Sorry the blog is late today, I was in training for most of the day and I’m now squeezing this in between extracurricular activities. I suspect this might become a pattern with Tuesday and Thursday blogs, but I will do my best.
Admittedly, things are quiet now in Duranland. After nearly a year of relatively constant activity, I’m finding myself back in the pattern of needing to think about what to write rather than have topics swimming in my head. Again, I’ll do my best. If there is something that you’d like to see Amanda or I cover that we haven’t lately, or if you have ideas for fun polls or activities—don’t hesitate to let us know.
We will once again be doing our now Annual Pumpkin Carving Contest in October, so get your creative juices flowing! Details on that to come soon.
Like many of you, I’ve been curious to see what DDHQ pulls out of the hat for that last North America concert date. No word yet on when or exactly where on the east coast it will be, but I saw a little birdie mention that news of that might be coming in October. Stay tuned…
Not sure if anyone noticed the recent photos of one Nicholas Rhodes floating around—he was in attendance at the Pam Hogg show for London Fashion Week, and there are a few photos of him with Yasmin and Antony Price, as well as one of Nick and Nefer at the LOVE magazine party in London on September 19th. (I am not posting the photos here, but you can easily locate them on Duran Duran’s Facebook and/or Twitter pages). It is good to see Nick out and about, particularly since none of us really saw him this past summer during the North American tour.
Nick was certainly missed this past summer. It was very strange to look up and not see him grinning from his keyboards. I keep saying it, but MNDR did a fabulous job in an incredibly short period of time to learn everything. Even so, I can’t imagine the band without Nick. Can anyone?? Maybe they’d all start wearing DENIM…or baseball caps on stage without him!!! <evil grin here>
Amanda and I have done our best to respect his privacy and not speculate. We have no idea why he needed to miss the US dates. But yes, both of us would say that for Nick, of all people, to miss the entire US tour – we’d have to think it was important. I can’t say we went to a single show where it wasn’t brought up. We heard far too many rampant rumors coming from people who, if they really DID know the truth – shouldn’t have been going around telling every fan they ran into. Then again, I suppose that alone says it all.
Now that he’s out and about again, fans are thrilled. It’s good to see him. I know people will continue to speculate, because that’s what fans do. Sure, even I wonder. The guy looks healthy and fine, and I wonder what kept him away from an entire tour. Of course. But, I also respect that not everything is up for public knowledge, scrutiny, and debate. So, I’m just happy to see he’s out and about. Hopefully the rest of the world will be able to experience the Paper Gods as we know they were meant to be.
We were fortunate to get a couple of different reviews for the DD show at BB&T Pavilion in Camden NJ – this one coming to us from Cindy Koller. Thanks so much for sharing, Cindy!! We welcome any and all reviews of DD shows, so if you feel inclined to write – let us know! -R
By Cindy Koller
The dawning of July 21st brought a lot of excitement. I had just returned the night before from a brutal 10 hour drive north from Myrtle Beach. I was ready to have some fun, and I knew the Duran Duran concert would fit the bill nicely, so to speak.
I am a fan of 33 years and this would be my twelfth show over a 29 year span. Duran has never disappointed me and always puts on a great show, so I knew it would be a fantastic night. I gathered two of my Duranie friends and made the 90 minute drive to Camden: a city with “a tricky reputation” as Simon would say later that night.
An additional fun fact was that by a pure happenstance, an old Duranie friend I had not seen since high school was going to be joining us for the show, instead of my son. She has attended many shows over the years, from The Dead to Dave Matthews to John Mayer. She is a regular attendee of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Yet, she had never seen Duran live. She would bring a whole new realm to my experience that night.
I was actually excited to see CHIC a little more than Duran, as I have liked them since 1979 and had never seen them live. Their music is part of the foundation of my musical taste that would eventually lead me to Duran. I love Nile Rodgers and just could not wait to see him perform with his band.
We arrived at the BB&T Pavilion, and after getting our refreshments, we entered the venue. It is an open air amphitheater, with 7,000 seats under the roof and a large lawn area beyond. I had purchased tickets 5 rows from the stage, on John’s side. I was beyond thrilled! As we walked to our seats, TOKiMONSTA was just finishing her live DJ set. She soon took her bows and my small group chatted while we waited for CHIC.
The venue was still half empty as CHIC was announced, but they were nonplussed. And the set they performed was sheer perfection! Nile and his band were tight and obviously loved performing as they put on one hell of a show. Both female singers were great, but the one named Kimberly gave all of us chills! Her voice was so warm and full of soul. Fantastic! They played a few of their hits and launched into a set of hits that Nile had helped pen, like Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out, Philly’s Sister Sledge’s We Are Family, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and the highlight, Bowie’s Let’s Dance. CHIC was absolutely phenomenal! I can see why John Taylor says they raise the bar for Duran’s performances.
Another small intermission while CHIC’s gear was broken down was another chance to just enjoy my friends and the atmosphere. CHIC had definitely gotten us in the mood to groove, so by the time the smoke started to emanate around the stage, we were ready to party!
With the first thunder crack, I actually looked behind me, to the lawn area behind, wondering if the bad weather that had been threatened had arrived. But with the next crack and the light flash, I knew it was Duran’s opening. The lights went down and soon I could see some silhouetted figures moving across the stage, one headed right towards us. I watched as John slipped his bass on to his shoulders and I felt the surge of electric excitement as they were about to launch into their set. Paper Gods filled the venue followed by the screams of the crowd. The stage lights came up and we were off!
Now, I will admit I have been one of those fans complaining about the lack of change in the set list. It really hasn’t changed much since the AYNIN tour, but I have to say, it just works. The others with me were thrilled with the song choices, and probably would have been disappointed if “Rio”, “Come Undone”, or “Hungry Like the Wolf”had not been played. I always grouse before the show, but once I’m there, the setlist is golden!
So, needless to say, song after song, I danced my behind off, enjoying the performance masters that are Duran Duran. Nick was still absent, but TOKiMONSTA filled his spot for the first time and she did quite well! Every moment was to be savored and I did my best to do so. It was a warm and humid night, but that did not stop us from singing and dancing along.
Encore time and “Save a Prayer”was dedicated to those who have experienced the craziness in our world today, lost loved ones to the craziness or just feel the world is a frightening place. Terrorism touches us all now and cell phones were held high in solidarity.
Simon bantered with the crowd about Camden, since it is in New Jersey, but is also directly across the Delaware river from Philadelphia. Were we a Philly crowd, or a New Jersey crowd? I still think Philly won the scream vote. He danced and turned and frolicked about the stage, seeming to defy his 57 years. And yes, he caught his tambourine!! (I watched him clock himself with it in 2008 and always hold my breath whenever he throws it.)
Roger was the solid man we all know him to be, his drumming precise and on beat. Dom was his phenomenal self, playing his parts perfectly. Anna and Erin, two fantastic singers in their own rights, were great and loved to get the crowd involved. Simon Willescroft sauntered about the front of the stage for his sax solos. Am I leaving someone out?
Oh! John Taylor! Of course I could not forget him! Since we were seated directly in front of his bass speakers (!), every note went right through us. Literally. When he went to his bass synth for Last Night in the City, the others in my party were shocked! Why yes, John now has a synth in his arsenal. He smiled and danced and seemed to be having a fantastic time. The only curiosity was why did he leave his leather jacket on all night? He wore it through the whole set until they reemerged for the encore. The man had to be sweltering! And he had the last words of the night, as he mentioned all of the Philly venues Duran had played in over the years, thanked Philly for “the long fucking journey with Duran” and promised to see us again soon. At least he got city/state the loyalties right!
All in all, it was a fantastic show that was over much too fast.
I asked my high school Duranie friend to give me her impression, as it was her first Duran show. Here are her thoughts (with permission):
“Having the opportunity to finally see Duran Duran live and in person was amazing! Seeing those boys come running out on stage and performing Wild Boys, brought up nostalgic memories of loving this band to the point of obsession. They were fun and energetic, seeming to never slow down! This was a high energy show, with no low points to speak of. I see many concerts, and this show was the most fun I’ve had. Every song delivered the appropriate goose bump effects.”
Funny, even though it was my 12th show, Duran still brings out the goose bumps in me too.
Cindy Koller is a mom of two (raised to be Duranies, of course), that has been a Duran Duran fan since July of 1983. (33 years!) She lives with her husband and teenage kids in Western Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 75 minutes outside of Philadelphia. She is a letter carrier in Kennett Square, PA who is lucky enough to have a TAYLOR Street on her delivery route!
I don’t want to be sad. I hate tears and that kind of thing, particularly in front of other people. (I’m a really good shower crier) The last thing I want to do is start to cry at a show. In front of the band. I’d say no thanks, but I already did at the last show (Irvine). Damn that “New Moon on Monday!” I discreetly wiped the few that escaped and tried to sing and clap along as I willed myself to stop thinking about how that song encapsulates everything I know and remember from my youth, or how that was the second to last time I’d hear the song this tour. Now tonight, I’ll hear it one last time (for me) on this tour. I look forward to hearing it because I love the song, but I also dread the wistfulness that will be attached.
I knew the eight shows would go by fast. The first four certainly flew by, but then I anticipated the next four and that got me through a very busy week in between. But now, well, it is different. Mind you, I do have things to be excited about. Early Saturday morning, I’m leaving for a two-week vacation with my family. Before you all get jealous—we’re camping. In a trailer, thank you. We are going to Arches National Park in Utah (where we will bake in the sun), then up to Yellowstone for seven days, and then the Grand Tetons and back home. In case anyone is curious: yes, touring and camping are complete opposite ends of the spectrum. It is going to be detox in a major way as we are fairly sure I won’t even have cell or data service for at least portions of the trip. I get a nervous tic whenever I start thinking about not being able to check in with the world. Life will be returning to normal in a big way once I drop Amanda off at the airport tomorrow.
I have more fun on this tour than ever. Sure, our seats have been great most of the way, and the band has entertained us wildly. Amanda and I have laughed until we’ve cried. We’ve successfully ducked from Simon’s White Lines spitting trick five times so far (the other two times we were so far back or to the side it didn’t matter). I’ve been hit directly on the head by a beach ball about four times, and twice Dom has kicked a beach ball right in my direction. My reflexes still work well enough to duck in time. We spent time with our Canadian bestie, Heather. We drove over a border and weren’t arrested. Twice! I witnessed Amanda’s horror at walking through the livestock section at a county fair (priceless!!). We tried (and failed) at winning enough money in Vegas to pay for our bar bills (which have been atrocious this tour and I’m not even going to joke about that). I think we tried to pack as much fun, laughter, serious discussion and even a bit of work (yes, we’re working on a proposal for a brand new book…and yes, it’s on Duran Duran!) as possible during our time together. But, it’s never enough.
Oddly, I distinctly remember questioning whether or not I should even embark on this tour. Something happened to me after finishing that manuscript in June. I really wondered if maybe I had completely reconciled my feelings to the point where I was done being a fan. Did I still love the band? Did I still love being a fan? Was I ready just to walk away completely? I felt very much as I did after I’d had my first baby (who is now 19), that maybe it was just time to let it go. I told my husband and everyone I knew that this was my last trip for Duran Duran. I couldn’t afford it any longer (true), and that you can only go and see the same show so many times. I convinced myself that this was my swan song, and that I had to do everything I possibly could this tour to get it all, and I mean ALL, out of my system.
I didn’t know what that meant for Daily Duranie, and I never really discussed that with Amanda. I figured that I would probably still blog, and that if they came to California again at some point, that sure, I’d go see them. But, the traveling and touring days were over. I knew I’d keep writing books, and I just told myself that I didn’t have to actually go on road trips or tour in order to be an author. The week before I left for Chicago, my mom’s partner had a massive heart attack and died, and at that point I was even more convinced that this tour would be my very last. My mom isn’t young, and she will need my help going forward doing the things that Dennis used to do for her. I started feeling even more guilty about the money I’d spent, and by the time I left, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to have fun even though I desperately needed some. I had some hard conversations more than once with Amanda along the way, and while I knew she understood that my life had taken a turn, I also knew she wasn’t happy about it. By the time the first set of four shows ended and I was dropped off at Midway, I was beginning to waver.
On one hand, I did (and do) recognize the expense of doing what we do. I’d like to take more vacations that do not consist of me cooking and cleaning all the time, but with traveling like this, it doesn’t leave much in the budget. I also know that my mom and kids still need me and yet I’m running around the country like I’m still in my twenties, so I’m told. (and it’s fun!) I know my husband isn’t a big fan of me going to all of these shows because he doesn’t like me being gone. That’s another problem that I’ve grown very tired of dealing with. I feel torn. I’ve spent twenty years putting the needs of others before my own. It isn’t as though I tour every month or even every year. I don’t even see Amanda every six months consistently. But the guilt and the annoyance factors are strong. Sometimes it’s just easier to give in and make everyone else happy and just convince myself that it’s for the best. I think a lot of moms do that and it becomes a basic skill of survival.
So now, here I sit the morning before my last show. The show I’ve told myself would be my final one. We stayed in fancy hotels, we hung out in bars. We tried to do meet-ups that would bring the community together. We laughed WITH the band onstage. I tried to show my support without seeming like a crazy, desperate fan. Do I feel like I’ve done everything I set out to do?
If I’m really being honest, the answer is no. There are two levels to that answer. First of all, as a fan, the one thing this tour has taught me is that the set list really doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. I still have a fantastic time no matter what they play. They put on an amazing show with SO much energy, and they honestly and truly loo like they have fun doing it every single night. In turn, I have a blast every single night. I don’t want to stop doing that. Ever.
Secondly, Amanda and I want to keep writing. We can’t control whether or not we ever meet the band beyond a quick “hi” at a signing. We aren’t in their “inner circle” and probably never will be. We write what WE see, witness and/or believe here, whether or not the band and management agree. That might not always earn us friends, but we can look ourselves in the mirror. That matters more to us in the end. Showing up at places we think the band might arrive will get us nowhere. Asking people we thought we could count on for help has also done very little. (Let me be clear: both scenarios continue to get us nowhere.) We are irrelevant in that sense, so for the two of us—it is about our writing and bringing this big, dysfunctional family we call a fan community together. We are determined and can do this—on our own steam no less, because we’re just crazy enough to believe it can be done. I am proud of that work and want to keep doing it. Some may not call what we do “work”, and you know what? I don’t fucking care what anyone else thinks, to be incredibly blunt. I want to keep doing meet-ups, planning conventions, and writing. Not all of that requires that I attend countless shows, but some of it really kind of does.
So where does that leave me? Well, aside from broke right now, I’m not sure. I’m pretty stubborn when I want to be. As result, there’s a part of me that is desperate to sell these manuscripts to publishers so that way I can look a lot of people in the eye and say “I told you so, and I can do this whether or not you claim to know me, or respect our work, dammit.” I’m annoyed by my own life circumstance just enough to throw caution to the wind and get it done. I just hope to stay determined in the coming months as life gets challenging with college applications (it’s my son’s turn now!), homeschooling, and schedules.
Stubbornness aside, I wouldn’t be surprised if tears are shed tonight during “New Moon on Monday. I’m glad I’ll have Amanda there, because she’s really the only one I know who understands me. Once I had a friend who did something like thirteen shows on a Duran tour. She traveled with friends for like three weeks and I know she had the time of her life. She cried when she got home, and I could never figure out why.
Well, these four shows went fast. Last night I attended my final show before heading back home for about ten days before Amanda makes her way to California.
I don’t know about anyone else, but when you’re doing anything more than one show, I think the last show can be tough. On one hand, you’re excited to be there. I mean, it IS Duran Duran up there on that stage. Who doesn’t love that?!? On the other hand, it’s hard to force yourself to just live in that moment (or at least it is for me). Last night was no different, although every time I’d feel a little bittersweet I’d remind myself that Amanda will be coming to California before I know it.
The show opened strong with Paper Gods, and I really don’t think there was any slowing down from there. The one thing I will say about this tour is that the show is incredibly tight. The band definitely has the setlist and production down, and most of the time they make the entire show seem effortless. I can’t fault them for that, although yes—I suppose for those of us who are attending more than one show, it makes the night predictable. That said, I can honestly say that I didn’t stand in the audience thinking “And ____________ is next” each night. I enjoyed each song as it came up, and didn’t think beyond that.
I’ve said it before and will say it again, MNDR has done an outstanding job. I realize there’s been some question as to how much of Nick’s part she’s really playing up there—I don’t honestly care—but she’s also very engaging with the audience. Granted, it’s not the same as seeing Nick’s knowing slight smiles and smirks, but she gets the audience clapping and seems to make eye contact as well. I don’t know that they could have found a better person to fill the role in his absence.
Clearly, Simon and John were happy to be in Toronto. Both made positive statements about the venue or the city and how it’s been one hell of a journey. I’m no Canadian, but I must agree. Yes, yes it has.
Complete with confetti (by the way, Amanda and I were seated in front of the cannons last night, which meant that by the end of Pressure Off we were completely blanketed—and we loved it) and beach balls, the show was every bit as much of a going away party (for us) as it was a celebration of our 40th show. We had a great time, and for a few hours, I really did forget all about the other stresses in life. I’d call that successful.
So now, Amanda and I head back to the Chicago-area. I will head back to California tomorrow and attempt to detox myself (!) for the next ten days. Yes, there’s been quite a bit of debauchery on this trip. It has been wonderful to meet new friends, hang out with Amanda and Heather, and just breathe. I always hate this part, where I have to say goodbye to people I care about, but on the other hand—I get to do round two very soon.
One final parting thought: not long ago I had come to terms that this might be my final long trip away from home. It is very hard to leave, especially for this length of time. I thought I was done, to be honest. I love the band, but I’m at a point in life where something has to give. I can go away without being gone for the better part of a month, I suppose. I’m four shows in to the eight I plan to do, and while I know my situation with home and family hasn’t changed, I find myself wondering how on earth I’m ever going to survive without the trips, the touring, and my friends. This band is addictive.
Thankfully, I can file that thought away for a little while longer.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!