Here is another take on last week’s shows! -R
By Dee R.
On Thursday August 19th 2021, my friend Jane and I met for the first time since Christmas 2019. As we stood on a busy street, saying our goodbyes after spending an afternoon catching up, we discussed what we would like to happen with Duran Duran as far as future live shows were concerned. We considered that given the events of the past 18 months, nothing was certain anymore, but we decided that a small venue in Birmingham (close enough for both of us to attend) would be the dream gig to celebrate 40+ years of the band.
Four days later, Monday 23rd August, much to our shock and delight, the dream came true when two shows at the O2 Institute in Birmingham were announced.
Jane successfully did battle in the members’ presale the following day and tickets for herself, her friend Julia and myself were secured for Tuesday 14th September.
The three week wait until the concert passed in the blink of an eye, compared to the six months between ticket purchase and gig for my first ever Duran show at the Genting Arena in 2015! Show day arrived and after negotiating the streets of Digbeth to find parking, we took our places in the queue. From the entrance of the Institute, around the corner into a side street, the line seemed to go on for miles, those of us already in the queue and those walking past us to join the end of it, were all equally shocked at the ever-growing line of people and wondering how we would all fit into the venue. Seagulls swam in the grey sky above us and as our part of the queue reached the Bulls Head pub on the corner, a snake greeted us – “Union of the Snake” playing out of the pub’s open doors.
Once in the venue, things did not go as planned, but worked out better than expected, due to queuing and seating policies around disabled access and Jane, Julia and myself being separated. Not helped by my data running out and phone battery on low power, the plan to message and find one another once inside went a little awry, but thanks to Julia’s persistence we were once again united and in better seats than any of us dreamed of!
Forty five minutes late to the stage, Duran were everything I expected and more – Opening with ‘Invisible’, they performed the classics, a couple of unexpected songs – ‘Perfect Day’ and ‘Friends of Mine’ plus ‘Anniversary’ and an unheard song ‘Tonight United’ from the new album.
Simon was full of energy from the start and it was fun to be nearer to the stage than last time as I was able to pick up on gestures and exchanges between band members: Simon’s slight hand gesture to Dom to move into the light whilst he was playing, due to the right side of the stage being quite poorly lit; John’s amused shake of the head to correct Simon when he went into the second verse of ‘Anniversary’ a little too soon. Both Simon and Anna Ross commented on how dark the right side of the stage was when they were together upfront for Come Undone and Simon turned the negative into a positive, complimenting Anna: “But it makes you all the more impressive when you come out into the light!”. New backing singer Rachael moved into the light for a little dance (was it Notorious?), enjoying herself and getting into the music.
The audience loved every minute and I sang every word of every song. This time it was more fun as I was there with friends, as opposed to the Paper Gods tour when I wasn’t yet part of the fan community (thank you Rhonda and Amanda for being my intro into that!)
Simon’s exit from the stage was amusing, allowing his bandmates to leave whilst he remained, bowing repeatedly, then turning around in mock shock to realise he was now alone and exclaiming wide-eyed to the audience ‘’They’ve gone!”, then scampering offstage.
But this was by no means the end of the story. Next day Jane and I returned to the city centre to meet up with friend Astrid who had flown in from Germany on Wednesday morning to see the second of the two shows that night. Jane and I both met Astrid as we had met each other, on the Daily Duranie forum. We spent a relaxed afternoon chatting in a coffee shop and then on Thursday, Astrid and I headed out to Hollywood, Birmingham as she had mentioned her plans to see where Nick and John had grown up before she returned home on Friday.
Those two days were the perfect accompaniment to the show on Tuesday night and made me feel that I had united with something more than just a band and their music, I had united with people I didn’t know five years ago and that is something to be appreciated and celebrated along with the band’s 40+ years.
And if anyone tells you that you are crazy for spending your money on this band and taking off to concerts at a moment’s notice, here is a little something Astrid said to me that you might want to remember:
“You are not a crazy person, you are a spontaneous person!”
Dee R lives in the West Midlands, England and started her relationship with Duran Duran when she first heard Careless Memories on BBC Radio One back in 1981 and it’s been an off and on (but mostly on) relationship ever since.