Tag Archives: fame

Saw a Close Up: Fame, Privacy and Criticism

I am a member of many different Duran Duran groups on Facebook.  For the most part, I just read the posts but rarely participate.  In fact, I probably have only posted to share an event that Rhonda and I were hosting, either online or in person.  Despite my lack of commenting, I still like to read to see what Duranies are talking about.  I’m a student of fandom and Duran fandom, in particular, after all.  In most cases, the topics fit into the usual categories of concert going, seeing a Duran reference somewhere, finding a cool clip on YouTube, and more.

This week, though, I saw some photos of John Taylor posted in a number of different Facebook groups.  These pictures featured a shirtless JT on a beach.  Perhaps, they were taken when they were in Miami.  I’m not sure.  Some groups posted one or two pics while others posted many.  Immediately following the photos came the comments, which were often numerous and critical.  I chose not to say anything but filed my reaction away in my brain for this little blog here.

The first thing I noticed about these photographs was that they were clearly not posed.  The photographer snapped the pictures as John walked around the beach, sat read a book or socializing with those near him.  I suspect that these photos were taken without John’s permission and, perhaps, without his knowledge.  Now, this argument I’m about to make is not a new one but one I can apply to many celebrities.  Does being a celebrity mean one’s privacy can and should be invaded so that their fans can see scenes from all aspects of one’s life?  Personally, I don’t think so.  I think John’s job is to perform on stage.  It isn’t to have pictures taken of him when he is away from the job.  Being a rock star doesn’t mean that he can’t have time off and away.

Now, I know that others say that one must accept things like having people take your picture whenever and wherever you show up when you are a celebrity.  The idea is that if someone wants to be famous, s/he must know that privacy is not an option anymore.  The argument would say that if John wanted to go swimming, he should have stuck to private pools.  I disagree.  I think that everyone, no matter the level of fame should have the right to some privacy.  I also feel like there can and should be a line between John’s (and any celebrity’s) job and personal life.

Then, if that was not enough, the comments I saw in response shocked me.  Many stated things like “John needs a gym” and “He really never had a body”.  The first thought that popped into my mind was, “I hope John doesn’t read these comments.”  Truly, these kind of statements are nothing but hurtful and mean.  Again, I suspect that people feel that John’s famous person status means that they can say whatever they think.  As a celebrity, he should expect that level of examination and criticism, right?  Wrong.  He along with the rest of the band should expect criticism about their albums, their videos, etc.  They do not deserve mean-spirited statements about their appearances.

I know that I wouldn’t want anyone to talk about me that way.  Why would I think I could talk about others that way?  I could point out that none of us are perfect, physically, and that John is 56 years old.  Honestly, I could only be so lucky to look a fraction as good when I am his age.  Heck, I won’t appear on a beach in a bathing suit anywhere so I admire the heck out of him being able to do so.

Now, I know that some will say that they didn’t mean anything by posting the pictures or by making the comments that were made.  I’m sure the fans will say that they still love him and all that.  Still, I have to say that the pictures and the comments made me uncomfortable.  Yes, some will say that John might not care but I did and I’m sure that other fans who saw those posts felt the same way.

-A

All You Need is Then: DD in Las Vegas

Just a reminder that we graciously accept reviews from DD shows, as well as blogs on any topic that has to do with Duran Duran. Today Jason Lent shares a different perspective on the recent Las Vegas show. If you’re interested in submitting a blog, please check out our “Guest Blog” page for information. 

For the next two weeks I will be on vacation with family (I’m doing nearly the polar opposite of “touring” by going camping with family in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons), so I have a few guest blogs to take my place. Enjoy!!  -R

By Jason Lent

My nostalgia drenched July wrapped up with Duran Duran at the Mandalay Events Center in Las Vegas. Seven nights earlier, I stood in a parking lot downtown while Howard Jones and OMD performed on what felt like the surface of the sun. After Duran Duran, Howard Jones and Thompson Twins were pivotal touchstones in my formative years of music while OMD were always on the edges of my life soundtrack. All three provided different reminders of why I love the synth pop sounds of the 1980s.  I still find myself expecting more from Duran Duran overall because they were “my” band as an impressionable 11-year-old. As I walked to my car that night in a mad dash to escape a parking garage built by Satan himself, I realized that no matter what the band does now, all I ever needed from them was already given to me back then.

Touring in support of Paper Gods, I went into last night’s show having already seen the earliest incarnation of this tour in 2015 at the Hollywood Bowl and the Life Is Beautiful Festival in Las Vegas. Selfishly hoping for some radical updates to the set list (this was, after all, the second Vegas show in under a year), I knew that such dreams were foolish. At this point, the band has firmly entrenched itself into the legacy circuit where delivering the most appeal to the largest amount of people is job number one. With that as the goal, this current tour might be as effective as any they’ve undertaken in the last twenty years.  That night in Las Vegas, the cheers of the arena were literally deafening and I awoke the following morning with a ringing in my ears that I’d have expected if I stood in front of the PA at a Five Finger Death Punch concert (on a side note, very cool that Chris Kael from Death Punch was at the Duran show last night!).

From the viewpoint of a casual fan, there is no denying the overall power of the current show. After the artsy run through of the new album’s title track, the hits come fast and furious. Wild Boys, Hungry Like The Wolf, and A View To A Kill lifted the crowd to their feet and had them screaming along. The band appeared to be thrilled by the reception and Simon LeBon stepped into the role of the saucy frontman, a role he was born to play. Come Undone, the finest single of their second career peak, sounded and looked brilliant, providing one of the many highlights.

For the more ardent Duranie, the disappointment with the current show resides in the lack of hope that each show provides. Maybe this always existed with Duran Duran but age and technology now infringe on the innocent hope we carried to shows as teenagers. There is no mystery to which songs might be played and the stage banter feels a little too comfortable as a result. The show is the show and the band delivers it night after night at a very high level. However, most of us know exactly when LeBon is about to ask the audience if anybody is hungry. This lack of spontaneity and a refusal to push themselves outside their comfort zone takes a little sparkle off the modern Duran Duran.

For those of us who lived and died with each album (and Liberty sometimes felt like it wanted to kill me), the current tour does offer a few moments of ecstasy such as a killer performance of I Don’t Want Your Love from Big Thing and a reworked take on Girls On Film that feels funky and fresh. Both of these choices do nothing to hamper the casual fan’s appreciation of the show while giving us more fanatical sorts the hope for more twists and turns in the future. The clock is forever ticking when a band sticks around for over three decades but Duran Duran has some gas left in the tank and the next tour could be truly special if they are willing to take a few more chances.

First and foremost in my mind would be to bring 25-30 songs on the tour and arrange each set list slightly differently from town to town. In doing so, the band would have to stay on their toes musically from night-to-night. Why does that matter? It brings out the best in musicians. What if Notorious and Pressure Off weren’t always side by side for example. The songs are too similar sitting next to each other. If Notorious dropped down into the encore, it’s not like Nile Rodgers isn’t going to come back on stage. From what I’ve seen, he’ll take any chance to get in front of the audience especially if he gets to remind us of all the #1 hits he worked on. God bless the man, but we know you’re a legend. Stop telling us each night.

If the band brought 30 songs on the road, those extra tracks could open up a whole new world to long time fans. It starts with the new material. Last Night In the City should be dropped. It’s a boring EDM track that feels like the band trying to appeal to the very people who aren’t buying concert tickets regardless. Sunset Garage, a far better track, with a video montage of the band over the years could be a show highlight. The fatal flaw with Paper Gods was the decision to put the most Duran sounding songs into the “bonus tracks” of different versions of the release. Ask a hundred Duran fans and we would choose Planet Roaring over Danceophobia almost 100% of the time.

In addition to a better mix of the new tracks, the band’s depth gets grossly overlooked in the current tour which can be fixed fairly easily. All You Need Is Now from 2010 was one of their best studio albums since Rio and not a single song makes the current tour. This is more ludicrous than the decision to cover Public Enemy’s 911 Is A Joke. The album that brought them back into arenas gets no attention while the band continues to play Reach Up For the Sunrise, a modest hit but hardly essential listening. To make matters worse, the band taunts us with a chorus from New Moon On Monday in the middle of Sunrise. Here’s an idea, just play Monday, one of the beloved singles from the band’s biggest period.

As a kid, collecting Duran Duran 12” records felt like my life mission. On the flip side of the Careless Memories 12” was a track called Fame. At that age, I didn’t know who David Bowie was and this was my first time hearing an artist whose career and life would greatly influence everything I love in music. If the band had added Fame to the set list for this tour, not only would it have paid tribute to our collective hero, it would have taken us all back to the early stages of fandom when we were full of hope and wonder. I chalk up the medley of Planet Earth and Space Oddity as a near miss but still a lot of fun last night.

So where do we go from here? Next year is the 35th anniversary of Rio and the trend of bands revisiting complete works shows no signs of dissipating. Rather than head back into the studio, I hope Duran Duran embraces their legacy fully and undertakes a summer tour to celebrate a landmark album in all our lives. Open each night with a handful of other hits, take an intermission with a short film of the band in the studio and on video sets over the years, play Rio in its entirety and finish the night with an encore of even more hits. The ticket sales would be monumental and those of us who stayed with them all along would be rewarded with rarely heard songs like Hold Back the Rain.

I look forward to new albums and new tours while continuing to want more of the past each show. Last night was an amazing experience and despite my many words above, I left with a huge smile on my face. The music critic in me will always explore every corner of my Duran Duran fandom but my passion never diminishes. The recent resurgence in interest for their work vindicates many of us who grew up being teased for loving five good-looking lads from England. Take away their youthful smiles, the expensive videos, and all the radio hits and you still have truly gifted musicians with a natural-born entertainer on the mic. Duran Duran forever.

 

Jason Lent Guest Blogger thumbnailJason Lent discovered Duran Duran on MTV in 1983 and a lifelong musical love affair was born. In 2010, he left a job in Hawaii to tour with Cowboy Junkies as a music writer and his work has appeared in various online music outlets. He currently resides in Las Vegas managing a music venue while trying to learn John Taylor’s bass line from Rio.

 

Duran Duran Celebrating David Bowie

It has been a week.  My thoughts and feelings mirror many of the posts, tweets, messages I have seen, sent, and read since Monday.  I’m exhausted.  Mentally.  Certainly emotionally.  I feel very heavy and like I’m struggling to swim upstream.  This, of course, is common when is grieving, even if that person or persons are not known to us, personally.  This week, the world lost two greats in David Bowie and Alan Rickman due to the horrific disease of cancer and many of us are truly still mourning the loss.  Yesterday, Rhonda blogged about her emotional connection to Alan Rickman and the Harry Potter fandom.  While I do not share that specific fandom, I still get it.  I truly get it.  I understand how tough it is to lose someone who is a significant focus of a fandom one belongs to.  While David Bowie might not have been the focus of Duran Duran fandom.  He certainly had a direct connection.  Since after all, it is probably safe to say that if there was no David Bowie, there would be no Duran Duran.  He inspired them.  He motivated them to not only form a band but to form the kind of band they are.  His influence cannot be measured.  Yet, it remains so evident, so clear in so much of what Duran has done and continues to do.

The love that Duran Duran has for David Bowie is so strong that they have covered his music more than anyone else, I believe.  They love the music so much that they wanted to recreate it for themselves, to show the world how much the songs meant to them, or at least this is how I’m interpreting their choice to cover Bowie music.  Over Duran’s career, they have, in fact, covered 5 David Bowie songs.  One thing I have learned in my  life is how important it is to celebrate someone you have lost.  Thus, it seems fitting to me to celebrate David Bowie and his influence on Duran Duran by checking out those 5 cover songs.

Fame

Duran Duran included their cover of the song, Fame, as the b-side to their second single, Careless Memories, in 1981.

While they did, indeed, play this song live.  I could not find a live clip of it.  Therefore, I chose a montage video.

Diamond Dogs

Duran Duran released this cover on the Japanese version of their Thank You album in 1995.

I do not believe that they ever played this song live.

Rebel Rebel

This cover was played live and during TV/promotional appearances during the Thank You era of 1995.  It never appeared on an official release, which is really unfortunate.

This clip is from 1995 at a Hard Rock Live performance.

Boys Keep Swinging

After the Thank You era, which focused on cover songs, Duran Duran seemed to take a very long break from covering other artists’ work.  They broke out from this break to record Boys Keep Swinging for the album, We Were So Turned On:  A Tribute to David Bowie, released in 2010.  This song was available as a limited edition 7″ vinyl single as well as a download.

They did not play it live much, but they did play it for the Fendi private party in 2010 as seen above.

Here is the recorded version as well:

Starman

Duran Duran played this song live in Greece in the summer of 2012 to commemorate Bowie’s first performance of the song on the UK’s Top of the Pops TV show in 1972.

Personally, I would love to see them perform this one live…perhaps in..say..the summer of 2016!!

The loss of David Bowie is immeasurable.  I, for one, am thankful that his work, his music lives on and that we can all celebrate him forever.

-A

 

 

 

 

Fame and Fans

This blog, generally, focuses on fans and fandom.  While we certainly talk about Duran Duran, it is from the fans’ point of view.  We rarely take the time to really think about what it must be like to be Duran Duran or anyone else famous.  Yet, I started to think a bit more lately about what fame and having fans must really be like.

I spent about a week, over the holidays, at my sister’s.  My sister is a mom to two teenage girls and one night they wanted to watch a movie with just the “girls” (my mom, my sister, my nieces and myself).  What movie was chosen?  It is one my niece got for Christmas called Beyond the Lights.  I had never heard of it before but I was open to it as it dealt with a fictional famous singer.  You can watch the trailer here to get an idea of what it is about:

As you can tell from the trailer, this famous singer is not a happy person.  She clearly isn’t thrilled with her lifestyle or her fame and is looking for someone to “really see her”.  As I watched the movie, I found myself thinking about the members of Duran Duran.  This character is frustrated by not being able to make her own choices but always doing, wearing, speaking whatever that will maintain or grow her fame.  She feels that she is not understood at all and that thousands feel like they “know” her, but no one really does.  They only know the image, not the real person.

I have to wonder if this is how the members of Duran have felt or do feel.  Do they feel controlled by others?  Do they feel trapped by their fame?  Do they feel like no one really understands or really knows them?  This reminded me of an article from Classic Pop Magazine that I recently read about Duran Duran.  In this article, the band’s success and fame was addressed.  Nick mentioned that, “It felt out of control on a nightly basis…It’s quite bizarre when you’re a prisoner of your own world.”  Wow.  It is interesting that he chose that word of “prisoner”.  Then, he related a story in which he was at a charity dinner with Justin Bieber and how Justin was never left alone even when he was eating!

This, of course, brought me right back to fans.  While I definitely understand the desire for pictures and autographs (and have certainly asked for some myself!), I do wonder if fans add to this feeling of being trapped that Nick talked about or how the movie showed.  Simon addresses this issue a bit further in that same article by talking about selfies by stating, “Selfies are the new autograph.  I don’t mind an autograph…they’re much quicker to do and feel less intrusive.  But people freak out when you say ‘no’ to a selfie.”  Does Simon or any other famous people have the right to say no without having people freak out on them?  I think most of us would say yes.  Yet, I know the argument that many fans have.  Simon and company CHOSE to become and stay famous.  On top of that, the fans are what brought their success; fans made the people famous.  Therefore, shouldn’t fans have the right to expect an autograph or a selfie?

I suspect that the best answer lies somewhere in between the never giving autographs/selfies and the always giving autographs/selfies.  I am not surprised if many/most famous people have some sort of limit about when and where they are willing to give autographs/selfies.  Simon even mentioned in that article that he would never do a selfie when he is eating.  Then, I think that fans should respect those limits.  We often ask the famous people to think about what it must be like for the fans and how the fans should be treated but it is probably good for fans to think about what life must be like for famous people.  It must not always be fun or easy to be famous or to have fans.  It seems to me that everyone (both famous people and fans) should try to be a bit more empathetic towards the other.

-A

 

 

Today’s Date in Duran History – Fashion

On today’s date in 1980…yes, WAYYY back then…Duran Duran opened for the band Fashion at the Rum Runner.  That’s right, Duran Duran opened for Fashion, not the other way around.

Isn’t it weird the way fame and circumstance work?  You’re on top one day, and then somehow – the band that opens for you ends up hitting it huge while you’re struggling to make ends meet as you’re hammering it out night after night.  Just one choice, one decision, may have made all the difference in the careers of both Fashion and Duran Duran.  You just never quite know what’s going to happen in this world – despite the best possible intentions and planning.

I suppose it’s true for all of us. We never really know what change in direction, what one simple, easily cast decision, is going to do for us. It could be as neat and trim as the decision to walk to work one day rather than taking the bus.  It could possibly be the agonizingly difficult decision of what university to attend.  We just never know.

Think about it.

-R