Friday, January 14, 2005

Just keep it coming

by Suw on January 14, 2005

It's a strange thing, being a Duran Duran fan, especially if you're old enough to have been there in the beginning (even if you didn't start to actually like them until they became deeply unpopular and therefore, with new underdog status, allowable targets for the strange and perversely-minded). I keep expecting Simon le Bon or Nick Rhodes or John Taylor or Roger Taylor to start looking old and a bit crap. (Andy Taylor's not on the list because, as a chinless wonder, he always looked a bit crap and these days he just looks like a smaller, weedier version of Robert Smith.) Yet they keep turning up looking damn hawt, if you ask me. Ok, so Duran Duran have had their off-years, but right now, they are definitely on.
Hammersmith Palais. Nice venue – never been there before, but I definitely now think it's one of the better venues in London. Just had a nice vibe. Nice sort of size too. There was only me, Kate and about 2,000 other people there so it felt like a party in my front room, compared to the barns we usually see them in. Standing at the back at the Palais felt pretty much like standing at the front at Wembley or the CIA.
So… a small, intimate gig with a band that will in May be playing on a football pitch (a gig which will undoubtedly sell out) and a crowd of devoted fans the vast majority of whom were 'in the demographic'. I'm not telling you precisely what the demographic is, because I'm a part of it, but it's the sort that says please and thank you, who can remember Itsy and Bitsy, and who are secretly relieved that the gig ends before 10 and that the cloakroom queue isn't too long.
In short, people who should not still be screaming like the giddy teenagers they were in 1984 at a bunch of men who have been round the block so many times they've worn a rut in the pavement. But my ears are still ringing. I can't say that I have ever heard so much noise from so many people in such a small space. The screaming actually pulsated. It was like ultrasound. And I have a suspicion it may have shattered one of my fillings.
The gig was, as were last year's, fucking amazing. Those guys have so much chemistry that it just oozes off them and drowns the crowd in waves of pheromones. You could only get tickets through the fan club or by listening to BBC Radio 2, so the atmosphere was great, full of real love and enthusiasm. I hate gigs where people stand around trying to look cool – a common curse in London – but at Duran gigs like this no one gives a flying fuck. We all just sing along and have a laugh and bop happily along with our friends (we're too old to dance per se). In fact, I was singing so loudly I came out croaking. I haven't done that in years! Great fun!
The gig was recorded for broadcast by Radio 2 on Sat 29 Jan, so I will record it, rip it, and it will be the first Duran gig that I've been to that I also have a boot of. I noticed (again) that a whole load of people had cameraphones, and many people were recording individual songs as little movies. I wish there were a way to gather together and share all these little movies to create a mosaic of the gig from different vantage points. It seems sad to me that that opportunity will be lost just because there is no focal point where people can share them.
Maybe there's an idea in that – a phone camera movie swap site. Or maybe that's already been done and I just don't know about it because I don't have a phone that can do that sort of thing.
Anyway, ace night out. They played a lot of new stuff, a lot of old stuff, and a wee bit from the stuff inbetween. JT continues to blow me away with his bass, which was delightfully loud tonight. He is – I've said it before and I'll say it again – one of the great lost bass geniuses of our time. I say lost because no one ever appreciates how beautifully melodic and complex his lines are, or the skill with which he plays them, because of the fact that he's pretty and in Duran Duran. As a bassist (ex-bassist now, I suppose), I have always adored the way that he writes. I don't know if he has a new rig, but the bass sounded bloody delightful today – could feel it running up from my heels through my spine the whole evening. Just delicious.
And the more I see Duran play live, the more I love Simon's voice. I know he used to have a bit of a bad reputation for having a crappy, out of tune voice, but I don't remember having heard him hit a bum note in years. Instead his voice has matured and strengthened, become richer, more emotive, more haunting. Hearing him sing Ordinary World is always sends tingles over my skin. It's just beautiful.
I just hope that Duran Duran's latest album, Astronaut, goes well. It really is a great album, with some gorgeous tracks on, and if you're a fan of Ordinary World or Come Undone then there is a lot on Astronaut that you'll like.

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