I was thinking about the Paper Gods tour last night just before falling asleep. I had a great time at the shows I attended, without a doubt. But, if I had to pick just one as my favorite show—which would it be?
First of all, this is a personal question, in that my choice for favorite show is probably not going to be very indicative of the best gig or the best sound or even what was best for you. And my favorite show might have more to do with how I was thinking or feeling that night than how the band did. I’m human enough to admit all of those factors play a part.
My intention last night was to lie there quietly and go through every single show in my head. I got through Hollywood Bowl. (to recap: that was show number one for me. So….) I know what my knee jerk answer probably is, but I want to be sure.
Amanda devised this fancy concert rubric grading system (she’s a teacher, so this makes sense!), but that’s not really working for me here. First of all, I’m a little more emotional than that rubric allows. Secondly, there are some shows that just don’t stick out.
There are a few shows though, that really make me smile when I think back on them. Two of them are at Agua Caliente in Rancho Mirage, which is funny. The first Agua Caliente show had me in front row. There is a certain magic in being up there – as much as I’d like to deny its influence, I just can’t. My elbows were on the stage, and it was the first time I’ve ever been that close – normally there’s a barricade or a security guy. In fact, there was a monitor right in front of me, and my hearing has never been the same since. <grin>
The second show also had me in front, but there’s more to it than that. I was up there with Amanda and one of our roommates, which made the night so much more fun. We had been at an impromptu meet-up beforehand, and then the show, and then hung out at a bar afterward. The entire night was so much fun, and then we found out the band was coming back for these July shows. (and were admonished not to tell a soul – which we didn’t until DDHQ spilled the beans the next morning!) It wasn’t just the show, it was the full experience that made it so memorable.
This last set of shows – Oakland and San Francisco – were fantastic, too. In Oakland, we were second row center, GA, but Amanda and I were with friends. The show itself blew me away for a multitude of reasons, and we hung out with Duranies in a hotel lobby bar afterward. I loved every minute.
But for me, if I had to pick a gig that was my favorite show of the entire tour, I’d have to go with San Francisco. Oddly, had that evening happened even a year prior, I would have come away feeling dejected and angry, and yet I’m telling you that for me – it was the best show of the entire tour.
First of all, I was nowhere near the front. The view I had for 99% of the show was obstructed at best. Making eye contact with band members was really tough to do, if not non-existent for most of the show. Amanda and I stood by ourselves, with no other friends around us. Most Duranies were up front, having paid for VIP. (we just couldn’t. Sixteen shows, people. My bank account said NO) Instead, we’d done this crazy California room add-on VIP deal, that wasn’t really VIP at all. It was really kind of a worthless, shitty deal that normally would have put me in such a bad mood I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself, but that night, I refused to give in. I was not going to let the last show (for me) on this tour go by with me being grumpy and mad.
Instead, I stood there, and let the music wash over me. I loved that set with every fiber of my being – yes, even Hungry Like the Wolf. I saw Nick grin, I noticed Simon pointing into the crowd, and yeah, I even saw Dom and John rocking out together on stage. None of them probably saw me, but it didn’t matter. I danced, I sang, I held my hands in the air and gave it my all, and the band gave the energy right back. I cried through New Moon on Monday without a single thought to what the band might think. I didn’t care. There was no holding back out of fear of how I might look, or trying to get someone’s attention. I just lived in the moment, through the music, and it was fantastic. I can’t think of a better way to have ended my travels (for now).
Here’s the “thing”…this album, the tour, and even writing a rejected manuscript, changed me. I don’t think I necessarily liked the person I was becoming when Paper Gods came out. I felt like my fandom was kind of, well, fading, maybe? Perhaps it’s that I didn’t feel like I could really BE a fan because I was so busy writing, working, and trying to be “Daily Duranie Super Fan Organizer”. I’m not sure, and this experience I’m sharing is not necessarily what Amanda experienced. I’m just writing about me, here. I only know that when Paper Gods came out, as much as I loved the band, I think I was more worried about what other fans thought of me and what I was writing. I let the need for acceptance outweigh everything else. It’s easy to get caught up in one’s head when you’re trying to write a blog that people will take time out of their busy days to visit and read. Then there’s just the book writing in general. (which has so far proven unsuccessful in as much as getting a publishing deal but the personal experience? Priceless.) It was a lot of pressure I put on myself, and ultimately, I think it may have broken me.
There was a time when I stopped wanting to talk to anyone. I felt like no matter what I said or did, people reading the blog would find fault (and they did). Oddly though, after a while, the negativity seemed to even out. That said, we had support from people who didn’t necessarily SAY a word, but showed us they care by liking things we posted. Sometimes subtle works, even if it’s not noticed at the time. It turns out that while I felt very much alone for a while there, I had people by my side (or our side) all along. You know who you are, and I need to thank you. Sometimes it really is the smallest of things that are the most meaningful, and knowing someone (or a few people) had our back and accepted us for who we are and what we have to say made the difference.
So this album—Paper Gods—was not the easiest era of my life, both in fandom and for personal reasons. It was as though all of this writing and STUFF had to break me down completely before I could really begin to rebuild and figure it all out. And as that was happening, I was beginning to be happier and willing to be straight up honest with myself about why I am the way I am. When I went to those shows in March, I was absolutely thrilled to be there, something I hadn’t felt in a long time. When I drove to San Francisco last week, I was excited to hear every last song on that set list. No complaints. Life is too short and I’m way too much of a fan of this band and love the people in it too much to worry. I’m still a work in progress, as we all are, but when I look back over this time, I’m going to know how much personal growth was happening. I suppose in some small way, it took me as much time to come to terms with all of that as it did for the band to come to terms with what Paper Gods was going to be.
When I think back on the San Francisco show, not only will I remember just how on fire the band was, or how fabulous the sound was that night. I’ll remember that even though things didn’t go quite as planned, I loved every single second.