Happy New Year 2017! We all made it! Last night, I rang in the New Year at the MGM National Harbor with some friends and Duran Duran. Overall, the night was a ton of fun even though I wished for some things to be different.
The evening started with a quick Uber ride from my hotel in Alexandria to Oxon Hill, Maryland. While the resort/casino was busy, it was not overwhelming and easy to get dropped off at. I worried a bit as my little group entered–how strict will the dress code be? Will they accept our tickets to waive the fee? The answers. The dress code was not enforced as I saw many people with jeans and sneakers. Perhaps, some of the clubs were more picky but the MGM as a whole, no. Getting in was easy by simply giving your name.
After entering, we walked around to get a lay of the land a bit and to find coat check. Again, it was easy to drop off. From there, we headed over to the Lobby Bar, which is located upstairs, but near the theater. We wanted to get our drink on and see friends before the show. Many Duranies came, increasing the excitement for the show! The only downside was that it took forever to get drinks. Here are a couple of pictures:
Time flew and before long, we ventured over to the theater for the show!
As many of you know, this venue is new, only opening earlier in December. I hoped to be impressed as I usually like a lot of smaller (in this case 3000 seat) venues. Unfortunately, the design was poor. After entering through a metal detector, there was little direction about where to go from there. We walked past a bar and a merch booth, which included all of the same stuff as the summer shows, only to see a sign for sections 103-105. Huh? Where do we go in for the floor? Luckily, kind staff directed us inside and showed our seats. After sitting down in the middle front section, I had a chance to look around. Shockingly, the sections of seats stretched far beyond the stage on the left and the right. This means that if you had seats in the left section or the right section, you might be looking at a wall (and a screen) when facing forward. A few of my friends found themselves in this position. These photos below show better than I can explain:
The real kicker about these seats? They were sold as VIP tickets. I know that I would not have been happy to spend a lot of money for tickets with this poor angle.
Let’s start with the biggest highlight of the show and the one that everyone was worried, anxious, excited about…the return of Nick Rhodes. I snapped this picture early on in the evening just to remind myself that I was not dreaming and that he, indeed, was there. It was SO good to have him back!
The setlist remained the same, which I was expecting. The lights and the visuals remained the same and as always a strong addition to the show.
The band entered the stage with high energy, ready to bring it. Yet, the venue appeared to be about half full when the lights went down. Did people forget about the starting time? Were they expecting an opening band? Soon enough, more people trickled in but there were still empty pockets, at least where I was sitting in the center, front section. Then, I took note that a number of the people near me were sitting down. Some even had their phones out, scrolling through their photos. Wait. What…the what is going on? Don’t they know that they are at a Duran show? I was confused and dismayed. Maybe it was that they didn’t know Paper Gods. No, for many, they remained in their seats through Wild Boys, Hungry Like the Wolf and the rest. Ugh. I felt my energy get zapped. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be the band and see empty seats and people sitting. I turned around to look at the rest of the venue and spotted a number of fans up off their seats dancing and singing. I wished that those fans were in my section, closer to the stage.
My other big observation during the early part of the show is that the venue security was odd. Many fans rushed into the aisles when Paper Gods began. Security clearly asked them to move to their seats. Many, who had come from those side sections I mentioned earlier, just moved into the center section, up front with no problem, taking up some of those earlier mentioned empty seats. Ugh again. Why is that okay? Why couldn’t my friend and I move up to some of those empty seats? What about those fans loving the show in the back?
All that said, Duran put on a fine show. I would not say they had the most energy I have ever seen (perhaps due to what appeared to be a slightly lame crowd) but there were some highlights. Simon chatted up the crowd a bunch, which I always enjoy. Two moments stick out. First, Simon talked about how awful 2016 was to many and asked the crowd if people were ready for 2017. Then he said something along the line of, “Why in the fuck do you think 2017 will be any better?” I nodded, laughed and thought that is the truth. Before Notorious, he mentioned seeing twerking on TV that day. I immediately hid my face, hoping that he wasn’t planning on twerking himself on stage. I don’t know that I ever need to see that! On the other hand, my friend and seat mate was ready to go! Oh my!
New Year’s Moment:
Right before the clock flipped to midnight, Simon declared that the band was leaving the stage and that Carson Daly’s countdown in Times Square was to be shown on the big screen. What…the what?!? I came to have Simon count down. I didn’t want to watch Carson. I could have done that at home. Now, I suspect that was the plan that the venue had as the band did not stay off the stage for long. We watched literally 48 seconds of a countdown and then Duran returned about a minute after that. Confetti was released and balloons dropped which was fun! In fact, there were so many balloons that you couldn’t even move without sitting on one, stepping on one. Later, I heard that there was champagne at the bar there but I have no idea if it was free or not. I would have loved if the venue brought us all a glass because I know that I wasn’t going to move from the show, not even for a drink!
Many of us returned to the Lobby Bar after the show (despite the slow service) in order to keep the party going. Most people I talked with had a great time! Some were looking forward to tonight’s show and others were saddened that they were leaving today instead.
I, for one, am looking forward to tonight’s show. Now, I have a lay of the land for the resort. I will be wearing more comfortable jeans and shoes. I also suspect that there will be more Duranies in attendance tonight vs. people who just got tickets for something to do on New Year’s or because of some special status with MGM. Duran Duran should bring it tonight because I’ll be ready!