duran-duran-paper-gods

It wasn’t my intention to write a review about Duran Duran’s show in Atlanta on April 15, 2016 because I didn’t go there to work. GFM didn’t have press credentials. I was simply there as a middle-aged fan trying to relive a moment in my youth when being a music fan was my full-time job (Well, there was that other time-consuming thing called school). I was simply there to feel good and feel good I did for three hours. It wasn’t my intention to write about my experience, but something happened between that show and now: Prince died. What does that have to do with this? A lot. Stay with me.

Sometime in 1983 or 1984 I saw my first Duran Duran video and it started an absolute obsession. From that moment forward, I went on a journey backwards to consume all things Duran Duran. I bought Seven And The Ragged Tiger, Rio and the self-titled debut album. I recorded videos from the television on the VCR (yes, VHS tapes) I acquired every button, magazine, and poster I could. A friend and I had “I Love Duran Duran” t-shirts made at the mall. The only thing I couldn’t get my hands on was a ticket to the Detroit show. Unfortunately I had discovered the band just a little too late to see the Detroit tour stop.

I would have to patiently wait through the two side group projects: Arcadia and The Power Station (It is worth mentioning, however, that The Power Station was dope. John Taylor doesn’t get enough credit for the funky bassist he is.) but nothing feels as good as when they are Duran Duran. I finally got my chance in 1987 to attend the Strange Behavior Tour stop in Detroit. For reasons I can’t explain… except to simply chalk it up to life… I wouldn’t get back in front of the fellas until the Paper Gods show in Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia this month.

I almost didn’t make it this year. I hemmed and hawed about going until around 6pm the night before the show. A night, by the way, that Prince did two sold-out shows in Atlanta as part of his Piano & A Microphone Tour. Sadly, I didn’t have tickets or credentials for either of those shows. I figured I’d catch Prince the next time, but at that moment the fate of seeing Simon, Nick, John and Roger was just one click of the “Buy Tickets” button away. I bit the bullet and bought the ticket on this rationale: 1. I needed an escape from my stressful life for a few hours and 2. Simon LeBon is 57 (Prince was 57), and he’s had surgery on his vocal chords. They are kicking ass now, but who knows if or when they’ll decide to sit down. While I’m talking about their ages and not knowing if they will keep performing the reality is tomorrow is not promised to any of us. They could very well go on touring, but who knows if I’LL be the one who’s able or present to attend the show.

So, now we’ve arrived at the point of this open letter and why I was compelled to write it. My love and respect goes to all those fans who felt a sense of urgency to see Prince (even those who failed to get a ticket– the shows sold out in minutes) because they understood that when legends and your heroes come your way, you don’t let the opportunity pass you by and “catch them next time” because there may not be a next time– for you or them. Of course no one knew Prince would die a week later so that’s the real beauty of it– a willingness to embrace the “now” they had with him without hesitation or reservation. Unfortunately I”ll never get a next time with Prince and I regret not at least trying to secure a seat at one of those shows.

Oh yeah, about the concert– it was splendid. Chic featuring Nile Rodgers opened the show. Nile Rodgers gave his testimony as a cancer survivor (which furthers this letter’s point about living for now), played all the hits of his own and ones he put together for others including the dance hit, “Get Lucky”. Later in the show he blessed the crowd again when he joined Duran Duran to perform “Pressure Off” and a straight up throw down of “Notorious”.

Duran Duran played most of the favorites save the glaring absence of “The Reflex”. It was missed, but the show was so awesome it’s hard to complain. Simon LeBon started out with a bit of a raspiness in his voice, but by the fourth song or so his voice smoothed and he hit his stride. He sang “Ordinary World” flawlessly. The group also performed songs from the Paper Gods album. There may be some fans who only want to hear the greatest hits, but it’s good that the group has a new album. It could easily tour without new music, but the fact that there’s a new CD speaks to forward motion in creativity and life. It’s also what makes the group legendary– it hasn’t just survived all these years– Duran Duran is thriving. Not only is the group still standing but standing tall. (see that kicking ass I mentioned earlier). During the encore, Simon explained to the crowd that there were reports of Prince falling ill and “Save A Prayer” was dedicated to him with well wishes. A week later, it would be in memory of him.

I’m glad I embraced the moment by going to see Duran Duran. I will also take this moment to tell the band “thank you” for providing the opportunity for me to take advantage of. I’ll do it again… because legends can’t and time won’t wait.

Kimberly Kennedy Charles

I have questions. Artists have answers.