Tag Archives: Spandau Ballet

Through the Barricades – a Wild debate over Spandau’s new lead singer

In the few minutes of spare time I’ve had since my last day of work, I’ve kept up with posts in a Spandau Ballet Facebook group. Just as Duran Duran fans sometimes find themselves embroiled in debate, Spandau fans are currently going a similar, yet far more intense deliberation. The subject, is  of course, the new lead singer. His name is Ross William Wild, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue or my keyboard quite so easily yet. He’s young, good-looking, and most importantly, at least to Spandau fans—he is not Tony Hadley.

Whether or not that is a problem, depends upon with whom you’re chatting. Ross performed at his first Spandau Ballet gig last week. Social media went wild, no pun intended. There were many who felt as though he has the potential to re-energize the band. Some felt strongly that Spandau needed to hang it up. Still others have taken to calling the band nothing more than a “tribute” at this point.  (That last one is an “ouch” for sure!) It would appear that either you are “for” Tony and therefore hate everything about this new frontman and the existing members, or you are “for” the newest reincarnation of Spandau and therefore cannot possibly still love Tony. There is simply no in-between. Choose a side and get on with it…or so may seem.

I bring this seemingly un-related issue up here on a Duran Duran-dedicated fan blog purely because it has been both fascinating and heart wrenching to watch the debate unfold. The issues are vaguely similar, yet incredibly different, to some of the things we ourselves have debated.  It has been enlightening to witness the passionate outcry, and it reminds me that fandom is driven completely by emotion. Barely containable under the best of circumstances, fans struggle with change. Emotions run high. Choices are taken on an incredible, personal level.

This claim can be substantiated by recalling the heated debates in our own fandom over guitar players or even changes in musical direction from one album to the next. The fact is, fans are entangled tightly around the heart of Duran Duran. Like it or not, sometimes it is forgotten that we fans are not the band.  Many times over the past week I have read posts from fans proclaiming, “had it not been for the fans, the band would never be here”. We’ve grown up as fans, entered adulthood as fans, we are skipping down the path of middle-age as fans, and it can be very difficult to separate our own lives from the career of the band.  Decisions made by the band, are taken as a direct hit to fans. It makes no difference how pragmatic, practical or business-oriented those choices may be. Fans take each one to heart.

Fans are so personally involved at this point—twenty, thirty or even forty years in, there’s just no way to ignore what a serious change like a lead singer leaving (regardless of the backstory, which still seems to be in question) would do to any fan base. I don’t envy Spandau, they have quite a rebuilding process ahead. It is painful to see fans, completely torn by loyalty—to whom is very much the point of contention here—say that they’ve enjoyed their time with Spandau but they cannot continue on, citing that the band is not the same with Ross, or that he’s not good enough. It is heartbreaking to read posts pointing blame, or completely discounting the work of one young man purely because he dared to step into a spot previously owned by another. The arguments of why Tony left, or who is to blame, will not doubt continue.

I feel for Ross. Like someone else I know, he is the one most likely to “pay” in this situation. He cannot win. Even if he is every bit the singer that Tony is, the reality is that he is not Tony Hadley. He is Ross William Wild. That alone is a sin far greater than any bum note he may ever hit. He will never sing “Through the Barricades” like Hadley, even if he sings it note for note. The same can be said for “True”, “Gold”, and pretty much any other song in their catalog. I have already seen the words “hired gun”, “stand-in” and my favorite, “hack studio-singer” used to describe Ross. Unfair? Definitely, although I know I’ve read most of those words before somewhere…. He’s in an impossible situation because while many have and will embrace him, just as many (if not more original SB fans) will not. Many will openly (and loudly) proclaim him to be nothing more than a stand-in. It is most assuredly a no-win situation.

Tony Hadley tours with his own band as a solo artist, and still sings many of the same songs Spandau will also continue to sing with Wild at the helm. How on earth can anyone move forward under these circumstances? I am not sure.

While undertones of this debate seem very familiar, the truth is— what we’ve dealt with as Duran fans is likely 1/10 of the agony and turmoil Spandau fans have felt, particularly lately. It is painful to watch, particularly since I have some limited sense of what it feels like.  Spandau Ballet as we once knew it ceases to exist. While the band has stood at the crossroad and decided to take a new direction, fans must decide for themselves. I do not envy them.

-R

The Next Line: Should a band move on?

Duran Duran is my most favorite band. But there are other bands I also love and adore, and like more than a few Duranies out there – Spandau Ballet is on that list.

Up until a few years ago, I’d never seen Spandau live. I’d always wanted to, but timing (I grew up just a couple of years too late), and their own break-up made that pretty impossible until 2015. But the wait was worth it. I didn’t go all-out for tickets in the same way many of my friends did, traveling all over the country to see them, but I did see them a few times that year. And each time I saw them, the show seemed tighter, the band seemed more on fire, and I was thoroughly convinced that it wouldn’t be the last I’d see of them onstage together.

The end of the tour arrived, and not terribly long after, Spandau announced that Tony Hadley, their lead singer, would not return. He had his own plans for a solo career, and he was apparently satisfied with what he’d accomplished with Spandau Ballet. All good things must come to an end; out with the old, in with the new, and so on, right?

But what about the band? Many long time Spandau fans felt like Tony’s departure meant the band should also come to an end. I can’t tell you how many times I read that Tony’s voice is what made the band Spandau Ballet.

Actually, yes I can give an approximation of how many times I read that – just imagine the same happening in Duran Duran, and you’ll know exactly how often it’s been written.

I understand where those fans are coming from. There’s no denying that Tony’s voice is important to the sound we recognize as Spandau Ballet. If it were Simon and Duran Duran we were talking about, the very same could be said, and we’d all nod our heads in agreement. Yes, I’d also argue that the guitar, drums, bass and even sax are important parts, but the voice is the voice.

But there is another side to this story, and that’s of the band. Those other guys. There are many who feel like they’re worthy of some importance. I am firmly in that camp, whether we are talking about Spandau, or even Duran Duran. (yes, I said it) Is it fair for one person to call the shots for the entire group? Is it right that one individual decides the destiny for everyone else? Spandau vowed that this wouldn’t break them, and that they would return.  While I knew that in the moment they probably did mean every last word – I wasn’t so sure The Next Line would actually come to them . It’s one thing to be indignant and insist a group can move on, it’s another to actually do it.  I was supportive, but silently doubtful.  Let’s just say I was thankful I saw them live when I did, just in case.

All was fairly quiet until yesterday, when a curious email hit my inbox. Spandau Ballet sent an email….and yes my friends, they are about to write The Next Line. I silently cheered at my desk. They have a new, yet to be announced lead singer, and they are not only announcing their return, they’re playing a show in London at the Subterania on June 6th. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10am GMT. They will sell out in a flash, and I desperately wish I could be there.

As any fan might, I wanted to see the reaction from social media. That’s the difference between today and thirty or even forty years ago – within a couple of clicks I can see fan reaction. Suffice to say, all was not well. There were fans, like myself, who were excited to see the band go on. However, many were not. Some say that because Tony has left, Spandau Ballet as we’ve all come to know it, no longer exists. Rename, reframe, and move on if they care to do so, but using the same name isn’t right. Many others think that no matter what the band does, it won’t be the same and that they should just quit.  Apparently for those people, Tony was the band.

I don’t know what Spandau will sound like. I’m assuming it will be very different with someone else at the microphone. Even in the case of Duran Duran – band members have changed, but Simon has always been the singer – changes still come with every album.  Some, I’ve loved, others, I have not. There’s no argument from me that a new lead singer will take getting used to, only that I really believe  they have the right to try.

As for the name of the band, that’s a legal thing, worked out amongst the members.  Tony continues to have Spandau Ballet songs in his set, although they’ve been totally rearranged so that the highlight is completely and totally on his voice. He doesn’t tour as Tony Hadley, ex-Spandau Ballet or whatever-you-will, he just tours as himself with a backing band. I think it’s bizarre (and not entirely successful, in my own opinion) to hear Tony singing, but to have other people playing a different arrangement of the songs I grew up with. He’s covering Spandau, so to speak. I think it sounds a little weird, but it is his right to move on.

Can you imagine if it were Duran Duran?  Spandau Ballet fans are easily as ardent as Duran fans. They are certainly as opinionated, and possibly as stubborn. I cringe and shudder to think what might be said if Simon were to go it alone and leave the band. I’m sure many are saying that the band would hang it up. Maybe they would. It is certainly their right to do so. But it would also be their right to try.  Wouldn’t we owe it to them, at least in some sense, to applaud their strength and fortitude to have a go at it?  We might not like it (but hell, as I said above, there have been entire albums I haven’t necessarily loved and yet I survived!), but I still applaud their willingness to keep going. That’s the creative process at work.

As a fan, it is difficult to see past the emotionality, but we should try. The band name brings out certain feelings and memories. To the band themselves – it’s more than that. In the eyes of the courts, Spandau Ballet is a partnership, a legal entity. The business is entwined with the time and energy spent together.  In the midst of the drama, I suspect the arrangements and legalities become more about the pieces of paper indicating who is entitled to what and so forth moving forward, than history and emotions. Someone said that dissolving a band partnership is like a divorce, and I don’t doubt that. In this case, the vocalist starts over, single and free with a solo career, the band keeps the name and marries a new lead singer. Fans are caught in the middle, just like the children. We’re pissed that our family name is continuing to be used by someone we don’t even know or recognize. It’s hard.

Ultimately, Spandau is trying to move on. I can’t blame them.  I wish them nothing but success. I suspect it must really be difficult to be in their shoes right now, and I applaud their bravery. I wish fans would think about that a little more before being so quick to tell them to hang it up. For us, it’s about music we love. For the band, it’s their career.  Why shouldn’t they keep trying? I’m going to keep cheering them on, even though I would love to be there in person to witness The Next Line at that first London show.

Here’s to possibilities and not giving up! Cheers!

-R

 

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