The Durham show… By special request I am going to attempt to review this show more fully. I’ll be honest, blogging at 4:30 in the morning isn’t one of my strongpoints. When I tried to sit down and summarize the show, all I could really remember was being in front at the rail. Pathetic, and I know thats not what people need or want to read. I tried to think of other points, but my mind was completely blank. Normally when that happens I rest my head on my kitchen table (its as good of a desk as any!!), and somehow the coolness of the wood draws decent ideas out of my head, through my fingers and into the keyboard. That wasn’t happening on my hotel bed, so I gave up. Unacceptable, I know…lesson learned.
Prior to the show, Daily Duranie helped to sponsor a pre-show meetup at the West End Wine Bar, located just a few blocks from the DPAC. This meetup would not have been possible without the concerted efforts of Karen Booth and Kim Buchanan, so we want to be sure to send our heartfelt thanks to both of these incredible women. Amanda and I are particularly proud of this gathering, as approximately 100 Duranies descended upon the bar that night. The bar was fabulous, accommodating us by playing the Diamond in the Mind DVD, Duran music over the stereo, and even a couple of fantastic (and yummy!) Duran themed cocktails on the menu that night. Everyone who took the time to attend seemed to have a great time meeting other fans and grabbing drinks and a bite to eat before the show. By the time we needed to leave for the DPAC, the Duranies were ready to continue the party with their favorite band.
The venue itself is gorgeous. Although completely modern, DPAC’s theater is built using acoustical guidelines that have been around for centuries, utilizing deep set balconies and a large open orchestra that allows sound waves to properly mix and mingle. While our particular seats were off to the side in front of the speakers (they actually handed ear plugs to Amanda and I as we were seated, something I’ve never had happen before.), I would say that there were very few, if any, bad seats in the house, although ours weren’t the best. Two seats farther to the center and we would have been fine…and yes, those ear plugs were probably necessary.
When Duran Duran took the stage, the applause was thunderous with certain potential for more. Definitely a crowd the band could work with, which surprised me a bit considering that this venue, as many others on this tour, sold many of their tickets to a venue subscriber base. Potentially many people in the audience that night had no recent or prior experience with Duran Duran. As I mentioned, our seats weren’t great. Since they were so off to the side, I’d made up my mind to use the show as a vehicle for photography practice, and crowd watching. I was curious as to how the band would respond to the crowd and vice-versa. About five songs into the set, my plans were abruptly changed for the better.
My friend was down at the rail and recognized Amanda and I sitting back a few rows. We waved back and forth, and unbeknownst to me at the time,the gentleman next to her asked if she thought we’d want to go to the front. There was plenty of room, even though the first few rows already had their place(s) at the stage. She waved us down there, and so we went! The next thing I knew, I was directly in front of Dom Brown’s microphone. Admittedly, that’s where the memories from the night start to grow fuzzy. Have I mentioned that I might just be a Dom girl?
I won’t bore anyone with the details of my white knuckling the rail for the first few minutes I stood there, or how I forced myself to dance and move even though my feet felt like lead. (Note to self: no more wearing heels to shows. Your feet hate them and you’re not a kid anymore. Deal with it.). This is where I run into a dilemma as Daily Duranie, because of COURSE I want to shout from the rooftops about how exhilarating it was to have Dom bend down and play the guitar in my face. Who wouldn’t? My problem is that as much as I think it’s important to share and acknowledge those feelings – we are in fact fans and yes, I felt like I was melting into a puddle on the floor that night – I also know of the side effects that happen in this fan community when such issues and comments are made. All I can say is that like many of you, I have waited thirty years to finally have front row. I recognize how incredibly lucky I am to have experienced it not once, but twice in one week. I know that at least one person will mention that I shouldn’t have been up there, and yes – you are probably right. I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t seen the man next to my friends gesturing for Amanda and I to take his spot, but ultimately I did decide to go. I don’t know how many of you would or would not have done the same – and in hindsight I’m not sure it matters. I will say though that I have zero regrets for doing so. I had the time of my life up there. I would like to believe that our readers could share in my excitement without ridicule, but I also know that might not be possible. It may not ever happen again for me, and so unlike Biloxi, I made the most of the experience. So much so that Amanda felt certain I was going to need oxygen during Sunrise (Go ahead and laugh…she did!!), but that is neither here nor there….and I managed not to have a stroke.
Of course those events likely had an effect on how I viewed the show from that point on. One thing I can say for certain is that there are some shows that build slowly from a reasonable beginning to a proper crescendo. There are other shows that start off as an explosion, never settling. Some shows start off great and then fall apart. There are others that feel more like a roller coaster with plenty of hills and valleys. Then there are shows that just seem to stay flat…and those are the most difficult to get into. Thankfully, this show fits into the first category. It seemed to build slowly, gaining strength and power with each song. Where I had previously felt that the show lagged and muddled through Union of the Snake – this time the tempo felt right. The crowd grew with intensity through The Reflex, Notorious, and even when new songs like Safe and Girl Panic were played, the audience didn’t start to die as in previous shows. I kept turning around (Yes, I really did peel my eyes away from Dom – it wasn’t easy but I did it!) to see the balconies reaction, and was pleased to see bodies bouncing and dancing as though they’d known these songs as long as they’d known Hungry Like the Wolf. This show even had a few very poignant moments. Just prior to Save A Prayer, Simon explained that the band dedicated the performance to “a dear sister in the Duran Duran family”, who had passed away earlier in the year. This was in reference to Sandy Ahrens. I know Sandy’s friends were in readily thankful for the dedication, and all I could do was think of her empty chair that night. I’m lucky to have my best friend by my side for nearly every show and I can’t even imagine what I’d do without her. We celebrated our 20th show that we’ve attended together the next night in Portsmouth – and I easily say that I am hoping for at least 20 more!!
Another special moment came during the introduction to Ordinary World. This is a song that I do wonder about from time to time. Many Duranies have mentioned via Facebook, Twitter or even on message boards over the years that they feel it is time to retire the song for a bit, and Simon seemed to sense this. He took a moment to explain just how special and important the song is for the band. He described how Duran Duran was hanging by the thinnest of threads at the time, and how the band could have easily disappeared into the depths of oblivion, but this song somehow magically saved them. I need to be honest, I hadn’t thought of it from the bands point of view before. Right then I made mental note never to complain about the song again. It has a renewed sense of youth to me now…and all because Simon took the time to explain. He sang the song beautifully that night as always, but this time it had just a little more emotion. Other songs resonated as well. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dom play White Lines better. (or closer…) Sure, that Wolf is still alive and well, and yeah I sang along. I still adore Wild Boys with Relax, and Sunrise has even more power now than It did during the Astronaut tour. Opening the show with Before the Rain is easily among the smartest decisions the band has ever made, and I think Simon does an amazing job with it every single night. He just never misses a single note and I think it’s fantastic the way the band allows him those first few moments “alone” with the audience. The “big” song of this particular night though had to be Girls on Film, and specifically the band intros within. On this night, each band member (including Dom, Anna and Simon Willescroft) did quite a solo when they were introduced. This is the shot each of them gets to show off their own talents – and they did so with gusto. In the past I’ve never loved the intros that much. They seemed to just waste time that could be spent playing another number, but not so in Durham. They were spectacularly done, each one seeming to up the ante for the next. By the time Simon was introduced by a member of the audience, the entire audience was ready to finish the night off with Rio. Out of the shows I saw (Biloxi, Atlanta, Durham and Portsmouth), Rio rocked the hardest here and the band left the audience wanting more, just as they should!
I often blog about the concert “high”. There aren’t many shows that bring me to both tears of sadness AND joy, but this one achieved the mark. One might think that after seeing so many shows over the years – this was number 30 for me personally – and seeing the same basic setlist so many times during a tour, that the high would be gone. The truth is that while it might not come very often, when it does – it’s incredible. The high is so addictive that we continue to go to shows, hoping to feel it one more time. Thanks to the band for the show of my life that night!!