I’ve enjoyed the past few days as I’ve seen posts and tweets from friends either relishing the UK tour, or reminiscing over memories from previous tours. I’ve been reminded of winter markets (one of my favorite things about the UK – we don’t have them here where I live at all, probably because it’s never really “winter” here!!), car rides with friends, the “sometimes” (I’m being optimistic here) dreary December weather, a special tin of cheese, a particular comment made in jest during a show, and of course plenty of the sights and sounds of travels through the UK. I smile when I see the pictures and posts, whether they are memories for me personally, or experiences that others are having right now, because I like seeing my friends having a great time. I have a friend who just boarded a flight to Heathrow late last night, bound for the Birmingham date – and I keep saying the same thing to everyone and anyone I know who is traveling, “Be sure to send me a full report!!”
Amanda and I have had comments in the past that we brag about our travels. If someone desperately needs for this blog to be a negative experience for themselves, they’re going to find that in here no matter what we write. It has taken me a long time to accept that, but I do now. On the other hand, there are people who very much value feeling like they’re a part of a community that’s being taken along on that journey, whether they themselves are able to travel or not. Those are the people we’re thinking of when we write, tweet, post, or chat. Sometimes Amanda and I are able to share with readers, and other times like now, it is our readers and other fans that are able to share those moments with us as a community, and we very much appreciate that. Our readers are generous about coming to our Facebook page, or sending us photos on Twitter, or even coming to the Daily Duranie message boards with tales from the road. I love seeing those posts and treasures, and they make me happy. I love seeing fans taking time to see the Harry Potter set, or making plans to hit up a pub before the show in Birmingham. I know of a group of people who are going to take a tour of the studio that Duran Duran first recorded in while in Birmingham, too. That stuff is cool, and those types of plans with friends are what make the highlights of a tour for fans.
It isn’t as though seeing the band isn’t amazing. Whether you’ve experienced it personally or have only seen videos on YouTube, I think it’s pretty obvious that being in front of the band is the ultimate celebration of fandom. I remember going to those shows in the UK and honestly staring blankly at them while onstage, equal parts disbelief (that I was really there) and jet-lag. Some of the shows I’ve attended stick out more than others, and some songs provide more memory than others. But, if I were really being truthful, I would tell you that spending time with friends there is what I remember most from the UK tour. Traveling by car from Brighton to Bournemouth. Walking around Birmingham after the gig. Riding in a train up to both Birmingham and Edinburgh. Watching it snow in Glasgow. Staying up that entire night, on a natural high that I didn’t ever want to end. Those are the reasons why those trips get mentioned on this blog. For me personally, it is the experiences with other fans that we want most to share. It’s the excitement and joy in seeing that no matter where we’re all from in “real life”, we come together over this single band. Can you hear the planet roaring?
We each found our way to this fandom with our own set of life experiences, judgments, and optimism. We share our hopes, joys, loves, and dislikes. We hammer things out, sometimes we walk away for a bit, and other times we bathe in the glory of the music. I love seeing the excitement and happiness of fans, particularly of the ones who are experiencing #Duranlive for the very first time, but I really love seeing and reading the journeys that any and all fans are partaking – and yes, even in this day and age – there are quite a few. Those anecdotes, stories and tiny moments that are shared remind me of what fandom really is, and is not.
It is amazing how much Duran Duran news one can miss in a week. I’ve been on vacation for the past week, which has both been wonderful and incredibly isolating all at once. Aside from brief glances at my phone to see that all is well, I spent my week concentrating on real life…and it was wonderful…and today I am catching up.
I did see that in my online absence, Duran Duran played New Moon on Monday (Yes I know it was just a portion. I don’t care, I’ll take it!!), Love Voodoo (Surprised by that choice, I must admit), and Only in Dreams (A favorite of mine from Paper Gods…envious of those who have seen that one!) By all accounts and reviews I’ve read as I try to catch up on Duran Duran news this morning, it would appear that the UK tour is going very well so far. Even when Simon tweeted a picture of a very damp and dreary Cardiff this morning, all I could think about was that I wish I were there too. I hope everyone who is attending the shows is having a fantastic time! Seeing the band on tour, watching them perform songs from Paper Gods as well as the older material somehow helps to validate the time we’ve spent as fans, and allows us all that time to celebrate.
Validation as a fan is important, and we all seek it in a variety of ways, whether that is through photos with the band, or a smirk or grin from a band member. Maybe its a pair of drumsticks, or a signed piece of memorabilia. Maybe its knowing everything there is to know about the band itself and being able to recite and correct such information at will. There is something to be said for feeling as though your time has been well-spent, and there really isn’t anything wrong with that, unless seeking that feeling of self-importance overrides good sense. I’ve seen fans argue tooth and nail over the finest of detail, from the covers of albums to the dates that members have exited the band. I’m all for spirited debate, despite what some may think – but at some point, it all becomes a little silly. What difference does it really make if a version of the band began in 1978 when their first album didn’t actually come out until the 80s? Are we going to start characterizing the band as being from the 70s…now….some thirty years later??? I don’t think so. Sometimes the intense need to prove ones worth through trivial knowledge overrides good common sense.
My husband and I have had a similar argument over the years as I’ve been an active Duran-fan online. He’s noticed the amount of time and energy fans will spend correcting and one-upping each other with regard to band history and experiences, and he used to say it was our version of a pissing contest to prove our importance – as if there’s a trophy at the end. I would get so angry with him, saying that it wasn’t true and that fans were better than that. The trouble is, the longer I’ve engaged online, the more I see that he might have a point.
Is it really going to make a difference whether I’m right or wrong about a blog I’ve written? After all, as I’m frequently reminded…”it’s just an opinion“. Probably not. Roger Taylor isn’t going to show up on my doorstep, no matter how I feel about one issue or another. There are no trophies for “Best Fan” to be awarded at the end of this journey. I know what kind of fan I am, and my feelings aren’t going to be any more or less validated by what other fans say about what I’ve written. Those are hard words to accept and follow, but we move on. I also know that no matter how much I think I know, someone else probably knows more, and that’s OK. I think we could all (including me) stand to have a little more patience, a lot more understanding, and treat one another with a little more respect and kindness. We’ve all earned that much.
I think I’ve been watching the news non-stop since Friday afternoon. I’m a news-junkie to begin with, but this weekend I haven’t been far from the TV or my phone, as I monitor news from Paris.
I am still wrestling with what happened on Friday and how. I remember half-listening to the TV as I worked on a display for a history festival at my kids’ school on Tuesday. (I am actually using my gemology degree to teach kids!) All of the sudden, the news broke in regarding Paris and I walked to the center of our living room so I could better hear what was going on. Of course, the very first thoughts that went through my mind were:
Duran Duran just performed in Paris.
I need to get in touch with Amanda.
Please let it be that the band has already left Paris.
It seemed with every passing second, my stomach sunk lower and lower. Talk of a bomb at a football game, a hostage situation at a concert, gunfire at restaurants and bars. All in Paris, and nothing from DDHQ to indicate whether the band was still in the city. In between frantic texts with Amanda, I tried telling myself that of course the band was gone, that there’s no way they could be anywhere near all of this. I tweeted Dom and DDHQ – as if they were actually going to answer me. (because seriously, who in the hell cares? I’m just another fan…but I had to at least try.)
Of course, we all know how it ended. Dom did tweet, to which I responded telling him that I’d hug both him and Martha if I could. As relieved as I still am, I can’t get the idea of those people being gunned down in the Bataclan out of my head, no matter how hard I try. The attacks in Paris, Beirut, and the hundreds of places it has occurred over the years are all horrific and have left their mark on me as a human, but the Bataclan sticks out for me because going to a concert is something many if not all of us have done. Just another night out, just another gig. Except of course it wasn’t.
I highly doubt I’m alone in saying that I think a lot about those people in that theater. It’s not as though I was even there that night. I was thousands of miles away, here in my own home. I’ve never seen the Eagles of Death Metal live. I don’t really know their music that well, but I still identify with those concert goers. I love music. I live for live shows. I don’t care what kind of music it is – classical or rock, jazz or blues – something magical happens when you watch a musician play, and I live for that.
When I sit and think about how I feel when I’m at a show, the word that comes to mind is “free”. I’ve written that I feel most like myself at a Duran show. It’s the one place I can leave reality behind for two hours, and just enjoy myself. I treasure that time. I give up a lot in order to have that time. I’m sure the people in attendance on Friday night in Paris felt similar. I don’t think the choice to attack that theater was pure coincidence or random – the terrorists struck where people were just doing normal things. It’s hard to get that thought out of my head – that this could happen anytime, anywhere. No warning.
I live in earthquake country, and as a result, I’ve been through a few during my life. Everyone who is not from California likes to tell me that they could “never live here” because the quakes are random and come without warning. This is true. I used to be so afraid of them when I was little that I wouldn’t/couldn’t sleep at night, and my dad would patiently sit with me and give the same speech over and over, “We can’t live in fear of them, Rhonda. You have to just go about your day because you can’t fear for things you don’t know are ever going to come – you’ll waste your whole life worrying.” He was right, of course. I’m still a worrier, and things still do not roll off my back, but he was right and I still hear his voice in my head telling me that I’m going to worry my life away.
During the last few days, I’ve seen the reports of U2 having to cancel their show in Paris, and the Foo Fighters canceling their tour. I saw Madonna stop her entire concert one night to say a few words about the attacks in Paris and specifically about the Bataclan. It would be a mistake to assume that just because we may not be fans of Eagles of Death Metal or since we were not personally there that night that this attack didn’t affect each and every one of us. Of course it did. We’re music fans. We are people. John Taylor himself once said that concerts are like group therapy sessions (I am paraphrasing from a sound byte many years ago). Music heals, and yet on Friday night – that is exactly the opposite of what happened to those people in that venue. But we cannot let evil win. We cannot live in fear.
I’m still struggling. There’s a part of me that very much wishes I were going to the Duran Duran shows in the UK just so I could see the band in person, for myself, and feel good that they’re OK. Then there’s another part of me that wants to keep my children here at home with me and never leave the house again. Fear can be pretty powerful. Last night my husband and I made last-minute plans to go to Vegas next week for a few nights. It’s a long, crazy story (aren’t they all?), but we’re going. I’ve been wanting to see the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil show for years now – but every time we’ve gone, I’ve either been denied due to timing or circumstance. So last night, I bought tickets. Just before I hit the “buy now” button, I paused. Did I want to risk being in a big crowd right now, and for that matter – is it safe going to Vegas at all? I heard my dad’s booming voice in my head telling me to knock it off, stop worrying, and go.
Has it really already been a week since I’ve been back home from this Duran Duran tour?!? I don’t even know where the time went. On one hand I feel as though I got back into the swing of things very quickly and feels very much as though I never left. On the other, I can’t believe a week has already gone by.
In many ways I let Amanda take the helm in describing the tour and how the shows were for us – she and I are typically on the same page when it comes to those things, and I knew she would convey exactly how I felt. On the other, I summed up my feelings about that 3-show “tour” with one tweet almost immediately after I walked out of the theatre at Agua Caliente.
“I may as well I may as well stop touring right now because I will never have a better show experience than tonight. Wow.”
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating here again that Amanda and I purchase our own tickets to the shows. We don’t ask the band for tickets. I had a few people insinuate or flat-out ask, and while it’s a lovely thought that some people believe we matter, I think Amanda and I are well-aware that to 99.99% of the people involved with the band, we’re just a couple of fans who write a silly blog. We get it, and we don’t overstate or over-think our importance. In any case, that night at Agua Caliente, Amanda and I were in for a huge treat. We knew we had front row, but aside from that – we didn’t know much else. Neither of us had been to the venue and we were honestly more concerned with where our seats would be (meaning would we be in front of Simon, John, Nick, or Dom) than where the seats were in regards to the stage.
As we walked down to our seats at Agua Caliente, we counted the chairs from the aisle and discovered we were right in front of Simon. I mean RIGHT in front. Then we realized there were no barricades between us and the stage. Finally, we quietly marveled that during the show, we could seriously lean our elbows ON the stage. I couldn’t believe it, and to be honest, I still can’t. As show time grew closer, our friends Krista and Sandy took their seats right next to us, and I knew before the band even took the stage that it was going to be the show experience of a lifetime.
It very much was – including being in the “spit zone” (Thank you Krista for taking the brunt of it…willingly…as I ducked behind you. Yes, I did see you chuckling at our antics, Nicholas. I’m going to continue pretending that Simon did NOT veer ever so slightly in the direction of Amanda and I…We sort of had it coming though, didn’t we?) There were so many moments during that show for me. Seeing Nick smile during Hungry Like the Wolf (I was a very good sport, thankyouverymuch…epitome of a well-behaved fan!!), watching Simon walking to the front of the stage like a man on a mission with a mouth-full of water as I thought to myself, “Oh boy…here we go…DUCK!”, having John and Dom flank either side of Amanda and I during Planet Earth, watching Roger twirl his drumstick during Sunrise…having Dom come over directly in front of me to play several times throughout the show, and shaking some of their hands at the end of the set.
Can I take a minute to write about the end of their set?? After the finale, they walked to the front of the stage as they typically do to say goodbye. I’m right there, basically becoming good friends with their feet, and examining their shoes and socks. (Nice striped socks, Dom…liked them with the leather pants!) I wish I could properly explain how I felt in that moment, but the words don’t really match the feeling. It was as though electricity was running through my body. I mean, I was inches from these men that I have adored since I was ten years old. I turn 45 next month. That’s a very, very long time. It was as though I couldn’t quite believe what my eyes and ears were telling me as I stood there, frozen to the floor. I didn’t even reach up to shake hands with them, because I couldn’t. I just smiled at them, tried to clap, mostly just stood there in shock (and awe!).
Nick stood in front of me for what felt like a long time, but I couldn’t even move my hand to shake his. It wasn’t out of disrespect, just the opposite really. I meant it when I said that my head couldn’t quite make sense of it at the time. I’m still not sure if I can. I did notice a faint, very quick glimmer of, well…what…recognition maybe??…in their faces as they would smile down at us and make eye contact. I couldn’t even let myself think about that at the time. I had difficulty just getting past the notion that I was standing there right directly in front of them. Yes, I’ve been writing this blog for five years now, and yes, I suppose that by a lot of accounts, I’ve had far more “experiences” with the band than many fans out there. However, I’ve never been right in front of them like this. Not in this way. It felt incredibly surreal. Daily Duranie or not, no matter how many readers we have, or the size of our real audience, or our post-reach on Facebook – I am still a fan. That’s exactly how I felt that night. I am still a fan like anyone else. I needed that.
Do you know what I was thinking about in that moment as they were all standing at the front of the stage? I was remembering how I would sit on the edge of my bed, in my “Summertime Green” painted bedroom (Nasty, horrid bright green color, with orange carpeting no less.). I would stare at the biggest poster of them I had, which happened to be on my door, and wonder what it would be like to be right in front of them. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d write about them someday, or be in the front row at one of their shows (much less two or three), or actually KNOW what it felt like to be in front of them. Never. How do you soak up the answers to 35-years worth of daydreams in less than two hours?
As they were leaving, Dom reached down and grabbed my hand and it was only in that second I kind of came back into present long enough to realize that he had my hand – only for a split second – but again, I’m trying to describe how I felt at the time. I’m pretty sure I shook Roger’s hand too, but I can’t remember now.
I don’t think I will ever have a show quite like that again. That thought both exhilarates me and makes me wistful all at once. I know what it’s like to be center “elbows on the stage” front row. I’m incredibly thankful I had the opportunity to experience those feelings. Even if my time never comes again – which likely not – I won’t let the memory slip my mind. I really can’t see what could possibly top those seats, and so when I jokingly yelled out, “I QUIT!!” after the last of the hand squeezes from the band took place and they all left the stage area, it was with the thought that I’d reached the pinnacle of what a fan could really experience. There isn’t much more to “want”, aside from more of the same, maybe.
Almost oddly, I sit here today typing this thinking to myself that it’s a good thing that Amanda and I have had the chance to do so much, at least from the standpoint of writing and understanding ourselves as fans. I’ve sat in the very LAST row at a show (my very first one), and now I’ve sat in the very front row. I’ve been to the UK, seen Birmingham, walked Cheapside (If you do not know what Cheapside is, we need to talk. Seriously…email me!), had Simon stand directly in front of me, eye-to-eye and explain why the shows cannot go on as planned. I’ve lived through Twitter, Facebook, and message boards. I have had canceled gigs, various guitarists, and favorite band members leaving only to return 20-some years later. I have watched MTV, read magazines like Star Hits and Tiger Beat, as well as rely on getting news solely from the radio and other fans. I’ve completely missed tours, been disappointed with albums, and overjoyed by others. I don’t know if I’ve done it ALL (actually, I know for sure that I have not…), but I know that I’ve experienced a lot, and those adventures, moments, and nuggets of knowledge come in very handy when you’re writing a fan blog.
I know what it is like to be a fan, and I continue to walk the fine line between writing about it, running a blog, and experiencing it as anyone else might. Amanda and I always say we know what fans want because we ARE fans…and that’s the truth. I only hope we continue to cover the things that matter with the same amount of love, affection and excitement as we do right in this moment. I’m looking forward to planning the next set of Duran Duran tour dates, meet-ups, parties, and hopefully a reasonable road trip as we witness the upcoming UK dates from afar.
Traditions. It is a word that often makes people think of awkward or silly family habits surrounding holidays. For some, the word might equal boring, stuck-in-the-mud, unafraid of change. The word doesn’t always have fun connotations. Yet, for us, traditions do because they are all about touring traditions!! What are some of those tour traditions? We bet you can guess some without even thinking too hard…Yes, one of them is about drinking all of the vodka in the city. Another is reaching up for the sunrise! Many of our traditions have been around for 10 years, since the spring 2005 Astronaut trip. Others have been created VERY recently. You all will get the good fortune of seeing one of the traditions here. Although, we must warn you. It will probably amuse no one but us. Well, it might amuse our friend, Heather, who was stuck with us for this tour. What is this probably-totally-lame tradition? Summarizing the tour through numbers. What are we hearing?! groaningWhy add math to fandom?! I thought this was supposed to be fun! Oh…just wait…Duranies! You are in for the really-not-that-exciting CA Paper Gods Tour by the numbers that we promise has NO math to it!
Beginning about 20 minutes south of Disneyland in California where Rhonda lives, up to Hollywood, on to Berkeley CA, back to Rancho Mirage and ending at LAX airport. Good times!!
50 People at the Hard Rock Cafe
We were really excited to have so many people join us at the Hard Rock for an official Daily Duranie Pre-Show Meet-up!
We were hunted down 50 times!!
We heard everyone’s favorite song, Hungry Like the Wolf, about 50 times between all the shows, every single time we turned the iPod on, and the two times Rhonda had to watch them perform it at Kimmel (Even weirder: we’re starting to look forward to hearing it!!)
This band drives us to drink!! (18 times!)
Ok, so this number really isn’t so bad considering we were gone for 5 days. Of course, much of that time was spent driving up and down the center of California….but let’s just not talk about that.
We lived in 4 hotels (…and on the aforementioned cocktails…)
It’s always fun to pick hotels…and then find out that the hotel you thought was fine was actually a motel in disguise with a big bug in the bathroom…but you know, always an adventure!!
We spent an average of 4 hours a day commuting on the “bus”.
Oh my gosh! Someone forgot to reserve our seats on Duran Duran One…can you believe it?!? The audacity!!! So, we took Rhonda’s car instead. (thank goodness it proved as reliable as always!)
3.5 hours of sleep!
Sleep?!? We can sleep when we’re dead!! We treated ourselves to about 3.5 hours of sleep each night. Or morning if we’re being honest….
In addition to the meet-up at Hard Rock Cafe in Hollywood, we had two smaller meet-ups: one at Gypsy’s in Berkeley for dinner, and another at Rendezvous at the Agua Caliente Hotel.
We “fixed” Duran Duran’s set list 3 times
And they ignored us…three times…and we can’t even imagine WHY!!
That’s right, kids. We did three shows on this tour:
Greek Theater in Berkeley–
Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage–
2 fantastic performances by Nile and Chic!!
We danced 2 times to Danceophobia!
We were obviously cured!!
2 Post Show Gatherings!
You didn’t think that we would be satisfied with just a drink or two before the shows, did you?! No, we needed to celebrate fabulous shows with friends!
1.5 Meals Per Day!
Here’s the thing about touring and us. We often forget to eat or don’t eat complete meals. Are we too busy going from place-to-place? Do we have too much nervous energy? Do we drink our dinners? Whatever the cause–it still equaled an average of 1.5 meals per day on this tour, which isn’t really that bad!!!
1 Familiar Looking Security Guard
Are we the only ones who think that this guy looks familiar?!?
One “Play the Fucking Bass, John!”
Clearly, we were not the only ones who found ourselves missing John’s little intro as people chanted, “Play the Fucking Bass, John!” in Agua Caliente both in the beginning of the show and at the intros. Sometimes, change is embraced and welcomed and other times, people long for those traditions!!! Just sayin’!!
When on tour, it is essential to do anything and everything Duran related. Since we were in Hollywood…a trip to the star was a must (especially for our dear friend, Heather, who hasn’t had the chance before!). This picture, of course, proves us to be the dorks that we really are!
1 Amazing, Awesome, Durantastic Trip!!!
While this wasn’t our first Duran tour and hopefully, not the last one, it was one of the best!!! We have had some amazing tours over the years and this one ranks right up there! If we had ANY doubt that we still love this band, love our friends, and love touring, this trip pushed all of that right out the car window! Oh, yes, our love was renewed and then some! So, anybody know when we can go again!?! We have had almost a week to recover so we are ready!!!
I was fortunate enough to snag a Platinum package for DD’s historic show at the Hollywood Bowl through the fan club pre-sale. I say “fortunate” because, subsequently, I met many fellow Duranies at the pre-show reception who had tried and failed to get the Platinum package! (Ed note: Fun Fact – Amanda and Rhonda were two more of those people!!) The most exciting thing about the package — apart from the front-row seat — was the backstage tour. Since I was also lucky enough to be sitting right in front of Daily Duranies Rhonda and Amanda during the show, I promised to do a write-up of the backstage tour for Daily Duranie!!
I didn’t really know what to expect from the backstage tour, but I have to say that the communication prior to the event was handled very well. DDVIP sent very detailed instructions that were very helpful. Here are a couple relevant excerpts from the email that was sent to Platinum package purchasers!!
Greetings from Duran Duran Headquarters!
Thank you so much for purchasing a PLATINUM package to the band’s show at the legendary Hollywood Bowl on October 1st. We look forward to seeing you for the backstage tour and VIP pre-show reception! You will check in at the table in front of the Museum Garden. … Please arrive to check in between 5:15pm and 5:30pm SHARP. If you are not there at 5:30pm you can still enjoy the reception but will miss the backstage tour.
Feel free to text if you have any URGENT issues. Please include your first and last name in your message. Please ONLY use her number the day of the show.
A few important notes:! !
– There is NO meet and greet associated with the reception or backstage tour and the band will not be in attendance!
– Please stay with the group and if you see a performer backstage do NOT approach them unless the concierge has introduced you to them!
– If you stray from the group backstage you will be removed from the venue and not issued a refund (so please do not try to wander into dressing rooms etc). Please stay with the tour. ! !
Armed with this information, I set out from my Beverly Hills hotel around 4:30, expecting to arrive at the Bowl around 5:15, based on what the locals had told me about travel time. Note to self: do not believe the locals about travel time!!
(Rhonda’s note: actually a REAL local will always tell you that if you are in the LA/Hollywood area on any given day, at any given time, with the possible exception of like 3-3:45am, you can expect a drive of at least an hour, no matter whether you’re going down the block, or five miles away… or even out of the city completely. Our traffic is horrendous here. Just saying. – a Los Angeles Native)
It was only due to my cab driver’s miraculous (reckless?) driving, including a U-turn in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard, that I made it to the Bowl in time to take the tour. Truth be told I was a few minutes early, but terrified that I’d miss the tour, I actually resorted to texting the concierge for the event. Let’s call her “A.” I texted A and told her my situation. She was very friendly and understanding. She didn’t say they’d wait if I was late, but as I chewed on my nails,consulting Google Maps every few seconds to see how far I was from the Bowl (in case I needed to leave the cab and run for it), she joked with me by text about how I was getting closer and how I had better tip the cabbie well (I did).
After checking in at the VIP table, I waited for a few minutes, and then A and her partner-in-crime for the tour — we’ll call him “L” — gathered us up to begin the tour. There were about six of us on the tour, and I got the impression that a couple of people didn’t show (they’re probably still sitting in traffic). The group was much smaller than I expected, but it explains why it was so hard to get a Platinum seat! At this point, A and L introduced themselves. They have both worked with the Duran organization for some time, and while they didn’t give us their formal titles, it seems that they are part of a logistics team that coordinates between front office, back office and fans. And, apparently, that includes giving tours. L did most of the talking and, as we were led away from the meeting table through various security checkpoints, he explained that we would be able to take pictures on some parts of the tour and not on others.
The first thing we saw was the backlot, where the tour buses and the trucks that carry the stage and musical equipment park. We did not get to go on any tour busses. Then we were led inside to the area where the performers’ dressing rooms are. This is where that line from the email came into my head: “if you see a performer backstage do NOT approach them unless the concierge has introduced you to them.” It was going to be hard to restrain myself should we run into one of the members of Duran Duran. I’ll end the suspense now and tell you that we didn’t see them. 🙁
The first thing we saw was the warm-up room where John and Roger warm up. In it was a stripped down drum kit, a bass and a small amp, so Rog and John can get their groove on pre show.
Across the hall from that room was the dressing room for “female performers,” presumably Anna Ross, Jessie Warner, and the ladies from Chic and Clean Bandit. I don’t remember seeing any dressing rooms with “stars” and specific names on them (because I definitely would have taken pictures had I seen that).
Farther down the hall was the my favorite part of the tour: the wardrobe room. L and A brought us into the room and introduced us to Jeffrey, the band’s wardrobe manager. Jeffery was very welcoming and friendly, telling us all kinds of interesting things. Here are some of the tidbits I remember:
• Each of the guys has an array of pieces in the room from which they can pick and Jeffrey doesn’t know what they’ll pick from show to show.
• Jeffrey predicted that Simon might wear his black, sequined tuxedo jacket since the show was so special (hello, it’s the Hollywood Bowl!). The tuxedo jacket is an Yves Saint Laurent, and Jeffrey says that the band have acquired a fondness for his pieces lately.
• As we all know now, that prediction turned out not to be accurate, as Simon wore a black and white motorcycle jacket. The black and white leather jacket that Simon wore for the show was made by Jeffrey. If memory serves, it’s a knock off of another jacket but made from slightly lighter materials so it’s not so warm under stage lights.
Jeffrey was very gracious and allowed us to take pictures and, yes, to touch some of the pieces. I could have stayed in that room all night, but we were off to our next stop, which was down the hall and down the path that the performers take from dressing room to stage.
We were escorted to the stage entrance area and allowed to walk right up to the edge of stage right, but not to walk out on stage, especially since there were already folks in the seats, waiting for the show to start.
When we returned from the edge of the stage, L and A introduced us to several other members of the Duran management and touring team, including Wendy Laister (a name many of you probably recognize – she’s Duran Duran’s manager) and Orla, their tour manager. Wendy, Orla and a few other folks were huddled a small room that appeared to be the nerve center for the operation, and Orla took a few moments out of a very busy time to chat with us.
In fact, Orla said that she and the team had been at the Bowl since 6 or 7 a.m. that morning (it was 6 p.m. by this time). She talked to us about the demands and the intricacies of managing the tour and mentioned that there were several different sets of stage equipment. While one was being set up and then broken down at the Hollywood Bowl, another was on its way to the next gig and, once the Hollywood Bowl set was broken down, it would be off to another future show. It reminded me of what it must be like to be an air traffic controller — managing hundreds of small details, all in real-time.
She also talked to us about how the sound is monitored and how the mix in the guys’ earphones is achieved, each customized to ensure they hear what they need to hear in order to keep in time and tune.
After we said goodbye to Orla, we headed back outside. As we headed back out past the loading bays and the trucks, back toward the public areas, we did spot one Mr. Nile Rogers sitting outside in a chair, chatting with another fellow who was working the show. While I’m sure we all wanted to call out to Nile and/or run up to him, we didn’t. His head was turned, and he was engrossed in conversation, but I think if he had seen us, he probably would have come over to say hello, based on his graciousness in dealing with fans (signing autographs, posing for selfies, etc.) before and after the Chic set.
As we walked out, I was chatting with A and told her that I enjoyed the tour and that I was really impressed with the way that the pre-sale and the arrangements for the tour had been handled by Duran’s management and Crowdsurge, in contrast to some of the experiences with past companies. She was pleased to hear it and said they are always looking for ways to make the fan experience better and special.
Perhaps most impressive, apart from getting to fondle Simon’s sparkly leather pants (not while he was in them, sadly), was the hospitality and warmth that everyone we encountered on the tour displayed toward us. L and A really were great ambassadors for the band, and even during a very busy time, all of the team members we encountered seemed genuinely happy that we were there, entertained our questions and thanked us for being there.
All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope everyone who wants a Platinum Package is able to receive one, should Duran offer it as part of the 2016 tour packages. See you all in 2016!
Janet has been a Duranie since 1982 when she was in high school (no fair guessing her age). She lives in St. Petersburg, FL, is a Corporate Communications exec for a global bank, and enjoys documentary film and kayaking/snorkeling in her spare time. A lifelong Simon fan, she had the great pleasure of meeting him (as well as Dom and Roger) at a pub after a show in Chicago in 2011. At last count, Janet has seen the band about 15 times — traveling as far as Milan, LA and Chicago — and has plans to see as many shows in 2016, both foreign and domestic, as her work schedule and financial advisor will allow.
Well, I’ve hit the wall. Or maybe I should say I’ve hit the door. I can’t really decide at this moment. What I can do is describe how I’m feeling. It’s that point where I finally come down from the concert high and realize that I have at least months, if not years, until the next road trip, tour, concert or band member sighting.
The thing is, with all due respect to John, Simon, Nick, Roger AND Dom (can’t forget him!)…it’s not even necessarily all about them. It’s knowing that it will probably be six months to a year before I see Amanda again. (Does anyone else find it even mildly perplexing as to how we can run this site even though we are hardly EVER in the same state, much less the same room?!?) It’s realizing that evenings spent laughing over a table filled with, well…empty glasses…are a long way off again, never mind the days spent driving while trying to compile “just the right” set list to either drive people crazy, or make them laugh. (I think that depends on whether it’s Simon LeBon reading or another fan reading…and maybe not necessarily in that order!) It’s recognizing the absence of friends. Even though I chat with most of them online each day at some point, it isn’t the same as being able to walk up to one of them and give them a hug or look at one another during a show and know we’re thinking the same thing. I miss them.
I’ve unpacked my bag, done laundry for everyone in the house, cleaned up the whirlwind I walked in on Sunday night, and have even caught up on and cleaned out emails and texts. I’ve looked at pictures, sat back and smiled at some particularly amusing memories, and wistfully daydreamed about others. I’ve bought groceries, and aside from a morning spent in urgent care (it turns out I will live), my life went back to normal just as quickly as the few days away seemed to pass. The band has since moved on to New York. Another album signing, another festival, and they’ll be headed back home to regroup before the UK shows take place in November. Life always seems to return itself to normal, no matter what happened the week prior.
I just don’t know how I get through this each time…whatever “this” is. I suppose it’s a bit of concert let-down. At first, I suppose I strive to keep talking about the shows or anecdotes from the road trip, as though by mentioning them it will keep everything fresh and alive. Then I start noticing the absence of people I care about, whether it’s that they don’t really tweet much, or that I don’t see them online very often, or just that I can’t pick up the phone every time I need to chat. I start thinking about how long it might be before I see them again, and what I can do in the meantime to make it easier. Let’s face it: Amanda is my best friend and we honestly spend about a week together (give or take a day or two) over the course of an entire year in the same place. Skype helps, but I don’t have the opportunity to Skype with everyone I miss. Yeah, it’s pretty depressing and I hate going through it. So what can really be done?
Well, for Amanda and I: we run this blog. It takes up a lot of our time as is, and invariably when we’re together, we come up with a brand new list of things we want to do, need to do and HAVE to do in order to keep it all going. I have to laugh because since I’ve been home, I’ve worked 10-hour days trying to catch up, clear out and read up on some things we’re hoping to do. While doing that now infamous road trip last week, we came up with brand NEW crazy ideas to pass the time, like a pumpkin-carving contest and adding a message board. Our theory is basically that if we can’t have a Duranie community living in each of our respective towns, we can create one in a central place online. No, we’re not duranduranmusic.com, and this is not a fan club…but we are a community, and anyone can join. So that’s our goal going forward: to continue making this little blog into a real community. We’re going to run contests, have discussions, start a forum and continue planning for future meet-ups and even conventions; because as fans ourselves, we know what we want in a fan community. We’ll also stay funny, because well…we amuse ourselves, sometimes beyond reason!
No, I really can’t tell anyone here in the US for certain when John, Simon, Nick, Roger and Dom will be back for more. I don’t really know for sure when or where our next road trip or meet-ups will take place (But I will just throw this out to the powers that be – the more notice, the better – even if it’s just the name of the city, because that way we can plan. We can put together a trip plan, figure out meet-up times, and even do room blocks at hotels, which ultimately helps everyone in the long run). I only know that more is to come, and until then, we’re going to try our best to keep everyone busy.
In the meantime, if you happen to be well-versed in websites and have direct experience adding message boards to existing sites…shoot me an email.
It is fun to get away, and really nice to come home. That is exactly how I would characterize this past little road trip on all accounts. In some respects, being with friends and seeing #Duranlive again really felt like coming home; and in other ways, walking into my house last night after a long weekend of driving 1200 miles, some mild debauchery was really welcome. I’m tired!!
For a lot of fans, the joy of a tour comes from seeing the band. This is obvious – I mean, one goes to a show and sees the band play. Done and done, right? Then there are the other people, like me, who have gone to “more than a few” shows over the years, and have made quite a circle of friends as result. The shows go from being solely about the band to being about having a reunion of sorts. It isn’t all about the band any longer. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still a huge part of the allegory (indirect storytelling, usually used in reference to large paintings). The band is like the background, and the connections, relationships, and friendships are the details.
This past week was a perfect example of the community that this band has created, whether by design, or circumstance. I drove to Hollywood on Tuesday to see Duran Duran at the Jimmy Kimmel show, and as I walked in the 93 degree heat to the back of the theatre, I immediately saw friends. Suddenly the afternoon wasn’t defined solely by the torture of standing on a very hot sidewalk while trying not to melt; instead we talked, laughed, and maybe even squealed in delight when we saw the band arrive, caught a glimpse of Mr. Hudson and Dom speaking on stage (We were peaking through the chain-link fence bordering the property!), and especially when we heard the sounds of “You Kill Me With Silence” mixing with the exhaustive late-afternoon heat. Even without Amanda present, I felt completely at home with friends I hadn’t seen since April or prior as we filed past security and found space to stand in front of the stage. When the band finally filtered onto the stage, it was clear they were just as happy to see us – smiles of recognition and surprise exchanged, as the next layer of details began to be added to our story.
During the next 24-hours, Amanda arrived (it is so nice to have both halves of Daily Duranie together!), our friend Heather arrived from Canada, and we found ourselves doing more laughing and talking over, yes – drinks – at more than one bar in the city. (I even got Amanda to eat at In-N-Out, which was a MIRACLE!!! She had grilled cheese, since she’s a vegetarian. She survived!) The next day we paid (Ok, I paid) for the activities of the day prior, and then we hosted our fan meet-up at the Hollywood-Highland Hard Rock Cafe. I never quite know how these things are going to go. I’m not confident enough to assume that everyone who RSVP’s is actually going to show up, so I spend at least part of the time worrying. I needn’t this time, because we had about 50 DD fans show up to celebrate with us. It was fantastic! There were friends from near and far, and some as far away as Canada. We loved seeing people come up to our area as virtual strangers and end up leaving with new contacts and friends – that is the whole point! We’re proud to be a small portion of the catalyst that brings people together. We sat at a series of lined up tables, talked, laughed and reminisced our way through bad service until it was time to leave for the VIP party at the Hollywood Bowl.
The Bowl itself was another story – 17,000+ people is “kind of” a lot, and I found it to be a giant clusterfuck of activity. Not that it was a bad thing – but after floating with the crowd through the gates and up to our seats, I just stayed put. Even so, friends were tweeting throughout the venue, and it was clear that many of us were all there together to support the band. There’s something incredibly unifying about that. I know the band probably loved the idea of so many “new” people in the crowd for them (and rightly so!), but as a long time fan, there was a part of me that loved knowing so many diehards (like me) were there too, experiencing and probably exhibiting the same pride and affection that I felt that night. That’s good stuff!
After the show, there was a cocktail party for the band and friends, family, and industry types. As I’m sure most know – Amanda and I were shockingly left off the guest list!! (read: sarcasm.) I had a male friend ask where I was that night because he was at the party and spoke with one of my close friends. I appreciate the vote of confidence, but let’s face it: I’m no celebrity or rock star, and no “friend of mine” offered to get me in. (cough, cough) So once again we floated back down the hill with the crowd, got into our shuttle, and spent the next 45 minutes in traffic waiting to get back to our parking spot at the Hollywood-Highland Center (next time, I’m walking). Then we changed into proper driving attire (read: comfortable), and boarded the Duranie “bus.” (my car, which is not really a bus at all) for a 3-hour drive before we stopped for the night. We spent that trip listening to Duran Duran, talking about the show (it was our friend Heather’s very first DD show ever), exchanging texts with a friend who was at the cocktail party, and dishing over the shows to come.
Our next bit of activity took place the next day as we cruised into Berkeley. Another Duranie friend (that we’d never met in person, no less) did us the kindness of planning a get-together for dinner before the show in Berkeley, so our pre-show was once again spent with friends – both old and new – laughing about everything under the sun. By the time we walked back up through the UC Berkeley campus to the venue, we were in a great mood, tired or not, ready for a fantastic show ahead. As we sat in our seats that night, anxious for Duran Duran to take the stage, several really great friends that we hadn’t seen in a long time came up to see Amanda and I. I loved seeing everyone, and it reminded me that our Duran-world is small and closer-knit than we might think.
After the show, Amanda and I agreed to go for drinks (As the bus driver, I had water, thankyouverymuch.) with our friends Melissa and Julie. We walked back down through the now very much drunken side streets of UC Berkeley on the way to find a bar. I’d forgotten the fun of Friday nights in a college town, and I’d also forgotten that we were about twice the age of most of the kids present, but we still found a great place to hang out for a while as we relaxed and rehashed the show, and only got a few sideways-looks from the kids who showed up for beer and giant-sized Jenga.
The next day, we started our long trek to Rancho Mirage, which is in the California desert near Palm Springs. 7-and-a-half hours is a long time to spend in the car, even if it’s MY car. Even so, we spent our time wisely: devising a set list of epic magnitude, that we then tweeted directly to Simon, John (yes I know he’s no longer active on Twitter.) and DDHQ, similar to what we’d done in the days prior. Why? Because yes, we are as obnoxious as possible sometimes. As Amanda and I made the initial list of songs, and then meticulously discussed the order in which the songs should be presented (we even created a medley), our friend Heather remained mostly silent in the back seat. Out of nowhere, Heather mused, “If people only knew how much time and energy you two spend on every single detail…” Amanda and I just started laughing. It was a silly set list, but we wanted it to be perfect. Can you think of a better way to spend 7 hours in the car?!?
Saving the best for last, we arrived at Agua Caliente and hauled our luggage upstairs to the room where our friend Shelly was waiting. We didn’t even make it all the way down the hall before Shelly was out the door, into the hall and hugging us. It was like coming home. We quickly ordered pizza, changed clothing and got ready to go downstairs for another Daily Duranie meet-up in the bar. We arrived at Rendezvous to Shannon and her friends waiting at a table. We quickly commandeered our own table, ordered a round for ourselves and let the party unfold. So many Duranies showed up that night – I lost count, but it was fantastic. We met new friends like Liz “@Adora2000” and Suzie “@STOgonewild” along with many others that I am completely forgetting…and still an absolute ton of longtime Duran fans reuniting, hugging, giggling, talking, and contemplating our collective journey. We talked Paper Gods, band members, touring band members, future touring hopes, and leather pants, of all things. Before we knew it, showtime was upon us and we were ready.
Post-show saw continued festivities in Rendezvous (liked the hotel, did not enjoy the cigarette smoke in the air which threatened to leave me sans voice), with a somewhat smaller, but louder(!!) group of fans. Amanda and I were treated to a few rounds of drinks by a reader named Richard (thanks again!!), and LOTS of laughter. Despite( or even in spite?) of it being the last show for a while, we remained joyful, replaying the entire show, elbows on stage and all, over and over as we sat at the table until wee hours of the morning when a few tweets from a certain guitarist signaled that the band had made their way safely back to Los Angeles and on to whatever came next. For Amanda and I, it meant a short night of sleep before once again climbing back into the Duranie bus for a trip to LAX.
Today, I’m at home. I’m about to get ready and get in the car one more time to drive Heather back to LAX so that she can board a plane bound for Canada. I’m in disbelief that the good times have ended, so I’m simply saying I need to give the band a break from me for a while. I mean, there’s only so much of me one can take, never mind the rest of you, who seem to keep coming back and reading again and again, of which Amanda and I are so thankful. Seeing the band again was so fantastic, and I have a whole set of memories about the shows and interacting with them that I haven’t even began to touch upon here, but I wanted to share the memories I have with a lot of YOU from the weekend. In the end, those moments matter just as much, if not more.
Simon said something at a couple of the shows that really struck home with Amanda and I, because we’ve said it many times! He talked about how after they create the music, they really give it to the fans and it becomes ours. Then they go on tour, and share it with us – and it becomes a sort of cyclical process where they give the music, we take it and then we give energy back to them – it’s really synergy in that respect – but the point is that we’re part of the cycle. Amanda and I have talked about that many times here on the blog (MANY. TIMES.), and I want to encourage everyone – when they announce tour dates, find the time and go. I can’t create a proper picture in words of what that band does at a show, or how I feel when I have had a long weekend with the friends I’ve made as a result.
I started this blog while sitting at Rendezvous Bar at the Agua Caliente Casino with some of my favorite Duranies so it might not be the best written ever. It was our last night in the city and I was and still am filled with lots of emotions. I know that people are probably interested in a review of the Agua Caliente show but I want to reflect on some other aspects of the shows and touring instead. I will say this, though. Friday night’s show at Berkeley was probably technically better for all the reasons I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, including all of the interactions and energy. That said, yesterday, it was our last show. It was a longer show. It was a show that included both White Lines (thanks for getting us once again, LeBon!) and Save a Prayer as well as Wild Boys. There was also a very high hug between John and Simon after What Are the Chances. More importantly for me and Rhonda, we had front row center at a venue that allows you to put your arms right on the stage. That changes everything. Everything. It increases the intensity by about 10,000.
As long-time readers probably know, we first had front row in Biloxi in 2012 after waiting all day long in the general admission line. I absolutely sucked at being front row that night. I was too overwhelmed to interact or give real feedback to the band. I desperately wanted a do over but that didn’t happen until this tour. At Berkeley, we had front row right. This was a perfect taster for me. The stage was high and I wasn’t really near my favorite (John). I could get used to it and get comfortable. Last night, though, we were front row center. I was literally right by Simon. I had to be ready and I was. There was no standing there, being stunned. No, I asked them to bring it so I had to bring it, too!
I sang, screamed and danced like I haven’t in years. I’m surprised I still have a voice. For once, I wasn’t hiding my love for the band. No, I was showing it openly and wished for the band to see it and feel it. There were moments that I felt like they knew that I was there, supporting, giving love and more whether it was a brief glance or a quick smile from one of the guys. I am like everyone, though, in that it is never enough. I wished to shake John’s hand or tell Simon how great he was or request a coveted item like a setlist or a guitar pick. Yet, I did none of the above. I’m not good with being assertive like that, especially when others near me are trying for the same things I am and, in some cases, are willing to step on others to do so. For example, last night, I was hoping to stand there for a few minutes longer after the show to soak it all in, to process, but I soon found myself literally being smushed in a painful way between two people trying for the setlist that had been taped down on stage for Simon. No, in those moments, I back down. Nothing is that important to treat others around me disrespectfully. That said, someday, I have to hope that karma will work to my advantage.
Now, as I sit here, preparing to leave, I find myself rather introspective. Was this tour worth the work to get here? Was it worth the hassle? Did it provide me with the fun and the break that I so desperately needed? I had to work really hard to get to do this tour and to be ready to go. As this tour winds down, I have to say that it was worth it. Did it live up to every hope? Did every dream get made? Absolutely not, but, many did. I had the most amazing seats for all three shows, for example! More importantly, I had a kick ass time with a bunch of great Duranies and friends! I saw three fabulous shows. Heck, I even managed to find a way, I think, to tolerate, to appreciate Danceophobia! How, you wonder? Simple. Watch John during it. His enthusiasm and dancing make it fun!
Will the return to reality hurt? Extremely. I might, once again, question my decision to go then. Yet, I know that I could look back to this blog and even the blogs prior to today’s to remember that it was worth it. The Berkeley show and last night’s show made all of the driving worth it, for example. Being front row made it all the more special. These shows and this tour reminded me of the fun, the friendship and the pure escape that comes with the territory. Isn’t that what it is all about?! It is for me.
There are some rumors that Duran Duran is going to be playing a show later today.
For those keeping track, this post is being written at 1:40am. Welcome to touring, ladies and gentlemen. After a night of hanging out in a (very) dark bar off of Sunset, I realized that I would likely have no other time to blog today. So…this is it!
Today, err…I mean yesterday…was spent wandering around Hollywood and Highland, and drinking. I don’t even want to consider how much vodka was consumed, but I can tell you that tonight, as a small group of us sat in Bar 1200 at the Sunset Marquis, we first heard “Save a Prayer” and later, “Rio.” Earlier we hung out at another bar called Royal, and prior to that, we paid homage to the Hard Rock Cafe. We sat, we laughed, and we waited for our friend Heather to fly into Southern California.
Later today, Amanda and I are escorting Heather – a friend we met through our own Durandemonium convention two years ago – to her VERY FIRST DURAN DURAN SHOW. Heather is easily as big a fan as Amanda and I, and yet due to circumstance and geography, she’s never actually been to a show. When this information was first made known to us back at Durandemonium, Amanda and I promised that we would take her to a show on the next tour. I’m fairly certain that when we made that promise, Heather thought that we were insane and just agreed with us for good measure. We may be insane, but we also keep promises. Not only are we taking Heather to her first Duran Duran show, we’re taking her to her first three, and she has fucking AWESOME seats for each of them!
Truth be told, all of us are exhausted, probably a little drunk, and definitely overdue for Duran shows – but none of us more so than Heather. I personally cannot wait to have LeBon and Co. step out onto that stage while I watch Heather’s head spin on its axis. As much as I love seeing the band, and it cannot be said strongly enough that I do love seeing them – I think watching her reaction to the spectacle will make it all that much more meaningful and exciting.
I can barely remember the excitement that went into my first show. That was in 1989, and by that time – the fab five was no more, but nothing could have popped the balloon of joy I had floating around me at the time. Watching Heather participate in those same moments of joy will definitely make the experience that much more meaningful for me, now 30+ shows into my journey.
So, now that I head off to bed, with visions of sparkly jackets, leather pants and ginger-haired guitar players in my head, I can hardly wait to see what later today brings for my friend from the north.
The band had better be ready to bring it.
An outspoken examination and celebration of fandom!