Tag Archives: The Universe Alone

July 2019 Katy Kafe with Simon!

(Yes, I know it’s August 6th. Bear with me.)

You know it’s bad when you distinctly remember seeing mention of a Kafe, even going so far as to comment on how you’re looking forward to hearing it….and then promptly forget about the entire thing. Welcome to my life.

Better late than never, I listened to the Kafe this morning, took detailed notes, and am ready to deliver the State of the Duraniverse for this month. Or last month. Whatever. Just remember that I make no assertion that my notes are complete – and the only way you’ll hear the entire thing for yourself is with a DDM membership!

Kennedy Space Center Show

Katy caught up with Simon on July 30th. He was presumably back at home in England after the excitement from the Kennedy Space Center show a couple of weeks earlier. They spoke a little about the show, beginning with Studio Drift and their drone installation for the concert. Simon explained that the drones were meant to look like starling murmurations (the way they gather and seem to suspend in midair). I’ve posted some videos of their performance during The Universe Alone – if you haven’t checked them out yet, you really should. Trust me, the video will send goosebumps up and down your arms, it is that good. Here’s some of just the beginning to give you an idea:

I wish this were the entire song…but even a minute of it gave me chills!

Simon also talked a little about the setlist, saying that they did a full “space” section including “The Universe Alone”, “Planet Earth”, “New Moon on Monday”, “Reach Up for the Sunrise”, “Astronaut” and a cover of The Police’s “Walking on the Moon”. He said that for himself, “Astronaut” was a high point because it hasn’t been played very often during the last few years, suggesting that it was due to it’s difficulty. (I’m just going to say that for a song that is tough to play, I think they do an outstanding job). He mentioned that while he didn’t think they’d play “Walking on the Moon” again, maybe…just maybe…”Astronaut” might find its way back into a set list. I hope so!

Another interesting, but not at all surprising, comment on the KSC performance was that Nick took the time to come up with the master plan for that evening. His nickname is The Controller, you know….

September shows, and mini tours

While Simon didn’t say much about the upcoming shows in September, he did say that these mini tours are very important to Duran Duran because it has been decided that they should never go more than three months without a live show – simply because (and I’m having to surmise this a little based on the conversation) John, Simon & Roger get out of practice with the physicality. If they don’t play live, I think it is probably difficult to maintain the stamina necessary to play a full set. Not that Nick doesn’t “glisten” back there on keyboards, but I think compared to John, Simon and Roger, he doesn’t have to move as much. Regardless, I’m going to applaud their commitment to live shows!

The New Album

With that in mind, according to Katy, after September they don’t have anything booked. Will they go back into the studio? Katy does her best to lead Simon into this line of questioning, and I have to say that the studio work MUST be going well because Simon doesn’t struggle before answering that it’s going really well. He says the new album is going great and that he needs to start “knuckling down” and coming up with some lyrics. He plans to get together with Erol Alkan to work.

Simon describes the new album as “quite a departure”, using the word “Experimental”. What I dearly appreciate most from Simon here though, is that he explains this by saying that for him – Rio was a mainstream album. The first album; however, was more experimental. Katy follows up by asking him to compare Astronaut and Paper Gods in the same terms, and Simon says that Paper Gods is far more experimental – but is quick to also say that this new album is a “completely different vibe”.

I don’t know about the rest of you reading – but I’m excited!! I can hardly wait to hear what they’ve been working on. From everything that Nick has said, along with what Simon has now mentioned, it sounds fantastic! As I said last month, I’m still finding it hard to believe they’re already at a point where they can talk about this album as though it is a tangible thing as opposed to more of a vague, undefined few things they’ve kicked around. It’s been four years as of September since Paper Gods has been released, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t felt like it’s been that long.

Perhaps a drink suggestion for Duran Duran Appreciation Day?

Katy ended the Kafe by asking Simon if he had a cocktail suggestion to share. Last year, Simon went into extraordinary detail, describing a cocktail that we should all try in order to properly capture the last few days of summer. I find myself in similar territory (as always) this year…so I was happy to get another suggestion that I plan to put into full use on Saturday!

Pimms No. 1 Cup

**as an aside: Simon couldn’t remember in the Kafe if it was called a No. 1 or a No. 2 cup. I looked it up, and it is a No. 1. Pimms made seven different products, all “fruit cups” differing in their base alcohol. The No. 1 cup is the most popular and is based on Gin. No. 2 was whisky, the original No. 3 was brandy (although now there’s a winter cup infused with orange peel and spices that is available seasonally), No. 4 was Rum, No. 5 was rye whisky, and No. 6 is vodka. Only 1, 3 (as the Winter Cup), and 6 are currently made.

Pour a “decent measure” of this over ice, top with ginger ale, along with a slice of lemon, mint, perhaps some orange, and a maraschino cherry.

Expect this as one of the drink suggestions for Duran Duran Appreciation Day. I mean….it’d be rude not to, right??

-R

Just An Hour To Go

Now the day is over

I think it has taken me a full 36 hours or so to completely reign in my thoughts on the show at the Kennedy Space Center. I don’t think Katy was wrong when she said the set and show would be “out of this world”. The band added “Anyone Out There”, “Astronaut” and even “Walking on the Moon” by The Police to an already fantastic set list that included a lengthy intro to “The Universe Alone”. If the ethereal, delicate beauty of drones hovering overhead didn’t send chills down your spine, then surely combining the choir and orchestra to Duran Duran’s already near-perfect sound gave you goosebumps and made your hair stand up on end. At least they did for me, and I was at home watching a pixelated stream with far-less-than-adequate audio!

That evening began with a series of clicking links that didn’t work for me. I didn’t even think I’d be able to see video, but then Studio Drift streamed their drone performance. Granted, they only showed their pertinent portion of the evening, and after that I was desperate. I’d tune in to one stream only to find it wasn’t working properly, then try another. There might be sound, but no video…or vice-versa. Where could I see more? Thankfully, social media never disappoints! Duranies in the know were pointing everyone else in the proper directions. I was sent a link to another kind soul who decided to live stream the entire gig. I was thrilled, even with her apology that there might only be sound because the view from where she was standing wasn’t that great (her words). I couldn’t have cared less, I was overjoyed to be able to even see a tiny bit of the show – and I had no trouble hearing what the band was playing, even if the quality wasn’t perfect. That certainly didn’t stop me from tweeting in awe over what was happening in Florida.

I tried to phone last night

For me, that was the best part of the evening – even from home. Of course the show was stunning! I loved seeing the overall view of the rockets, the stage, and the crowd, combined with the music I know and love. Simon really made the show special by talking about the astronauts and the space program. The ambience was just about perfect from my seat. What topped it all off, was that even here at home as I sat by myself in a barstool at my kitchen island, I wasn’t alone. My friends and I tweeted back and forth. Amanda and I texted. There was laughter, and yes – even giggly joy. You can’t really beat that! I mean, if I can be here at home, about 5,000 miles from the gig itself, and still feel like I’m amongst friends in the audience, that’s what it’s all about.

I’m still a little stunned, or in awe…or something like that. I’m not one to sit down and watch video after video clip from a show. I have friends who have sent me videos from concerts I’ve attended over the years (and a lot I have not), and while I might watch a clip or two, I don’t spend a lot of time doing it. normally. Since the KSC show on Wednesday, I’ve SCOURED the internet, looking for any and all videos I can find, particularly of The Universe Alone – a song that I have had a love/I’m-really-afraid sort of relationship with since it came out. That changed on Wednesday.

Here’s a link to some amazing footage. I can’t stop watching it. I might need help.

You didn’t answer

I will never again listen to “The Universe Alone” without thinking of those gorgeous drones in the sky. It was like watching the stars, or a sea of fireflies, dancing in the heavens. I loved it, and hearing Simon’s voice – perfect and clear – singing the verses to “The Universe Alone” nearly brought tears to my eyes right along with all the chills I’ve come to appreciate in response to an outstanding performance. I know there’s some outstanding, multi-camera video footage out there, and I know I’m not alone when I cheer loudly in hopes of a video of the full performance to be released!

Seeing the show that night made me all the more excited for what is to come – and I don’t just mean the September shows.

(Although, I would like to reiterate the formal request I made on Twitter that Duran Duran put “Anyone Out There” in the setlist for the September shows and beyond. Pleasethankyougoodbye).

It makes ya kind of wonder when we might hear new music from the band, doesn’t it?

Look out of the window maybe you can call by my name

It does me too….which is why I nearly fell out of my chair when I read a recent article published on Playlist, a magazine website from Mexico. The short piece is in Spanish, which remains the one language I read pretty well outside of English (speaking it is another story. Conjugating verbs on the fly is not one of my gifts…) But even so, I thought I was misreading things, so I sent it through good old google translate. Turns out, I wasn’t.

According to the article, the band already has a song in mind as a lead single. Lead what?!? Here’s the translation for those who want the short “executive” version of the full article: “So far, there is a song that is the main one to be the first single. It’s so different from anything you’ve heard from us before, or really from anyone else. There is a dancing element. The construction, the melodic content, the lyrics, some of the sounds … are very different for us”

I’ll give you a minute to absorb that. Meanwhile, here’s the link, read it yourself:

http://www.playlistmag.mx/2019/07/duran-duran-anuncia-nuevo-album-con.html?m=1

My face in the mirror shows a break in time

Anybody else have the feeling that this band has been working on the album more than they’ve kind of let on??? I honestly thought they must still be at the stage where they’re just jamming in the studio every few weeks, hoping for something to gel.

(ok, I was going to write “months” in that sentence, but that seemed too negative. Typing “weeks” seemed more optimistic and hopeful!)

This kind of talk regarding singles makes me wonder if I’m just going to wake up one morning and the band is going to be like “Surprise, we’ve released our new album and we’re going on tour starting tomorrow!! Pre-sales started at midnight and you’re already too LATE!!”

New album – ok.

Tour – that’s fine….I guess? I mean, it just seems a bit rushed!

Presales starting without notice….while I’m sleeping?? That’s stuff right out of my nightmares. Some might say that this is the obvious next step for a band who likes to give less than 48 hours notice for presales.

A crack in the ocean, which does not align

I also have to wonder if this story about singles is even true. Not that I think Nick told a big fat fib, but that perhaps the magazine misquoted him. I mean, it’s the only place I’ve seen anything mentioned about actually having songs written! Can it really be?

If it’s true, then I’m still thinking about the description. I’m not surprised it sounds nothing like anything they’ve done before. After all – this is not a band that likes to revisit. It’s all new, all the time. I’m still shocked that they think they’ve already got the lead single. I say “already” because in my head – this album process just started! I can’t seem to wrap my brain around anything else.

I think back to pre-Paper Gods. For me, those days were torture, and I wasn’t in the band or even on their team. I was just a bystander. A blogging bystander. Every month felt like another year. (I’m exaggerating here because I have a flair for the dramatic, you see…) I wanted them to hurry, hurry, hurry, and then get back on the road so we could have more fun! This time, I’ve been pretty damn patient, I must say. I was busy. There were boxes being packed, and unpacked. I moved. I raised chickens, built a chicken coop, and apparently became a bit of a farmer. What???

I sound like I’ve retired, which I have not.

I’ve caught your dreaming

There were shows, which honestly – kept me going even during some really dark days. I couldn’t tell you how long the band has actually been working on this album because – news flash – I don’t even know! Interesting. Well-played, Nicholas… and of course the rest of you. You got me this time. I did see comments on Twitter in reaction to another interview posted somewhere, and apparently Nick said they’re shooting for late spring of 2020 for new music to be released. To be completely honest, I discounted that information.

On one hand, it *was* Nick who was giving a target release timeframe. If it had been Roger…I’d have laughed quietly and said, “add on another 12-18 months on that!” Sorry Roger…I kid, I kid!!! In all seriousness though, I read the tweets about it and thought, “Yeah, we’ll see. Late spring of next year? Yeah…..I’ll believe it when I see it!”

Not that I don’t trust this band. I do. I believe they will eventually release new music. I just suspect I’ve got all kinds of time to wait and be patient, maybe build an animal paddock, and begin raising goats and sheep along with my chickens.

I really do sound like I’m a farmer.

Have a great weekend everyone!

-R

Where Forever and Yesterday Collide

Where forever and yesterday collide…

I think those words, which I am borrowing from my friend @BoysMakeNoise, sum up the emotion of this day.

Today, we commemorate 9/11.  I had a friend lose a daughter that day, not a single Patriot’s Day goes by without my thinking about Lisa Frost or her family. I don’t take the date or the memory lightly, nor does anyone else I know, whether they are here in the LA area or in the east. My thoughts are with those who lost friends and family that day. We will never be the same, we will never forget, but we are learning how to go on.

September 11th has also become a day to remember something else in addition to the day our lives changed forever. We were given a cause to smile, if not quite celebrate. Paper Gods was released on this date in 2015.

My feelings about Paper Gods has almost certainly evolved over time. This single album is responsible for teaching me so much about myself, I am forever indebted. When I think back on where I sat three years ago, I assuredly see and feel personal growth. It wasn’t that I sat in a chair, hit “play” and felt an epiphany. If only.

No, when I first heard the entire album, I was aghast with some of the choices. I can’t say I fell in love immediately. In fact, I struggled. Rather than keeping quiet about it, I shared my tug-o-war. Probably not the smartest blogging decision I’ve ever made. People I deeply respect and very much care about had put their blood, sweat, tears into the making of the album, and yet I panned a major portion of it.

I still carry a fair amount of guilt about that. When I say I’ve learned from those mistakes, believe it. I sat with friends I admire and look up to, and did a lot of listening and soul-searching. I own my feelings about the album, but I wish that I had given myself more time to fully digest it all. Blogging for eight years has been a constant challenge and source of education for me, and that’s not an exaggeration. I’m definitely not the same person I was in 2010, and I have this blog to thank for much of that growth and adaptation.

Paper Gods isn’t an easy album. It is deep and complex, possibly in reflection of the band’s career. I sense the struggle in writing and recording it, and even the moments of anxiety and despair mixed with joy and satisfaction. It took me an incredibly long time to find my own way with Paper Gods. Great music can be that way, and I didn’t account for any of that when I gave it a knee jerk review. The pressure to be first outweighed the concern for being right or fair, which ended up being altogether wrong – at least for me. I’ll never do it again, that is for sure.

People tease me occasionally about my review of “You Kill Me With Silence”, a song that took me months to come to terms with. I loved the verse, but it was the chorus that bothered me. I liked the painstakingly slow and torturous melodic structure, but the chorus felt so bright and almost happy, it made me mad. It took me months to realize that the music perfectly described an emotionally abusive relationship, just as did the words. When that light bulb finally turned on for me, I embraced the song on a deeply personal level.

I also grappled with “The Universe Alone”.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the song. It is likely one of the most brilliant pieces of music the band has ever written. At the time though, I felt like the song was carrying me into a whirlpool, threatening to take me down into an emotional abyss I wanted no part. I may have taken the meaning of the song far too literally. If it was to be Duran’s end, I wasn’t going down quietly. Silly? Probably. I just wasn’t ready to even think about the end. But you know, in the three years since first hearing the song, I have a different understanding. For the band, each “last song on the album” is really kind of the end. It’s a new world on the other side, and this band never knows where they’re going next. Do any of us?  How will I feel when it really IS the end?  I’ll grieve and feel like there can’t possibly be a tomorrow, but the sun will defiantly come up again anyway. It always does, and we will all have to learn how to go on.

Then there’s “Danceophobia”. I have found reason to smile and even laugh with this one. Doesn’t it make good sense it was included on Paper Gods? On an album filled with seriously deep and complex feelings that appropriately seem to cover the entirety of their career up to this point, shouldn’t laughter and silliness be one of them?

I still have Paper Gods in my car, three years later. It is an album that I almost always play from start to finish, and I let myself listen and be carried by the current through all of the sentiments the music evokes. Lately, it has been exactly the therapy I’ve craved. The idea that it can sit side by side with their debut album, Rio, and even All You Need is Now and completely hold its own is worth celebrating.

On a lighter note, I think about all of the fun I had while the band toured this album. I can’t help but be filled with gratitude. Once again, the band was the backdrop for some of the best moments of my life. I can hardly wait to do it all again…and then some. I miss Amanda, Lori and Suzie terribly.  I can’t wait to watch Nick laugh at us, share knowing grins with Simon, maybe even scream for Dom. (Maybe??!) I look forward to seeing friends again and meeting new ones. The band might not be ready just yet, and we may have quite a while to go, but I’ll be ready when the time comes. Will you?

-R

Paper Gods – Which Is Your Favorite?

As I continue to kind of sort out my final thoughts on all things Paper Gods, I’ve been thinking about the album itself.  This album took a while to grow on me.  Amanda and I spoke about it on the way home from San Francisco, and she surmised that this was a ‘thinking person’s’ album.

I think she’s right about that. In my case, it wasn’t an album that reached out and grabbed me, but instead it kind of sat bubbling in my head, percolating away. For what seemed like months, I’d listen to the album on repeat in the car, and then I’d put it away for a bit. Then I’d pull it back out, and listen to it again on repeat. I would think about the lyrics, the meaning, the possible story, and the music itself.

There were a few things about the album that just didn’t sit well with me. I struggled with the idea that Dom was barely on it, for instance. Yeah, I’m loyal. I know he’s not an “official band member”.  Whatever. He’s been with them for so long, it sure feels like he’s official. It bugged me. I wasn’t totally in love with the feel of the album at first, either. It felt very electronic in parts, and oddly un-Duran Duran like in others. I kept listening. I did not want a repeat of Red Carpet Massacre – an album that I never really enjoyed – so I kept at it, trying to bond.

Somewhere along the line, I must have done just that. The songs no longer sound foreign to me. They no longer feel too electronic, or not DD “enough”.  I don’t even think about who played or wrote what song. They feel just right. Even so, I have favorite songs on every single Duran Duran album. I think we all must have tunes we enjoy more than others, and this one is no different. I also think that looking back on this tour has kind of given new meaning to at least a few of the songs I once struggled with.

When I think of Paper Gods though, a few songs come to mind: Pressure Off, Last Night in the City, and What are the Chances. I am certain this is because the band played all of them on tour, and so they come to mind easily. I also think about The Universe Alone, Planet Roaring, and Cinderella Ride. It’s kind of hard to pick a favorite from that list, but in the end it is purely sentiment that drives me.

While I know he didn’t write it, there’s no arguing that Dom owns the guitar solo in What are the Chances when he plays it live. He took something that wasn’t really his and made it so, and the album version is every bit as beautiful, of course. I feel just a teensy bit guilty that I had to remind myself on the way home from San Francisco that John Frusciante actually wrote the guitar part – I’d gotten so used to Dom doing it that I’d forgotten.  I’m not normally a ballad person, but on this album it’s the two ballads (What are the Chances and Cinderella Ride) that I love hearing most when I’m at home.  The words for both ring very close to home for me in completely different ways – which is something I can say for 99% of the album. The lyrics really hit me.

There is a lot to like on this album, and since it’s release, I’ve fallen in love with much of it. It may not have been an album that knocked me over upon first listen, but it is definitely one that made me think, reconsider, and ultimately embrace. It’s been a great ride.

-R