I had every intention of getting this second part done sooner rather than later but real life came up. While I could go into detail about that, instead, I’ll just move on to the second part.
And So We Travel…
After we found out the show in Minnesota was not going to happen and processed the best we could, we considered our plans. Part of us wished that we could get on the road right away as there was no reason to stay. Unfortunately, neither one of us was that excited to drive through the middle of nowhere, through the possibility of rain in the dark. Therefore, we did the next best thing–committed to leaving early in the morning. If we could get a head start, then, we would not feel as rushed once we got into Chicago.
I’m happy to report that the drive back from Minnesota to Illinois was far less stressful than the way up was. The weather was a million times better and we opted to hit more expressway driving, even if it took us out of the way a bit. I’ll be honest. The drives, while long, were some of the highlights of the trip for me. I love having good conversations, which varied from teaching woes to politics to Duran and everything in between.
Despite our early departure and smooth ride into downtown Chicago (a rarity!), we still didn’t get there that early. We had hoped that we might be able to at least sneak in a nap but no luck. We had enough time to catch our breaths and get ready. At least, that night, we knew that we would get a show!
We Are Pinned to an Evening
The United Center is HUGE. I knew that but I think I kind of forgot. Maybe it is because I have not been in that many crowded places in the last couple of years. I did go to a Brewers game last summer but this felt different to me. The main entrances are on the floor with sections in the 100s. While there are floors above and a floor below, this is the floor with the most people. People were, of course, milling around, getting food and drinks, taking pictures in front of the huge Duran sign and standing in line for merch. Nat and I decided not to play around and got in line for merch right away. After all, we didn’t want to have something sell out. (This was a smart move as some merch did sell out that night.) Once purchases were secured, we tried to contact people there. The only people we really saw were my cousin and his wife. We had a lot to catch up on and it was nice to see them. (Fun fact: I drove my cousin nuts with my Duranie-ness as a kid. I love the fact that his wife loves the band. She went with me to a couple of shows in 2011 and now tries to get to any show she can. My cousin blames me. I will take that credit.) Anyway, while I adored seeing them, I am sad that we were not able to meet up with many other people. That venue is simply too big for any sort of real meet up. ?
The Thoughts Come Flooding Back
*SETLIST SPOILER WARNING*
How was the show itself?! Before I get to Duran, I do have a couple of comments on the openers. The show started with a DJ, White Shadow. He basically did a mix of mostly 80s tracks and definitely was better than many other DJs I have seen at Duran shows in the past. That being said, I’m not sure I understand his logo (a crown) but whatever. While I thought his song selection was decent, some of the “songs” were too long. However, the bigger thing is that I don’t really get why the DJ was necessary. To be fair, I didn’t know that a DJ was going to be there. It just made more and more anxious for the real show to start. I’ll be honest that I wasn’t feeling the best that night and I hated being in a building that holds tens of thousands of people with maybe 1% of us wearing masks. Anyway, I started to feel a little better when Chic performed. They played a different setlist than they had in the past and it messed with my head a bit. As much as I complained in the past about the predictability of their set, I found myself missing it!
Soon enough, at about 9:02, the lights went down and Velvet Newton began. Since this was the beginning of the North American portion of the “tour,” I had no idea what they were going to play, for the most part. Don’t get me wrong. I had done my homework and knew what songs they were likely to play based on European shows but nothing was guaranteed. So what did I think of the setlist? Here’s how it turned out: 4 new songs, 4 songs from the self-titled debut, 4 songs from Rio, 4 songs from 1984-1986, and 3 songs from 1993-1995. This means that there was nothing played from 1996-2021. Don’t get me wrong. There was much I adored about the setlist. I loved that Careless Memories came back. Friends of Mine before Careless Memories was more than ideal. So thankful that Planet Earth with the intros was included. Then, there is Hold Back the Rain, a song that was essential after the rainout the day before. Were there songs that I wished they didn’t play? Yes. I would have preferred Sunrise, for example, over White Lines. I would switch out Union of the Snake for the Reflex. That being said, I cannot really complain. Honestly, I am just glad that I could see them perform again. Then, on top of that, they had such tremendous energy that it didn’t matter what they played. I remember checking the time after Planet Earth, figured that they were getting ready for an encore but they kept playing song after song after song. They played almost two hours, longer than they had in years. I’ll take whatever song live I can get.
As we walked out that night, I remember feeling a wave of emotion. It felt like a lifetime since I had seen them last. So much has happened since then…I changed careers, got diagnosed with a chronic illness, left behind people who don’t support me, and worked hard to get some necessary balance and self-acceptance in my life. You know what hasn’t changed? Duran Duran and my love for them. They are a constant.
We Are Music Lovers
After the show, there was no big party for me. Not only were we exhausted from traveling but I still was not feeling well. In all honesty, the show took a lot out of me. Luckily the next morning, we met up with some Duranie friends for brunch. We had a nice conversation, over yummy food, at a cute neighborhood restaurant. It was nice to meet a couple of people for the first time in person and nice to see others who I have not seen in years. It reminded me that the band and fandom really can bring people together. It was a definite highlight of the trip. Frankly, I wish that we had more time to have gotten together with people than we did. If I had known that the Minnesota trip wasn’t going to happen, we could have set up more gatherings in Chicago. Maybe that will be the plan next time!
While there definitely was some salt to the trip, most notably the rain out, there were also some rainbows. I loved getting to know my friend, Nat, better. The conversations we had throughout the weekend meant the world to me. I do love that we were able to see friends like Lisa, Jennifer, Sandra, Saundra, Erin and my cousins, Kathy and Doug. No, the mini-tour was not a wild and crazy affair but I am so glad of that. I’m not sure that my body could have handled it. It was a tour that reminded me of what really matters: friendships, acceptance and a band that I love. Right now, that is all I need.❤️