UK vs. US and the Ideal Show

Since attending my first UK show in Brighton a little over a week ago, people have asked me if I prefer to see shows in the UK or the US.  I think they would like a simple, quick answer.  Unfortunately, I don’t really have one.  I have learned about what kind of experience I prefer to have over the course of this tour and previous tours.  In most cases, my preferences have little to do with the location.  That said, I’m willing to admit that there were some differences between the two.

Rhonda and I have been saying that we need to write a book with the title, “Things We Have Learned on Tour”.  In this book, we would have a whole chapter, at least, dedicated to what makes an ideal show experience FOR US.  Those last two words are key.  Elements that we desire might not be what everyone desires.  Nonetheless, we have been able to determine what makes an ideal show after seeing Duran perform in various locations over the course of years.  Our ideal show starts out pretty simple.  We need to have good seats.  (Disclaimer:  We have been very lucky to have had many “good” seats and realize that not everyone has had this experience or can have this experience.)  So, what do I mean about good seats?  When I first started touring, I would have said that good seats include any seat within 20 rows of the stage, on either side, as long as they are too far off to the side.  I have been fortunate in that I have been able to get seats that fit that description through DDM, the fan club.  Now, though, my opinion has changed.  We had good seats for this tour.  In most cases, this is partly due to our willingness to spend a lot for them and the fact that we got tickets after they had gone on sale so we could be really picky before purchasing.  On this tour, we had 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows.  The 2nd row seats were the best and not just because they were the closest but because they were in the middle.  We could see everyone and everything happening on the stage.  When you are off to a side, this becomes a lot more difficult.  For Rhonda and I, this is the ideal setting.  She can watch Dom and I can watch John.  We are both happy, especially since so much of the show happens more in the middle.  Thus, we have now been spoiled and will have a hard time not going after seats like this again.  They were worth the money.

The second element we need for an ideal setting is a good crowd, in both a large sense and in a smaller sense.  We need the whole venue to be into it or at least willing to be into it!  At the Brighton show, for example, people did not stand much during the first song but then jumped to their feet for the second song and stayed there.  They got into it even if it took a minute.  On the other hand, Bournemouth’s crowd sat down A LOT.  This is unacceptable to me.  Yes, Duran suffered from technical difficulties during this show.  That said, they might have been better able to regroup if the crowd was good.  Yet, for Rhonda and I, we also need a good crowd around us.  We need our area of the venue to be especially into it.  For both Brighton and Glasgow, especially, we were surrounded by friends.  The show then became like a large party.  We could share the intense, funny, or cool moments together.  We could then feed off of each other’s energy to intensify our fun! 

For a long time, I focused on show elements that a lot of people focus on:  the venue and the setlist.  People want small venues and they want new and exciting setlists.  While I, too, would appreciate a more intimate setting (as long as there are assigned seats!) and a varied setlist, I have discovered that those don’t matter as much as the other elements of good seats and good crowds.  The most boring setlist can become a lot of fun with the right people and with a band that is full of energy!  Goodness, even Rhonda learned to appreciate Hungry Like the Wolf!  I found new excitement over songs like the Reflex this time.  The setlists, I think, become more important if those other elements of good seats and good crowds are missing.  The same is true for the venue.  I figure that the venue doesn’t matter much if I have good seats.  The largest arena in the world can feel small when you are 2nd row!  Then, in fact, if the crowd is good, it becomes a real party of 10,000 people!  For example, when everyone at the SECC in Glasgow was clapping to Leopard in unison, the echo of the claps was overwhelming. 

This, of course, brings me back to the original question.  Which is better:  the UK or the US?  In many ways, for me, it isn’t about the country as my ideal show can take place in either location.  Right now, the best concert I have ever seen in the one in Glasgow because of those parts I mentioned earlier.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t have the same experience in the US because I think it is possible.  Of course, I can acknowledge that there are differences beyond those aspects I have already discussed.  One thing I thought was weird in the UK is how far back from the stage, the seats started.  There was a walkway for photographers, then there was a barricade.  I would have thought that first row would have started at that barricade.  Nope.  There was still more space before the seats began.  I think that makes less seats “good” at least with my definition.  That said, I found the non-US fans to be refreshing.  Many of them have been friends for not just years but decades.  Duran brought many of them together and they haven’t lost their friendships in the quest to one up each other that I observe in the US.  For me, that felt nice to not have to worry about what other fans are saying, thinking or doing like I feel like I have to do here.  One thing I did miss, though, is the after parties that typically take place after shows in the US.  I didn’t see as many people doing that after shows in the UK.  🙁

Yet, obviously, traveling to the UK is very expensive and requires a lot of money and a serious amount of time to do it right.  Thus, while I hope to go back to the UK for a convention or for shows, it won’t be the standard touring location.  It just can’t be.  This makes me appreciate our experience more as it was special.  I had such a fabulous time and learned a lot about what is an ideal show for me.  All I can do now is save money to do shows the right way, no matter which country they take place in.


6 thoughts on “UK vs. US and the Ideal Show”

  1. It's interesting comparing crowd reaction. I have seen DD play in three countries (4 – USA, 2 – NZ and 7 – Australia). Every nation definitely has a dfferent vibe. I enjoyed some places more than others.

  2. Oh Downunder definitely. I suspect it's because the band tour there so seldom that the fans are really grateful and there to have fun. There's far more fun interaction, rather than competition, between fans. 🙂

  3. Initially we purchased all of the tickets we'd bought through DDM during their presales – and we ended up with some of those tickets that way. However, when the shows were postponed and rescheduled, we ended up having to sell some of the tickets and then buy new ones – and we did that through a variety of methods. I think the funniest thing about all of our seats was that even though we weren't in the same row each night, we always ended up pretty much right in front of Dom, which was NOT planned at all. It just ended up that way…bizarrely enough. -R

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