Who wants to go see Duran Duran in late March/early April??? I know, I know – EVERYONE! Of course, there’s a catch. Four of them, actually. (Strange coincidence, I am sure.) The first is, the shows are in South America. The second, third, and fourth catches are that the shows are festivals, as in, they are performing at three Lollapalooza festivals in Brazil, Argentina and Chile.
Our South American friends are wildly rejoicing and celebrating, as they should. It is not that often that Duran Duran comes to visit! I also see though, that some are disappointed that at least for the moment, only festivals are being announced. I can certainly understand why, and I’ve seen the outcry for dedicated shows.
The fact of the matter is though, no matter how much loyal fans despise the idea of festivals—they draw a crowd. The band will play in front of many more people who way, and getting their music into the ears as many potentially new fans as possible is the name of the game. That is a bitter pill for longtime fans to swallow, I know.
Something gets lost in the translation when you’re needing to camp out just to grab a spot near the stage, and you have to stand through ten other bands before your favorite takes the stage. Many of us have reached the mid-40’s now, and our knees are not what they used to be. In fairness, had our US tour been all festivals I would have curled up in the fetal position and died. I could barely do the shows WITH seats! In this case, they are moving quickly through Brazil, to Argentina and on to Chile. In order to see the band three times, a fan will need to be willing to travel and not spend a lot of time lingering in any one place – and one had better enjoy festivals. I wish you all well.
I do have the show lineups should anyone be interested and potentially enticed into traveling to South America. Me? Oh heck no, I’ll be here at home, working off my debts from the last tour!
I apologize for the lateness of the blog today. I promised myself that I would get some of that pesky school work done before I completed the more fun task of listening to September’s Katy Kafe and blogging about it. As always with I’m only going to be sharing what I think the highlights were and my thoughts about them. If you want the complete deal, I suggest getting that membership to DuranDuranMusic and listening for yourself. This is one Kafe that is worth it!
End of the Tour:
John commented about how they are on the verge of finishing this tour, which really began for them last year. He said that the end allows them to look back at the accomplishment while looking forward to the break and the next steps. I have to admit that I have always wondered what the end of the tour must be for them. I know what it is like for me. It is usually one of mixed emotions. While I’m glad to return home and get some sleep, I’m also terribly sad in that I don’t know when I will see the next Duran show or the next time that I will see my friends, especially Rhonda. It also usually motivates me to do more work about the blog, our writing or fan events. I guess it is safe to say that tours usually inspire me.
This Kafe brought the good stuff right away with Katy asking about next steps. While there wasn’t a major scoop, there was a few details that I focused in on. First, the return to the States (probably that East Coast show that DDHQ has hinted about) will be around New Year’s. (I don’t mind that. I do have a winter vacation then. Just for the record.) Second, 2017 will hopefully include some “special shows”. That has me wondering what that means! Of course, he did also mention the idea of continuing the tour to Australia, Asia and South America. Interesting to note there was no mention of the Broadway musical or ballet that he and Nick have been working on.
When Katy brought up the topic of Chic, I have to admit that I wondered what else could be said since most critics, fans, etc. have all talked about how having Chic on tour with Duran was awesome because they fit together well. Well, JT talked about how Simon was more “emotional” and “open” on this tour, which showed when he talked about the band’s love for Nile each night. He also mentioned the hope to get Chic to join them for an Australia tour.
The topic of festivals came up in relation to the question of whether or not the band would return to North America. John was open by saying that it wasn’t his decision but that he thinks the best way to keep trying to get the album heard is by playing live dates and that festivals mean that people who wouldn’t have heard Paper Gods get to hear it. Katy then wondered if they might come back to the States next summer for some festivals. John said that many people would agree with that thinking. Of course, while understanding this thinking, festivals make me cringe. I’m too old to enjoy them with all the discomforts that they bring.
John talked about how amazing it was to be at the festival in Aspen with Stevie Wonder. (I, too, thought it was amazing when I got to see Stevie Wonder play at the 2013 Inaugural Ball!) I smiled throughout his description of watching Stevie perform then meeting him and getting a picture taken with him. He sounded like many of us do when describing meeting him!
Yes, they talked about the new iPhone design that is coming out that features the cordless headphones. Apparently, the phone will also be waterproof, which could be important to people who have had incidents with their phone and water. (coughRhondacough)
This year marks the 20th anniversary of John’s side project, Neurotic Outsiders. John shared the story about how the project came together, which is interesting story about they started playing one gig together for a fundraiser before being offered a residency at the Viper Room in LA. More interesting than that, John discussed where his head was at the time, since the side project began right before he left the band. He talked about how his ideas with Duran had run out and that he was interested in sticking to LA more. As someone who is self-described as old school, he also liked (and still does) the idea of a residency. He described this project as the opposite of Duran. While Duran is complex, this band was simple. While they made an album of new material, John felt that the album should have been them live.
Overall, this Kafe was a joy to listen to. John sounded very upbeat and positive. His openness and positivity showed with each topic that came up. As someone wondering what will be next for Duran Duran, the Kafe provided me with a sense that whatever it will be will be good.
Another great review to share from a guest blogger! Thanks so much for submitting reviews, our readers love them!! -R
By Carron Stacey
Six months ago, my Duranie friend asks if I want to go to this festival in Southampton to see Duran Duran. I thought to myself, it’s just before my birthday, what a great idea. We decided to upgrade to VIP tickets! Together, we’ve seen them three times. The first – no John sadly, but still good. The second – in Birmingham, fantastic to see JT at last (he’s always been my fav, my friend preferring SLB). The third – extremely special in St Andrews football ground. We were so close and I was pregnant with my son Ben, dreaming JT was the father!
Fast forward to this gig. We are so excited. Recovering from tonsillitis, I didn’t even know last week if I was going to be able to make it. We must’ve looked a type in the VIP Nook. I don’t know, 40-45 year old mums on a day out? Must be here to see DD. We met some lovely ladies with whom we shared the event, and a group of Southampton couples, with whom we bantered about Pompey -v- The Scummers etc. Yes we’d had a few drinks.
In the VIP Nook area, the toilet blocks are separated by hessian screens. My friend returned from a trip there and said “I’m sure you can see where they’ll go on stage from.” With that, we ran out before they came on. We peered through the small squares in the hessian screen. Lo and behold, there they were! I took a few pictures of them getting ready, listening to the crowd going wild for them. I was almost spellbound, definitely starstruck. I’ve seen you on the stage and I’ve seen you on TV (see what I did there?) but there was something mesmerizing about watching them prepare. Psych up. Whatever. The crowd was crazy and this next bit was worth the extra payment for the VIP area – I saw JT shake his hands together in the air and genuinely look excited at the anticipating audience! It was amazing that he (they) still get turned on by this. That it’s not just ‘”oh some municipal festival or whatever”. This is a DD gig with massive fans and casual fans alike, all cheering their hearts out to see you. I shouted to the sax player “See you in a minute!” He said, “I can’t see you!” and I shouted, “Yes, you can, look here’s my foot” and stuck my foot under the screen. He laughed! They climbed the stairs, we ran back to our bench.
Now I must just take the time to explain what sort of fan I am. I am not, unlike the two lovely ladies we met, uberfans. They’ve seen them so many times. Met them at book signings and on the Eurostar, being asked for headache tablets! They know where JT’s mansion is. I don’t know even know all the words to Notorious, but I think I can fudge it. I certainly don’t know Sunrise off by heart and I haven’t (the shame) listened to Paper Gods, their new album. I am a huge fan, but only really of the first three albums. Duran Duran, spawning the singles Planet Earth and Girls on Film, is the best. I know every song, every lyric, every drum beat, every synthesized Nick note… Rio is just perfection. I know this like I know the first album too. It doesn’t sound dated even today. Seven and the Ragged Tiger, well I can’t say this is a “great” album and it does sound a bit dated, but I loved it at the time and so it remains on the list. Notorious was out in 1986, but by this time, I had gone all Smiths and Cocteau Twins. I do like the funkiness of Notorious and Skin Trade, but I don’t even think I bought it. I think I just preferred the New Romantic stage. Oh and the Look-At-Our-Ostentatious-Video phase.
So, the setlist. Well first off, Simon seems to have had the same illness as me! His voice was croaky and he could be seen coughing off-mike quite a lot. Fair play to him, I’d have expected him to rely on his backing singers more, but he didn’t. He sounded better than I’d heard him before, in spite of his croakiness. No duff notes there Simon! Paper Gods to start off. Wild Boys – always a crowd pleaser. Hungry Like the Wolf – ditto. View to a Kill – loved the Bond theme before. Later when introducing the band, SLB said of himself “The name’s Bon. Simon Le Bon.” Come Undone – I like it but not as much as my friend, it’s her favourite. Last Night in the City – a new one for me, quite good! Notorious – funky as flip. Pressure Off – a newbie but I do sort of know it. Planet Earth/Space Oddity – I’d forgotten they were doing this. It worked well and the crowd appreciated the nod to one of DD’s heroes, Bowie. Ordinary World – a crowd favourite, but not really one of mine. I Don’t Want Your Love – OK. White Lines – they get a lot of stick for this cover version but do you know what? We all love singing it so why can’t they have some fun? Sunrise/New Moon on Monday – obviously I was mostly impressed with the New Moon on Monday bit! Girls on Film – awesome. Their encore – I missed what SLB said as I’d fallen off the bench and launched into the man in front at that point, but it was something like “Without Prince, (our?) music wouldn’t sound like it does”. We held our lighters, I mean phone torches, aloft in memory during Save a Prayer. Rio – the last one. Such energy!
As we were on this hammock/bench thing, we had a great view of the whole festival field. Everyone’s hands were in the air during the 90 minute set. They were awesome to look at (not just the band but the whole set up), the backing singers weren’t annoying like sometimes they can be. They looked part of it. Simon worked the audience. There were youngsters behind us singing every word. Older people singing along. Older couples slow dancing to the hits. I kept catching the eye of a woman dancing near us, and at certain points, it was like we were talking in shorthand about a shared history we’d never had. Who would’ve thought DD were a festival band? They were last night. Of course I’d have liked more old hits, but the whole show was slick, energetic and current. No 80s throwbacks here. The whole atmosphere was enhanced by sharing the experience with our new Duranie friends; we just sang along and screamed like teenagers. I took a blurred photo of us in mid scream. That summed it up. What a fantastic night.
Just as we’d seen them enter the stage, we ran back to our peep-hole to see them exit. We filmed with our phones over the top of the screen this time and watched them descend the steps, to be chaperoned in to their waiting cars. First Roger, then Nick (I always love his lip gloss), the guitarist and sax (sorry I don’t know their names – Dom?), John and then Simon. I shouted to Simon, “Hope your voice gets better.” And this next bit made my night. As he was putting his jacket on, he gave me the peace sign. Swoon. Do you know, I think I may trade my allegiance … JT gave me nothing but SLB gave me a V! I am 10 again.
Carron Stacey has loved Duran Duran since their first album came out when she was 10. JT is her favourite, though she may switch allegiance to SLB after their latest gig. She adores the first three albums; after that she went all goth (she can muddle through at gigs though). Carron lives in the south of England, blogs regularly about being mum to an embarrassed 10-year-old boy and teaches French and computing.
One of the things that I love about doing this blog is being able to communicate with other fans. Many times, having conversations help me with my thinking. It helps me to formulate my thoughts or solidify my thinking. Perhaps, this is also why Rhonda and I can be best friends. We both need to communicate when it comes to the band and fandom. We need it so much that we do this blog, in fact! Anyway, at times, comments made by fellow fans really get me thinking. Last week, I did a blog about the intensity of teaching and the intensity that the band must feel about their job. (If you missed it, you can read it here.) One of the comments I got about the blog was from a good friend of ours, Heather, who mentioned about how festivals must be easy for the band and she compared it to what my life would be like, if I had someone do all of the preparations to teach and I just come in to deliver the lesson. My response back was how this was like substitute teaching and in order to teach well and enjoy it, I must know my audience, my kids, my students. This got me thinking, though. How much of a difference does an audience make to a band or artist?
I have seen Duran Duran play a lot of shows. I have seen them multiple times in one given tour. I have seen them play very large venues to smaller theaters to festivals to charity gigs. I have even seen them play a “fan only” show. There are definitely shows that were better, in terms of their performance, than others. In thinking about the shows that were better performances, what were the audiences like for those shows? How much did they contribute to a good show or how much can a bad audience make a possible good show, bad?
How do I define good audience or bad? That’s a good question. I would say that a good audience is one that is into the show. The people came to have a good time and are determined to make the show fun. Does the audience have to consist of diehard Duranies, in order for it to be good? No. I don’t think so. Does it help? I think it could. Some of the best Duran shows I can think of were made up for a ton of serious Duranies. For example, the best show of the southeast tour of 2012 was Durham. I think it absolutely helped the band that the crowd consisted of a ton of solid Duranies, many of who partied together beforehand at a wine bar meet up organized by yours truly and a couple friends of ours. Initially, during that show, the band seemed to be not giving it 100% but sensed that the audience was and they came to life! By the end of the show, they were into it 110%! I believe that Duranies lifted the band up to a great performance in that one. Now, that said, I have seen Duran perform really well at shows that weren’t made up of all Duranies. They did pretty well at the Voodoo Music Festival in 2006, in which they were facing a mixed crowd at a festival. There was some energy coming from the crowd at that one but not enough to feed the band onstage, in my opinion. Did they have to work HARDER to achieve a pretty solid performance because the crowd had NON-Duranies, then? Probably so.
So, then, what is a bad audience? A bad audience is one that is filled with judgement and negativity before a note is played. They assume the band or artist performing is going to suck, no matter what. They probably haven’t heard much music from the band/artist in question. Yet, they already know that they aren’t going to like it. Perhaps, they don’t like the genre or style of music. Can bands/artists overcome that? Sure. I’m sure they can win over audiences. After all, isn’t that what a lot of opening bands have to contend with? While it can be done, it doesn’t seem that easy. I’m sure a lot of opening bands put up with it in order to get to the next step of their careers but I can’t imagine an established band wanting to deal with that for long. Thus, if I was Duran or someone on their same level, I wouldn’t want to play for tough audiences like that. I would much prefer to play for a kind, supportive audience who will still love you even after you mess up, which is what happened at the “fans only” show in June 2007. They were playing only to members of DDM and most of those fans who were there, including the authors of this blog, weren’t happy with the performance but we forgave and moved on with the band.
Now, while my examples given above all show that it is better, easier, more fun to play in front of die-hard fans, there may be one exception. For some bands, playing in front of fans might make them lazy or not work as hard. These bands might know that they don’t have to give it their all because the fans will fill in the energy they lack and/or will forgive them for a less than ideal show. For those bands, they might prefer crowds of non-fans. Maybe, they work hard to give a better performance that way. I remember seeing Depeche Mode a couple of times in one given tour. They did much better in the smaller city with less fans. I assume it is because the band had to push themselves more and did.
All of this has me thinking about Duran Duran playing at festivals this summer. Right now, it doesn’t appear that they will play much from the new album (according to the surprise Katy Kafe with Simon). We also know that festivals aren’t exactly filled with die-hard Duranies. I wonder why they are choosing this route. If they aren’t selling new product and aren’t playing for audiences who won’t help with energy, why? What’s the focus? Maybe it is like it was for Depeche Mode in the smaller city or those opening bands who have to work super hard, extra hard to convince the audience to give them a try. This might, indeed, be good to get them back to touring mode. That said, while I always assumed that doing festivals is easier than a regular shows with fans, now I wonder. Are they really? Then, are festivals good for Duran Duran in the long run? Maybe. Maybe not. Time will tell.
See any interesting tweets or status updates lately? Anything related to Duran Duran? I have!!! (This is a miracle, too, since I’m knee deep in material for my evaluation at work! By the way, if you know occupations that require more work, extra work than your usual job, in order to be evaluated on that job, could you let me know? I’m keeping a list! Right now, all I have is teaching.) Enough of that! Let’s return to the fun stuff, those tweets and status updates about Duran Duran! Here’s what has caught my attention and why!!
Duran Duran is playing/co-headlining at the Gibraltar Music Festival on September 5th! Tickets, I believe, went on sale yesterday! To read the full scoop and where to get tickets, head on over to the band’s official website! It seems to me that Duran Duran has a number of festivals booked this year. Want to see a complete list?! Of course you do!
June 20th: Sonar Festival in Barcelona, Spain
June 27th: Night at the Park in The Hague, Netherlands
June 28th: Killarney Festival in Kerry, Ireland
September 5th: Gibraltar Music Festival in Gibraltar
September 11th at the Bestival Festival in Robin Hill Park in Isle of Wright, UK
Now, will I be able to attend any of those? Unfortunately, I do not plan to attend any of those. Yet, I’m still excited about them! Why? Simple! I’m thrilled for those who will get to attend those! It also gives me a little bit of hope that an announcement of something that I could go to might just be around the corner! Heck, just this morning I caught a tweet or two about a possible festival appearance in Las Vegas…
Life is Beautiful Festival: Las Vegas–September 25-27???
According to this blog, Duran Duran is set to headline the festival along with Stevie Wonder! Now, of course, this hasn’t been announced by any official source. Therefore, it is always possible that this isn’t true but I suppose it could be. That could be exciting!
Of course, there is more than just the announcement of Gibraltar and the rumor of Vegas to increase my hope for a show for me! Can you guess the other reasons I’m hoping for more announcements of shows soon? I bet you can. First of all, as Rhonda mentioned in this blog here, Simon stated in a recent Kafe that there is something BIG planned for the U.S. and I doubt that it is this festival in Vegas. Thus, I cannot wait to find out what that is!!! Second, we know that there is usually a lot of activity surrounding a new single and album and those appear to be coming in the summer/fall. Finally, yesterday, Duran Duran tweeted about an auction, which you can see here. While auctions of this nature for a meet and greet for charity aren’t unusual, what caught many Duranies’ attention was this line: “UK tour dates will be announced within 2 months of auction end.” When does the auction end? In 3 days. That means that UK dates should be announced by July 19th. Will there be other dates for other places by that time, too??!?
Could the “B” be…
In this case, the tweets that caught my attention wasn’t by Duran Duran or a member of Duran Duran but tweets from friends about this interview here with Brandon Flowers. During this interview, he is asked about appearing on Duran Duran’s album. He denies it but “squirms”, according to the author of the article. Fascinating considering that in a recent Kafe, Roger mentioned that there was another surprise on the album and that his name started with a B. Brandon Flowers certainly does start with a B. As someone who loves Brandon’s music, I would be super excited if there was some truth to this rumor. Sadly, though, I’m doubting it based on this article on NME in which it is revealed that he has been working on New Order’s album, which I still am excited about. It isn’t Duran Duran but it is something!
How to Deal
Here’s the thing. I see many Duranies out there frustrated, annoyed, sick of Durantime and how long Duran has taken with this album. I can’t blame any of them for feeling this way. I’m more saddened by the people, the Duranies, I used to speak with frequently over social networking who seem to have just vanished since it has been quiet on the Duran front. To me, when people stop caring and walk away is way worse than those who complain/vent/express frustration. Durantime isn’t easy. No one wants Durantime. No FAN wants Durantime. So, I figure right now I have a choice. I could either complain or I could try to find a way to push through. I’m trying for the second choice. I’m opting for focusing on what cool things could be coming up. The assumption I have is that the album will be fabulous and that I’ll do my part to make sure that everyone I can reach out to knows that!
There’s no arguing it, Duran Duran is doing a lot of festivals this year. Fans are beginning to talk, and the chat is not always positive. This is likely not a surprise to DDHQ, as no matter what the band does there are always those that are unhappy, but festivals in particular seem to draw a loud dissension among the ranks. Let’s discuss!
First of all, let’s talk about the positives. Despite cries from longtime, diehard Duran fans – there ARE positives to doing festivals, and not all diehard fans dislike festivals. Many fans LOVE them, so I applaud them even as I question their sanity. Playing festivals allows bands to reach a large cross-population of people. When you’re playing a festival that features sixty bands, for example – the reach is wide. The Killarney Music and Food Festival has everyone from The Proclaimers to Burt Bacharach across six stages. The cross-section of people available to hear the band’s music, most likely new music at that point, is exponentially larger than they could ever hope to gain by doing ten shows in ten different cities. Travel less, reach more possible fans. Sounds like a great way to showcase a new album! It is a numbers game, and in order for Duran Duran to even begin to hope to sell this new album, much less receive any kind of land/internet radio support, getting that music heard by as many NEW people (not diehard fans, mind you) is key.
What About The Diehards?
Let’s talk about that whole “diehard fan” thing for a second in terms of potential sales, and likely or probable sales. Potential sales are that which are possible. These sales haven’t been made yet, but they might under the right circumstances. The majority of people who attend a festival? Potential sales. The band has to sell them on their music, but it’s possible. Then there’s the other side – probable sales. These are sales that will likely happen. They’ve already been figured into the initial “bet” that the band or management is making upon agreeing to investing in this album to begin with. Guess which column diehard fans are in? (Sure, go ahead and mock me by say out loud that the band has to sell you on this new music – I’ll just remind many of you of the times fans have said on this very blog, “I don’t care how long I have to wait for this new album!!” or how many fans have told me personally that “It doesn’t matter WHAT Simon LeBon sounds like – I love them no matter what!”) Yes, chances are, we’ll all buy the album even if we decide we don’t like it later. Why? We’re diehard fans. We’re already SOLD. The trouble here is that while we might feel like there are a lot of us when it comes to getting front row tickets or getting face time in front of the band member of choice, when it comes to dollars and cents – there’s not that many of us. The band has to reach MUCH wider. What is the most economical way to do that? Festivals, and more than a few of them. Hence, the Duran Duran Summer of Festivals 2015. If you like festivals and are able to hang out in various parts of Europe all summer, you’re lucky. If you’re like the rest of us, you’re not. Welcome! We have cookies!! (And vodka if you’re into that sort of thing!)
Granted, there are downsides to festivals, and most of those, I don’t even really have to work that hard to name. The crowds, the distance (it is a long swim from the US to Ireland, The Netherlands or Spain), the fact that not many of us are really THAT young, and we would much rather be treated to “special” shows under unique circumstances than as cattle, the potential weather issues, standing all day, mosh pits, the lack of leaving your spot to find sustenance and/or restrooms, the crowds…being kicked in the face by crowd surfers (personal experience, sorry!)….and the fact that damn it, we’ve put our time in…can’t we have some regular shows in normal venues where we don’t feel like we have to fight a war before the band comes on stage?!?
Festivals = A Necessary Evil??
Here’s the thing: I’m not sure that these festivals are really FOR diehard fans. Granted, if you want to go, no one is going to want to stop you, although a lot of us might really wonder how desperate is desperate enough to go to a festival (well, maybe that’s just me, and believe me – I’m getting pretty desperate myself!), but I’m just wondering if the real purpose for these festivals is not so diehard fans who are already about 95% likely to buy the full-album in one form or another show up; but instead so that people who are a whole lot less likely to even consider buying a Duran Duran album get exposed to new music, and for a lot cheaper than the band schlepping across the planet a couple of times over the course of the next couple of years. Perhaps our time for real shows where the band concentrates on playing for real fans will come a little later, after the album has already been out, people have heard it, and will then invest in coming to see them in concert…or like many of us, try to do as many shows as possible without losing our jobs!!
So, We Wait
All of that said, rest assured as we each hear of additional festivals in far away places being announced, just a little more anticipation is trickled into the pool forming in the pits of our stomachs. Deep sighs commence as we read of the fun taking place elsewhere, knowing that for most of us, the chances of attending are practically zero. We hope for more plausible opportunities ahead, but are excited that at least somewhere in Europe, there are Duran Duran fans excitedly purchasing festival tickets. And there is always the hope that tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, and so on, we have the chance to be among the lucky few.
Until then, we wait. We’ve been waiting since 2012 for a real tour to be announced, surely we’ve gotten good at waiting by now, right??
(No…no we have not.)
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!