Tag Archives: Spandau Ballet

Spirit rose a meter and stepped aside: Celebrating David Bowie

Just one year ago today, David Bowie left us.

I’m nearly incredulous that it has already been a year in one moment, and in the next, I’m shocked that it hasn’t been longer…because it certainly feels that way.

I still read and hear pain when the band speaks of their loss in interviews I’ve seen and read. In one sense, I can imagine how they feel. I don’t know what that day will feel like, and I don’t want to know.  Nearly all of them have mentioned grappling with the mere notion that David Bowie is no longer with us.

I can remember going online that day, and seeing the heart wrenching tweets from friends and people I admire. The loss was palatable, and the space David left will never be filled.

We’ve had a year of Duran Duran touring and incorporating Space Oddity into their shows, celebrating David Bowie. My own daughter (my youngest) thinks that it’s a Duran Duran song because she saw them play it live at her first concert this summer. There is still a sense of melancholy, and great love and respect when they segue from Planet Earth to Space Oddity during the show, with David Bowie, “bigger than life” looking  on behind them. As strange as it might seem, I’ve enjoyed Duran doing the song – sharing their love and influence with the rest of us, letting us in to help in some small way, shoulder their loss. Our loss, really.

This past weekend, Simon took part in a very special show at Brixton Academy in London, on what would have been David’s 70th birthday.  “Celebrating David Bowie with Gary Oldman and Friends” was a show featuring David’s band, along with a myriad of special guests, including Simon, members of Spandau Ballet, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, and Mr. Hudson. For Simon’s part, he performed “Let’s Dance”.

I didn’t watch all the videos for the show, but you BET I watched Simon’s. If you want to catch any of them, check out NME’s wonderful article and collection of videos, including the entire setlist.  Rest assured, Simon sounded fantastic and strong. While I watched him perform, he seemed so proud to be up there, maybe even reverent. Even from here, I was proud to see him knock that song out of the park.  I thought about how music heals, and how much deep love and respect these musicians have for David Bowie.

People often say that these people never completely leave us, that the music stays with us forever, and it is their gift.  Sometimes that thought comforts and other times, it feels like a huge cliché. I’m not going to lie, the thought does very little to quell my own fear of loss. I learned early on in my life to make sure that the people I love most know how I feel – which is really hard to do when it is a band like Duran Duran. The complexity of the “fan” thing tends to get in the way as much as it brought me to them to begin with. However,  we all do love and treasure them, in very much the same way as they do Bowie. We can only hope they know.

During a year where many of us have lost idols and artists we love and respect, seeing Simon—and all of Duran Duran, really—pay respect to their own idol, has taught me a lot about grace, love and celebrating one’s idols.

-R

It’s Christmas Time…

Every year, at Christmas, without fail, I listen to the song, Do They Know It’s Christmas by Band-Aid.  This tradition has existed since the song was released in 1984.  If you haven’t listened to it yet this year, let me post the video for you to do just that:

Yesterday, I noticed a tweet from Duran Duran featuring an article posted in Rolling Stone magazine written by our friend, Lori Majewski, which you can read here.  The article discusses the making of Band-Aid along with some behind-the-scenes stories, which are thoroughly enjoyable.  I have to admit that I especially liked the fact that Duran showed up with Spandau and both bands were hungover.

While I was entertained by the article, I found myself drawn to two particular quotes.  First, Boy George said, “‘Band Aid and Live Aid were a great contradiction to what people thought, another side of the decade,” says Boy George. “The Eighties were about greed and excess – we were called Thatcher’s Children.'”  Then, Simon followed up with, “One reason Le Bon and his contemporaries found Band Aid so attractive, he says, was because it “was this opportunity to do something that wasn’t about ‘me.’ It made you feel you could do something useful. We made young people believe they had some kind of power and were able to do something that did have an effect.'”

This song came out Christmas 1984, when I was nine years old.  I hadn’t been a Duranie for very long and had little ideas about the world and my role in it.  Duran’s decision to participate in something like this didn’t surprise me as I had no expectations of whether or not a band should partake in activities for charity or make political statements.  Yet, I do remember feeling proud to be a fan of a band that would join in such an effort to raise money for a starving people.  I, in fact, defended the British supergroup over many of my peers who didn’t know anything about the song or its impact once USA for African’s song “We Are the World” was released.  I complained, openly, to my classmates that the Americans were copying the British’s idea.

Looking back, I had no idea that Duran Duran was often dismissed for the (incorrect) assumption of being connected to Thatcherism or Reaganism, the ultimate capitalistic, political leaders.  I didn’t realize that for many critics Duran’s participation in Band-Aid and later Live Aid seemed out of character.  To me, it made sense.  Clearly, the members were kind people who wanted to help out their fellows, at least that’s what I thought (and still think).  I recognize now that this supergroup and single changed the vibe of the 1980s from being one of fun, greed, materialism to being serious, selfless but had no idea back then.  I have heard John Taylor state in interviews that Live Aid divided the decade into these two halves.

Interestingly enough, I wonder now how much this song really affected my world view.  Heck, I ponder how much Duran Duran of the 1980s impacted my philosophy of life.  I do believe in having fun and express that every time I get to a show or get to go on tour.  I enjoy times out with friends, having a drink or two.  Yet, I also am a person who believes that humans should act to help out their fellow humans.  I went into teaching–not for the pay or the summers “off” (HA!  I wish!) but because it provided a chance to help many kids.  Then, I spend time outside of work and fandom on political activities.  Why?  Again, I want to do my part in order to make the world a little bit better.

Perhaps, Duran Duran and Band-Aid’s Do They Know Its Christmas helped to form this fundamental philosophy of life I have.  I don’t accept the premise that I need to choose between having fun and being serious, between focusing on myself and on others.  I saw my idols, as a kid, doing both simultaneously, even if that isn’t what adults or music critics saw then.  That is what I saw and what I hope to live in my own life now.

-A

Look For the Girl With the Sun In Her Eyes and She’s Gone

They are pretty much dropping like flies at this point, aren’t they?  I have to admit that each morning as I open my laptop, I’m almost nervous to see what the news might be…which idol, legend, favorite, etc, has left us.  January has not been kind to the music lover this year. Yesterday afternoon, it was announced that Glenn Frey, founding member of The Eagles, had passed away. I don’t know how popular The Eagles were in other countries, but for me – they were one of the quintessential California bands of the 1970s. I grew up listening to them on the radio, whether I knew it or not at the time.

At heart, I am a rock and roll girl. While it’s certainly true that Duran Duran has left an indelible mark on my soul and I love 80s New Wave with a passion that continues to burn bright a few decades later, it is also true that I adore a great classic-rock guitar. (is this really a surprise to anyone?)

Some of my friends had parents that listened to The Beatles, whereas my parents were fans of Elvis, in a pretty big way.  My mom likes to say that The Beatles came too late for her in the same way that I say New Kids on the Block were too late for me…so I get it. (Although I am a pretty big fan of The Beatles, oddly) Before I came along, my parents were also big fans of The Beach Boys (hence my name). I don’t know how that fits into the whole “rock” scenario – but we all have our departures. For instance, I love Duran Duran, but can also be known to blast Styx (anything but Mr. Roboto) from time to time. It happens. I make no apologies, but I’m getting away from myself. The point being, I was groomed on rock and roll (and a little bit of the blues, I guess…which is both bizarre…and fitting at the same time.)

When the news came out about Glenn Frey yesterday, I started thinking about all of the songs I knew of his. There are too many to list, yet again – just as I noticed with Bowie – I really didn’t take stock in many of them until after he was gone. It’s the case where I recognize his music, I don’t typically change the radio if they happen to come on, but I also didn’t seek him out, and I didn’t ever stop to think of just how many of his songs I really knew. I think in a lot of ways we take these legends for granted. We don’t ever consider that one day they might not be here, until they’re just not…and this month, well, that’s happening on a near daily basis, isn’t it?

I was in the car this morning, considering what I might write about this morning, and Come on Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners came on the radio. This is one of those songs that I almost never turn off. If it comes on – whether it’s the radio or my iPhone – I don’t skip it or change the station. I love the song. It’s ridiculous, but it always reminds me of school dances in junior high. You’d think that memory alone would be enough to force my hand, but no. They’re good memories, albeit awkward ones. Then I started thinking about other songs that I always allow to play through, and decided to create a list when I got home. I’m going to share mine here – trying to go for at least 25, but we’ll see. The caveat: NO Duran Duran, and they have to be songs that whenever they play – you let it play through. I have a ton of songs that I adore (in fact, most of my favorite songs are this way), but I have to be in the right mood to hear them.

These songs, for the most part, aren’t even favorites (with the exception of the few classical ones I’ve mentioned – those are definite life long favorites of mine). My list could be WAY longer than 25, and I didn’t include nearly as many new wave songs as I would have first thought. I just sat down and just started writing the first ones that came to mind, coming up with 25 in an incredibly short amount of time, and they are in no particular order, and like I said – I could have added so many more. I was surprised. Makes me wonder why I haven’t ever done this before.

I encourage you to do the same and post it!  I wonder how many out of our lists will be from musicians we consider to be legends?

The Wall………………………………………………….Michael Jackson

Mr. Brightside…………………………………………The Killers

Mad World………………………………………………Tears for Fears

Alive and Kicking…………………………………..Simple Minds

Marriage of Figaro………………………………..Mozart

Rhapsody in Blue…………………………………..Gershwin

Tom Sawyer…………………………………………….Rush

Jessie’s Girl……………………………………………..Rick Springfield

Too Much Time on My Hands……………..Styx

In the Mood……………………………………………Glenn Miller

String of Pearls………………………………………Glenn Miller

Hit Me With Your Best Shot………………..Pat Benatar

Should I Stay or Should I Go…………………The Clash

Anyway You Want…………………………………Journey

We Close Our Eyes……………………………….Oingo Boingo

Blasphemous Rumours………………………..Depeche Mode

Been Caught Stealing…………………………..Jane’s Addiction

Eleanor Rigby…………………………………………The Beatles

More Than a Feeling…………………………….Boston

Infected…………………………………………………..Bad Religion

Under Pressure……………………………………..David Bowie/Queen

Rock With You……………………………………….Michael Jackson

Love Will Tear us Apart………………………..Joy Division

To Cut a Long Story Short…………………….Spandau Ballet

Lucy In the Sky with Diamonds……………The Beatles

-R

Through the Barricades – Spandau Ballet at Pacific Amphitheater

Last night I joined about 8,000 of my newest friends to see Spandau Ballet in concert at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, California. I don’t want to brag (actually I do), but Spandau says that it was one of the best if not the best amphitheater show they’ve done.

First of all, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been to this venue, and they’ve completely improved the gates leading from inside the fair. What once felt like a back alley was open and inviting, which is nice. The amphitheater has it’s own set of unique problems though, some of which are that it’s attached to a fairground, not permitted to run year-round, and there’s some nasty rules about noise, curfews and horrific fines if a band should happen to go past their time-limit.  Even so, I love it when bands play here…especially when those bands are named Spandau Ballet, Tears for Fears, or Duran Duran.

I recently saw Spandau (by recently I mean earlier this year and you can find my review here), for a show at the Wiltern Theatre in LA and it was fantastic, far exceeding any expectations I may have had. I was a fan who had never seen them live, and I still can’t quite believe my luck at having them play twice in a single year. From what I could gather between the LA show and last night – they have an amazing, fun-loving, and supportive fan base, and it’s a shame it had gone thirty years (according to Tony Hadley, whom I’m assuming knows these things) since their last show in the OC, otherwise known as my backyard.  So, I was curious to see how their shows might differ, especially after long months of touring. Would fatigue get the best of them? Would their music feel a bit tired, or polished?

Once again, Spandau blew me away. In retrospect, the show in LA felt almost a bit stiff compared to the warm, friendly and loving nature of the show last night. While the band certainly interacted in LA, it couldn’t even compare to having Tony Hadley and Gary Kemp decide to literally go play Empty Spaces in the audience….only to follow that up with a brief sing-a-long a cappella version of Gold before going back up to the main stage. We were treated to Steve Norman getting right down to nearly eye-level as he played sax with those in the front rows, quite possibly giving Krista Blade (Richard Blade’s – the KROQ radio DJ and 80’s music guru wife) the show of her life.  Martin and Gary Kemp traded sides of the stage several times throughout the show as well. But it wasn’t just those moments that made the show feel special or intimate. Tony Hadley commented not just once, but several times as to how great the audience was; and I have to say – in all of my years of attending shows, I have NEVER heard an audience sing in quite the same way as we did last night. We sang along to Gold and of course True…and no matter where Tony would hand off the singing of a line to the crowd, it was picked up and beautifully finished with enthusiasm. I think in a lot of ways, True is sort of Spandau’s Hungry Like the Wolf, and rather than the song being tired or boring, which let’s face it – by this time is absolutely a possibility; the band has worked to give it new life and make it something that the fans can sing together with the band as sort of a sentimental moment. It worked beautifully.

The crowd was willing, open, warm…and even had a few self-named superfans present. One such person was in the front row. I noticed him throughout the show because he knew every word to every song, which made me smile. He danced and sang right along with the band, and reminded me of the time someone announced to Amanda and I that they’d never seen more enthusiastic fans at a show. (I don’t really want to know what we must have looked like that night….) In any case, the band went offstage from their main set at precisely 10:01 by my watch, and came back out to do “Through the Barricades”, which has got to be the most romantic song ever written (and I adore Steve Norman’s sax on this one). It was about this time that I glanced down to the front row and noticed that the guy I’d seen earlier was wearing some sort of, well…hat and feather get-up. It was canary yellow…which I’m assuming he wore because he was insistently hoping that the band finished with “Gold”.  They did…but not before Tony Hadley had to turn away from said superfan because he was laughing and couldn’t sing. I have to give the guy credit, he wore that little number (and I’m sorry I don’t have pictures – I was too busy enjoying the song!!) for the entire song, and then the band literally pulled him onstage during their goodbyes as Steve Norman carried him…yes CARRIED him in his arms.

  1. Spandau Ballet loves their fans. A LOT…and they’re definitely not too cool to show it.

  2. Steve Norman can carry a full-sized man. So my hope of someday having him show up and carry me away is still on!!!  😉

  3. I don’t suppose my showing up in a wolf-suit to a Duran Duran concert is really going to help anything…so no one need worry.

  4. I wish I’d bought tickets to see them in San Diego tonight.

  5. It’s not REALLY cheating on Duran Duran. It’s training for the next tour…I swear!!

One last thing: prior to the show, Richard Blade did a DJ set with his buddy (and Duran Duran fan), Steven Wayne.  Steven actually played the songs, and Richard always likes to do the trivia and contests.  The coolest part of his set before the show was when he dramatically said a line from When In Rome’s song “The Promise” (the point was to guess what song the line was from), and Clive Farrington, the lead singer of When in Rome, was planted in the audience with a microphone. He came down on the stage and actually SANG the song. Gotta tell ya, When in Rome was another favorite band of mine from way back when, and I nearly fell out of my chair when literally he rose up from his chair to go sing RIGHT DOWN THE AISLE from me.  He still sings with stunning beauty, and I can cross one more thing off of my lengthy bucket list.  I felt bad for him because people continually stopped him throughout the show for pictures, but I didn’t need any….the memory of having him sing is going to stick with me for a long, long time. Loved it.

 

Can You Deal With It?

Shout out to DDHQ for starting my Monday off right with a cute new fortune-telling game, which ever-so-gently hint at tour dates being announced soon. The game also serves as the new front page to duranduran.com.

I can remember making these folded origami-like masterpieces back in junior high. We’d write our favorite colors, numbers, maybe favorite bands or other “favorites” on the folded sections (the band did numbers and the band members themselves), and in the middle we’d write the names of the boys we liked – which would be the “fortune” of whom we were going to marry. For the record, I am 100%  certain my fortune lied, because I am definitely not married to Roger Taylor.

On the band’s version, the game ends with a fortune that has something to do with live shows, or cute song lyrics. For example, I picked “Roger”, “5”, and then “7”, and my fortune was “Your friends will be here when you need them most“.  I tried it again (to be fair, this is the fourth time I’ve done it today….research, you see…) using “John”, “3” and “5” and ended up with “You will be at a beautiful event in the near future“.  Maybe a live show…I hope! Are tour dates finally imminent?!?

I have to applaud DDHQ on this one. Not only does it take me back to junior high, which for me were the days when I discovered Duran Duran and spent my spare time reading any pop magazine with the band prominently featured on the cover, but it also woke up the Duraniverse a little with the possibility of tour dates being announced. Sometime. Hopefully soonish.

THIS IS A PROPER TEASE!! This is how you get fans talking and sharing, and this is how to stir excitement! So many of us have felt that their website does very, very little for fans. Not interactive, not terribly informative in a unique way…and even a bit cumbersome (I am thinking specifically about the discography section when I use the word “cumbersome”). This is Duran Duran. This band should be all about the visual. All about the “interactive experience”. What happened?!? Their website should be the most kick-ass thing I’ve ever seen online, and yet it has always fallen a bit flat. It gets the news out there, but there’s very little flash and even less interactivity. This is a great start.

I think it also has to be said that with this #DDFortuneTeller game, they know their demographic. They know to whom they are playing, so to speak. Give a kid in the 18-30 year old bracket this game and they would look at you quizzically. Paper? What in the hell is that for?!?  The “good news” is that while it looks like paper….I suppose it’s also an app…so to speak. You can take the technology out of the band, but you can’t take the band out of the technology.

Or is it the other way around?

I’m just not sure…ANYWAY…

I think this is a huge, huge win for the band, and subsequently for fans. Say what you will about Durantime, as well as promotion and how it may be directed at future audiences as opposed to long time fans, the band wins with this one, and I love it. Little things have potential go a LONG way.

Naturally, this stirred a little discussion online, as I mentioned the game on Facebook. A friend reminded me that the band was working with Crowdsurge and wondered if this was the start of some new and innovational engagement with fans. Long time fans will remember the days of buying tickets directly through DDM, then having the platform moved to Artist Arena, so we’ve certainly seen our share of ticket engines. Crowdsurge offers fan engagement and seamless built-in platforms for the artist so they are able to monitor and manage their own sales with no extra work. They also promise that the cost is shouldered by the attendees (meaning the cost of working with Crowdsurge is built into our ticket price), but then they also say it can be up to 71% cheaper for the fans. I’m still struggling with Common Core Math a bit…so I’m not exactly sure how they’re figuring, but until I myself go through a ticket-sales cycle and understand Crowdsurge, I’m not going say they’re fudging numbers. Crowdsurge is a big proponent of auctions because they tend to up the sales price of tickets by about 185% on average. Quite frankly, that’s fine with me as long as I am not paying. They also really love the idea of ticketing “experience” bundles (think VIP). I sincerely hope those bundles do a good job of delivering what they promise. I do have a nagging concern that there will be little opportunity for similar “experiences” for fans who are on a budget. Unfortunately though, that is often the case.

I’d like to see contests for “The Common Fan”. You know, people like me who cannot pay $5,000 in a special auction bundle, regardless of the endless amount of joy that is promised for that price. I’ve participated in a few raffles/contests through Tunespeak, which is a really cool fan-engaging platform for contests. It’s tagline? “Win for being a fan”. Basically, bands/artists set up contests through them, and you have to share the contest, tweet about it, watch predetermined videos, listen to music that the band sets up as “tasks”, etc…and you earn entries for each item that is completed. The goal of course is to rack up as many entries as possible. I would be hard pressed to beat many of the Duranies I know out there…but I like the idea that it’s based on experiencing whatever the band wants us to listen to or watch, because for Duran Duran I think that would be helpful in the long run.

So…. if I promise to go out grocery shopping and not check my phone at all, can we get some future show dates…like today?!?

-R

Mine, Immaculate Dream

I remember when Duran Duran first joined Twitter. There was a learning curve involved of course, because we were all trying to figure out Twitter.  It really made no sense to me until I relaxed a little and just tweeted whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Then I learned that it was far more fun to tweet WITH people rather than AT them, and now Twitter is far more like a running conversation than posting 140-character status updates like “I am going to fold laundry now.” (although I still post a fair number of those)

I also remember when Simon and John started tweeting. At first I thought it was nothing short of miraculous. I remember how insane my timeline would get whenever John jumped online and had what we all learned to coin, a “Tweetfest”. Just a shout-out, an RT, a mere mention would send a fan’s heart soaring. I remember seeing the hundreds, if not thousands of requests for follows, and that prompted me to write a post about not following fans. At the time, I was convinced that following a fan like that would do nothing but promote more nastiness between fans. The competitiveness between DD fans was still palpable at the time, the idea of actually communicating directly with the band was still new enough, that it seemed like a recipe ripe for disaster.

I’ve thought about reasons why a band from the 80s may or may not be involved on Twitter. We’ve talked about how for many of us, bands like Duran Duran are a complete enigma. We knew they existed, but never once thought we could actually speak with them. So many of those bands have dropped off of the face of music now, the few that are left are very much treasured.

Lately, I’ve gotten somewhat involved in the Spandau Ballet fan community. Their community seems to be so much more at peace than Duran’s has been in the past, which interests me…mainly because I just can’t figure out what makes it that much different. I’m sure many of you will have some idea that you’ll happily pass on, so I’ll wait and read your comments. In any case, this past week, the members of Spandau Ballet have been following fans. They’ve openly been coming onto Twitter and spending time tweeting fans and even following them. There has been no bloodshed from fans, nor signs of exasperation coming from the band. Aside from fans asking to be followed (which was encouraged), I’ve seen very little uproar, and the best part is that the fans have encouraged one another.  I continually see “OMG, _______________ is following me!!!” posts on Facebook with a chorus of “Congratulations!” comments  following.

Truly, I don’t feel comfortable saying that this is the way all bands should handle social media with fans, mainly because it’s really difficult for me to see beyond my own fandom. Not everyone can feel comfortable reaching out; indeed, not everyone should. I only know that as a fan, I love seeing these bands and artists I grew up idolizing making the effort to get to know their fans…and they all seem to do it in their own way. It is a good time to be a fan.

-R

Can’t Deny My Love for this type of promo!

Can I write a blog in 15 minutes? Probably not…but I’m going to try.

I just wanted to gush a teensy bit over Brandon Flowers. You see, in my perfect little world – this is how any and every band would properly tease their audience into buying a new album.

I’m probably not going to get this timeline correct, but I would guess it was around early Fall that I had heard that Brandon Flowers (lead singer of the The Killers if you’re unfamiliar) was going to cut another solo album. Truthfully it could have been earlier than that, but for the sake of argument, we’re going with Fall (Or what the rest of the world may call Autumn. Sorry, the California in me comes out with a vengeance every once in a while).. It was fairly quiet for a while, but then about February or so (Again, I’m probably way off but that’s not the point), he posted a link to a video from his Twitter account (Which I am almost positive he does NOT run himself) to his website, where there was a little note posted. The note, written in Brandon’s scrawl, gave a short, almost poetic description of the writing process, and even gave the name of the album: The Desired Effect.  Not long after that, I think he posted a video of someone, probably himself but I’m not sure, playing a line of music on a keyboard.  Maybe a week or so later came the teases for his first single, “Can’t Deny My Love”.  I will not lie, I am obsessed with that song. It has a GREAT hook that I can’t and won’t get out of my head. He had video, he had little clips of music…and most of all, he had my attention.

Again, I cannot tell a lie, I do not listen to the radio very often. I don’t pour over every possible piece of music news that is available. I have Google alerts set up for the few bands/artists that I’m interested in, and while The Killers is included in that extremely short list, I am not at all sure I would have caught that Brandon was coming out with a solo album had I not been following him on Twitter. Brandon doesn’t even REALLY try to communicate with fans on Twitter, it’s really about delivering his news to the people and that’s about it. But I follow the account like I do other bands I’m interested in.  However, once he started posting these teasers, I couldn’t stop myself from reading anything and everything I could about his new album. Then he started posting upcoming gig information, including a few right here in LA!  Everything was tied to getting a pre-ordered copy of The Desired Effect, and while I’d already done that… the dates didn’t work for me (naturally, because I’m a parent of three…), but even so, I was completely enthralled watching OTHER fans get their tickets to these super intimate, very short notice gigs. It was really, really cool!

So here we are, with just a couple weeks to go before his new album comes out, and I dare say that there are a ton of people out that have already preordered the album and KNOW about the project that may not have otherwise had it not been for Brandon Flowers teasing everyone endlessly with his new music. I already know the name of the album, which I am more than happy to talk about on Twitter and even on this blog, and I’m even buying a ticket to go see one of his upcoming shows. (or more if it turns out I’m not otherwise busy…) I can’t even say I’m one of the bigger Killer’s fans out there, nor can I say that about Brandon Flowers himself. I’m one of those that might not have otherwise bought the album…one of those “likes” that was just moved into the “sales” column SOLELY because of social media.

Brandon Flowers isn’t the only artist that is using social media in a particularly effective way these days. Spandau Ballet, another favorite of mine, announced some contests for meet and greets at their shows this summer. I have tickets to their show at the Pacific Amphitheater in Costa Mesa, and so I figured I might as well enter my name. Who knows, right?  Well, not only can you enter your name, but you can earn more “points” (entries) by watching videos, playing music, sharing videos, pictures, etc.  Granted, it takes effort to do those things, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from trying. My timeline is filled with people sharing their videos and things in order to earn more points and up the ante so that they have better shots at those meet and greets.  Social media does work.

Ultimately, my point is simply that teasers generate interest.  Social media and sharing works. These artists are about to prove that in spades…and in my perfect world, these are two examples of the perfect way to get the public interested and keep them interested!

-R

Duran Duran News: 3/8/15 to 3/15/15

Are you interested in reading all about the latest Duran Duran news from the last week (3/8/15 to 3/15/15)?  If so, read on.  Please note that I summarize official news (as opposed to unconfirmed rumors).

Public Appearances

As mentioned in last week’s summary, Simon was off to India to participate in the Cartier Travel in Style event.  Well, pictures and videos of the event have begun to surface, including this picture posted on Duran’s Facebook:

From Duran's Facebook
From Duran’s Facebook

Nick was also seen out in public this past week.  He attended the Savage Beauty VIP party.  Here is a picture that was posted on Duran Duran Argentina’s Facebook page:

From Duran Duran Argentina's Facebook
From Duran Duran Argentina’s Facebook

Spandau Ballet

Spandau Ballet, one of Duran’s peers from the early 80s in England, is on tour.  Like many bands and artists, they have a tour program that can be purchased by fans in attendance.  Well, guess who wrote the foreword?  No, it wasn’t Tony Hadley or Martin Kemp.  It was John Taylor!  We all know that John is a very good writer so I’m sure that this foreword is quality!  If that wasn’t enough, Spandau also has a film out entitled “Soul Boys of the Western World.”  Guess which band is featured on that soundtrack?  That’s right.  Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf is on the soundtrack along with other fabulous artists like David Bowie and Kraftwerk.  That soundtrack is coming out this week!

Kiesza

Did you hear that the artist, Kiesza, will be collaborating with Duran Duran on their upcoming album?  DDHQ confirmed that this week.  I covered reactions to this news on the blog post here.

Best Synth Pop Tracks of the 1980s

feckingdeadly.com posted a piece this week on the best synth pop tracks of the 1980s.  Which Duran Duran song do you think made the list?  Make your prediction then go here to see if you were right!

What did I miss?  This week was, generally, rather quiet.  Will next week be more entertaining?  Exciting?  We shall see!

-A

Symbiosis and the Duran Duran fan

The word of the day is “Symbiosis”.

I know many of you haven’t heard that word since middle school biology, so let’s do a refresher.  Symbiosis is any interdependent or mutually beneficial relationship between two persons, groups, etc.

Something miraculous happened today – my little write-up of the Spandau Ballet show was reposted and retweeted by the band themselves!! Spandau Ballet. That’s right. They took the time and interest to repost something a mere Spandau Ballet and/or Duran Duran fan had written. Call me flabbergasted.

There are moments in life where something happens and it feels like the filter that had been there diffusing the light and creating shadows has been removed. The view of everything around you completely changes. That’s kind of what today has been like for me as a Duran Duran fan. Over and over, I have had fans, fellow Duran Duran fans, tell me that they’ve met bands and artists…The Fixx, Spandau Ballet, Rick Springfield, Bryan Adams, among many many others. The one thing each Duran Duran fan noted was their shock that these bands and artists really wanted to meet their fans, the people who support them. At one point, it dawned on me that I really don’t have any idea what that  is like.

On one hand this morning, I was overjoyed. We have never had blogs posted by a band like Spandau Ballet before. (All due respect to Rio- the Duran Duran tribute band though, because they support this blog by reposting our reviews and interviews about them, and we truly appreciate the effort!) While I maintain that we write this blog for the Duran Duran fan out there – it feels very good to be acknowledged by the people we idolize. That small acknowledgement is validation for a tremendous amount hard work, of which there is plenty – both seen and unseen. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on Facebook. Spandau Ballet actually reposted my article?? I dashed off a quick note to Amanda to share in my joy. I don’t know why, but it never occurred to me that another band would repost a review of ours before Duran Duran ever did. Then again, it never occurred to me that any band would acknowledge our work because I’ve been trained to expect far, far less in the 4.5 years I’ve been blogging, not to mention the decades of being a Duran Duran fan prior. It has always been our choice to write. It has always been our choice to support – we chose to do this completely on our own, without being encouraged or forced to continue. But isn’t that also the point?

I suppose it’s vaguely similar to the surprise of having one’s photo taken with the President of the United States before ever having one with Duran Duran.

I’m thrilled that Spandau Ballet thought enough to repost my review as a Duran Duran fan of their show. Of course it was a glowing review they deserved, and of course that in turn helped their cause – which is to create interest and ultimately ticket sales. The thing is, it helps OUR interest too. We are always happy to expand our reading audience and support fantastic bands that are appreciative in the process, which is something we plan to do more often. Daily Duranie is about curating and cultivating symbiotic or even cyclical relationships between bands and their fans.

Food for thought.

-R

Spandau Ballet Wiltern Theatre

I went to see Spandau Ballet at the Wiltern Theatre in LA last night. Yes, I realize this is the Daily Duranie and maybe one of the last things many of you want to read is a review on another band’s live performance.  You should probably look away….but not you, Duran Duran. No, you four…FIVE (!)…should probably read on. (I am never giving in on Dom being a member, by the way. Suck it up.)

The reason I’m writing a show review about Spandau Ballet, is because for many DD fans, the supposed rivalry between SB and DD never existed. I hadn’t heard of it until I saw a YouTube video of Spandau vs. Duran on Pop Quiz.  (Check them out if you haven’t seen them – they’re funny!!) I just loved both bands for very different reasons. My love for Spandau Ballet did not; however, begin with “True” – as it did for many other American fans. I had heard their music well before that – for me, the very essence of Spandau Ballet is “To Cut a Long Story Short”,  or “Instinction” or better yet, “Confused”.  When I listen to those songs even today – the bridge between Spandau and Duran feels solid and I can see why I love both bands.  So to me, writing about other bands that were very much a part of that time period feels natural…and damn it, if Duran Duran isn’t gonna give me anything to write about, someone else will!

When I got to the Wiltern last night just after 7pm, I was dismayed to see that the line stretched all the way around the building and down the block. This wasn’t a GA show, it was completely seated, and the only reason for the line was a lack in security people to check bags. Ridiculous, but thankfully the line moved fairly quickly. Once in the venue though, we made our way up to our loge seats. I chose loge rather than floor because while I’m sure it would have been great to be up front, I really wanted to hear the full mix of the show. I will openly admit that for me, the experience of seeing Duran Duran live has everything to do with the rush of being near the front…but for Spandau Ballet, and knowing that I probably would not have the opportunity to see them live again (hey, it’s been 30 years since they’ve toured here), I wanted to HEAR the music without my brain playing tricks on me because I was in front of Martin Kemp or seeing Steve Norman play sax in front of me. Just saying.  (Still love you, Duran Duran, but seriously – it’s been a long time!)

Our seats were fantastic with a great view of the full stage, and bonus: the Wiltern takes drink orders from your seat! We settled in, watched Richard Blade give away tickets to see Rio and a couple of other far less interesting events (yes, I really mean that – unless you’re into Morrissey, which I am not.), and waited for the show.

The band opened with Soul Boy – a new song off of their The Story, and from the opening notes it was really clear that this was not going to be an ordinary concert for me. I won’t lie or pretend I never notice backing tracks with other artists. I am very clear that for many bands today – they must have them because they record with so many tracks for each instrument, it’s impossible to replicate live. That said, I have to give Spandau credit: they are the real deal. They PLAY…and any backing used is incredibly minimal compared to many other bands. Tony Hadley has a better voice live than nearly any vocalist I’ve ever heard, and I’m sure the Jack he used for toasting the audience does nothing to hurt him, either.  I can’t really say enough about Tony’s vocal talent OR the rest of the band. Steve Norman is a sax GOD, not to mention a world-class percussionist, of course Gary and Martin Kemp are the backbone of the band along with John Keeble on drums.  After sorting through a lot of misinformation, I’m editing this blog to update that the keyboardist’s name on this tour is Toby Chapman, and he did a fantastic job last night as well.  While in my opinion Spandau comes on stage with a lot less “flash” than say…Duran Duran…they more than make up for it with incredibly solid performance, and I still can’t get over Tony Hadley’s voice. He is amazing.

My moment of the night was hearing “To Cut a Long Story Short” – which is my favorite Spandau song. I marveled at how I was standing there, at a Spandau Ballet concert – something I just never, EVER thought I would do. I had many of the same feelings surging through my veins as I did when I saw Duran Duran – The “Original” Fab Five – at the OC Fair back in 2003. I couldn’t quite make my eyes believe what my ears were hearing. I am kicking myself this morning for not taking video, but in a lot of ways I’m glad I didn’t. I took the moment for myself and soaked it in, feeling that concert rush course through my system. I’d forgotten what it was like.

This review wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t make some commentary on the Spandau Ballet fans – many of which had been waiting thirty years to see this band. I loved being up in the balcony because I was able to see the reaction from fans – diehard Spandau Ballet fans – as they heard songs that they probably never thought they’d see done live. There was something really heartwarming as I watched fans scream with glee as Tony broke into Chant No. 1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) or the way the entire audience sang “True” with the band. There were so many special moments about the show I can’t even begin to name them all…and that’s just during the show.  As we waited in line outside that night, I halfway listened as the people in back of us talked about the trek they were making to follow the band on their tour across the country, and how they talked about members of the band as though they were old friends. It reminded me so much of the “relationship” Duran fans have with the band. As much as we might be different – Spandau fans and Duran fans – we’re really the same. (and quite honestly, there were quite a few Spandau fans that I recognized from Duran shows over the years!)

As I sit here, trying to formulate sentences to describe my experience, the one feeling I really want to convey is just how much the Spandau Ballet show reminded me of what I love most about going to concerts. I think I’d forgotten that concert rush – that concert high, a high I caught even while sitting in loge seats rather than in the first few rows down front.  I had forgotten just how much I love seeing bands live and fully immersing myself into the music. Hearing every single note from a sax solo. Feeling the bass drum beat, clapping my hands in rhythm and singing as loud as my voice can manage. Squealing in joy as the band plays another song through to perfection, and yes – even watching the band acknowledge fans who have loved them for thirty years. How can I honestly say I would be OK to never feel any of that again?

I can’t.

-R