Jan. 19th, 2016

clhollandwriter: (marchin)
In December I took my reluctant boyfriend to see Duran Duran in concert (we made a deal involving Fallout 4). Even though it was the same hall, it was a very different experience to when I saw them in 1994 and 1997. Back then was before the renewed hype of the reformed original line-up, and Andy Taylor's second departure. In fact, I deliberately chose not to go and see them when they re-formed. In part it was due to the cost (I was a student at the time) and partly because it was clear even then from their performances on TV that there was strain between Andy and the others.

At the earlier concerts the hall was standing only with balcony seats. I got there early and picked out where I wanted to stand - and didn't move from that spot all night. At the first concert I was close enough to the stage to make eye contact with and get a smile from John Taylor, and make eye contact with (but no smile from) Nick Rhodes. Those of us close enough to the front also got drenched when Simon Le Bon decided to throw a bottle of water over the crowd. They usually play a left-field album track or B-side. In 1994 it was "Friends of Mine" from the first album, which left me with an appreciation for the layers of keyboards I'd missed before. In 1997 it was B-side "Secret Oktober" and the only people singing along where I stood were me and a six foot plus bloke built like a brick shithouse. The dancing and singing didn't stop all evening.

This time around the hall was fully seated for some reason. The aging demographic maybe? Although I did see a family with two children under ten. This time around I was on the balcony, directly opposite the stage. This was partly due to the venue cocking up when they told us the costs of the different seating areas (they got the most and least expensive the wrong way round) and the cost itself - twice as much to be down the front as at the back, and the tickets sold out fast.

The people at the front abandoned their chairs early and didn't sit again from what I could see. We appeared to be in the middle of a group of grumpy middle-aged men who were only there because their wives wanted to come. They stood but didn't dance, apart from the guy next to me who appeared to be the fan in that couple - he certainly knew more of the songs than his partner did. I became that fan - sang along to everything, and stood up regardless of what the people behind me were doing. Although even I sat out the utter turd that's "Danceophobia".

In fact, sitting down seemed to be the order of the day when if came to the new album. After the first couple of new tracks, people on the balcony just sat down for the new stuff. To be honest, Paper Gods isn't a great album - too much emphasis on dance tracks, and I say that as someone who loved the hip-hop influenced Red Carpet Massacre. When one of your selling points is your bass player it's probably not a good idea to play tracks that have him penned behind a dinky keyboard instead of leaping around the stage with his usual gusto.

The left-field choice this time around was "Love Voodoo" from The Wedding Album, which was a pleasant surprise. Most of the rest of the balcony didn't appear to know the words, and I was starting to suspect they were lost with everything released after 1984. Another surprising choice was to "blow their load early" (as my boyfriend put it) by following opener "Paper Gods" with "The Wild Boys", "A View to a Kill" and "Hungry Like the Wolf".

There were, on the whole, too many tracks from the new album and not enough from the middle of their recording history. Although to be honest I don't really blame them for skipping everything that came out between Big Thing (1988) and Astronaut (2004), except tracks from their comeback The Wedding Album and the ever-popular cover of "White Lines". There were some truly dreadful albums in that period. Skipping "The Reflex" was an odd - and disappointing - choice. In fact, Seven and the Ragged Tiger didn't make an appearance at all apart from a brief seque from "(Reach Up For the) Sunrise" into "New Moon on Monday" and back again.

It was enjoyable, but being so far from the action I didn't really feel as engaged with the shows as in previous years. This probably wasn't helped by bunged up hearing from a cold I was getting over, but in all honesty I think the balcony's a bit far removed from the action for me. Maybe next time they should corral all the middle-aged partners onto the balcony together, so all the real fans can party down the front.

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