 2016.” (I added that up to be 9 total.)
Anu: “If Night at the Park festival in Den Haag, Holland in June 2016 is counted then 16. Pressure Off was expected live for that festival gig, but they ended up playing it from tape as opening just before DD got on stage. Apart from that, 7 on UK tour in December 2015, 4 in US in April 2016, 3 in Italy June 2016, and 1 the one festival in Denmark in June 2016.”
3. Did you go with the same people each time?
Rie: “More or less. It was the same group of fans but I didn’t sit/stand with the same people at all the shows.”
Anu: “With Duranies met on the road along the years, yes! Not always with the same people, but the shared experience is an important part of going to the shows.”
4. What was your favorite show during this tour and why?
Rie: “London or Milan because of the fantastic atmosphere. The band performs better when the crowd are really into it. Aarhus was also very special to me because I had my 10 year old son with me for the first time.”
Anu: “Mohegan Sun, CT in US. because of the hugely enthusiastic crowd, Nile Rodgers & Chic playing before DD, and that itself did not feel as opening act but as a full show on it’s own. The crowd was singing along, dancing and clapping from first Chic song to the end of Rio! The energy from audience is directly mirrored by DD in their performance, relaxation on stage, jokes, interaction with each other, and as interaction with audience. It is so fun to watch, listen and be part of!
We also got upgrade of seats from the upper tier seated area to very good seats on floor. ‘Since you have traveled from so far, we have taken the liberty of upgrading your seats’ was the venue’s sales manager’s reason . ??
Have to say Milano was fabulous too! Fantastic ending to an intense Italian tour. The crowd was loud and energetic which made difference in the performance too! We were in the seated area quite far from stage. And once DD came on stage majority of the seated section stood up and remained standing. The dancing and jumping was so intense that he whole seated areas was wobbling under us. And when you share eye contact in the shouts like ‘Wild Boys’ ‘Cain’ ‘Sugar’ ‘Switch it off!’ with total strangers and laughter after, you know you are amongst dedicated Duranies even though you’ve never met them before. Fiercely enthusiastic and participating crowd.
And as said the Band catches the energy of the audience, and that is directly linked to their performance. Those were fantastic shows also because the Band were in high energy and played solid!”
5. What was your least favorite show during this tour and why?
Rie: “Brighton I think. I have seen them so many times now that I can’t enjoy it as much if I don’t have a really good seat/standing position (and I didn’t have that in Brighton). I like to have some kind of interaction with the band that you can’t have the same way from a distance.”
Anu: “I’d say O2, London. It’s a big arena, and seemed that part of the intensity of the show was lost. Audience was mixed, and I felt that it was not as intensely involved as in the smaller venues. However, for the Band London is home ground nowadays. The show was good, fun and with loud singing from audience. Just not one of the best in my books for Paper Gods tour.”
6. Why did you decide to go to multiple shows?
Rie: “It’s the whole thing about it. I compare it to following a football team (except Duran wins every time). The travelling, the meeting up with other fans, the excitement of queuing (lining) up and running to the front (I prefer GA). Even though the concert is still the main purpose of the trip it wouldn’t be the same without the other things. I have seen so many places and met so many cool people I wouldn’t otherwise have met.”
Anu: “It’s not just a Duran Duran concert I’m going to. It’s the people I travel with, the travel itself, the waiting, anticipation, meeting other fans, and sharing the experience. The shows are what I travel for, but it contains so much else.
On Paper Gods tour UK shows are on their home ground and that is special with home audiences. US shows, because I wanted to see the difference of home and US shows, and was very pleasantly surprised of the audience participation. And Nile Rodgers & Chic as part of the shows, was of course another reason. Italian shows, simply because of holiday in sun and enthusiastic crowds!”
7. What would you say to the fans who are frustrated by the shorter show (time wise) and lack of variety in the set list?
Rie: “In the UK the set list wasn’t short so to answer the question I speak mainly for the festival shows. For a hard core fan like me I wish the set would be longer and with more album tracks but at festivals 1) The set is always shorter, goes for all bands and 2) There is a greater amount of “casual fans” at festivals than at ordinary concerts. They come mainly to hear the hits. It gives a better atmosphere at the show if the majority of the crowd know the songs. Sometimes they do vary though. In Aarhus they decided last minute to play Reflex instead of Save a Prayer b/c it was a crowd who wanted to dance.”
Anu: “Shorter set list is sometimes needed due to e.g. time restrictions as is typical for festivals. On those occasions it’s a given fact. The Band still discusses the setlist before every show since the ones appearing after have a clear mark of version x, y or z on them. For bands that have such a long history it’s a question of balancing the shows with of old and new songs.
One could also say that if the show is solid, keeps audiences dancing and singing, provides great entertainment, then why change the formula. It’s a different crowd every eve, and that makes a difference to the performance.
In the last show I went, in Aarhus Denmark NorthSide festival, DD had been given time 1,5 hours to perform. They started in Durantime … about 5 mins late. When their stage time was over, I could see festival staff going around on one side of stage showing signs of time / cut off. That was when they were playing the Reflex. When John saw it, he clearly said “No, one more”. And they went on to play Rio.”
What Did I Learn/Think:
I wouldn’t say that I learned a ton, but I will say that I was reminded of a few things. First, both of my friends reminded me about the importance of the audience. They seem to imply that the audience matters more than the actual setlist. If the crowd is into it, the band has more energy, interacts more, etc. I’m hoping that I have GREAT audiences for the shows I’m going to. That said, I also hope that the band pushes the audiences to be awesome. I know that Rhonda and I hope that our pre show meet-ups will help to increase the crowd’s energy.
Second, I was reminded that traveling to go to a Duran show is WAY more than the band. It is about seeing new places and meeting up with old friends and new ones. It is about being with people who just “get it.” I don’t have to explain why Duran Duran is good. People at Duran shows know that.
I’m still not totally convinced that the band shouldn’t mix up the setlist, no matter how tight of a set they are playing. That said, I will go to my shows with an open-mind. Duran Duran could absolutely convince me that they are right in this decision by playing the BEST concerts of their lives. I challenge them to be the best they can be. That’s right, Duran Duran, I am saying, “Bring it.” Then, at the end of the summer, I will respond to these questions myself and am hopeful that I am as positive as my friends are.