Tag Archives: Tokimonsta

Remember TOKiMONSTA? Here’s why she is a miracle.

I love the internet. I was set to write a simple blog about how two years ago, I was driving north on Interstate 5 in California, headed to Berkeley. Paper Gods was still new, the touring cycle had just begun, and I was freaking excited to be on the road. I knew what I was going to write, the words were readily available in my head, and then I opened my browser to get to Daily Duranie.

Lately, I’ve noticed Daily Duranie has been taking longer to load (on my laptop at home). This is not a site problem, it is a “my laptop is nearly eight years old now and that means it is a complete DINOSAUR” problem. Impatient as usual, I opened Tweetdeck to see if it load properly, which it did. I scanned my timeline and saw something that caught my eye, which led me to an article on Pitchfork about TOKiMONSTA.

For those who don’t recognize the name, TOKiMONSTA was the opening act who toured with Duran Duran last summer in the US. Her real name is Jennifer Lee. Amanda and I sat and watched her a few times at the shows we attended, and while her music is very different from Duran Duran, we liked it. I can remember one show where MNDR came out onstage and sang one of her songs, which I thought was really cool.  I didn’t mind sitting and listening when she came out on stage, and I can remember making a mental note to buy some of her music when I got home. I never did, mainly because life smacked me directly in the face once I got home last summer and I completely forgot about all else in the process. Sound familiar?

So what drove me to click on the Pitchfork article then? Well, it turns out that not long before she toured with Duran last year, Jennifer had brain surgery for a very rare brain disease called Moyamoya. After her surgery, she lost the abilities to walk and talk, and couldn’t even hear music (to her it sounded like noise). So the young woman I saw on stage last summer was a walking, talking, miracle of a DJ.

Somehow, reading the article made me think back on last summer a bit.

I remember how Amanda and I watched her last summer and agreed that she was very quiet. Her music was fine, but she just didn’t address the audience too much beyond that. Reading that article today reflected a completely different side to her sets that I didn’t know existed. Those shows were a triumph for her in every way, which in turn reminds me that we never know for sure what’s really going on backstage.  Amanda and I comment all the time that we fans tend to forget that John, Roger, Nick and Simon are human. They’re not circus animals, they’re people. Turns out, that sentiment might be widespread.

“I think people sometimes forget that artists are human. We all go through really terrible things and face hardships. Being able to play Coachella three months after having the surgery was very significant to me. If I can do something like this, anyone can.” – Jennifer Lee (TOKiMONSTA)

Lune Rouge, the soon-to-be-released third album by TOKiMONSTA, is filled with songs written after her recovery. It is one I am making a note to purchase.

-R

Show Commentary: BB&T Pavilion, Camden NJ

We were fortunate to get a couple of different reviews for the DD show at BB&T Pavilion in Camden NJ – this one coming to us from Cindy Koller.  Thanks so much for sharing, Cindy!! We welcome any and all reviews of DD shows, so if you feel inclined to write – let us know! -R

By Cindy Koller

The dawning of July 21st brought a lot of excitement. I had just returned the night before from a brutal 10 hour drive north from Myrtle Beach. I was ready to have some fun, and I knew the Duran Duran concert would fit the bill nicely, so to speak.

I am a fan of 33 years and this would be my twelfth show over a 29 year span. Duran has never disappointed me and always puts on a great show, so I knew it would be a fantastic night. I gathered two of my Duranie friends and made the 90 minute drive to Camden: a city with “a tricky reputation” as Simon would say later that night.

An additional fun fact was that by a pure happenstance, an old Duranie friend I had not seen since high school was going to be joining us for the show, instead of my son. She has attended many shows over the years, from The Dead to Dave Matthews to John Mayer. She is a regular attendee of the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Yet, she had never seen Duran live. She would bring a whole new realm to my experience that night.

I was actually excited to see CHIC a little more than Duran, as I have liked them since 1979 and had never seen them live. Their music is part of the foundation of my musical taste that would eventually lead me to Duran. I love Nile Rodgers and just could not wait to see him perform with his band.

We arrived at the BB&T Pavilion, and after getting our refreshments, we entered the venue. It is an open air amphitheater, with 7,000 seats under the roof and a large lawn area beyond. I had purchased tickets 5 rows from the stage, on John’s side. I was beyond thrilled! As we walked to our seats, TOKiMONSTA was just finishing her live DJ set. She soon took her bows and my small group chatted while we waited for CHIC.

Chic takes the stage!
Chic takes the stage! Photo courtesy of Cindy Koller

The venue was still half empty as CHIC was announced, but they were nonplussed. And the set they performed was sheer perfection! Nile and his band were tight and obviously loved performing as they put on one hell of a show. Both female singers were great, but the one named Kimberly gave all of us chills! Her voice was so warm and full of soul. Fantastic! They played a few of their hits and launched into a set of hits that Nile had helped pen, like Diana Ross’ I’m Coming Out, Philly’s Sister Sledge’s We Are Family, Daft Punk’s Get Lucky and the highlight, Bowie’s Let’s Dance. CHIC was absolutely phenomenal! I can see why John Taylor says they raise the bar for Duran’s performances.

Another small intermission while CHIC’s gear was broken down was another chance to just enjoy my friends and the atmosphere. CHIC had definitely gotten us in the mood to groove, so by the time the smoke started to emanate around the stage, we were ready to party!

photo courtesy of Cindy Koller
photo courtesy of Cindy Koller

With the first thunder crack, I actually looked behind me, to the lawn area behind, wondering if the bad weather that had been threatened had arrived. But with the next crack and the light flash, I knew it was Duran’s opening. The lights went down and soon I could see some silhouetted figures moving across the stage, one headed right towards us. I watched as John slipped his bass on to his shoulders and I felt the surge of electric excitement as they were about to launch into their set. Paper Gods filled the venue followed by the screams of the crowd. The stage lights came up and we were off!

What Are the Chances. Photo courtesy of Cindy Koller
What Are the Chances. Photo courtesy of Cindy Koller

Now, I will admit I have been one of those fans complaining about the lack of change in the set list. It really hasn’t changed much since the AYNIN tour, but I have to say, it just works. The others with me were thrilled with the song choices, and probably would have been disappointed if “Rio”, “Come Undone”, or “Hungry Like the Wolf” had not been played. I always grouse before the show, but once I’m there, the setlist is golden!

So, needless to say, song after song, I danced my behind off, enjoying the performance masters that are Duran Duran. Nick was still absent, but TOKiMONSTA filled his spot for the first time and she did quite well! Every moment was to be savored and I did my best to do so. It was a warm and humid night, but that did not stop us from singing and dancing along.

Encore time and “Save a Prayer” was dedicated to those who have experienced the craziness in our world today, lost loved ones to the craziness or just feel the world is a frightening place. Terrorism touches us all now and cell phones were held high in solidarity.

photo courtesy of Cindy Koller
photo courtesy of Cindy Koller

Simon bantered with the crowd about Camden, since it is in New Jersey, but is also directly across the Delaware river from Philadelphia. Were we a Philly crowd, or a New Jersey crowd? I still think Philly won the scream vote. He danced and turned and frolicked about the stage, seeming to defy his 57 years. And yes, he caught his tambourine!! (I watched him clock himself with it in 2008 and always hold my breath whenever he throws it.)

Roger was the solid man we all know him to be, his drumming precise and on beat. Dom was his phenomenal self, playing his parts perfectly. Anna and Erin, two fantastic singers in their own rights, were great and loved to get the crowd involved. Simon Willescroft sauntered about the front of the stage for his sax solos. Am I leaving someone out?

JT and Simon Willescroft. Photo courtesy of Cindy Koller
JT and Simon Willescroft. Photo courtesy of Cindy Koller

Oh! John Taylor! Of course I could not forget him! Since we were seated directly in front of his bass speakers (!), every note went right through us. Literally. When he went to his bass synth for Last Night in the City, the others in my party were shocked! Why yes, John now has a synth in his arsenal. He smiled and danced and seemed to be having a fantastic time. The only curiosity was why did he leave his leather jacket on all night? He wore it through the whole set until they reemerged for the encore. The man had to be sweltering! And he had the last words of the night, as he mentioned all of the Philly venues Duran had played in over the years, thanked Philly for “the long fucking journey with Duran” and promised to see us again soon. At least he got city/state the loyalties right!

All in all, it was a fantastic show that was over much too fast.

I asked my high school Duranie friend to give me her impression, as it was her first Duran show. Here are her thoughts (with permission):

“Having the opportunity to finally see Duran Duran live and in person was amazing! Seeing those boys come running out on stage and performing Wild Boys, brought up nostalgic memories of loving this band to the point of obsession. They were fun and energetic, seeming to never slow down! This was a high energy show, with no low points to speak of. I see many concerts, and this show was the most fun I’ve had. Every song delivered the appropriate goose bump effects.”

Funny, even though it was my 12th show, Duran still brings out the goose bumps in me too.

CindyKollerBio
Cindy (white t-shirt), along with friends for the DD show in Camden NJ.

Cindy Koller is a mom of two (raised to be Duranies, of course), that has been a Duran Duran fan since July of 1983. (33 years!) She lives with her husband and teenage kids in Western Chester County, Pennsylvania, about 75 minutes outside of Philadelphia. She is a letter carrier in Kennett Square, PA who is lucky enough to have a TAYLOR Street on her delivery route!

Paper Gods in Camden New Jersey!

By Eileen Teti
After all of the years of seeing Duran Duran, I finally got a VIP package for the Camden New Jersey show! I had hoped for the front row with the back stage tour, but that sold out, so I was happy to get the 2nd row with the cocktail hour and a nice package in the mail.
The day arrived Thursday, and I left work early to get into the parking lot a head of time. Some folks were there tailgating and one fan was playing “Paper Gods”, so I shut my car off as that is what I had on.
 The VIP cocktail hour was great. I met a fan, who like me, had a seat alone, and was it was also her first time doing all of this. I also saw a friend I have not seen in over 20 years, which was great!The food was actually good, with a vegetarian choice of a main dish. We also had a private restroom which came in handy later between Chic and Duran Duran!
 I missed MNDR, my cousin saw her ( I did miss her not sitting with me as usual, she and her hubby were a bit further back) and said she did a good job DJ’ing dance music.
(ed note: we’re a little confused as to whether Tokimonsta or MNDR DJ’ed  and/or played keyboards at this particular show.  There have been a few pictures that seem to show Tokimonsta at the keyboards.)
Now, on to the show. I got to my seat as Chic was being announced. I was super excited to see there was no front row seat in front of my second row seat, and I was closer to the center than I thought; I wound up right in front of Dom when Duran came on.
 I have to say, Nile R. and Chic blew me away!!  I was surprised how many songs he wrote for various artists, and since he produced, “Let’s Dance” by Bowie, they played that as well!  I was super excited when he smiled at me as I was one of the few folks there in my row! He really has a great smile. He mentioned his battle with cancer, and they did “Get Lucky” ; starting off slow, then getting into it! He dedicated it to folks who struggled with cancer as well. They had folks on stage from the audience for their last number “Good Times” and it was neat seeing children and seniors alike up there.
 So next up, was of course Duran Duran. A security guard asked where I was siting when I crept up to the gate as close to the stage as you can get, and I was pleasantly surprised when he said since there was no front row seat in front of mine, I could stay there!
Eileen3Most folks know the set list I am sure by now, so no surprise they opened with Paper Gods, which was fabulous! By “Hungry Like the Wolf” I had my chance to show Simon my sign, “Simon, you still got it!” This was the first time I made a sign and felt like a teenager. He strutted by, looked at it, and smiled at me. Well, I could end this review right here! Somewhere in cyberspace there is a photo of me with it—a photographer took a few of me, but I have no idea who he was with.
The energy of the band was incredible. Being in front of Dom was a treat, he smiles at you the whole time. Like most folks, I was sad Nick could not be there, but MNDR did a fine job, and did not do Nick’s bit on “The Reflex” but had us do that.
Eileen2When Nile Rodgers took the stage, there was a tender moment with Simon as Simon said how they truly love him and they had a hug on stage. It was great seeing him play on stage with the band, and it was cool when he was next to Dom as the ladies near myself and I got another smile from him during “Pressure Off”.
I loved the “New Moon On Monday” thrown in with “Reach up for the Sunrise”. I can’t remember when I heard them play that last, so it was a treat.
 The David Bowie tribute actually made me cry and seeing the beautiful photo of him on the screen was wonderful. Simon also threw a “Little Red Corvette” line  at the end of “Save a Prayer” for Prince. That was also incredible, he talked about the horrible things going on in the world, telling us all to be optimists and have hope.  Saying that if not, “the world will go to shit”. Right on, Simon!
 Being a Philly girl, I loved the exchange Simon had us do with the Jersey folks, he would yell “New Jersey” , then “Philly “, then agreed we were all beautiful people. He then reminded folks that Philly was were Duran played “View to a Kill” live first at Live Aid. John also went on about Philly toward the end of the concert. Yay, Philly!!
Eileen4Anna and Erin were great on vocals. The mike for Simon W.’s sax went in and out during Rio, so I felt bad for him there! This was when the beach balls came out; I did not see them at first; weird thing about being in front; after seeing video of the show, I realized that I did not see a lot of the light show type things as well. I got a shriveled up beach ball to take home to my kids thanks to a security guard. I also loved the confetti for “Pressure Off”. I had read a review of a show where they did not do this; maybe due to the venue? I am so glad they did it here, it was magical.
It really seemed like the band enjoyed themselves on stage. Simon really talked a lot to the crowd and joked around. I saw fans young and old—old as in older than me, so I was impressed, ha ha!!  I love their new album, and so glad they are touring.
Eileen5
 One thing I missed—they played nothing from the previous album, including the title track, “All You Need is Now”. I am assuming they really could not fit it in. I am not upset they are not shaking up the set list much as it was solid. Seeing them so many times, you usually hear something different every tour.
Oh, and lastly, for Rhonda and Amanda, JT did NOT have those track pants on, whew!
Eileen1
Eileen is a big fan of Duran Duran and Daily Duranie is so pleased that she agreed to share her review with us!!

John Taylor in the Kafe!

Wow, I haven’t blogged in forever!  Months, even!  I planned to write a little blog post reflecting my thoughts, feelings and reflections regarding being gone from the blog, writing (or in our case, re-writing) the book, etc.  Fortunately for all of you, John Taylor pushed that blog aside by doing a little video Kafe (or 3!) in the members only section of DuranDuranMusic.  I suffered through (ha!) the videos and will share my thoughts about a few of the highlights here.  As always, I’m sure you all want to watch all of the videos yourself so make sure you are a member and head on over to DDM to see them. I should also point out that most of this Kafe consists of John answering questions sent via Twitter.

Personal Questions:

Book and CD for Summer:  John recommended the book, Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, which he describes as a “techno adventure story” with a “history of video games” and a bit of 80s culture.  Simon is now reading it as well.  Personally, this book has popped up a lot for me on recommended lists.  Maybe now is the time to check it out.  As for CD, he recommends d angelo.

Inspiration:  John broke this question down into musical inspiration and personal inspiration.  For musical inspiration, he looks to other musicians like Miles Davis.  Personal inspiration, he turns to his family, especially his parents to remind him to “do the right thing” and “be kind”.

Birthday Memory:  For John, he remembers understanding what a birthday is around 4 or 5 when people came over for a party in their backyard (or back garden in the UK).  He got a yellow truck and had cake!  Aww….

10 People at a Dinner Party:  He hates questions like this and calls it loaded, which I can understand why.  What if he doesn’t include someone?  What if he includes someone people don’t like?  He went with his family, the band and their significant others.  Katy forced him to remove the band, since he sees them all the time.  He said he would like to have his grandparents as he only knew one.  I can relate to that as I only really knew one grandparent (my mother’s mother) and have only vague memories of my grandpa (my mother’s father).  Yet, I never knew my dad’s parents at all and really wish I did being that they were immigrants from Poland and would have fascinating stories to share.

Go back in time to change something:  In general, he really wouldn’t as everything in his life led him to today as he is now very happy.  That said, he wished that he played more sports as a kid and didn’t skip school so much.  He doesn’t understand why he hated being in the classroom so much since he loves learning now.  As a teacher, I wished that he knew and could it explain it to me!  Maybe then I could figure out how to hook my kids who don’t want to come to class.

Now, before I move on to the band related questions, I wanted to just comment on how much I enjoyed his responses on these questions.  I smiled a lot and found myself agreeing quite a bit.  I didn’t as much when it came to the second type of questions.  (Hint:  This is a little foreshadowing.)

Band Related Questions:

Working with Nile and Bernard:  John reiterated statements about working with the two guys from Chic.  He called Nile “enthusiastic” and “supportive”.  Bernard was more “reserved” but “put him at ease”.

The Chauffeur (album version) or The Chauffeur (acoustic demo):  He likes the bass on the acoustic but the album version is a “masterpiece”.

Fondest video memory:  John talked about filming in the videos in Sri Lanka, stating that they had an amazing time.  He mentioned a “beautifully lit” scene at night as they rode an elephant through a city street.  Now, tell me that I’m not the only one seriously wishing that there was a DVD with deleted scenes from their videos?!

After the tour:  He plans for the Paper Gods Tour to last until next year as he hopes to take the tour to South America, Asia and the rest of Europe.  I, of course, am glad to hear that as there are many fans who haven’t had a chance to see them yet and would really like to!  He also said that he hoped the musical that he is working on with Nick gets to the next level.  Exciting!!!!

Most challenging new song:  Most of them he has got down by now, but he probably makes a few wrong notes a night on Last Night in the City since he is playing a synth and Paper Gods and Pressure Off are both “tricky”.  That said, he described What Are the Chances as a “deeply fucking felt emotional song” that he loves playing and loves to hear Simon sing.  Aww…Then, he states that they would love to add more but they are actually cutting the setlist some as the shows will be 90 minutes for this next leg since they will be playing with Chic and Tokimonsta.  Okay.  Here is where I wished he said more and explained it so that I could understand.  Why is there a time limit exactly?  If the venue requires a cut off time, why not move up the start time to play more?  Will they play longer at shows that Tokimonsta isn’t playing at?  Why have three artists on the bill?  Speaking only for myself, I am going to shows to hear Duran Duran play.  I want them to play as long as possible and I don’t think I’m alone in that.  As a customer, I want to feel like I’m getting my money’s worth.  I know that is already a lot of grumbling within the fan community about the shorter sets, lack of variety and the expensive tickets.  This statement doesn’t help.

Would you let the fans decide the setlist:  One of the things about the job that he really loves is building a show and trying to figure out what song works where, next to what, etc. and that he wouldn’t want to let that go.  I can understand that.  I wouldn’t want to let go of a lot of the things we do here, if readers asked to take over.  I get control freaks.  😀  Then, he goes on to say that it would be a lot of work to get songs ready to be played for a fan made list.  Speaking again for myself, while I get that, I also think the pay off would be great!  People would come out in droves for fan created set lists!  Heck, maybe, they don’t want to do an entire set that way, but would about having fans pick out five or six songs that can be rotated in?  I just think it would build committed fans’ enthusiasm, make for better shows and probably sell more tickets.

As someone who has tickets to a lot of shows and who was using the summer tour to reward hard work we did on writing our book, I want to be excited for the shows.  Yet, it is hard to after hearing about the shorter setlist or the lack of variety in songs.  The thing is that I know myself.  I know that if I go into a show being a little less excited, it affects how much fun I have and how good the show is.  Past experience has taught me that.  I want to go in being as excited as possible.  It will help me but it will help those around me be excited, too.  The optimist in me hopes that they rethink these decisions between now and the start of the US date.

 

-A