Every once in a while, we are thrilled to have someone write in and ask if we still accept guest blogs. Rest assured, WE DO. We love handing over the proverbial microphone to somebody new! If you feel particularly passionate about a specific Duran Duran topic, or you want to share your own point of view – don’t hesitate to write an article and send it to our gmail, we’d love to hear from you!
Today, we are thrilled to present a brand new guest blogger – Mark Viens – who shares a new point of view about those all-important set lists. Thanks Mark! – A & R
By Mark Viens
I’m a lover of live music. I try to get out and see someone perform as often as possible, even if it’s just a local band in a bar. Having just come off a seven-day stretch where I found myself at three excellent concert tours, plus the touring production of Hamilton, I’m going through some music withdrawal. Usually, I have at least one in the queue, so this is a bit of an odd feeling.
Curiosity getting the better of me, I started poking around. Taking a second look at what bands are headed to the Boston area in the coming months. Acts that may slipped under my radar. That’s when I noticed Nine Inch Nails are coming in soon. They are booked for two shows at the Wang Center. The Jesus and Mary Chain are their opener. I’ve never seen either of them live, but was a casual fan of NIN in the 90’s. I still have Pretty Hate Machine and The Downward Spiral on CD around here someplace. Being one to do a little research, I popped over to Setlist.fm to see if some of my favorites were in their rotation. You never know which bands suddenly decide to stop playing their earlier work. I was near stunned by what I found.
Before I dive into what surprised me, let’s back up a bit. I’ll preface by saying I know this complaint comes up often among the Duran Duran fan base. The band we all love tends to play the same songs night after night once a tour is underway. Maybe changing one or two songs out, and modifying the order slightly. Some fans complain that they skew too much toward their newer music. Others will say they are bored with the chart toppers, and lack of deep tracks. People will go to three or more shows, then be hugely jealous of others who went to a show where a track like Hold Back the Rain made the cut.
I’ve defended this in the past saying Duran Duran are playing to the 98% of people that don’t go to multiple shows during a tour. Adding that their songs require a bit of extra prep and practice. That they need to be well-rehearsed to play along with a sequencer track of atmospheric sounds. That they are artists first and foremost, and are always going to want to present their latest works to the public. That they need to cater to the casual fans as much as their ‘regular’ fans since they will always outnumber them at a show. Wait, which band am I talking about? It could certainly be either!
What was I stunned about with Nine Inch Nails? As of this writing, in 33 shows performed so far in 2018 they have played 63 different songs.
(1) Rewind to the last years that Duran Duran had a considerable number of shows on tour. In 2016 they had 60 shows playing only 22 unique tracks.
(2) In 2017 they played 27 shows with exactly 27 songs.
(3) Keep in mind, both bands only play in the neighborhood of 20 songs a night.
Attached is a setlist of four recent Nine Inch Nails shows. Two cities, two shows each, on back to back nights. One pair of performances in DC, and another the month earlier at Red Rocks Amphitheater. They seem to have no issues with mixing things up on back to back nights. They leave out huge songs from their repertoire (Closer, Perfect Drug, etc.) one night, and go ahead and play them the next. The only thing constant among these four shows is finishing the main set with Head Like a Hole and finishing the encore with ‘Hurt’.
Playing multiple nights back to back at a particular venue is something Duran Duran do from time to time. However, it’s been six years since John Taylor said “More performances in fewer places”,(4) but the band hasn’t really acted on that idea in a meaningful way.
The boys from Birmingham could learn something here as they are (hopefully) planning for a tour to coincide with ‘DD40′. They don’t always need to play wall-to-wall hits to appease the masses. It really is okay to leave fans, die-hard or casual, wanting more.
Could they reach the point of making it clear ahead of time what the shows will be like? Maybe announce a series of two-night stands playing the complete first album plus another 10 or 12 songs one night, then the next night the Rio album with an even slightly different assortment of songs? I’d be at both, you can count on that. Maybe the band will even entice a few of those casual fans to snag a ticket for a second night before they pack up the gear and leave town.
Mark is a Graphic Artist and a long-time fan of Duran Duran. His first concert was on their 1984 Sing Blue Silver tour, and he has seen the band live on nearly every New England appearance since then. Mark currently lives in New Hampshire, and isn’t afraid to travel to see a show.