So, Duran Duran played Atlanta, Georgia last night.
One of my "things" is the whole "nostalgia tour" thing. I'm the kind of person who would head up north to Seattle, Washington on business but try and stay an extra day to catch Blue Oyster Cult in the casino near Tacoma. I realize that "appreciating the old stuff" is legitimately one of the worst kinds of hipsterism available, but the way I look at it, there are some damn fine musicians out there who didn't stop being damn fine musicians when the genre they decided to work in got played out. I don't care what anyone says, Boston played some really, REALLY good tunes and many of these bands came from an era where playing and touring was how you made your living.
Oh sure, in some instances all you're seeing is one member of the original band and some session guys, but they're usually by definition competent musicians in their own right - they have to be in order to secure a gig.
The only nuisance is the fact that though sound checks can easily be done hours in advance they have to do this theater of having some hairy fellow on loan from Guitar Center walk around a stage with a bass and then a guitar on, playing random notes to "check" the setup, and then the ceremonial "guy sitting there going bap! bap! bap! bap! on the snare until he gets the okay from the booth, then thud! thud! thud! thud! on the bass drum, and then each tom tom in turn, doom! doom! doom! doom! doom! doom!" and so forth. Completely unnecessary but part of the experience I guess.
This particular crowd last night even responded to a roadie taping a guitar effects board to the edge of the stage with double sided gaffer tape by rushing up to take a cell phone camera pic, which rather surprised the poor guy just trying to get the equipment in place, behind a literal forest of iPhone clutching hands.
One of the bands I got into simply by being in the same town as a free concert of theirs is Duran Duran. So when I learned they were playing a show at Chastain Park I asked the wife if she would like to attend, and got an overly enthusiastic yes.
Of course, I'm sincerely glad I went. Not only did the band put on an excellent show, they've got a great back catalogue of work. Sure, back in the day they were beautiful New Romantic glamor boys, but they were also excellent songwriters and very competent musicians. It isn't until you hear John Taylor pop a bass string that you realize just how "funky" in some sense the band can get, and Simon Le Bon, despite it being the last show on that leg of the tour, had a voice that was strong, hit every note properly, and showed no signs of fatigue or wear.
Having bought the seats through the building my company is housed in's concierge service, I was able to score tickets that were the very first elevation row in the orchestra box, in other words about ten feet from the stage, but looking over the heads of those who were in the very front row, crowding up at the stage. Friends of ours have VIP passes to the central box ten feet from us in another direction and had a worse view. We literally could not have had a better vantage point to see them play.
Or watch the audience.
As someone who is on the cusp of leaving the very last gasp of young adulthood and starting to enter middle age: I note with amusement that there are now hipster children's books - I am cognizant not to mock too hard, because I am looking at my own future, also because there's really nothing icky or wrong about getting older. The band looked really good for being just shy of 60, even though Nick Rhodes' makeup is starting to emphasize the lines on his face. The audience on the other hand, obviously put on heels for the first time in a very very very long time, based on the number of baby-gazelle-walk incidents going on, and that was before the copious amounts of red wine started flowing.
Most people would think of a concert as selling beer, but there were four-packs of tiny wine bottles on sale, as well as Hurricane glass-like plastic vases full of vino reddo. And it was a curious mix of giddy teenager in a 50 year old body conjoined with wine-sipping soccer mom, with a few bringing teenage girls with them. For the men, there were Lime-a-ritas and other frou-frou malt-beverage based fruit flavored libations. As teetotalers (we were there in part to celebrate a year's sobriety for the wife) we ignored all this and simply enjoyed the show, even as we got to hear all manners of conversation about how they hope the dogs will be okay, and how some children had been conceived during the band's salad days, they found a great new anaesthesiologist for the practice, and so forth. I couldn't get over the fact that I was basically surrounded by an army of Linda Belchers who just happened to be out at a boy band concert, while dressing like the cast of Designing Women.
There was no opening band: they just took to the stage and put on the show they're famous for. I was unaware you could get a British-style biker jacket in powder blue, but Simon Le Bon made it work along with a suitable printed T-shirt and white jeans, which he accessorized with a set of high-tech sneakers. John Taylor was rocking a red jacket reminiscent of Members Only and skinny jeans, whereas Nick Rhodes was resplendent in a suit jacket made out of blue glitter.
The pacing of the show was excellent, opening with the new album's strongest track, then a series of hits, settling down for the quiet parts, ending with a medley of B-sides and other hits including a segue into Major Tom with a backdrop projection of David Bowie in his prime, which the audience cheered raucously.
Le Bon moved like a dad trying to be cool but damn it, he was cool - he was owning the fact that his moves were delightfully anachronistic and cheekily bumping across the stage, often sharing a mic with fellow band members, who are clearly good friends with great chemistry.
Le Bon said it (and he seemed genuine when he said it) was the most enthusiastic crowd they'd seen in a while, and indeed, there was a lot of energy in the ampitheater.
Then the confetti guns went off, which we were right next to. We were literally pressure washed with it, which was awesome.
There was the requisite encore, which was well received, and then the band made its way off stage, and the audience drunkenly lurched towards BMWs and minivans on unsteady feet in heels which were perfectly unsuited for the natural rock staircases which comprised literally the way to get from A to B both within and without. A lot of people bumped into a lot of people, but it was a polite, apologetic one. There was a line for both bathrooms, as enlarged prostates and childbirth-damaged bladders strained to hold in the evening's libations.