It’s 3 A.M. on the eve of a major election in the U.S. and I find myself randomly focusing on a subject that I’ve thought a lot about on and off since I was a kid.
So I’m gonna riff a little on the subject.
I suppose I’m just worn out from the noise and and am returning to ever-familiar things that give me comfort. Who knows? Maybe it’s because I am friendly with some folks who are close to the band who’ve reminded me that 2019 will mark the 40th anniversary of their founding. I am assured great things are in store for all Durannies in the coming year, and I don’t doubt that for a second.
For even in their darkest days, they have never failed to deliver. Of course some moments have been better than others–I do remember seeing them live in the ’90s (when it was really just Simon Le Bon and Nick Rhodes sucking wind in a weird white box sort of stage set) and leaving out of pure sadness–but I’ve yet to see anything that could be described as “crap” from this lot. Forty crap-free years is quite an accomplishment, no? If you can honestly say that you have been entirely crap-free for 40 years then you are someone I want to know. Personally AND professionally.
I also recall being in the audience at Washington, D.C.’s Warner Theater in 2005 when the band managed to pull itself together for a (sadly) short-lived original lineup album and tour. I’ve been to an awful lot of concerts as a writer and a fan, and that reunion show ranks amongst the best for me—like, right up there with Michael Jackson on the BAD tour, Tears for Fears on the SEEDS OF LOVE tour (the one with the most beautiful woman in the world as part of the entourage: Oleta – holy balls that was an amazing show), Motley Crue on the CARNIVAL OF SINS tour, and Def Leppard on the absolutely mind-blowing HYSTERIA tour.
All very exciting shows from artists at their absolute peak – but the thing is Duran were not at their peak in 2005. They were almost desperately climbing back. But you’d never know it. Again, one of the most exciting and tight shows I have seen to this day. I’ve still got this sweatshirt thing with a big “5” on the back that was a bestseller at the merch booth. And no, I will not sell it to you.
This all leads to two things I want to talk about as a fan and someone who covers the band. Duran40, as I will call it, and the craptastic “Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.” (RRHOF)
Let’s start with the annoying one of the two subjects: the RRHOF.
Appropriately, the RRHOF is beginning to look at ’80s acts. There are many, many (primarily but not all British) ’80s acts who helped define the era, which I would argue is one of the most important musical eras of our lifetimes. Bands like The Cure (nominated this year), Depeche Mode, Wham / George Michael, The Eurythmics, and even Spandau (I just puked a little — sorry) and so forth absolutely deserve to be enshrined. But nominating The Cure and Devo, which is what has happened this year, before the undisputed gods of the era? The ones who can sell out arenas the night after Jay Z plays while others basically play clubs? Forty years on?? The good news in all this is I am told by someone in the know that the Durans really don’t care much about it at all, and are well aware that it’s a cultish club and nothing more. Awesome quote from someone who shall remain anonymous: “Name me ONE act where a member has said, ‘You know, Bon Jovi was a real inspiration to us…’”
I cannot. Can you? Good point, that one.
I can, however, think of many serious artists who have professed their love for Duran Duran and expressed in detail how the brummies impacted their careers.
OK, onto Duran40.
Can you believe that we are staring at 40 years of Duran Duran? Take some time to Spotify some of the somewhat forgotten tracks like “Anyone Out There,” “Hold Back the Rain,” “Tiger Tiger,” “The Seventh Stranger,” “Land,” “Breath After Breath,” the exquisite “What Happens Tomorrow,” “Electric Barbarella,” “Serious,” “Meet El Presidente,” “Nice,” the enchanting “Man Who Stole a Leopard” — I could go on and on. Pure poetry plus unrivaled musicianship.
I have no idea what they’ve got planned, but I have a fan-wish that I shall communicate here. Get Andy Taylor back onstage, guys. I know it’s a mega pain in the ass. He’s a mega pain in the ass. He hangs out in Ibiza and gives few shits, we all know it. And Dom Brown is brilliant, loyal, and quite a perfect fit on guitar. But he’s not Andy. And the band will always be incomplete without Andy.
2005 was a milestone, and the reunion was just incredible. 2019 is a much bigger milestone, not for Duran as band, but for their fans. So, fellas: Get Andy back, shake up the set list, and show us what you are made of. Once again.
As for the RRHOF, they’ll come round at some point. And if they don’t? Matters not, really. The continuing legacy will always speak for itself. Always.
Vote tomorrow if you must. Or just put SEVEN on and lose yourself. I’m likely to fall upon the latter.